Cryptocoryne Parva Care Guide – Planting, Growing, and Propagation

Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne parva is one of the most popular carpeting plants in the hobby. It comes from the genus ‘Cryptocoryne’ and it is notable for its wide variety which comprises of diverse species of different forms, colors, and sizes. Species from this genus are known to be enduring and undemanding making it suitable for beginners in the hobby.

In particular, Cryptocoryne parva (The specific name in Latin means ‘Small’) is the smallest species in the genus, it is a well-known foreground plant used in carpeting. This plant grows very slowly and it is easy to maintain.

Keep reading for more information about this amazing crypt species and how you can cultivate it in your aquarium.

Cryptocoryne parva – check out the price on Amazon

Quick Notes about Cryptocoryne parva

Common Name Cryptocoryne Parva
Other Names Dwarf water trumpet
Scientific Name
Cryptocoryne Parva
Difficulty Easy to Medium
Lighting Medium to High
Optimal pH 5.5 – 7.5
Optimal GH 1 – 20
Optimal Temperature 20 – 28 C (68 – 82 F)
Substrate Needed
Growth Form Stem
Growth Rate Very slow
Placement in Tank
Foreground (carpeting)
Height up 3 – 8 cm (~1 – 3 inches)
Not needed to low
CO2 Not needed to low
Propagation Runners or lateral shoots

Origin and Habitat of Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne is a genus of aquatic plants from the family Araceae which houses other popular aquarium plants like the Anubias and Pistia. The genus is naturally distributed in tropical regions of India, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea.

Cryptocoryne parva is native to central highlands in Sri Lanka near Kandy City where it forms dense colonies in riversides. This species is easy to care for, but it is plagued by an extremely slow growth rate.

The taxonomical classification of this plant is as follows:

Cryptocoryne ParvaKingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Genus: Cryptocoryne
Species: Cryptocoryne parva

Interesting facts: The first Cryptocoryne species was described in 1779 as Arum spirale by Anders Jahan Retzius. After many years, this plant was brought into our hobby and sold under different names. In 1970 Hendrik Cornelis Dirk recognized it as a separate species.

Description of Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne parva is the smallest species out of all known crypts. Its leaves are narrow and oval, they are often less than 5 cm (2 inches) in size and possess green coloration. This species forms a small bush from many lanceolate elongated green leaves gathered in a rosette.

The height of a typical Cryptocoryne parva is between 3 – 8 cm (~1 – 3 inches). The plant possesses multiple lanceolate elongated green leaves gathered in a wide rosette. The leaves are vibrant, dark green in color, flat and elongated without any frilling.

Cryptocoryne parva as mentioned earlier is the smallest of all the Cryptocoryne species, it is one of the few species whose leaf color, shape and form does not change significantly when the environment changes.

Due to its small size, Cryptocoryne parva is ideal for placement in foreground areas as a ground cover plant especially for small tanks or nano aquariums.

The Most Popular Varieties of Genus Cryptocoryne

Other notable species in the genus Cryptocoryne include the following:

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica'

Cryptocoryne wendtii: This Cryptocoryne species is regarded as the most variable kind. There are various forms of this plant that differs in color and leaf shapes. Its appearance may also change significantly in response to the tank conditions.

The most common is the ‘wendtii green’ which possesses oblong dark green leaves and ‘wendtii red’ with elongated reddish-brown leaves. This variety is known to grow as high as 15+ cm (6”).  This is a very popular aquarium plant, it can tolerate low to high light.

Related article:

Cryptocoryne undulata 'Red'
Cryptocoryne undulata ‘Red’

Cryptocoryne undulata: Cryptocoryne undulata comes from Sri Lanka. It grows in streams and rivers with fast flow. Undulata has a unique feature peculiar to it which is the presence of a small internode between the leaves.

This species is undemanding and can adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. It can grow up to 25 cm (10 inches). 


Cryptocoryne crispatulaCryptocoryne crispatula: Crispatula is a tall Cryptocoryne species, it grows up to 50+ cm (20+ inches) high. Its long leaf blades with corrugated edges adorn aquariums beautifully. The leaves have an attractive rippled pattern and are lush green to bronze coloration.

This species is well-suited for large tanks and it should be placed in the back or close to the walls of the tank. Cryptocoryne crispatula also requires a lot of light and a good fertilization regimen.

Cryptocoryne spiralisCryptocoryne spiralis: This is another variety of the Cryptocoryne. It grows in coastal lands of rivers and streams in India and Bangladesh. Spiralis has long and slender leaves, the edges are a bit wavy with colors ranging from bright green to brown.

In emersed form, the plant grows up to about 15 cm long compared to 30 cm height when grown submersed. The plant has a medium growth rate and requires a lot of light.

Cryptocoryne lucensCryptocoryne lucens: This is a much smaller and plain variant, it is about 10 – 12 cm (4 – 5 inches) high. In the aquarium, this Cryptocoryne species can serve as an ideal foreground or mid-ground plant.

Cryptocoryne Lucens forms thick vegetation underwater with its bright green flat leaves. It grows quite slow like the other species and has almost the same requirements as Cryptocoryne parva.


