Cryptocoryne Crispatula Care Guide

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Last updated on August 4th, 2022 at 02:40 pm

The Cryptocoryne Crispatula is one of the most common and easiest to grow freshwater aquarium plants out there; it’s been grown in aquariums since the 1950s, and it has even been used in Japanese aquascaping competitions! That said, it still has some specific care requirements that you should understand before you bring this plant home so that you can give it the best conditions possible and keep it thriving in your aquarium for years to come.

Cryptocoryne crispatula is an extremely popular plant and it’s easy to see why. With their large, beautiful leaves, the snake plant are not only attractive but also easy to care for, making them a great addition to any home or office space.

This species of plant is found in the Amazon and other tropical regions of South America. It’s also commonly known as little-fruited cryptocoryne, coffeefish livebearer, and sometimes confused it with Amazon swords.

Here is all you need to know about cryptocoryne crispatula care and species profile, including tips on keeping your plants healthy and thriving with minimal effort!

Origin and descriptions

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula originates from southern Vietnam, China, Myanmar, and Thailand. They are a low-growing plant that requires high humidity. It is commonly referred to as Pennywort because of its leaf shape and is often used in Asian cuisine. They can be found in Asia under floating plants and tied to rocks along bodies of water such as rivers and ponds.

Cryptocoryne crispatula thrives best with full sunlight but has been known to survive indoors. They are usually grown by submerging their roots in substrate or potting soil with or without gravel on top. Crispatulas are fairly easy to care for once their temperature requirement has been met. However, they do require some attention when first entering new environments so as not to shock them.

Species profile

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula is an easy-to-care-for stem plant native to Malaysia. It’s typically grown emersed (in an aquatic environment) and features fragrant, grassy leaves with dark green stripes down each side of its stems. In terms of care, crypts are very forgiving; they grow best in soft, acidic water and require little fertilizer.

They are one of many Cryptocorynes that are popular with aquarists around the world. They have round heavily-veined leaves that are large and even in shape, although they tend to taper at both ends. The stems are red or green in color. This plant is a natural hybrid between Cryptocoryne balansae and Cryptocoryne wendtii, with origins in western Thailand and Indochina (Laos, Cambodia). Its English name comes from its apparent resemblance to spinach.

Helanthium tenellum (Pygmy Chain Sword)

The appearance and growth rate of Cryptocoryne crispatula will depend on several factors, including whether it is grown in bright light or low light conditions, whether CO2 injection is used, how frequently it receives nutrients through fertilization, and how much water turbulence there is. Generally speaking, though, a well-grown specimen should have leaves that are about 6 inches long at a height of about 6 inches above the substrate level. It should also be able to grow without toppling over.

Cryptocoryne crispatula height

Cryptocoryne crispatula plants, like most Crypts, can grow relatively tall; however, they have a slower growth rate than many Crypts. They will easily reach 10–15 inches (25-38 cm) in height after a few months, but will generally grow to a maximum height of 36 inches (90 cm) in most aquariums. In larger aquariums or planted tanks, however, they can get much taller. When grown emersed (above water), they tend to take on a shrub-like appearance and grow much faster.

The leaves of crispatula species can reach up to 13 inches in height, which is shorter than other Crypts. The leaves are approximately 4-5 inches wide. The veins on crispatula leaves are darker green and more noticeable compared to other cryptocorynes.

How to grow Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula can be propagated by dividing or separating rhizome. Dividing is best done in spring and early summer, when plants are growing quickly. If you want to keep your mother plant, it’s better to separate rather than divide—pull a few of its rhizomes off and replant them in a new pot. If you do divide your plant, try not to damage any of its roots. Repot into fresh substrate immediately after dividing; if you put it off for too long, it will begin to lose its health.

It is advised that you use small pots for young Cryptocoryne crispatula plant until they become established. The average adult size is 10–15 inches (25-38 cm). This crypt comes from higher elevations, so keep it warm and partially shaded while acclimating to lower light levels before placing it in full sun. Although many growers report success with cryptocorynes planted directly outdoors (to prevent overheating indoors), cryptocorynes crispatula prefers intermediate shade but tolerates full sun (and even neglect) once acclimated.

Cryptocoryne Wendtii (Wendt's Water Trumpet)

Cryptocoryne crispatula care

Cryptocoryne crispatula

Cryptocoryne crispatula is a widespread, shade-loving plant. Unlike most of its cory peers, it does not require high amounts of CO2 or intense lighting. This makes it an ideal beginner’s plant for low-tech setups and those in more humid environments.

So whether you have just gotten into keeping planted tanks or are just looking to add some variety to your aquascape, Cryptocoryne crispatula should be on your short list of plants! It also responds incredibly well to trimming; unlike many other crypt species, it will not shrink up after pruning.

