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Ludwigia Repens Aquarium Plant (2022 Care Guide)

Ludwigia repens is a striking aquatic plant that can brighten up any fish tank. It’s easy to grow and spreads quickly, making it an ideal choice if you’ve just started your planted aquarium journey.

However, like with any aquatic plant, L.repens needs specific water parameters and maintenance to successfully grow. I’ve owned many of these aquatic plants over the years (they’re one of my favorite species!), so I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks on how to correctly care for ludwigia to help it thrive in your aquarium.

Origin

L.repens is native North and Central America, as well as the Carribean Islands. It can also be found in some other locations, including Asia and Australia.

Ludwigia repens grows in tropical, slow-moving waters. Natural habitats for these aquatic plants include muddy or sandy ponds, streams, ditches, and lakes, in which it grows either fully or partially submerged.

It is an amphibious plant, so it needs to be close to a body of water to survive.

Species Summary

Ludwigia Repens Plant
Ludwigia Repens Plant

Ludwigia is a trailing plant that grows long, thick stems that are usually red and grow partially or fully submerged. Its oppositely arranged leaves can range from a deep green to dark red color depending on the variety.

It will quickly expand in an aquarium under the right care. In fact, L.repens grows so rapidly (it can reach its full size in three to six months!) that it is considered an aquatic weed in some regions, including Asia and Australia.

That’s because the plant can outcompete other plants, limit water flow, reduce light for aquatic life, decrease water quality and oxygen levels, and even restrict activities like swimming and boating on waterways.

Benefits

While L.repens can be a nuisance in the wild, particularly in areas it isn’t native to, this plant has numerous benefits in the home aquarium.

Like all aquarium plants, L.repens can help improve water quality by absorbing ammonia, carbon dioxide, nitrate, and excess nutrients. They also increase oxygen levels and act as shelter for your tank inhabitants.

L.repens provides the above advantages while being a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for, which makes it a fantastic option if you’re new to aquatic plants. And best of all, these bright red to deep green plants look great in all setups!

Features

One of the Ludwigia repens’ most notable features is its strong root system and sturdy aerial roots. These roots are white or yellow and can help keep the plant upright if they are buried under the substrate.

NOTE

Ludwigia plants can also grow above the water surface if they are left to free float, making them an extremely versatile species that can adapt to a variety of setups.

Color

The plant ludwigia repens can range in color depending on the variety, though most specimens you’ll come across will have either dark green or brownish red to bright red leaves. The tops of the leaves are normally an olive green hue, whereas the undersides are mostly red.

As mentioned earlier, the ‘Rubin’ variety of this stem plant has both deep red leaves and stems, which makes it a popular choice in planted tanks.

Size & Growth Rate

Ludwigia repens is a relatively large plant that can quickly overtake your aquarium in the right tank conditions. The plant typically grows to around 12 to 20 inches long, with stems reaching between 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide depending on average leaf growth.

How Fast Does Ludwigia Repens Grow?

Ludwigia repens is a fast grower and can reach its full height in three to six months in the right conditions. However, if kept in low-light tanks, its development can be significantly reduced to roughly one inch of new plant growth per month.

Why Is My Ludwigia Repens Rubin Green?

Ludwigia Repens on White Background
Ludwigia Repens on White Background

If your Ludwigia repens ‘Rubin’ has turned green or is beginning to lose its color and encounters health issues, it’s likely that it needs more light. This stem plant needs high lighting for around 8 hours per day to grow properly, form healthy leaves, and maintain its color.

Additionally, these plants need a good-quality fertilizer, planted substrate, and CO2 injections to reach their full potential, so make sure you are using all three in your tank.

Fertilizer

If you’re already applying these methods, you might want to switch your fertilizer as it might not contain the right level of nutrients.

Speaking from personal experience, when one of my ludwigias lost its red color, it was because my fertilizer didn’t have enough iron in it. Once I changed to a different fertilizer, it gradually regained its red hue!

How to Get My Ludwigia Repens Red?

To enhance the color of your ludwigia repens or help it develop a more intense red color, you should make sure the plant is receiving high light intensity, iron-rich fertilizers, CO2 injections, and a nutritious substrate.

While these plants can survive without the above, they will grow much slower and won’t be as brightly colored.

How to Plant Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia is easy to plant – simply place it into the substrate, making sure that around one inch of root is covered. If your plant is mature, you can encourage new growth by trimming it.

Alternatively, you can grow these aquarium plants out of the substrate by letting it float in the water, similar to java moss and java fern.

TIP

This plant grows and propagates quickly, so you don’t need a large number of stems to get started – just a few stems will rapidly spread in a couple of months!

Is Ludwigia a Root Feeder?

