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Cryptocoryne Parva Plant: Care Guide, Lifespan & More (With Pictures)

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

cryp parva in tissue culture bottle

Adding plants to your aquarium can enhance both the health and beauty of the tank. However, it also gives you one more living thing to keep nourished and well-lighted along with your fish. Choosing sturdy, easy-to-care-for aquatic plants will make your job easier. The Cryptocoryne Parva plant is one such plant. Here’s everything you need to know about the Cryptocoryne Parva and how to grow and care for this beautiful, green aquatic plant species.

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Quick Facts about Cryptocoryne Parva Plant

Species Name: Cryptocoryne Parva
Family: Araceae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 68–84 degrees F (20–29 degrees C)
Color Form: Bright green
Size: 2–4 inches tall
Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater
Compatibility: Peaceful fish, similarly tall plants, shrimp, snails

Cryptocoryne Parva Plant Overview

Cryptocoryne Parva plant

Also called the Dwarf Water Trumpet, the Cryptocoryne Parva plant is a slow-growing, bright green freshwater aquarium species. These plants are native to Sri Lanka, where they are found along riverbanks in warm, humid environments.

Relatively easy to care for, Cryptocoryne Parva will provide a lovely ground cover for any size tank. This plant does need good lighting but can tolerate a range of warm water temperatures and isn’t picky about other water parameters either.

Cryptocoryne Parva can grow in a variety of substrates and are simple to plant. They may benefit from added nutrients like fertilizer and carbon dioxide but don’t require them to grow and thrive. The plants don’t do well if uprooted and replanted but are otherwise hardy plants with few health conditions, mostly related to tank conditions.

These plants can tolerate many different tank mates—plant, fish, and invertebrates. They don’t do well with aggressive fish or invertebrates who tear up aquarium plants and roots. Some species of fish and snails may snack on Cryptocoryne Parva plants and should be avoided.

Cryptocoryne Parva is a good option for breeding tanks as their low, lush leaves provide cover for the small fry. They are also ideal for small tanks because of their short height and slow growth.

How Much Do Cryptocoryne Parva Plant Cost?

One Cryptocoryne Parva plant can usually be purchased for $5–$10. However, because the plant grows so slowly, you’ll usually need to plant several at a time, especially if you are trying to cover a larger space. The plants are sometimes sold as a root without leaves because the act of transplanting often causes the leaves to fall off anyway. As long as the root takes hold solidly, the Cryptocoryne Parva should regrow its leaves with time.

Appearance & Varieties

Cryptocoryne Parva can grow up to 4 inches tall. They are dark green in color. Unlike many aquatic plants, Cryptocoryne Parva remains consistent in appearance even across different habitats and water parameters. When purchased, the leaves of the plant will be wider because they’re out of the water. Once underwater, the leaves grow thinner.

The stems of the plant are generally about 2–2.8 inches wide, with multiple leaves sprouting from each stem. The leaves are narrow and grass-like, while the plant itself resembles a small bush. Given enough time and the right growing conditions, these plants will eventually spread throughout the aquarium floor.

There are no varieties of this particular species, but they do have a close plant relative, the Cryptocoryne x willisii. Also called Willis’ Water Trumpet, this species is so similar to Cryptocoryne Parva that they both used to be known by the same name.

The Cryptocoryne x willisii has shorter, oval-shaped leaves and grows much more quickly than the Parva species. Several other Cryptocoryne species serve as aquarium plants, all larger than the Cryptocoryne Parva.

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How to Take Care of Cryptocoryne Parva Plant

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Here are the specific details you need to successfully plant and grow Cryptocoryne Parva in your freshwater aquarium.

Tank Size

Cryptocoryne Parva can grow in any size tank, with the minimum recommended being as small as 5 gallons. Keep in mind that because it does grow slowly, it will take some time to fully spread across a larger tank floor. This plant can also be grown as a bush rather than ground cover.

Water Quality & Conditions

Cryptocoryne Parva can tolerate a range of water conditions, one reason they are a popular aquarium plant. They prefer warm water, between 68–84 degrees Fahrenheit. Their ideal pH range is between 5.5–7.5. Parvas can live in either hard or soft water, tolerating a general hardness of 1–20 dGH (degree of general hardness).

High nitrates, low phosphorous and low iron can all cause problems for the Cryptocoryne Parva. Ensuring the tank water is clean and changed regularly and the plant receives the correct lighting and nutrients will keep it as healthy as possible.

Substrate

Cryptocoryne Parva can grow in a variety of substrates, including gravel, dirt, or sand. They will appreciate a substrate enriched with nutrients, however. Planting in gravel or sand may require more added fertilizer. These plants have a thick, robust root system so make sure whatever substrate you use is at least 2.5 inches deep.

