Cryptocoryne wendtii, commonly known as “Water trumpet” has been a very popular ornamental aquatic plant among aquarium enthusiasts for many years. Depending on its variety, this plant has fleshy foliage that may possess green, brown, red, or even purple coloration.
Cryptocoryne wendtii is prized as a durable, low-maintenance, and easy to care for plant. It generally does not require strong lighting, fertilization, or CO2 supplementation. It makes this plant a great choice even for beginners.
Nonetheless, despite these advantages, a huge problem can be the identification of many varieties of this species.
Keep reading for more information on Cryptocoryne wendtii, including how to plant and care for it successfully in a freshwater aquarium.
|Due to the ever-increasing demand for this plant in the ornamental aquatic plant industry, Cryptocoryne wendtii has been overharvested in its natural habitat. As a result, this plant is declared a critically endangered species on the Red List of Sri Lanka (IUCN, 2012).
At present, collection of Cryptocoryne wendtii from wild habitats is forbidden. However, this prohibition does not apply to plants that are proven to have been grown and propagated in nurseries.
Quick Notes about Cryptocoryne Wendtii
|Water trumpet, Wendt’s water trumpet, Green Wendtii Catacomb, or Brown Wendtii Crypt
|Easy to Medium
|Low to Medium
|6.5 – 8.0
|8 – 18
|75 – 82 °F (24 – 28 °С)
|Placement in Tank
|6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm)
|Not needed to low
|Not needed to low
|Red, green, bronze, or even purple
Taxonomy of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
In 1828, Russian botanist Friedrich Ernst Ludwig von Fischer (1782 – 1854) described the genus Cryptocoryne for the first time. After that, more than 60 species of Cryptocoryne have been described in science.
In 1958, Dutch botanist Hendrik de Wit (1909 – 1999)specified a new species – Cryptocoryne wendtii.
In 1975, based on morphological comparisons, Czech botanist Karel Rataj (1925 – 2014) revised the genus Cryptocoryne and also described four varieties of Cryptocoryne wendtii:
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. jahnelii,
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. krauteri,
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. nana,
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. rubella.
Since then, at least 12 new varieties of Cryptocoryne wendtii became known in the aquarium hobby. However, none of them is scientifically approved yet.
Etimology of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
The name Cryptocoryne has Greek roots ‘Krypto’, meaning Hidden, and ‘Coryne’, meaning ‘Knobby bud or club-shaped’, and is a reference to the flower.
This species was named in honor of German botanist Albert Wendt (1887 – 1958). He had a special interest in the genus Cryptocoryne.
Distribution of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
The aquarium trade has become a major pathway of biological invasions. As a result, Cryptocoryne wendtii has also become established in Florida in the United States.
|Important: Nonnative species (plants and animals) should never be released out of their natural range. They may carry unidentified organisms, become invasive, and alter ecosystems, causing the loss of native species, and having major economic consequences. NEVER release non-native species into the wild!
Habitat of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Cryptocoryne wendtii is usually found as solitary colonies confined to upper parts of slow-moving freshwater streams and shallow rivers.
This species can grow either fully submerged or on the banks around the edges of the water (so-called littoral zone), where its shoots and leaves may develop above water level.
In nature, this plant also greatly benefits the ecosystem by preventing soil erosion with the help of its rhizomes that grow deep into the substrate.
Description of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Cryptocoryne wendtii is a perennial and rhizomatous aquatic plant. It means that it can live for several years and grow horizontally underground or across the soil surface. This species has a wide range of leaf color and shape variations because of that it has high market demand.
Note: According to some studies, in nature, Cryptocoryne wendtii is also considered to be an herbaceous perennial plant – a plant that dies down each year but whose roots remain alive and send up new top growth each year.
Distinguishing characteristics of Cryptocoryne wendtii:
- Plant size: This is a medium-sized plant, growing up to a height of up to 12 inches (30 cm). In aquarium settings, the average size is usually around 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm).
- Growth form. Cryptocoryne wendtii can be grown emersed or submersed.
- Leaf size: When grown submersed, this plant is characterized by its long and lanceolate leaves which can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide.
In open aquariums, where it grows above the surface, the aerial leaves are oblong with round or heart-shaped base, they usually grow up to 3 – 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) long by 0.8 – 1.2 inches (2 – 3 cm) wide.
- Color: The leaves of Cryptocoryne wendtii are usually brownish-green or olive green on the upper side and pale to reddish-green, or even purple on the underside.
Note: It was noticed that the reddish brown color of the leaves is mainly due to the content of anthocyanidin present in the leaves.