Tank Requirements and Water Parameters

Tank size:

Cryptocoryne parva is a small aquarium plant species, thus it is suited for a variety of tank sizes: from nano tanks to large tanks as the case may be. The minimum tank size for this species is 5 gallons.

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Temperature: This plant can easily thrive in a wide range of temperature conditions. However, the optimal temperature should be in the range of 20-28 °C (68-82 °F).
pH: Optimal water pH should be provided for this species in the range of 5.5 – 7.5.
Hardness: Cryptocoryne parva will appreciate optimal GH between 1-20 dGH for the best performance. This is a very adaptable plant and can grow in soft to hard water.


Unlike most Crypt species, Cryptocoryne parva is quite demanding in terms of lighting requirements. It needs medium – high illumination for optimal growth and development. It is essential that you do not place them close to tall plants in the tank to prevent them from depriving Cryptocoryne parva from getting enough lighting.

Read more about it in my article “Advanced Guide to Planted Tank Lighting”.


This plant will not be likely to do well in gravel- or sand-only substrate. Note: In this case, it will require a lot of root tabs to fertilize them.

Cryptocoryne parva will thrive best when planted in an enriched substrate, for example: ADA Amazonia aqua soil, Caribsea Eco-Complete Aquasoil, Seachem Flourite Black Sand, etc.

Read more about it in my article “Top 5 Substrates For Planted Aquariums”.


CO2 application: Cryptocoryne parva does not require additional CO2. CO2 injection has a very little effect on its growth therefore I don’t deem it necessary.

Fertilization: However, the plant appreciates fertilizer application, liquid fertilizer like Easy Green plant fertilizer will do just fine. Fertilizers rich in iron and potassium will help keep the plant healthy and prevent it from developing chlorosis and holes in the leaves.

Important: If you keep shrimp in the tank with the Cryptocoryne parva, I would highly recommend reading my articles:
CO2 in a Planted Tank Guide
CO2 in a Shrimp Tank

How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp
Shrimp Safe Plant Fertilizers
The point is that a high level of CO2 and Copper (most fertilizers contain copper) is extremely dangerous to the shrimp.   

Planting and Propagation of Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne parva needs to be cultivated in a fertile (nutrient-rich substrate) with adequate amounts of fertilizer. The plants should be planted at least 5 cm (2 inches) apart from one another. The reason for this is because they will branch out in their width and after some months they will grow to form dense carpets in the tank.

Tip: If you expect the plant to cover a large area, it is better to start with as many plants as possible. In a few months, (maybe) they will make a full cover.

When planting parva into the substrate, you will need to use tweezers to stick the plant into the substrate. Ensure that you do not plant it too deeply in the substrate to prevent rot or damage.

Important: It is a well-known fact that newly bought Cryptocoryne species often melt after planting. There is nothing wrong with that because they are usually emersed growth from the nursery. It means those leaves will die off anyway. Therefore, by cutting them down, the plants save more energy to adapt and use it into new growth.

However, DO NOT ever do that with Cryptocoryne parva before planting! First of all, this Cryptocoryne species is often do not melt. Second, Cryptocoryne parva does not like it at all.

If all of the leaves still melted away, do not panic. Mark the exact location of the plant and wait (sometimes weeks). There is still a high probability that the plant is alive, and that new leaves will sprout soon.

Cryptocoryne parva has a strong, long branchy root system; that is why the thickness of the substrate should not be less than 6 cm (~2.5 inches) so that the roots can penetrate properly and stay in it. This plant propagates by forming lateral shoots directly on its rhizomes, as well as sending out runners in the tank.

Note: Do not think that when Cryptocoryne parva starts propagating it will form dense bushes around the mother plant. Oh, no! Because of the long shoots, this plant can propagate up to 20 cm (8 inches) away from the main one.

Maintenance and Care of Cryptocoryne Parva

The slow growth exhibited by this species also turns out to be a major advantage after all because it makes maintenance easier. Due to this factor, you wouldn’t have to trim the plants regularly. Trimming will only be required after some months when the plants have been fully established in the tank (forms lush carpet with its green leaves).

Other than that, you are required to get rid of dead leaves and keep the water values stable at all times to prevent the plants from getting stressed / melting.

The plant benefits from iron and potassium supplementation, always dose the water column with the right amounts of these essential nutrients, and provide CO2 supply (this is not really necessary). Also, the slow-growing nature of the Cryptocoryne parva makes it susceptible to Green spot algae. Therefore, if your tank set up allows, introducing algae-eating eating species will definitely help.

Note: For example, Amano shrimp, Nerite snail, and Otocinclus Catfish. They are great algae eaters. Together they will do a phenomenal job.

For more information, you can read “Types of Algae. Best Algae Eating Team”.

Benefits of Cryptocoryne Parva:

Aquascape: This beautiful, carpeting plant is one of the best choices for aquascapes (particularly for Iwagumi aquascapes). Cryptocoryne parva grows really nicely in the tanks and looks very cool.

Prevents gas pocketsCryptocoryne parva’s root system 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.

Foraging place: This plant will be an additional place for the growth of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.

