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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Rosette
Family: Araceae
Genus: Cryptocoryne
Region: Asia
Location: Thailand
Size: Height: 60-90 cm (24-36in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Cryptocoryne crispulata var. balansae originates from flowing rivers and streams in southern Thailand, often forming dense colonies with leaves extending across the water's surface. Due to the limestone composition of the soil, the rivers in this area have very hard water which is loaded with calcium. There are two variations of this plant currently in the hobby; one is generally green while the other gets an attractive bronzing. This attractive Cryptocoryne has proven to be adaptable and well suited for aquarium use. It is currently among the most popular Cryptocoryne species in the planted aquarium hobby.

This plant, like all members of the C. crispatula group, prefers areas of moderate to high light. Given sufficient lighting, it will develop the attractive puckering of the leaves for which it is well known. Carbon dioxide supplementation does boost growth rates but is not essential with this species. C. crispatula var. balansae requires regular water column fertilization and/or substrate supplementation to look its best; rich conditions with plenty of nitrate, phosphate, and iron induce the fastest, most lush growth. Like most of the C. crispatula group, this plant also needs calcium supplementation (which can be done through the substrate with a tablet or through the water column with calcium carbonate). Calcium deficiency causes new leaves to grow twisted and deformed. As with most Cryptocorynes, it prefers a stable environment or it will melt.

Emersed propagation is possible, although not as easy as growing it submersed. The best method for keeping this plant emersed is to have it in a tank with a couple inches of water above the substrate and some circulation. Under these conditions, the leaves will grow into the water and any inflorescences will grow straight up. This plant can also be grown in outdoor ponds by simply potting the plant in a heavy container and placing it in 1-2 feet of water. As it becomes established, the plant can be moved to successively deeper areas.

This plant reproduces through runners and through tubular inflorescences. Well established, old stands of C. crispatula var. balansae under moderate to high light have the best chance of flowering. Well-established stands of this species will also tend to send out runners, often outgrowing its intended area. Occasional trimming of the runners is recommended using a razor blade or sharp knife. Cutting through the substrate just like one edges a lawn will work well as will pulling up the daughter plants and tracing the runner back to the mother.

Under good conditions C. crispatula var. balansae will easily grow to be 24" tall with leaves an inch wide, making it most suitable for the background. In Dutch aquascapes, a well-tended bunch of C. crispatula var. balansae make an excellent 'specimen plant' or focal point. This species is also very useful in Nature Aquarium style aquascapes where it is most often used to add height and contrast to horizontal wood and to highlight to rock placements. It is particularly useful for creating an overgrown, lush feeling in the Nature Aquarium. It is neat to watch fish swimming through its reed-like foliage.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2007 by Jeffrey Sutanto All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2007 by Jeffrey Sutanto All Rights Reserved.