The Ludwigia Arcuata is one of the go-to plants for beginner aquarists who want to be more hands-on when it comes to designing their aquariums. The spiny appearance of this plant provides a welcome variation in freshwater tanks, where most of the flora have rounded leaves. In this article, you’ll learn all about how to grow this freshwater beauty and how to keep it in peak condition as the background plant of your aquarium.

Stats and Facts

There are a lot of things you need to know about the Ludwigia Arcuata. The best place to start would be familiarizing yourself with some of the most commonly asked for facts and statistics about this aquarium plant. Below is a summary table that you can use as a quick reference or overview of the Ludwigia Arcuata:

Order Myrtales
Family Onagraceae
Genera Ludwigia
Size Leaf length is 1.5 inches average, while the plant’s overall height can range from 10 to 20 inches
Ideal Placement Background, but may also be used as a mid-ground plant
Color Reddish-brown when mature
Care Level Needed Minimal care needed
Minimum Experience Level Needed Highly recommended for beginners and experienced aquascapists alike

Looking Back: The Origins of the Ludwigia Arcuata

Commonly known as the Ludwigia Needle Leaf, this fully-submerged plant traces its roots back to the rivers and bogs in the southeast regions of the USA. The leaves of this plant, while delicate in appearance, are actually quite tough and have offered shelter and protection to small fish that make their home in warm rivers and shady swamp-like areas.

Aquarists and other plant enthusiasts also call this plant the Narrow Leaf Ludwigia. Today, the Ludwigia Arcuata is easily recognizable as one of the most common aquatic plants used in freshwater fish tanks. You can find this plant in most local fish stores or aquarium specialty shops.

Water and Tank Preparations

Growing Ludwigia Arcuata in a home aquarium isn’t too difficult of a task. This plant is quite adaptable to varying water and environmental parameters. However, if you need a starting point or baseline to set up your Ludwigia tank, you can refer to the table below.

Temperature 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Light Level Medium to High Brightness 
pH Level 5.5 – 8.0
Water Hardness 3 to 11 KH
Substrate No special substrate quality needed
Fertilizer/Chemical Additives CO2 Fertilizers and substrate additives are beneficial but not required
Tank Size 10 gallons minimum

As you can see, the water and tank parameters specified above are neither too demanding nor too difficult to achieve. In fact, these parameters are what you might usually have for simple low-tech aquarium setups or even standard fish tank setups that have only a few fish in them. This low-maintenance quality of the Ludwigia Arcuata is one of the things that make it a must-have for beginner aquascapists.

Ludwigia Arcuata Care

Unlike other freshwater plants that are notorious for needing a lot of attention and care, the Ludwigia Arcuata is so easy to care for in a home aquarium setup that even the most novice of aquascapists will surely succeed. In this section, our experts will share their tips and knowledge on how best to care for your Needle Leaf Ludwigia, as well as how to propagate it with ease.

– Planting Procedure

Once you have secured a couple of potted Ludwigia Arcuata from your local fish store, you can follow the steps detailed below to properly plant your Needle Leaf Ludwigia.

Step 1: Remove the Ludwigia Arcuata From Its Initial Pot and Substrate

Separate the different stems of your new Ludwigia Arcuata from each other. Each stem should have multiple leaves and its own roots. Once you have separated the Ludwigia Arcuata into several plant segments, lightly spray them down with water. Remove any stray insects, dead leaves, or substrate from the leaves, stems, and roots.

This step is important as it reduces the chances of contaminating your current aquarium with parasites or dirt attached to the new plant.

Step 2: Plant the Ludwigia Arcuata Segments Directly in the Substrate

After cleaning the Ludwigia Arcuata segments, you can proceed to plant them directly in your aquarium substrate. You do not need to plant these segments in a pattern or with any special substrate additives. All you need to do is dig a hole in the substrate about two to three inches deep. Then, hold one of the plant segments upright, and push the Ludwigia Arcuata roots down into the hole.

Cover the hole with more substrate and be sure that your Ludwigia Arcuata is standing straight. If you find that the plant segment is bending over, you can support the plant by tying it to an untreated wooden skewer that is likewise buried in the substrate.

Repeat this step with your remaining Ludwigia Arcuata segments while ensuring that all of your new plants are placed either in the background or mid-ground of your aquarium.