Plants

Because of its height, Cryptocoryne Parva can have issues if sharing a tank with taller plants that block it from getting enough light. Either keep other tank plants around a similar height or be strategic about placing the higher plants to avoid any problems.

Lighting

This Cryptocoryne species has higher light needs than others because of its height. It does best with medium light, again with attention paid to making sure taller plants don’t overshade the Parva. Cryptocoryne Parva can survive with lower light, but its already slow growth rate will be reduced even further.

Filtration

Cryptocoryne Parva is sensitive to high nitrates in the tank water. Filtration and frequent water changes are important to keep these in check. Because of their slow growth rate, these plants are prone to developing algae spots. Keeping a bit higher water flow will help you avoid this problem.

Are Cryptocoryne Parva Plant Good Tank Mates?

Cryptocoryne Parva plants make versatile tank mates for a variety of fish and invertebrates. They are tolerant of a variety of water conditions, giving you a lot of options when it comes to building a community tank. They are sturdy enough to withstand some disturbance, although you should avoid aggressive fish and invertebrates, like cichlids and crayfish.

Shrimp—especially algae-eating varieties and babies—do well with Cryptocoryne Parva. Some snails also make compatible tank mates as long as they don’t try to eat the leaves. You should avoid any herbivore fish who will graze on the Parva, such as goldfish or koi. Cryptocoryne Parva is a nice plant choice if your aquarium will contain shy fish who might enjoy hiding in the leaves.

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What to Feed Your Cryptocoryne Parva Plant

Cryptocoryne Parva will suffer without adequate iron and potassium levels, so it’s important to ensure these nutrients are present in your tank. Regularly using a fertilizer high in both iron and potassium will help your plants thrive and avoid issues such as holes in their leaves. Carbon dioxide isn’t necessary for these plants, but they won’t object if you want to add it to their environment either. Make sure that any fertilizers you introduce to your tank don’t alter the water conditions to the point that any tank mates suffer. Increased growth from fertilization may require you to give your plants a trim now and then.

Cryptocoryne parva in aquarium
Image Credit: rodimov, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Cryptocoryne Parva Plant Healthy

We’ve already touched on many of the key elements involved in keeping the cryptocoryne plant healthy. Leaf melt, or the loss of all the plant’s leaves, is the major issue you may notice in the Parva. Keeping the nitrate levels low will help with this problem, as will avoiding any uprooting or replanting of your plants. Cryptocoryne Parva doesn’t tolerate change well.

Inadequate levels of iron and potassium can lead to the plant developing holes in the leaves. Use enriched substrate or fertilize regularly to avoid this issue. The Parva’s leaves will turn yellow from lack of chlorophyll if they don’t get enough light. Increase the light intensity or relocate taller plants that might be blocking the Parva from the light source if you notice this change.

The slow growth rate of this plant makes them susceptible to developing algae on the leaves. You may need to add algae-eating tank mates or remove algae spots by hand to keep your Parva healthy.

Cryptocoryne Parva Potted

Propagation

The Cryptocoryne Parva reproduces by sending out underground root stalks, called rhizomes, or stem runners as far as 8 inches away from the parent plant. Shoots and leaves grow from these exploring stems and root stalks, allowing the plant to eventually spread throughout the available space.

Even if your plant suffers from leaf melt, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Parva itself is dead due to its method of reproducing. Be patient and allow the plant to establish its roots and underground stems and new leaves may grow. Replanting safely is difficult because of how these plants grow sideways under the substrate.

You can help the Parva plant spread by clipping and trimming a cutting and replanting it elsewhere in the substrate. This process is known as splitting.

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Are Cryptocoryne Parva Plant Suitable For Your Aquarium?

If you’re looking for an easy-keeping, sturdy species to serve as ground cover or a foreground plant in your freshwater aquarium, Cryptocoryne Parva might be the right choice for you. Cryptocoryne Parva doesn’t take a lot of complicated care or specific tank conditions and many different fish will happily share a tank with this plant.

However, if you’re building a tank of aggressive, destructive, burrowing fish like cichlids, Parva plants won’t be suitable. These types of fish usually shouldn’t have real plants in their tanks anyway.

Keeping any type of plant in your aquarium requires more attention to details like lighting and choices of tank mates. Of all the plants you could choose, however, Cryptocoryne Parva is one of the easiest and the beautiful, deep green foliage will enhance both the look and quality of your freshwater tank.


Featured Image Credit: ThanusakS, Shutterstock

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