How Do I Keep Elodea Leaf Alive?

Updated April 17, 2017

The perennial aquatic plant elodea, also called waterweed, is native to North America and is widely employed as the generic aquarium vegetation because of its ability to naturally produce oxygen and regulate nutrients. All things considered, it is an easy plant to keep alive and thrives in conditions identical to its cousin, the anacharis, also called the Brazilian elodea, which is another healthy fish bowl favourite.

Plant your elodea in loose sand or gravel in either tropical or coldwater tanks with ample space to grow. With enough fertiliser, you don't need to be concerned about filling your tanks with moderately "hard" water from your tap. Elodea grows and multiplies prolifically and can take up 2 additional inches of space a day.

Plant your elodea in close groups around the edges of the backs of your tank. This will allow fish "cover" and create a more natural interaction between fish and plant. It will also allow you an unobstructed view into your tank.

Fertilise your plants. Use a cocktail of CO2 fertiliser and a high-quality aquarium fertiliser. In tropical tanks, provide your plants with additional treatments of both types of fertiliser.

Install in your tank's light housing or directly above your tank 5,000-7,000k bulbs with at least 2 watts to each gallon of water. This will provide adequate light to the plants and enable photosynthesis--essential for introducing oxygen into your tank's environment.

Keep the water temperature in the tank between 15.6 and 26.7 degrees Celsius. Maintain a neutral 7 pH and do not let the water stray beyond .5 either direction. Encourage your elodea to grow by sustaining an alkalinity between 3 and 8 dKH.

Thin and pinch your elodea often. This encourages growth and will keep the foliage full.

Cultivate new plants by snipping pieces off of your healthier looking, mature plants. Introduce these cuttings to the aquarium and augment the tank's fertility with a dose of both the CO2 and basic aquatic plant fertilisers.

Things You'll Need

  • Large aquarium
  • CO2 fertiliser
  • Aquatic plant fertiliser
  • Elodea cuttings
  • pH detector
  • Alkalinity detector
  • Sand or gravel
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About the Author

Aaron Samsel is the founding editor of He has been writing professionally since 2008.