Vallisneria nana plants are a type of grass-like aquarium flora that has leaves growing in clusters.

Vallisneria Nana for Aquarium

These aquarium plants are easy to grow but need your care to avoid potential problems.

Keep reading this article to learn all you need to know about Vallisneria nana!

Vallisneria Nana: Everything to Know About Narrowleaf Vallisneria

The Vallisneria nana is in the genus Vallisneria. Plants in this genus are hydrophytes. This means that these plants grow in, on, or around water. Most Vallisneria species are cosmopolitan, meaning they can be found everywhere in the world.

Narrowleaf Vallisneria Plants

Vallisneria nana, however, is a unique Vallisneria species, as you will learn throughout this article. It can also be called the Narrowleaf Vallisneria or Vals nana.

– History 

The genus Vallisneria was first studied by Carl Linnaeus in the year 1753. Vallisneria was named after an Italian scientist, naturalist, and physician, Antonio Vallisneri. Vallisneria nana is indigenous to Australia but you can now find it all over the world. Narrowleaf Vallisneria is becoming more popular because of its use in aquariums.

– Identification

While every Vallisneria species is grass-like, the Narrowleaf Vallisneria has — as the name suggests — narrower leaves.

Here are some ways to identify Vallisneria nana:

  • Plant physiology: Narrowleaf Vallisneria has leaves that grow in clusters from the roots. They have shoots through which new leaves and new plants grow.
  • Vallisneria nana size: This plant can grow 12-20 inches tall but its leaves are just around 0.4 inches wide.
  • Leaves: The leaves have rounded tips and embossed veins. Under the right water and light conditions, Narrowleaf Vallisneria’s leaves are dark green.
  • Flowers: Vallisneria aquarium plant is dioecious. This means that each plant is either male or female. The female flowers can be identified by their long stalks that reach the water surface.
  • Fruits and seeds: The fruit of Narrowleaf Vallisneria is a capsule resembling a banana, containing many seeds.
  • Stolons: Vallisneria nana plants grow by stolons. Stolons or shoots are underground stems that spread out and through which new leaves grow. Vallisneria nana produces shoots quickly, so this plant needs space.
  • Growth rate: Vallisneria nana growth rate is very fast when compared to other aquarium plants. The plant is very easy to grow in an aquarium.

Now it should be pretty easy to spot and identify Narrowleaf Vallisneria plants, right?

– Uses 

Here are some uses of Vallisneria nana that are making it a very popular plant in aquariums.

Vallisneria in Aquarium

  • Aquarium Plant: Whether you have a fish aquarium or a planted one, Vallisneria nana makes a great background plant. For smaller aquariums, you can use Vallisneria nana as a mid-ground plant.
  • Water Aeration: Like other aquarium plants, the Narrowleaf Vallisneria helps oxygenate your aquarium. When there is proper light and CO2, the plants will give your aquarium fishes a lot of oxygen.
  • Water Purification: Narrowleaf Vallisneria absorbs a lot of water nutrients from the aquarium quickly. These plants are effective in absorbing nitrates, phosphorus, potassium, iron, etc.
  • Food: Herbivorous aquarium fishes love eating Narrowleaf Vallisneria. What’s more? Newly-hatched fries can also snack Narrowleaf Vallisneria while they await their normal pellets.
  • Shelter: Narrowleaf Vallisneria can serve as a shelter for shy species in your aquarium. Also, it is used as a resting or hiding ground for your fish. Vallisneria nana helps your fishes to be more comfortable and have a natural feel in the aquarium.

So many benefits, for such an easy plant to care for!

Vallisneria Nana Care Tips

Want to add Vallisneria nana to your aquarium? Awesome decision. Here are some tips you can follow when buying and planting your Vallisneria, as well as indications on the appropriate water, light, and nutrient requirements.

– Getting Your Narrowleaf Vallisneria

You can get your Vallisneria nana from aquariums or pet shops. If you wish, you could also buy it online. When you get your Vallisneria nana, be sure to quarantine the plant before you introduce it into your aquarium.

