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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Alternanthera
Region: Central/South America
Location: Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil
Size: Individual stem width: 10-15cm (4-6in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


There are 170 identified species in the Alternanthera genus. Alternanthera reineckii, first imported into the Netherlands in 1965 under the name Telenthera osiris, is one of the few species that will grow submersed. This plant grows along the banks of rivers which periodically flood during the rainy season. Kasselmann describes five forms of this plant, of which Alternanthera reineckii 'roseafolia' (also known as Alternanthera reineckii 'Pink') is the easiest to cultivate and the most common in the trade.

Although Alternanthera reineckii 'rosaefolia' can be grown with lower light levels and without CO2 supplementation, it will not reach its true growth potential. Moderate to high lighting (2-4 watts per gallon) and CO2 injection is more ideal. If kept in low-light tanks, the lower leaves tend to fall off. This species can grow well in both hard and soft water, although soft, slightly acidic water is best.

This plant, unlike most other red plants, prefers rich conditions with high nitrates (10 ppm or more) and high phosphate (0.5 ppm or more). If grown under lean conditions under very high light, substrate fertilization placed at the roots will greatly enhance growth and overall health.

Initially, plant each stem separately. This species is easily propagated by nipping off the terminal bud and planting it in the bottom. This also makes the mother plant more bushy, because more side shoots are formed.

The purple color underneath Alternanthera reineckii 'roseafolia' leaves provides an effective contrast to the many green plants in an aquarium�particularly when planted in groups. Three to five strong specimens can be used for the background area to help accent the shades of green aquarium plants. Although uncommon in Nature Aquarium layout designs, this is the most popular red plant used in Dutch style aquariums.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Micke-Eklund All Rights Reserved