Ammania Gracilis Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Ammania Gracilis Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Ammannia gracilis is an elegant, light-loving, and long-stemmed plant that can add vibrant colors to a freshwater aquarium when properly cared for.

Due to its somewhat temperamental nature and its specific requirements for light intensity, CO2 supplementation, and periodic nutrient supplementation, Ammannia gracilis should be considered at least of moderate difficulty.

In this article, I will be talking about everything you need to know about Ammannia gracilis. This plant profile provides a lot of information about this plant; these include how to plant and care for it in an aquarium.

Quick Notes about Ammannia Gracilis

Common Name Ammannia gracilis
Other Names Red Ammania, Pink Ammania, Delicate Ammania, or Large Ammania 
Scientific Name Ammannia gracilis
Tank Size (minimum) 20 gallons (~80 liters)
Difficulty Medium to difficult
Lighting Moderate to high 
Optimal pH 6.5 – 7.5
Optimal hardness Soft-Medium
Optimal temperature 72 – 79°F (22 – 26°C)
Substrate Needed 
Can float:
Can Be Grown Emersed
Size up to 20 inches (50+ cm)
Growth Form
Growth Rate Fast
Placement in Tank Background
CO2 Needed
Propagation Vegetative and by seeds

Etymology of Ammannia Gracilis

The etymology of the genus name “Ammannia” can be attributed to the German botanist and physician, Paul Ammann (1634-1691) who made significant contributions to the field of botany or related sciences.

The species name ‘Gracilis’ can be traced back to Latin; it means ‘Slender or graceful, referring to the plant’s characteristic and delicate nature of this particular species.

Taxonomy of Ammannia Gracilis

This plant was first described in 1833 by Guillemin, Jean Baptiste Antoine and Perrottet, George Samuel in “Florae Senegambiae Tentamen”.

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Lythraceae
Genus: Ammannia
Species: A. gracilis

Distribution of Ammannia Gracilis

Ammania Gracilis Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation - destributionAmmannia gracilis is endemic to Africa. It can be found in Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Central African Republic.

Habitat of Ammannia Gracilis

Ammannia gracilis is usually found in wetlands, marshes, floodplains, and areas with stagnant, or slow-moving water where it grows in sandy riverbanks and floodplains.

Description of Ammannia Gracilis

This is a very long-stemmed and slender plant that can grow both emersed (above the water surface) and submersed (underwater). Depending on its growth form, the appearance of the plant changes drastically.

Ammania Gracilis Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation - flowerDistinguishing characteristics of Ammannia gracilis:

  • Plant size: This plant features a height of 10 – 20 inches (20 – 50 cm). The stem of Ammannia gracilis is thick and gives a robust appearance.
  • Growth form. Ammannia gracilis can be grown emersed or submersed. If the plant is growing in an emersed form, the stem rarely grows completely upright; instead, it tends to start bending, curving, and prostrating.
  • Leaves. The leaves are sessile, entire-edged, and arranged in a cross-opposite pattern.
    The emergent leaves range from linear to inversely ovate, measuring 1-2 inches (2-6 cm) in length and 0.4-0.8 inches (1-2 cm) in width, with an olive-green color.
    The submerged leaves are lanceolate, measuring 3-5 inches (7-12 cm) in length and 0.3 – 0.7 inches (0.7-1.8 cm) in width, with the upper surface ranging from olive-green to brownish-red, and the lower surface can be intensely violet or red.
  • Flower. Ammannia gracilis is a flowering plant. The inflorescence consists of 3-7 small flowers. The flowers have 4 purple petals and either 4 or 8 stamens, and they grow in clusters.
  • Roots: Although the roots are thin, the plant develops a relatively strong root system.

Tank Requirements and Water Parameters

Ammannia gracilis is not a good choice for beginners due to its high light, CO2, nutrient demands, and stable water parameters.

This is not a hardy plant as some people claim it to be!

On the contrary, this plant is quite sensitive to temperature fluctuations and water quality.

Tank size:

Ammannia gracilis requires a lot of space because of its growth potential. Thus, this plant can only be suited in larger (high, especially) aquariums starting from 20 gallons (80 liters).

However, even in such an aquarium, over time, this plant will become so large that you will have no choice but to trim it.

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Temperature: The ideal temperature for Ammannia gracilis is between 72 – 77°F (22 – 26°C). This plant can be sensitive to sudden temperature fluctuations, which may result in leaf melting.

pH: It was noticed that this plant prefers slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5.

