Overview

If you’re interested in plants that come in a lot of varieties and colors, then Water Trumpets might be for you! Water Trumpets are a group of aquatic plants that produce unique, trumpet-shaped flowers. These plants come in a broad array of sizes and shapes, so there’s something for every taste when it comes to Water Trumpets.

There are things to learn about Water Trumpets before bringing them home to your tank, though. They can be sensitive to changes in the water and they are not a great fit for tanks with fish that are hard on plants, like goldfish. Here’s everything you need to know about the care of Water Trumpets!divider1- goldfish

Useful Information About Water Trumpet

Family Name: Araceae
Common Name: Water Trumpet, Cryptocoryne, Crypt
Origin: Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, India, Sri Lanka
Color: Green, Red, Brown
Size: 4-24 inches
Growth Rate: Slow
Care Level: Easy
Lighting: Low
Water Conditions: Temperature 68-86˚F

pH 6.0-8.0

Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
Supplements: Iron-rich fertilizer or substrate
Placement: Foreground, midground, or background
Propagation: Runners, plant division
Compatibility: Freshwater tanks with stable parameters

Water Trumpet Appearance

Cryptocoryne-plant-aquarium_Andrej-Jakubik_shutterstock

Image credit: Andrej Jakubik, Shutterstock

Water Trumpets, or Cryptocorynes, are actually a genus of plant that covers dozens of plants. These plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they do all have some characteristics in common.

Water Trumpets grow long, tall leaves on short stems. These stems are attached to a root system that sends out runners for propagation. Some Water Trumpets have narrow leaves while others have broad leaves. Regardless of the size of the leaves, all Water Trumpet leaves come to a point at the tip.

These plants can be light to dark green, red, brown, or rust-colored. Some plants have solid-colored leaves while others have patterned leaves or leaves that fade from one color to another.

Water Trumpets are called this because of their inflorescence, which is a cluster of flowers that form from a modified stem. This cluster of flowers appears in Water Trumpets as a spadix inside of a trumpet-shaped spathe, similar in appearance to a pitcher plant. These spathes can be a variety of colors, including yellow, purple, red, pink, and white. The family Araceae is the same family that plants like Peace Lilies and Anubias.

Where to Find It?

In the wild, Water Trumpets are spread across a large portion of tropical Southeast Asia, India, and some South Pacific islands. They have become invasive in similar environments in the US, like the state of Florida.

Water Trumpets are extremely popular aquarium plants, so they are easy to acquire from online and in-person aquatic stores. Large pet stores may not carry these plants, though.divider3 goldfish bowl

General Care

Water Trumpets are, overall, easy-care plants as long as they are kept in stable water with nutrient supplementation. They come in over 60 varieties, so there are a lot of options to choose from.

Here are some of the more common Water Trumpets you may come across:
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii “green”: These plants have tall, needle-like leaves with a crimped texture. They are usually green all the time but do occasionally produce brown leaves. This variety can exceed 12 inches in height.
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii “Tropica”: These plants have distinctive brown leaves with a hammered appearance. This variety usually does not exceed 8 inches in height.
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii “red”: This variety of Water Trumpet has tall, needle-like leaves with a crimped texture. These leaves are rust to dark red in color and only reach around 8 inches in height.
  • Cryptocoryne undulata: This is one of the larger varieties of Water Trumpets, reaching 18 inches in height. The leaves are pointed and have wave-like edges. This variety can have red or green leaves.
  • Cryptocoryne parva: This is the smallest variety of Water Trumpets and is even available in a nano variety. This plant only reaches around 4 inches in height. It has petite, smooth leaves with more rounded tips than many other varieties. It is usually bright green in color.
  • Cryptocoryne retrospiralis: This variety of Water Trumpets has tall, narrow leaves that are distinguishable by their hammered, slightly corkscrew appearance. This plant can be anywhere from bright to dark green, but also may take on a rust or bronze coloration. These leaves can reach up to 24 inches in height.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Tank/Aquarium Size

Since Water Trumpets are available in a wide range of sizes, there is not a specific tank size for all Water Trumpets. Cryptocoryne parva is available in a nano variety that only reaches about 4 inches in height. Cryptocoryne undulata can reach heights over 12 inches, making it a good choice for large tanks.