Ludwiigia is a root feeder and water column feeder, which means it gets its nutrients from both the substrate and the water column.

Does Ludwigia Repens Need CO2?

CO2 isn’t a necessity for growing ludwigia repens, but it can encourage quicker growth and brighter coloration. Aquarium plant fertilizers can also help the growth of these aquarium plants.

Does Ludwigia Repens Need to Be Planted?

Ludwigia Repens: HOW TO PLANT

Ludwigia repens plants don’t need to be planted, but they tend to thrive if grown in a nutrient-rich substrate instead of being left to free float as this allows them to develop a healthy root system.

The species grows quite bushy, so you might want to plant it in mid ground to the background of your tank rather than at the front.

Does Ludwigia Repens Need Soil?

While ludwigia can grow free-floating or in almost all substrates, it usually does best in a nutritious substrate such as aqua soil that is topped off with a clay-based substrate to prevent the soil from leaking out.

TIP

It’s best to avoid sand for ludwigia as it can suffocate the plant’s roots.

How to Care for Ludwigia Repens

L.repens is an excellent plant for beginners as it doesn’t have challenging care requirements and can be grown in most tanks. However, you’ll still need to ensure the plant is receiving the right water parameters, light, substrate, and is kept in the right size tank to maximize its potential.

Tank Size

Ludwigia plants grow and propagate extremely quickly, so they’re not the best choice for nano tanks or tanks less than 10 gallons. A minimum of 20 gallons is ideal for this species, but they can be grown in smaller tanks as long as you trim them frequently.

Water Parameters Ludwigia Repens

Ludwigia Repens Rubin by Carnat Joel
Ludwigia Repens Rubin by Carnat Joel

Ludwigia stem plants can adapt to a wide range of water parameters. They can live in very soft or hard water conditions, but it’s best suited to tanks with slightly acidic water with a pH of between 6.0 to 8.0 and a water hardness of around 3 to 8 KH.

As Ludwigia repens originate from tropical waters, the water temperature range of your tank should be 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, though mid 70s are preferred.

As long as your water parameters are consistent and don’t fluctuate too much, these plants can adapt to the majority of freshwater aquariums.

Lighting

Ludwigia plants thrive in high intensity light, but they can tolerate low to moderate lighting conditions. However, in low lighting, its color will not be as vibrant and it won’t grow as quickly. If your plant’s growth rate is stunted or it loses its color, it’s highly likely that it needs more lighting.

Use a powerful, full-spectrum lighting for this plant, ideally one designed for planted tanks. Aim for a unit that can output between three to five watts per gallon of aquarium water.

Substrate

The L.repens plant grows best in a nutrient-rich substrate, ideally one that contains plenty of iron to promote vivid coloration, fast growth, and healthy roots. You’ll need at least three inches of substrate when planting ludwigia repens to ensure they build a strong root system.

Trimming & Pruning

Ludwigia Repens Stem
Ludwigia Repens Stem

Ludwigia plants need regular trimming and pruning to keep it manageable, otherwise, it will quickly overtake your aquarium. Using a pair of pruning scissors, simply snip off the lateral shoots and of the plant and shape to it any style you like.

You can also chop off the side shoots of the plant to keep it smaller and prevent it from growing into the foreground of your aquarium.

Compatibility & Tank Mates

Ludwigia repens shouldn’t be housed with aggressive fish species as the plant’s leaves are delicate and easily damaged, particularly young plants. Any peaceful fish or invertebrates are a great choice for this plant, including shrimp species, neon tetras, cherry barbs, guppies, corydoras, and betta fish.

NOTE

Aquatic snails can also be good tank mates, but bear in mind that they like to eat plants!

Where to Buy Ludwigia Repens

Red ludwigia is a popular freshwater aquarium plant, so it should be easy to find online or in your local fish store.

Summary

If you’re looking for a striking, vibrant plant to spruce up your aquarium, you can’t go wrong with the L. repens. They’re simple to care for and don’t require too much maintenance, which makes them a great entry level plant.

Better yet, Ludwigia grows rapidly, eventually forming lush, dense vegetation. This not only looks stunning (like an underwater jungle!), but it also provides your fish with plenty of hiding spaces to make them feel more secure.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped you learn more about ludwigia repens and the best way to care for these beautiful plants. Remember to provide this species with high intensity light, a nutritious substrate, fertilizer, and CO2 to ensure it reaches its full potential.

What do you like the most about L. repens? Be sure to share this article and let me know on our social media platforms.

If you’re after more in-depth aquarium related guides and reviews, check out our other articles here!

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Mollie Newton
Mollie Newton
Founder of PetMeTwice. I love all types of animals from fish to fluff-balls! I also enjoy writing short stories and helping train animals 🤩