Shelter: Cryptocoryne parva will also provide shelter and hiding spots for shy fish and shrimp.

Oxygenation: As with all plants, it helps in oxygenating the water column in the aquarium.

Tank Equipment for Aquascapes and Plants (Amazon build list, links)

LightFinnex Planted+
Canister FilterFluval External Filter
Air PumpTetra Whisper
HeaterEheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat
SubstrateADA Aqua soil
Lily PipesJARDLI Glass Lily Pipe Outflow
CO2 RegulatorCO2 Regulator with Solenoid 110V-Mini Dual Gauge Display Bubble Counter
Trimming toolsStainless Steel Aquatic Plants Aquascaping Tools Set
Test KitAPI Freshwater Master Test

Problems associated with Cryptocoryne Parva

Cryptocoryne parva does well in quite a wide range of conditions, however, that doesn’t strike out the possibility of running into one problem or another.

Losing or Shedding its leaves: A common problem associated with this plant is Crypt melt (Cryptocoryne Disease), this is a phenomenon whereby the planted crypts sheds all its leaves. This occurs during their adaptation to the new aquarium’s water conditions; at this point, almost all the leaves off but new leaves will emerge after some time.

Crypt melt is more frequent when crypts are inserted in a new aquarium as a result of the sudden change of chemical values, temperature and lighting conditions. Also, because they were raised in emersed form, they need some time to adapt to the new environment.

Cryptocorynes can become quite sensitive to the presence of high nitrates as well.

Don’t panic when you notice the crypts melting, there are high chances that the plant will regrow the leaves after a while.

Leaves turning yellowish: Another notable problem is the leaves turning pale and yellowish, and the appearance of holes in the leaves. In this case, it is a sign of iron deficiency. This plant benefits from iron and potassium supplements so you should dose them adequately.

Relocation: If someday, you decide to relocate the old Cryptocoryne parva, it can turn into a real problem. Despite its small size, they form massive roots that can uproot a huge part of your tank.

Does not Grow: Have I already said multiple times that Cryptocoryne parva goes beyond patience testing? Yes, it grows but veeery slowly … on holidays in the leap year. 😉

Algae: The presence of algae in the tank is caused by high levels of organic waste and ammonia. Because of the slow growth and root-feeding, Cryptocoryne parva cannot compete with algae for nutrients in the water column.

We can use a heavily rooted system of this plant to our advantage here – use Root Tabs to fertilize them. The point is that unlike liquid fertilizer, root tabs are less likely to result in an algae bloom.

Carry out regular water changes, make sure that new plants are thoroughly quarantined / disinfected before introducing them in the tank. You can equally introduce algae-eating species to eat up algae attached to stems and leaves of plants.

You can also read “How to Spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Aquatic Plants”.

Cryptocoryne Parva and Tankmates

Cryptocoryne parva is easily compatible with most kinds of freshwater fish and other aquatic species that do not show any gastronomic interest in it.

For example, Cryptocoryne parva is compatible with:

Be careful with snails that can harm or try to devour the plant. Check out the list of freshwater snails here.

You should avoid hostile and aggressive fish species that will waste no time in tearing up the plants and fighting other fish in the tank. They include Oscars, Cichlids like Frontosa, Texas Cichlids, Red Devil, and Jack Dempsey.

Do not keep Cryptocoryne parva with crayfish or crabs. It is a well-known fact that these invertebrates are plant destructive (read my introduction to crayfish care). They will eat and uproot everything in the tank. Therefore, the best choice will be to have floater plants with them.

For compatible plants, you need to pick plants, which will not completely overshadow them in the tank.

Buying Cryptocoryne Parva

While purchasing this plant for your aquarium, you should have at the back of your mind that numerous Cryptocoryne varieties exists. Ensure that you check the label to be certain that you are buying the right one (Cryptocoryne parva).

A potted plant retails for a few dollars, and the quantity you need depends on the size of your tank. Getting plants with lush green leaves, abundant roots and absence of cuts / holes in the leaves should be a priority!

Quarantine Cryptocoryne Parva

Unless you are completely sure that the plant 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 it before putting it into your aquarium!

  • The plant can have parasites, pests like snails or even predators (dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.).
  • It could also be treated with chemicals (pesticide) to remove parasites, snails, etc. However, these chemicals are extremely poisonous to fish, shrimp and other invertebrates.

To find out more, read my articles:  

How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank.
How to Quarantine and Disinfect Aquarium Plants.
Pesticides in Shrimp Tanks. Plants Quarantine.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for a beginner type carpeting plant that you won’t have to trim more often, one that is easy to plant and maintain, then the Cryptocoryne parva is the perfect choice for you because it ticks all the boxes.

Its small size makes it well-suited for decorating the foreground of nano and shrimp tanks, as well as larger tanks because of its versatility. This plant may be a slow-grower, however, it will form dense carpets on the foreground or mid-ground of tanks once it fully matures.

Cryptocoryne parva – check out the price on Amazon

Related articles:

  1. Top 5 Plants for Your Shrimp Tank
  2. Top 7 Floating Plants for Beginners
  3. 10 Tips For Rooted Aquarium Plants

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