Quarantining your Vallisneria nana is important because of the following reasons:

  • Pests and Diseases: You should quarantine your new Narrowleaf Vallisneria for five or more days to make sure that there are no pests attached to the plant. Also, check for disease symptoms in this period.
  • Pesticides: Some planted aquarium shops apply pesticides on Vallisneria nana to prevent pests from attacking the plants. Before introducing them into your aquarium, make sure to rinse the pesticides in the period of quarantining.
  • Water Quality: The water quality from the shop you bought your Vallisneria nana is not the same as your aquarium water Vallisneria nana. Quarantining your Vallisneria nana can help them to get used to the new water quality.

After quarantining the plants, it is finally time to plant them.

– Planting Your Narrowleaf Vallisneria

When planting your Vallisneria nana, make sure that you are doing it right. The minimum size of an aquarium for Vallisneria nana is 10 gallons. Vallisneria nana plants need a lot of space because they grow quickly and their stolons spread fast.

Planting Vallisneria Nana


To plant Vallisneria nana, collect a cluster of leaves with their roots attached and plant them in the substrate. Vallisneria nana is not a picky plant and can grow in any substrate (sand, rocks pebbles, shells, etc.) Make sure that the crown of the plant is just above the substrate.

Vallisneria nana, in fact, has a so-called crown (the region between the leaves and the roots) that must be above the soil surface to prevent potential problems. When planted right, your Narrowleaf Vallisneria will start growing and spreading in less than two weeks.

– Light Requirements

After planting your Vallisneria nana, you should consider the light and water requirements. Vallisneria nana plants do not need too much light. As such, 30-50 PAR is okay. However, you should take note of your plant behavior when the light is too high or low. Use the guide below:

  • When the light is too low: If your Vallisneria nana plants are not getting enough light, you should notice that their leaves are growing taller than normal and becoming pale. Also, the water oxygen level will reduce.
  • When the light is too high: If the light is too high, the shoots of your Vallisneria nana will spread very quickly and fill the entire aquarium substrate.

Give your Vallisneria nana sufficient light so that it will not suffer.

– Optimum Water Condition 

The water condition should be just right for your Narrowleaf Vallisneria, as it is very sensitive to changes in water quality.

Water Requirements for Vallisneria

Some parameters that you should always check are:

  • pH: Narrowleaf Vallisneria does not like acidic water. The water pH should be between 6.5 to 8 for the best growth performance of your plants.
  • Hardness: While Narrowleaf Vallisneria can grow in both hard and soft water. A GH of 4-18 is recommended.
  • CO2: Every plant needs carbon dioxide, water, and light to carry out photosynthesis. Your Narrowleaf Vallisneria will grow fast if there are fishes (or other aquatic animals) to produce carbon dioxide. If there are no natural sources of CO2 in the aquarium, you should boost the dissolved CO2 of the aquarium to at least 5 mg/l.

– Nutrient Requirements

If you are growing Vallisneria nana in an aquarium with fishes, snails, and other fauna, you do not have to add nutrients to the water. The animals present in it can supply your plants with all they need. In a planted aquarium with no fish, however, you should fertilize the water every time you add more water.

– Trimming 

Vallisneria nana can grow 12-20 inches high. This plant can even grow taller in some conditions. If your Vallisneria nana leaves grow beyond the water surface, it probably means that the tank is too small. The best option for you would be to grow other species in the genus Vallisneria, like dwarf Vallisneria species.

To grow Narrowleaf Vallisneria in small aquariums, you have to trim the leaves periodically. Also, you can pull out any cluster of leaves that is growing wherever you don’t want it to grow.


It is easy to propagate Vallisneria nana. All you have to do is reduce the water quality, carefully pull out the leaf cluster (including the root), and bury the roots in the new aquarium or location leaving the crown exposed. You can also propagate Narrowleaf Vallisneria with their stolon or their seeds, but the propagation through the leaf cluster is the easiest.