Water Temperature and pH

These are tropical plants, so they prefer warm water from 68-86˚F. Water Trumpets prefer slightly acidic to neutral water but can grow successfully in water pH from 6.0-8.0.


Substrate

Water Trumpets need a nutrient-rich substrate that has iron in it, like Seachem Fluorite. Root tabs with iron, like the Seachem Flourish root tabs, are another good fertilizer option for these plants.


Plants

Other plants that grow in tropical freshwater environments are good additions to a tank with Water Trumpets. This includes plants like Hornwort, Anubias, and Amazon Swords.


Lighting

Water Trumpets can live in medium lighting, but most grow best in low-light environments. Floating plants can be used to achieve shade for Water Trumpets if more light is needed for other plants in the tank.


Filtration

These plants prefer environments with gentle currents, making them a good fit for tanks with sponge filters and HOB filters that produce minimal current. These plants cannot survive environments with fluctuating parameters, so filtration that helps keep nitrate levels stable is needed.

Planting Tips

Water Trumpets prefer to be planted in a nutrient-rich substrate, especially one with high levels of iron. The roots should be planted into the substrate and plant weights can be used to hold the plant into place if needed. This is especially handy if trying to plant Water Trumpets in tanks with goldfish or loaches.

Water Trumpets are notorious for a large die-off of leaves after planting. This is known as “melting” and in these plants, it’s specifically called “Crypt melt”. Many people believe their plant has died but with stable water parameters, the plant is likely to come back in time. These plants don’t like to be moved after planting, though, so choose the location wisely to prevent Crypt melt undoing the growth your plant has accumulated.

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4 Benefits of Having Water Trumpet in Your Aquarium

  1. Diversity: Water Trumpets come in so many varieties in different heights, you could feasibly aquascape your entire tank with Water Trumpet varieties. Your tank would still have the appearance of a diverse ecosystem.
  2. Water Quality: Since Water Trumpets require such stable water parameters, having one or two in your tank can be extremely motivating to keep your water quality healthy. These plants will let you know quickly if there is a problem developing with your water quality.
  3. Color: These plants come in multiple colorful varieties with varied flower colors as well. Some of the flowers are bright while others are dark, creating a lot of interest in your tank.
  4. Substrate Aeration: Water Trumpets have well-developed, strong root systems that can trail throughout a tank, putting off runner plants as they go. These roots will help aerate your substrate and prevent the collection of dangerous gases under the substrate’s surface.

Concerns About Water Trumpet

Within a stable environment, Water Trumpets are hardy plants that propagate easily. These plants have the ability to become invasive in warm, slow-moving water. Water Trumpets have become an invasive species in the state of Florida and have the potential to become invasive in many other areas as well.

Also, since Water Trumpets require nutrient supplementation, be cognizant of what type of fertilizer you use if you have invertebrates, especially shrimp. Many fertilizers have copper added to them, which can be deadly to some invertebrates. You can purchase shrimp-safe fertilizer, though, like NilocG ThriveS.

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Final Thoughts

After learning all about Water Trumpets, what varieties do you think will work best in your aquarium? You have a broad selection of interesting colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from with Water Trumpets. As a bonus, they produce large, noticeable flowers.

Your small fish and invertebrates will love the addition of some Water Trumpet plants to the tank. These plants will provide a safe place to play and rest for your aquarium residents. While these plants are considered easy-care, the need for supplementation makes them a good plant choice for beginners who are ready to start moving toward more complex-care plants.


Featured image credit: rodimov, Shutterstock