- Structure: The bold midrib has 3 – 4 pairs of lateral veins. On the upper surface, there are short, brown, or dark wavy markings or striations. Cryptocoryne wendtii has thin rhizomes and runners. Rhizome explants have an uneven and hairy surface preventing contact between the explant surface and the sterilant.
Cryptocoryne wendtii is a flowering plant. The flower grows from the center of the plant and has a tubular appearance. The plant forms flowers (usually red and brown) only above the surface.
Absurd Varieties of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Without a doubt, this species is the most diverse of any Cryptocoryne. Let’s start with the so-called four main (semi-official) forms and continue with undocumented ones.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Jahnelii
This variation is also called Cryptocoryne brown. This is the largest variation of Cryptocoryne wendtii, it grows up to 16 inches (40 cm). The leaves are wide (up to 2 inches or 5 cm) and corrugated.
The color usually ranges from brown to dark brown. Cryptocoryne wendtii var. jahnelii should be cultivated in a high tank and placed in the middle, back, or near the side walls of the tank.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Krauteri
Many years ago, this variation of Cryptocoryne wendtii was also known as Cryptocoryne Augustifolia.
Generally, it has relatively small (up to 5 inches or 12 cm) and narrow (up to 0.8 inches or 2 cm) leaves. The leaves of Cryptocoryne wendtii var. krauteri are brown on the upper side and reddish on the underside. Edges of the leaves are framed by a wavy pattern. This is also a slow-growing plant. In the aquarium, it is better to place it in the foreground.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Nana
As the name suggests, this is the smallest variety currently cultivated in the hobby. This is a dwarfy plant about 4 inches (10 cm) high.
The leaves are dark brown with oblique, darker strokes on the upper side and reddish on the underside. The leaves are lined with corrugated edges.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. nana produces lots of runners in close proximity to the mother plant. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly thin them out. In the aquarium, it should be placed in the foreground, in groups of several plants.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Rubella
This is a rather small plant (up to 5 – 6 inches or 12 – 15 cm) plant with relatively wide (up to 1 inch or 2.5 cm) leaves. The leaves are lined with large corrugated edges.
The plant is very dark in color. This is, probably, the darkest variety of the Cryptocoryne wendtii cultivated nowadays. However, the leaves are silvery on the underside.
Due to its rosette-shaped form, Cryptocoryne wendtii var. rubella looks extremely decorative.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Wendtii
This variation of Cryptocoryne wendtii was also known as Cryptocoryne lutea and Cryptocoryne Wendt broadleaf.
The leaves are relatively long (6 – 8 inches or 15 – 20 cm) long and wide (up to 2 inches or 5 cm). The leaves are oblong with a round or heart-shaped base. Color ranges from pale green to brown on the upper side.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Tropica
This variety of Cryptocoryne wendtii is named after the nursery Tropica. It is not a tall plant. It generally grows up to 10 – 15 cm. The leaves are dark green to brown and have a hammered pattern.
The main feature of Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Tropica is that compared to other variants this plant has almost prostrate growth of its leaves.
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Latifolia
This small plant grows up to 5 – 6 inches or 12 – 15 cm. The leaves are narrow. The color ranges from dark green to brown, the edges have a wavy pattern, and there is a small corrugation on large bends.
I have not finished yet, there are also:
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Fasianus
It grows up to 10 inches (25 cm). The color is a rich emerald. Leaves have brown longitudinal veins.
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Flamingo
It can be distinguished by the pinkish color of the leaves. This variety of Cryptocoryne wendtii is rare and cultivated only in labs. It is also a lot more sensitive compared to other Cryptocorynes.
Related article: 50+ Underwater Red Plants for Your Tank
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Lutea
Plant height is up to 12 inches (30 cm). The main color is bright green with brown parts.
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Mi Oya
This plant is only found in the river Mi Oya. Leaves are red-brown and slightly hammered. It grows up to 14 inches (30 cm).
There is more to it!
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Green Gecko
- Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Florida Sunset
- Cryptocoryne wendta var. Retrotutea
- Cryptocoryne wendta var. Bullosa
- Cryptocoryne wendta var. Indonesia
Varieties: Short Summary
In most cases, it can be extremely difficult (if possible at all) to see the difference between all these varieties.
The main problem is that all these varieties of Cryptocoryne Wendtii may also change significantly (size, color, and even shape) depending on the tank conditions. This plant may even look different in different areas of the same tank depending on temperature, water flow, lighting, etc.
To make it even worse, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Cryptocoryne beckettii, Cryptocoryne walker, and Cryptocoryne undulate are very closely related and look very similar to each other. So, we have another problem.