– Propagating Your Needle Leaf Ludwigia

The Needle Leaf Ludwigia is as easy to propagate as it is to care for and plant. You only need a few tools and the proper knowledge to get you started on multiplying this wonderful aquarium plant right in the comforts of your own home.

Step 1: Choose a Healthy Mother Ludwigia Arcuata Plant

One of the key factors in successfully propagating the Ludwigia Arcuata is being selective about which plant to take stem cuttings from. Here are some of the things to consider when you begin choosing which Ludwigia Arcuata plants to propagate.

Look for plants with sturdy stems and hardy leaves. Your selected plant should not have any history of any health condition or physical damage. Next, choose a plant that already has multiple leaves and stem nodes. Avoid plants that have not yet reached maturity or have only a few leaves and stems in the first place.

Step 2: Cut Off Stem Segments From the Mother Ludwigia Arcuata

Using plant shears or scissors, make diagonal cuts to separate healthy stem segments from the mother Ludwigia Arcuata plant. Again, make sure that each of your cuttings has enough leaves to help the new plant make its own food and thrive wherever you decide to place it. Do not cut off too many stem segments from the main plant; leave enough leaves on the mother plant to ensure that it will be capable of recovering from the propagation process.

Step 3: Plant the Stem Cuttings in Your Aquarium

Once you have a good number of stem cuttings from the mother Ludwigia Arcuata, you can go ahead and prepare holes in the substrate for each of them. Push each stem cutting into the prepared holes, and support them with skewers and string if necessary.

Stems or Seeds?

You can, of course, plant Ludwigia Arcuata seeds if you prefer that method of propagation. However, our experts recommend using the stem cuttings method if you already have mature Need Leaf Ludwigia in your tank and if you want to gain a sense of how much space your plants will take up and how they will look as a complete aquascape. Also, do note that planting and caring for Ludwigia Arcuata seeds is more time-consuming than simply taking stem cuttings and spreading those around your aquarium.

– Care Tips

Planting and propagating Needle Leaf Ludwigia plants are easy enough, but you can also do a lot more to help your plants thrive. The care tips detailed below will help your plants achieve that full, reddish-brown look that makes the Ludwigia Arcuata such a captivating aquatic flora to look at and have in any home setup.

1. Use CO2 Injections and Substrate Fertilizers When Possible

Your Ludwigia Arcuata plants do not need fertilizers and CO2 injections on a regular basis, but providing these substances occasionally will help keep your plants healthy and promote quicker growth. You might want to consider using CO2 injections and high-quality substrate fertilizers at least once or twice every month, just to ensure that your Needle Leaf Ludwigia plants are getting the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

2. Increase Pigmentation Using Light and Nitrate Control

If your Ludwigia Arcuata plants are not turning a deep red color, it may be because you are not providing them with enough light or because there are too much nitrates in your aquarium. Controlling these factors will help your Ludwigia Arcuata become more pigmented.

You might want to invest in LED lights with a high PAR value. Increase the light’s intensity and your plants’ duration of exposure to the light on a daily basis. You can also decrease the amount of nitrates in your tank by giving less fertilizers to your mature Ludwigia Arcuata plants. Check the nitrate level of your aquarium using test kits that can be bought from most local fish stores.

3. Grow the Plant Emersed for a Different Look

You can also grow your Ludwigia Arcuata as an emersed plant to achieve a terrarium look. You need a small aquarium to do this. Plant your Ludwigia Arcuata segments by following the instructions given in the previous section, but be sure that some leaves of your plant remain above water level.

Given enough time, the leaves above water level will change from being pointed and slenderto slightly rounded and wider. Trim any stray leaves and stems from your emersed Ludwigia Arcuata to prevent overcrowding.


The Ludwigia Arcuata is a versatile freshwater plant that is sure to bring variety and interest to any aquarium setup. Here is a summary of the most important points we covered in this article:

  • The Ludwigia Arcuata originated in the Southeast rivers and bogs of the USA.
  • This plant is extremely easy to care for and is recommended for beginner aquarists.
  • Its deep reddish-brown leaves make for an interesting addition to aquariums that have mostly green flora.
  • The Ludwigia Arcuata can be propagated by taking stem cuttings.
  • You can tweak different water and tank parameters to encourage an even and deep red coloration in the leaves of your Ludwigia Arcuata.

With these facts and expert-recommended tips, you should be able to plant and grow your own group of beautiful Ludwigia Arcuata to improve your aquarium setup.

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