Potential Problems 

When growing Narrowleaf Vallisneria, here are some potential problems that you can encounter:

Growth Problems of Vallisneria

– Chlorosis

Chlorosis is the yellowing of the leaves of your Vallisneria nana. Chlorosis can be caused by either of the following reasons:

  • Nutrient Deficiency: If your plants are lacking in nitrogen and other nutrients, they can develop pale leaves. In this case, you should use medium-dose fertilizer for your plants.
  • Low Light: When your Vallisneria nana is not receiving sufficient light, it can get chlorosis. To give back to your Vallisneria nana its lush green leaves, increase the amount of light that reaches them.

– Rotting

If you find the leaves of your plants withering, your Vallisneria nana might be rotting. Rotting usually occurs when the water-dissolved oxygen is too low, there is insufficient light reaching the plants, or the crowns of your Vallisneria nana are buried deep in the substrate.

When planting your Vallisneria nana, make sure that you pull them a little so that their crown is exposed. Also, give them sufficient light. With a proper lighting system, your Vallisneria nana will aerate the aquarium and will not rot.

– Melting

Vallisneria nana plants are susceptible to melting, a type of sickness in which they shed their leaves. Vallisneria nana usually sheds leaves that appear healthy, so you may become confused.

Narrowleaf Vallisneria sheds its leaves mostly because of an immediate change in the water quality. If you just transplanted them or started using a new brand of fertilizer, your Vallisneria nana can show signs of melting. 

In the case of melting, make sure that the water quality is just right for the plants. If the water condition is okay, all you need is time for new leaves to grow. Make sure that you remove old leaves to prevent them from decaying in the water.

– Red Patches on Leaves

Red patches on the leaves of your Vallisneria nana can be caused by nutrient deficiency or disease. You should pull out the leaf cluster of your Vallisneria nana if you find red patches. After that, make sure that the plants have sufficient nutrients.

Red Patches on Nana Leaves

Make sure that you pay close attention to the health of your aquarium plants.

Suitable Species to Grow With

Some recommended species to grow Vallisneria nana with (in the same aquarium) are:

  • Fishes: Some recommended fishes to grow with Vallisneria nana are Guppy, Cherry Barb, Green Swordtails, Rasboras, and Catfish.
  • Snails: Peaceful snail species are Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, Malaysian Snails, Japanese Trapdoor Snails, and Ramshorn Snails
  • Shrimps: Red Cherry Shrimp, Snowball Shrimp, Black Rose, Orange Sakura, and Bamboo Shrimp can live with Vallisneria nana in the same tank.

Do not grow Vallisneria nana in the same aquarium with aggressive species or species that dig plants’ roots.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kind of substrate is best for Vallisneria nana?

The best substrate for Vallisneria nana would be nutrient-rich and well-draining, such as a mixture of aquarium soil and gravel. This will allow for healthy root growth and support overall plant growth.

2. What kind of fish can be kept with Vallisneria nana?

Vallisneria nana can be kept with a variety of fish species, including peaceful community fish like tetras and guppies, as well as bottom-dwellers like corydoras. It’s important to avoid fish that are known to uproot plants or are overly aggressive, as they may damage the Vallisneria nana.

3. Can Vallisneria nana be used in a shrimp tank?

Vallisneria nana can be used in a shrimp tank, as long as the shrimp species are not known to be plant eaters. In fact, Vallisneria nana can provide a natural food source and hiding place for shrimp. It’s important to monitor the plant growth and ensure that it doesn’t overcrowd the tank, as this can negatively impact water quality.


Vallisneria nana is an awesome plant, and easy to grow.

Here are some key points you have learned in this article:

  • Vallisneria nana can also be called Narrowleaf Vallisneria or Vals nana.
  • With a leaf width of 0.4 inches, Vallisneria nana has the narrowest leaves of all Vallisneria species.
  • Vallisneria nana has a lot of uses such as water aeration, purification, food for herbivores, and fry.
  • You should quarantine your Vallisneria nana for at least five days before introducing it into your aquarium.
  • When planting your Vallisneria nana, make sure to expose the crown.
  • Make sure to provide the right light, water, and nutrient conditions to your Vallisneria nana to prevent potential problems such as rotting, chlorosis, melting.
  • Do not grow Vallisneria nana in an aquarium in which there are aggressive fish species.

Why not plant some Narrowleaf Vallisneria in your aquarium right away?

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