According to the study, these species have a rather uniform structure of the spathe but differ slightly in its color, such as:
All in all, the situation is completely absurd!
Sure, these varieties may look different in stores or in pictures, but once they grow in your tank, they often become completely different!
As a result, you cannot be really sure what varieties of Cryptocoryne Wendtii you have. All these differences are so minor that confusion is inevitable.
I guess I’m going to tell an unpopular opinion, but many of these fancy names are just a good marketing move. Because catchy names always attract anyone’s attention and this helps in self-promotion.
Tank Requirements and Water Parameters
Cryptocoryne Wendtii is easy to grow; propagation is equally simple once growth is well-established, requiring very minimal effort.
Also, this plant is hardy and can adapt to a variety of water conditions (even slightly brackish water). Cryptocoryne Wendtii grows under low to medium lighting conditions, warm water temperature, neutral pH, and moderately hard water.
Small varieties of this plant (such as Cryptocoryne wendtii var. nana) can be grown even in nano tanks. However, in general, this species requires some space because of its growth potential. This plant does not like to be densely planted.
In my opinion, the recommended tank size for growing this plant should be a minimum of 10 gallons (~40 L). This tank size ensures that the plant has sufficient room to contain it especially when horizontal shoots start to spread.
It makes this plant an ideal mid-ground plant for most sizes of tanks.
Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:
Temperature: The optimum temperature for Cryptocoryne Wendtii is between 75 – 82 °F (24 – 28 °С) as the plant thrives and grows best in a warm temperature environment. However, it can also easily tolerate lower temperatures (such as 68 – 72 °F or 20 – 22 °С), it will just grow slower.
pH: The plant prefers water pH in the range of 6.5 – 8.0. Basically, neutral pH is found to be more suitable. Even though, Cryptocoryne Wendtii is a pretty hardy plant, be sure to monitor the pH level regularly with an accurate pH testing kit. Avoid large pH fluctuations, it can cause melting.
Note: The pH level of the water affects the plant nutrient uptake and therefore it is a significant factor for plant growth.
Hardness: In general, Cryptocoryne Wendtii is adaptable to a wide range of water hardness values. However, it grows best in freshwaters with hardness between 6 – 18 GH. It does not like too soft water, especially, if you transfer this plant from hard to very soft water.
The plant needs moderate lighting to photosynthesize and grow optimally.
Moderate light intensity causes more compact, bushier growth with lots of runners. The color is also more pronounced under these lighting conditions. Whereas under low light, the color will be slightly different. In addition, it will trigger upward growth.
Maintain lighting for up to 10 – 12 hours daily.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii needs a nutrient-rich substrate. This plant is a heavy root feeder, even though it is also able to extract nutrients from the water column.
When grown submerged, this plant develops a very strong root system that can easily reach 12 inches (30 cm) or more! Therefore, be sure to provide a substrate bed of at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep to encourage easy spread and anchorage of the plant’s roots.
Keeping Cryptocoryne Wendtii in sand or gravel is also very possible. However, you will have to regularly use root tabs and liquid fertilizers to help it out.
|Note: According to the study, Cryptocoryne Wendtii (grown in river sand enriched with commercially available fertilizer) had the highest dry weight gain and percentage survival compared to plants grown in top soil and river sand media prepared according to 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 ratios.
This is because the “river sand” allowed the root system to retain air and hence the growth of aquatic plants.
Ideally, the substrate should preferably consist of coarse soil particles about 0.08 – 0.2 inches (or 2-5 mm) grain size. This way the plants will also be able to hold firmly on the substrate and thus, feed better.
In the aquarium, we can combine different substrates to get optimal results. For example, use porous stone, small gravel, or large-fraction sand as the first layer (for better oxygenation), and a nutrient-rich substrate (such as ADA Amazonia aqua soil, Caribsea Eco-Complete Aquasoil, Seachem Flourite Black Sand, etc.) as the second layer.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii does not like strong flow. In its natural habitat, this plant is often found in slow-moving freshwater streams and rivers.
CO2 and fertilization:
CO2: CO2 supplementation is optional. Cryptocoryne Wendtii can grow in low-tech tanks, but its growth tends to be less bushy and very slow. Nonetheless, as with most aquatic plants, its addition will positively impact the plant’s growth rate and appearance.
Fertilization: Although Cryptocoryne Wendtii has a large root system, the plant also feeds from the water column. This plant does respond quite favorably to fertilizers.
Therefore, if you do not have a nutrient-rich substrate, it is recommended to add root tabs. In addition, make it a habit to dose liquid fertilizers in the water column from time to time.
|Fertilization is also where we often make a lot of mistakes.
