Madagascar lace plantMadagascar lace plant is famous for its mind-blowing lacey leaf structure. It stands out and is commonly used in different vivarium enclosures. However, there are strong opinions of the plant not being beginner-friendly.

Learn about the ideal tank conditions, care tips, and propagation techniques of the Madagascar lace plant from this article.

What is the Madagascar Lace Plant?

Madagascar Lace is fully aquatic and allows a wide range of conditions. One major trick around successfully growing the Madagascar lace plant in your aquarium is meeting its needs.


Common Name Madagascar Lace leaf, lattice leaf, lace plant
Tank Size 10 gallon minimum
Height 10- 24 Inches
Growth Rate Moderate
pH 6.5 and 7.5
Temperature 60-75F
Lighting Low to Moderate
Water Hardness 4-15 dGH
Co2 requirements Not necessary but recommended
Propagation Asexual reproduction
Placement Mid ground or background
Ease of growing Difficult

Classification Table

Kingdom Plantae
Calade Tracheophytes
Calade Angiosperms
Calade Monocots
Order Alismatales
Family Aponogetonaceae
Genus Aponogeton
Species A. madagascariensis

Madagascar Lace Plant Care

Madagascar lace plant care is simple to understand and follow, even for a beginner aquarist. The plant is hardy and would grow even when its enclosure conditions are inaccurate. Note that, since they would likely be sharing their tank with fish or invertebrates, we recommend that you monitor and maintain ideal tank parameters. Here are effective Madagascar lace plant care routines to follow:

– Temperature

The Madagascar lace plant prefers cool water temperature during most seasons except its  dormant phase. Therefore, you should maintain the tank temperature between 60 and 75F.

– Water Parameters

The Madagascar lace plant thrives in soft acidic water but can also tolerate moderately hard alkaline enclosures. Hence, an ideal water hardness range should be between 4 and 15 dGH while the pH should remain between 6.5 and 7.5. Get an accurate testing kit to help monitor these water levels often.

– Current

In the wild, the Madagascar lace plant is exposed to fast-moving waters. Simulate its natural habitat as closely as you can. In sum, set the tank filter to a moderate to high setting to encourage good water circulation.

– Substrate

Put in a clean, nutrient-based substrate of about two inches thick into the Madagascar lace plant’s tank. Aquarium Soil is a good option because it is nutrient-filled. On another note, laterite or clay mixed with filtered sand or gravel is adequate. However, if you already have an established substrate, add a fertilizer tablet to the lace plant root.

– Lighting

The Madagascar lace plant requires shade and low to moderate lighting. It is crucial to note that you should not keep the lace plant with plants that require intense lights like Monte Carlos and Dwarf Baby Tears, the intense lights would melt or dry it up.

In addition, do not install high-efficiency lights because they can trigger dormancy or algae growth. Hence, a standard aquarium light would do, ideally two watts per gallon to set up the tank and get a timer that provides 12 hours of light daily.

– Cleaning

The Madagascar lace plants are prone to algae infestation, which is quite destructive. When  algae cover the lace-like leaves, it blocks off lights, thereby preventing photosynthesis. Evidently, it is important to clean the leaves and tank.

– Nutrition

Co2 injections and fertilizers improve the Madagascar lace plant growth rate so it becomes faster. Including small fertilizer doses frequently are more effective than heavy, irregular addition. Nonetheless, the Madagascar lace plant can grow without these supplements.

Furthermore, the Madagascar lace plant can get its nutrients from fish waste. It helps to clean the tank by absorbing the phosphates, urea, ammonia, and uric acid from the waste, and then it grows healthily.

– Trimming

When old foliage begins to develop a deep brown color, the leaves need trimming. Cut off all dead or old leaves to revive the plant’s appearance. Additionally, if the tank substrate is covered with organic materials, you would most likely see dead spots on the leaves. Overall, clear the trimmed off plants and take them out of the tank.


The Madagascar lace plant is said to be the freshwater “holy grail” plant. This is mainly due to its highly sought-after features. This submersed plant’s distinct, green oblong leaves look like a delicate web or net. In addition, it grows to a height of 10 to 24 inches and about 10 to 12 inches in width.

The leaves of this plant have no connective tissue, and they grow parallel to the water’s surface. Additionally, the Madagascar lace plant produces flowers that are 1.2 inches in size and pollinated fruits shaped like a greenhorn. Furthermore, the seeds are a cream-violet color and water-repellent.

– Origin

As the name implies, the Madagascar lace plant is indigenous to the Madagascar Island in Eastern Africa. You can also find the lace plant in Asia and Australia. It was first discovered in 1968 by a Dutch botanist called Heinrich Wilhelm Eduard van Bruggen.

The plant has since been known as Madagascar Laceleaf, lattice leaf, or lace plant. Similarly, because its scientific name is Aponogeton madagascariensis, it is also commonly called the Aponogeton with no connective tissue.

What Size Aquarium Does the Madagascar Lace Plant Need?

The Madagascar lace plant needs at least a 10-gallon aquarium to grow well. A lace plant doused in fertilizer may require a bigger tank. However, you can trim your plant to control its size.

Tank Mates

Matching adequate tank inhabitants is quite critical because each species, both plant and animal, must fit the conditions of the enclosures. Furthermore, they must be compatible with each other.  For instance, the animals must not feed on, dig out or destroy the plants.