Hardness: Ammannia gracilis prefers soft to moderately hard water. It grows best in freshwaters with hardness between 2 – 10 GH.


Ammannia gracilis is a very light-demanding plant.

It needs a lot of bright light in order to reach its full potential for growth. Therefore, it is advised to use an effective lighting system to produce at least medium-high lighting levels (30–50 PAR).

Additionally, maintain a standard photoperiod of 10-12 hours daily. This plant may melt if it does not get enough light.

On the internet, you may come across opinions suggesting that Ammannia gracilis can grow in low-light conditions.

However, I disagree with this notion.

Even if the plant survives under such conditions, it will grow slowly and appear feeble. The color will be mostly green with little to no red undertones, which is what aquariums are looking for!

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Ammannia gracilis prefers loose, nutrient-rich substrates. In nature, it thrives in sandy soil along riverbanks and in flooded areas.

Therefore, a two-layered substrate with a thin, nutrient-rich layer acting as the base and fine gravel or sand acting as the top layer will be a good choice.

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Ammannia gracilis does not like high flow. In its natural habitat, this plant is not found in fast-flowing rivers or streams.

Too much flow may make it melt in days.

CO2 and Fertilization:

CO2: It is highly advisable to supplement CO2 for optimal growth of Ammannia gracilis. Without CO2, growing and cultivating this plant can be quite challenging because it will exhibit limp and elongated growth.

Important: It is crucial to maintain a proper balance of CO2 and nutrients for high-light demanding plants. Using intense lighting without CO2 injections is not recommended, as it can lead to significant algae issues.

Fertilization: This is a fast-growing plant. Thus, due to its rapid growth, this plant requires adequate nutrients for optimal development. A regular supply (2-3 times a week) of macro and micronutrients is essential to support its growth and vibrant coloration. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron are particularly important for its healthy growth.

Note: If you keep shrimp in the tank with Ammannia gracilis, I would highly recommend reading my articles:

Care and Maintenance of Ammannia Gracilis

Ammania Gracilis Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and PropagationIn aquariums, this plant is commonly used as a classic stem plant, planted in dense groups along the sides and as a background plant due to its larger size.

Under optimal conditions, Ammannia gracilis will exhibit fast growth rate. Once established, it may take only a few weeks before it will be ready for propagation and/or trimming.

Do not allow the plant to reach the surface. You may get a big tangled mass.

Start trimming it when there are 4-6 (10-15 cm) inches to the surface of the water. You can safely shorten it by half. Do not worry, it will grow back rather quickly. Regularly trim the plant to prevent overcrowding and promote bushier growth

Planting Ammannia Gracilis

In aquascaping, this plant can be used as a background plant due to its larger size or it can easily serve as a focal point.

Avoid planting Ammannia gracilis in one large clump. Instead, it is better to plant this plant with about 2 inches (5 cm) between each one and to make sure that no other plants will shade it while it is growing.

You simply need to plant it deep enough in the substrate to keep it from floating up; there is no special method or trick involved in the planting process itself.

Tip: use a pair of tweezers (link to check the price on Amazon). 

Unlike some plants that can be left floating until their root system develops and they are ready to be planted in the substrate, it is not advisable to do so with Ammannia gracilis.

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Propagation of Ammannia Gracilis

Ammannia gracilis propagates in 2 ways:

  • By seeds. Its flowers will produce viable seeds. This method requires a lot of time and effort. Additionally, this method cannot guarantee any results, which is why it is not popular among aquarists.
  • Vegetative (Cuttings). In aquariums, this is the main method of propagation. Simply cut off the stems and plant them. Just ensuring that the cutting is at least 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7 cm) in length.

Ammannia Gracilis and Dry Start Method

One effective technique for growing Ammannia gracilis is the Dry Start Method. The main benefit of this method is that it may produce large amounts of CO2 without the need for extra equipment.

Here’s how to implement the Dry Start Method:

  1. Instead of immediately filling the tank with water after planting, add just enough water to reach the surface of the lowest part of the substrate.
  2. Using tweezers, carefully plant Ammannia gracilis stems into the substrate.
  3. Cover the top of the tank with cling wrap to create a humid environment.
  4. After approximately 5 to 8 weeks, you can proceed to flood the tank with water.

This method promotes the initial growth of Ammannia gracilis before transitioning to submerged conditions.

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Problems Associated With Growing Ammannia Gracilis

Melting: It usually takes place when the plant is transferred from an emersed to a submersed environment. If you have just acquired the plant and it has green and ovate leaves, it means that the plant was grown emersed.

