Wendt’s Watertrumpet – Cryptocoryne wendtii De Wit

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Leaf margins are frequently wavy and the leaves may be bullate (have a blistered or dimpled appearance). There are at least 15 different ‘varieties’ named on the basis of leaf shape and color.

Scientific Name: Cryptocoryne wendtii De Wit; Family Araceae
Synonyms: None
Common Name: Wendt’s Watertrumpet
Region: Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Now naturalized and considered a weed in some parts of Florida.
Maximum Size: Plant height may reach 40 cm (15.6 inches) in certain varieties. Typically smaller.
pH Range and Hardness: Likes soft, slightly acidic water but does well in a range of pH from 5.5 – 8.0 and GH from 3 – 15 dH.
Temperature: Normal aquarium temperatures (72 – 84 degrees F) are preferred.
Light Level: Low to Moderate preferred (2.5 watts per gallon or less). Will tolerate higher light levels.
Ease of Growth: EASY

Cryptocoryne wendtii was described by H.C.D. De Wit in 1958 and was named for Albert Wendt.

Considered among the easiest aquarium plants to grow, Cryptocoryne wendtii is available in an almost dizzying array of varieties. This plant is commonly available in practically any store that carries tropical fish, including chain stores like Wal-Mart. Its availability keeps the price fairly low.

Habitat and Niche

Cryptocoryne wendtii is found in the Kandy region of Sri Lanka which is located in the central midlands region of the island. This area is typically heavily forested with significant seasonal changes in precipitation. C. wendtii is found primarily in streams and rivers, generally close to the banks which are often heavily shaded.

AppearanceCryptocoryne species, there is great variation in the appearance of C. wendtii depending on the growing conditions. Leaf shape is generally lanceolate (spear-shaped) but may vary considerably. Leaf margins are frequently wavy and the leaves may be bullate (have a blistered or dimpled appearance). There are at least 15 different ‘varieties’ named on the basis of leaf shape and color. Some of the most common are:

Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘green’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘brown’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘bronze’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘red’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘red vein’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘rose’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘striped’
Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘Mi Oya’

The last named variety above is one of the few that is actually named after the locality in which it is found.

Cryptocoryne wendtii var. ‘red’ growing in my 26 gallon low-light aquarium

Personal Experiences with Cryptocoryne wendtii

This plant was one of the first that I acquired when I returned to the aquarium hobby after a long hiatus. I found the ‘red’ variety at a PetSmart selling for US$3.50. Since I was aware that most species of Cryptocoryne are able to grow reasonably well under conditions of low light, I figured they would be perfect for my 26 gallon aquarium with only a 15 watt fluorescent bulb. The center of the tank was dominated by a huge Aponogeton ulvaceus which limited even more the amount of light reaching the aquarium substrate. To this point the only problem I’ve experienced is with brown algae (diatoms) growing on the leaves, some of which can be seen in the photograph above. My Otocinclus seem to delight in sitting on the Cryptocoryne leaves, happily feasting on the diatoms so the plants stay relatively clean.

Planting Particulars

The substrate in my aquarium is plain aquarium gravel with no supplements or additives. I place Flourish tabs beneath the gravel to provide slow-release nutrients and I fertilize once a week with Flourish. Many Cryptocoryne species do better with additional iron available so I add Flourish Iron and Kent Micro occasionally. I do not use carbon dioxide in this low-light tank so I dose with Flourish Excel per the recommended dosage.

Propagating Cryptocoryne wendtii

C. wendtii has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem that can send out both roots and new shoots). This is sometimes called a ‘runner’. As the rhizome spreads, new plants will form and emerge from the substrate around the parent plant. These new plants can be left in place or, after they have reached about half the size of the parent, the rhizome can be carefully cut and the new plant moved to a different location. Propagation from seeds in the aquarium is not practical.

Cryptocoryne melt

A lot of people who are thinking about keeping Cryptocoryne species have heard of the so-called Cryptocoryne ‘melt’. There are many hypotheses about what causes this problem. Basically the plant begins to develop transparent areas at the tips of the leaves. Within a day or two the leaves seem to dissolve. Often it seems that when one Cryptocoryne in an aquarium ‘melts’ then all of the rest of them soon follow suit.

What causes Cryptocoryne melt is not known but it most often occurs when one of three things (or a combination of those things) happens:

1) Water conditions have been neglected. Excessive nitrate levels seem to contribute to ‘melt’.
2) Water conditions have changed significantly. Cryptocoryne species do not adjust well to rapid changes in temperature or water parameters.
3) An established plant has been moved.

Fortunately, in most cases Cryptocoryne ‘melt’ only affects the leaves of the plants and not the rhizome. Should you experience this problem do not dig up the rhizome and throw it away. Within a few weeks you should see new leaves coming up from the rhizome and within a few months you will have a plant that is close to the one you thought you lost.

For those of you with low-light tanks, for people just starting out with live plants, and for those who simply like beautiful plants in their aquarium I can heartily recommend virtually any variety of Cryptocoryne wendtii.


Ines Scheurmann, 1993. Aquarium Plants Manual – Selecting and maintaining water plants in large and small aquariums. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

Pablo Tepoot, 1998. Aquarium Plants – The Practical Guide. New Life Publications, Florida.

Richard Sexton,2004. “The Cryptocoryne Advantage.” Aquatic Gardner column in February 2004 Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, Vol. LII, Number 6, #575.

Richard Sexton, 2004. “Cryptocoryne, Part 2.” Aquatic Gardner column in March 2004 Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, Vol. LII, Number 7, #576.

Jan D. Bastmeijer, 1998. Article on Cryptocoryne wendtii in ‘The Crypts Pages’. http://users.bart.nl/~crypts/Gallery/wen/wen.html

Sven Erik Riedel. Cryptocoryne, Fisch. ex Reichb. (1928). Article on his Guide to Aquatic Plants web site. http://home10.inet.tele.dk/sveri/plant-e/besk/crypto.html

Sven Erik Riedel. Cryptocoryne wendtii De Wit (1958). Article on his Guide to Aquatic Plants web site. http://home10.inet.tele.dk/sveri/plant-e/besk/cryp-wen.html

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Information about Cryptocoryne wendtii growing wild in Florida. http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=CRWE4

Last update: 2006-05-08 19:14
Author: Fruitbat

Filed under Freshwater, Plant Profiles.