Cryptocoryne crispatula is an excellent foreground plant for both fresh and brackish aquariums. It grows best in bright, but not direct light, at a water temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, it will grow in any good aquarium substrate, it does best when planted in a sandy substrate with hardy river rock. This plant should be grown emersed if you intend to put it in your freshwater tank.

Light requirements

Cryptocoryne crispatula is a very easy plant to care for, as it requires little light and grows in a wide range of conditions. It is typically found growing submerged in swamps and freshwater rivers, so it does not require bright light. Keep your crypt in moderate light, but if you place it near a window that receives at least some direct sunlight for most of the day, you will not harm your plant.

A good rule of thumb is to have your lighting set on its lowest setting while your plant acclimates to its new home. Afterward, slowly increase exposure time per day until it reaches full sun (12 hours per day) or close to full sun (10 hours per day).

If you notice red spots developing or brown edges forming on your leaves, cut back exposure time accordingly. Though Cryptocoryne crispatula isn’t as high maintenance as other cryptocorynes, such as Red Malayan and Green Holespot (Cryptocoryne wendittii), it still requires sufficient oxygenation for optimal growth and longevity.

Hornwort Care (Ceratophyllum Demersum)

Substrate/potting soil

Crypts need to be planted in soil that will allow for adequate drainage. In other words, a potting soil specifically designed for houseplants is ideal. Alternatively, you can use aquarium sand and add perlite or coarse gravel to keep your crypt’s root zone aerated.  This combination allows excess water to drain while providing sufficient nutrients and oxygen.

However, if you plan on changing the water frequently (i.e., daily), make sure there is still plenty of space between each grain of substrate so it doesn’t become compacted; over time, doing so could impact your plant’s health by slowing nutrient uptake.


During spring and summer, it is necessary to fertilize Cryptocoryne crispatula plants weekly with a weak solution of fertilizer. As a general rule, if the fertilizer solution dissolves completely in an hour, it’s strong enough. If it takes more than an hour, mix half strength. If you’re not sure whether you’re overfeeding your plant or underfeeding your plant, err on the side of caution: underfeed during times of growth and overfeed during times of rest.


Cryptocoryne crispatula thrive in moderate temperatures. In nature, they can be found growing in areas between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 35 degrees Celsius). Most growers report that crispatulas do best at temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius) during daylight hours and as low as 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 16 degrees Celsius) during nighttime hours.


Cryptocoryne crispatula plants are tropical species that require high humidity levels. Aim for 70-80% relative humidity at all times, and set up your tank accordingly. Purchase a good quality humidifier and aim to keep it running 24/7 throughout spring and summer.


Cryptocoryne crispatula

It’s important to prune cryptocorynes often so they have room to grow and thrive. Pruning also keeps your aquarium looking neat and tidy.

Here’s how to do it: start by removing any dead leaves or stems. If a stem is very long, cut off part of it; leave as much of a stem as possible (it will grow back faster).

Then, you can snip off a section anywhere from 1/4 inch to 3 inches above a leaf node (where a leaf is attached to a stem). If that section has two or more nodes (where leaves are attached), remove just one, they won’t mind.

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Growth rate

Cryptocoryne crispatula typically grows about 2 to 5 inches per month when well-cared for. If you see your plant growing quickly, be sure to reduce or stop fertilizing until it slows down a bit. The faster growth rate is an indication that you’re overfeeding your plant. After a few weeks of slower growth, resume feeding lightly at half strength.

Continue monitoring growth and adjust accordingly in future months as needed to maintain steady but slow growth for best results.


In freshwater, cryptocorynes are completely safe and non-toxic. However, they can become toxic under brackish conditions (i.e. a mix of fresh and saltwater) if kept in such conditions for prolonged periods of time. Experts recommend keeping them under brackish conditions for less than six months in order to ensure safety. During that time, do frequent water changes to make sure your fish are not exposed to any toxins.

Pests and diseases

If your Crypt is coming from a different environment, it may be susceptible to pests and diseases that do not exist in its native habitat. Be on high alert for any new spots on your plant, which could indicate disease or pest infestation.

Any new additions to your aquarium should be quarantined separately for at least two weeks before mixing with other fish or plants. Sick Crypts are easily identifiable by discoloration (white patches) of leaf tissue and/or yellowing of leaves.

Cryptocoryne crispatula are fairly sturdy plants, but can still be affected by pests and diseases. Mealybugs, for example, are commonly seen on them They’re annoying because they will cover your plant’s leaves and stems. The easiest way to get rid of them is to dab with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol (isopropyl). This will kill off some of them on contact while others won’t be affected.