Of course, Cryptocoryne Wendtii will benefit from macro and micronutrients. This will help to sustain healthy growth and ensure that the plants maintain the best coloration. However, according to the study, an excessive amount of nutrients will also suppress its growth.
Note: If you keep shrimp in the tank with Cryptocoryne Wendtii, 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.
Care and Maintenance of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Cryptocoryne Wendtii is easy to care for, and you wouldn’t run into many problems with this plant.
This plant is quite slow-growing. Under optimal conditions, it rarely grows faster than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in a couple of weeks. It generally takes a month to grow a few (2 – 4) shoots.
So, do not expect to create a beautiful aquascape any time soon. The benefit though is that you will not have to cut them back or replace them too often. Thus, this is a low-maintenance plant as well.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii is relatively sensitive to substrate vacuum that can disturb the area of its roots. So, be careful with that.
No need to trim the leaves if they are submersed. However, if you have excessive growth or old leaves, simply remove them directly from the rootstock.
Planting Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Avoid planting Cryptocoryne Wendtii in one large clump, instead, divide the bunch into smaller clumps, and place them at least 3 – 4 inches (7 – 10 cm) apart from each other to achieve a good spread.
The reason for this is that they will branch out in their width. In addition, Cryptocoryne Wendtii also does not like heavy density. Plants will compete for nutrients and it will affect their health.
|The next step is optional but highly recommended. You need to cut all its leaves before planting.
Genus Cryptocoryne is well-known for its “Crypt Melt” after planting. In reality, there is nothing wrong with that because this is how the plant adapts to a new environment.
Therefore, professional aquascapers recommend helping the plant by cutting all its leaves down right away. The plant will save more energy to adapt and use it for new growth way faster!
However, if your Cryptocoryne wendtii is a tissue-cultured plant (in vitro), there is no need to cut off the leaves.
Take the plant out from the rooting medium and wash it carefully with a soft brush in tap water.
Next, use a pair of tweezers (link to check the price on Amazon) or something like that to gently place the plant into the substrate to avoid damage. You need to have their rhizome buried beneath the substrate.
The last part is the easiest – do not disturb the plant and it will be happy.
Propagation of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Cryptocoryne wendtii does not produce seeds. It can propagate only vegetatively by rhizome.
Note: This type of propagation is pretty slow and requires a lot of time. Hence, this species is susceptible to extermination in the wild.
The plant produces runners that bear independent daughter plants. Once the daughter plant has 3 – 5 leaves it starts developing its own root system and thus can be safely cut off from the mother rhizome.
In the aquarium, it is also possible to propagate Cryptocoryne wendtii by dividing large clusters into small ones.
|Important: Unlike other rhizome plants (such as Anubias or Java fern), Cryptocoryne wendtii cannot be attached to hard surfaces (rocks, driftwood, etc.). It will die.
Dry Start Method: Alternative Way of Growing Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Most Cryptocoryne species are amphibious and can be cultivated in either the submersed or emersed state.
- Instead of immediately filling the tank with water after planting, we only need to add enough water to reach the surface of the lowest part of our substrate.
- Cultivate the plant in a nutrient-rich substrate.
- Spray water regularly to provide high humidity (around 80%).
- Cover the top of the tank with cling wrap to maintain the humidity.
- Fill the tank with water when the plant’s growth kicks off.
Even though the plant may melt afterward, it will grow back much stronger and faster because it will have a well-developed root system by that moment.
Problems Associated With Growing Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Melting: Cryptocoryne Disease is probably the most common problem associated with this plant. Generally, it takes place when Cryptocoryne wendtii is transferred from an emersed to a submersed environment, the plant was moved or there were sudden and significant changes in water parameters. Cryptocorynes can become quite sensitive to the presence of high nitrates as well.
Solution: Don’t panic when you notice the crypts melting. By doing so, the plant conserves as much energy in its root structure as possible. In most cases, the plant will regrow the leaves within 2 – 3 weeks.
Relocation: If someday, you decide to relocate the old Cryptocoryne wendtii, it can turn into a real problem. This plant forms large MASSIVE roots that can uproot a huge part of your tank.
Solution: The only thing I can think of is to be careful and take it out very slowly.
Slow growth: The plants will attain slow or stunted growth forms when there are insufficient trace elements in the substrate and water.
Solution: Remedy these inadequacies. Add root tabs and liquid fertilizers periodically. Going forward, always test the tank water and ensure it holds ample nutrients to promote optimal health and development of the plants.