Solution: Don’t panic. In most cases, the plant will either regrow the leaves or continue growing with developing new submerged leaves.

Black leaves: This problem is often caused by a lack of lighting.

Solution: Check your lighting and do some changes.

Excessive leaf shedding: The main causes can be attributed to insufficient light, nutrient deficiencies, or a combination of both.

Solution: More lighting and regular fertilization.

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Benefits of Ammannia Gracilis

Aquascape: Ammannia gracilis can be an excellent decorative addition to your tank. Due to its vibrant nature, this plant can be used  commonly used in Dutch-style aquascaping, particularly as a focal point.

Hiding place for fish, fry, and shrimp: It serves as great cover and shade for inverts, small frogs, and fish.

Foraging place: Acts as a buffet of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.

Prevents gas pockets: Ammannia gracilis has a well-developed root system that will help to break up anaerobic pockets in the substrate.
Note: Hydrogen sulfide pockets (H2S, the gas smells like rotten eggs) can be really dangerous to your fish or shrimp.

Ammannia Gracilis and Compatible Tankmates


The plant is best kept with small, peaceful community fish such as Neon tetras,  Killifish, Swordtails, White Mountain Minnows, Zebra Danio, Cherry Barb, Sunburst Platy, EndlersMollies, Otocinclus CatfishPygmy Cory Catfish, etc.


Considering the fact that Ammannia gracilis prefers slightly acidic water. Thus, you should consider species that prefer the same water parameters, for example, Crystal red shrimp, Blue bolt shrimp, Caridina cf. babaulti, etc. 

Freshwater snails:

Once again, ornamental snails should not be kept in a tank with low PH for a long time. It will negatively affect their shell. However, if your pH is close to 7.0, it is possible to keep almost any snail or dwarf shrimp you like. Examples, Japanese trapdoor snailsRamshorn snailsNerite snailsMalaysian Trumpet snailsBlack Devil SnailsAsolene spixiRabbit Snailsetc.).

Avoid or Be Careful

Avoid fish species that may disturb the substrate near the plant or find Ammannia gracilis too palatable, e.g. Silver dollars, Bueno Aires tetras, Koi fish, Goldfish, Oscars, Rainbow, Jack Dempsey, Clown loaches, African Cichlids. These species can really cause problems in the planted tanks.

Ammannia gracilis and most types of crayfish or freshwater crabs are not a good combination as well. These animals may cut, eat, and uproot almost everything in the tank. So, keep it in mind and do your research beforehand.

Quarantine Ammannia Gracilis

Unless you are completely sure that Ammannia gracilis is safe, for example, it was grown in sterile/laboratory conditions (in vitro) and in vitro pot is not damaged or opened, do not forget to quarantine and disinfect it first to avoid the risk of contamination and poisoning.

Note: This plant is quite sensitive to bleacj and hydrogen peroxide, so be cautious when using them.

DO NOT introduce a new plant to your tank right after you bought it.

  • The plant can have parasites, pests like snails, or even predators (dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.).
  • It may already contain residues of chemicals (pesticide) to remove parasites, snails, etc. These chemicals are extremely poisonous to fish, shrimp, and other invertebrates.

To find out more, read my articles:  

In Conclusion

Ammannia gracilis is an absolutely stunning plant known for its decorative qualities, capable of becoming a worthy adornment in any aquascape.

However, it demands special care and requires extra attention, especially if you want to preserve its noble reddish-brown coloration. When subjected to unsuitable conditions, its unique hue may fade into ordinary green at best.

Additionally, due to its large size, it is advisable to keep Ammannia gracilis in an appropriately sized tank. In small tanks, it will reach the water surface and shade neighboring plants, which can have a negative impact on their well-being.


  1. Roskov Y., Kunze T., Orrell T., Abucay L., Paglinawan L., Culham A., Bailly N., Kirk P., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Decock W., De Wever A., Didžiulis V. (ed) (2019). “Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2019 Annual Checklist”. Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-884X. TaxonID: 53513334. Gikuha niadtong 2019-11-11.
  2. Hassler M. (2019). World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World (version Nov 2018). In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life, 2019 Annual Checklist (Roskov Y., Ower G., Orrell T., Nicolson D., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., DeWalt R.E., Decock W., Nieukerken E. van, Zarucchi J., Penev L., eds.). Digital resource at Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-884X.
  3. Ammannia gracilis at Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis.
  4. Ammannia gracilis. JSTOR Global Plants.  Flora of Tropical Africa, Vol 2, page 464, (1871) Author: (By Mr. J. G. Baker.)

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