- How to Spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Aquatic Plants
- Everything about Nitrates in Planted Tanks
- Phosphates in Freshwater Tanks
Benefits of Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Aquascape: Cryptocoryne wendtii is one of the great choices for aquascapes. It forms a gorgeous lush bush that complements the aesthetics of an aquarium.
No Overshadowing: It will not choke other aquatic plants. Cryptocoryne wendtii does not grow fast.
Prevents gas pockets: This plant 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.
Oxygenation: Helps to generate oxygen in the tank water.
Hiding place: Serves as cover and shade for inverts and small fish. It serves as a perfect hiding place for shrimp and fish.
Foraging place: Acts as a buffet of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii and Compatible Tankmates
Cryptocoryne wendtii can be paired with a lot of aquatic species, though the plant is more suited for community tanks housing small peaceful fish and inverts that won’t rip their leaves apart.
- Fish (for example, Bettas, Swordtails, Tetras, Harlequin Rasbora, Danios, Clown Killifish, Cherry Barbs, Panda Garra, Albino Bristlenose Pleco, Platies, Guppies, Endlers, Mollies, Otocinclus Catfish, Pygmy Cory Catfish, etc.)
- Dwarf Shrimp such as Neocaridinia species (Red Cherry Shrimp, Blue Velvet Shrimp, Snowball shrimp, Black Rose, Orange Sakura, Green Jade, Rili Shrimp, etc.) or Caridina species (for example, Crystal Red Shrimp, Caridina cf. babaulti, Blue Tiger Shrimp, etc.), Amano shrimp, Ghost shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, Vampire shrimp, ). Basically, you can keep any shrimp species with it. They will love it!
- Freshwater snails (for example, Japanese trapdoor snails, Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Black Devil Snails, Asolene spixi, Rabbit Snails, etc.).
Avoid or Be Careful:
In the same vein, avoid hostile and aggressive fish species that are known plant devourers, these include Texas cichlids, Front cichlids, Jack Dempsey, Red Devil, and Oscars.
Cryptocoryne wendtii are easy to grow, requiring nothing more than a low to medium light and some nutrition in the substrate. This plant has numerous varieties and a wide range of foliage colors, thereby enhancing the intrinsic feeling of depth in the tank.
Cryptocoryne wendtii can tolerate varying degrees of water temperature and hardness, it can also thrive in tanks without CO2 injection, and only requires minimal care.
This is the plant that cannot go wrong. Hence I would definitely recommend Cryptocoryne wendtii even for beginners.
|Cryptocoryne wendtii – check out the price on Flipaquatics
- Stanly, Christine, Arvind Bhatt, and Chan Lai Keng. “An efficient in vitro plantlet regeneration of Cryptocoryne wendtii and Cryptocoryne becketti through shoot tip culture.” Acta physiologiae plantarum33, no. 2 (2011): 619-624.
- Bambaranda, B. V. A. S. M., and S. E. Peiris. “Cryptocoryne wendtii can successfully be grown in river sand enriched with nutrients.” Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences21, no. 1 (2016).
- Dissanayake, C., M. Hettiarachchi, and M. C. M. Iqbal. “Sustainable use of Cryptocoryne wendtii and Echinodorus cordifolius in the aquaculture industry of Sri Lanka by micropropagation.” (2007).
- Lakmali, M. T. R. V., A. C. W. W. M. C. L. K. Coswatte, V. Pahalawattaarachchi, and S. C. Jayamanne. “Study on impacts of shade and substrates on optimum growth of micro-propagated Cryptocoryne wendtii.” (2018).
- Harshani, W. M. S., V. Pahalawattaarachchi, K. Radampola, and S. S. Herath. “Effects of fertilization levels on growth performance of micro-propagated Cryptocoryne wendtii (Water Trumpet).” Journal of the University of Ruhuna8, no. 1 (2020): 32-39.
- Jacobsen, Niels. “Notes on Cryptocoryne of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).” Notiser129, no. 2 (1976): 179-190.
- Othman, Ahmad Sofiman. “Molecular systematics of the tropical aquatic plant genus, ‘Cryptocoryne’Fischer ex Wydler (Araceae).” PhD diss., University of St Andrews, 1997.
- (2012). The National Red List of Sri Lanka. In Conservation status of the Fauna and Flora (p. 186).
- Rataj, K. 1975. Revision of the genus Cryptocoryne Fischer Studie CSAV, c.3.Praha.
- Wit, H.C.D.de 1958. Cryptocoryne wendtii sp.nov. Meded.Bot.tuinen en het Belmonte arboretum WAG Vol.II-4 : 97-101.