Hence, suitable Madagascar lace plant tank mates options can include small plecos, Bristle nose plecos, Chinese or Siamese algae eater, Amano snails, and Nerite snails. They can eat algae off the lace plant without destroying it. In contrast, unsuitable Madagascar lace plant tank mates include large Cichlids, Goldfish, and large Plecos.

– Are Betta Fish Compatible With the Madagascar Lace Plant?

Yes, they are. The Betta fish has been nicknamed “Betta bulb” due to its compatibility. The Betta fish loves to play and swim around the Madagascar lacey leaves. This fish species finds it fascinating and can spend a lot of time seating on them.

Similarly, Bettas and Madagascar lace plants share similar tank conditions. As a result, if the Betta fish will likely be alone in the tank, what’s better than keeping them occupied and excited.

Dormant Periods

Here’s what to do during the Madagascar lace plant dormant phase:

– Fertilize Throughout the Year

During this resting phase, the plant uses most of its stored nutrients. However, this wouldn’t be an issue if you had properly fertilized the plant throughout the year.

– Take Them Out of Water

The concept around the dormant or resting phase revolves around the different seasons the Madagascar Lace is exposed to in the wild. During the rainy season, the plant is submerged, while in the dry season, they grow as emersed. These plants are fully aquatic in captivity and may need to be taken out of water during the “dry” period.

Briefly, remove your plant and half-bury it in a thick plastic bag filled with damp sand. Keep the plastic bag in a cool, dry place for about six months and rotate placement through the different seasons all year long. Alternatively, if they are tankmates with hardy plants like cryptocoryne, you can leave them in the aquarium substrate but reduce the water, therefore it’s emerged.

– Environmental Requirement

The lace plant prefers higher temperatures during summertime, so keep it moist with warm water. Moreover, make sure the substrate has adequate water circulation and is fertile. This would help the plant produce new leaves.

There’s so much controversy surrounding the Madagascar lace plant resting phase. Some do not agree that this aquarium plant from Madagascar undergoes a dormant stage, while others do. However, be sure that no matter what you do, the lacey plant will undergo a long period of leaves shedding. Nonetheless, if kept correctly using the methods above, it would survive and sprout new leaves.

How to Plant the Madagascar Lace

Below are simple steps to help you successfully plant the Madagascar lace plant.

– Step 1

Place the rhizome or bulb into the substrate two to three inches apart and leave the growing tip above the substrate.

– Step 2

Ensure the plant is deep enough, so it does not detach and begins to float as it grows.

– Step 3

You may tug it to check it is rooted after some weeks, but this may disrupt leaf growth. However, if the environment favors the lacey plant, it will produce flowers and seeds which can aid propagation.


Propagation happens in the lace plant through seeds and bulbs.

– Bulb

Technically this is a fully aquatic Aponogeton, and it is more of a rhizome than a bulb, but the general term when buying them is the Aponogetons bulb. Nonetheless, detach the baby plants from the older growth and replant for more coverage.

– Sexual Reproduction

First, you can encourage pollination by brushing the Madagascar lace plant flower as it opens. The plant would produce the horn-like green fruit after pollination.  Furthermore, when this fruit ripens, it sheds milky-violet encapsulated seeds. These seeds would then float on the water’s surface for a day or two, sink to the tank’s bottom, and develop into baby plants.


Madagascar lace plant is very beneficial to any aquarium. Here are the advantages of planting them.

  • They provide a complete lush feeling to any tank
  • They help recreate the natural habitat of different freshwater fish like the betta fish
  • They serve as hiding places since the leaves grow so dense and thick
  • The dead leaves of the lace plant serve as food to scavengers and detritus eaters
  • The Madagascar lace plant convert Co2 to oxygen which is useful to other aquarium inhabitants
  • It lowers the ammonia levels in the tank

What Are Different Varieties?

Besides the main form, Aponogeton madagascariensis var. Madagascariensis, the lace plant is found in three variants:

  • Aponogeton Madagascariensis Var. Fenestralis
  • Aponogeton Madagascariensis Var. Henkelianus
  • Aponogeton Madagascariensis Var.Guillotii

These different Aponogeton madagascariensis species are from cold, fast-flowing waters in Madagascar. They thrive in an enclosure containing cool water below 77 F (25 C). Moreover, they require a good filter to increase water movement and moderate lighting. Furthermore, the lace plant variants do not require CO2 or fertilizer to grow; however, these nutritional sources support good growth.

In addition, some botanists regard them as different species because they grow smaller than the main form “Aponogeton madagascariensis var. Madagascariensis”. They all come in different shapes and colors. Also, these species are hardy and not beginner-friendly like the main variant.

Here are some details on two of the variant:

– Aponogeton Madagascariensis Var. Fenestralis

Aponogeton madagascariensis var. fenestralis have broad, delicate leaves with quadrangular perforations or grid-like structures. Its leaves have thin nerves, and the plant does not grow tall. Nevertheless, they serve as a decorative freshwater aquarium plant for mid-ground or background setup.

You can plant the Aponogeton madagascariensis var. fenestralis in a loose group or alone. They are commonly called “Aponogeton fenestralis” in the aquarium trade.

– Aponogeton Madagascariensis Var. Henkelianus

Another Madagascar lace variant is the Aponogeton madagascariensis var. henkelianus. Its broad leaves have a skeletonized structure like the main lace plant form but the leaves’ transversal veins are slightly more irregular. There are large perforations divided by smaller connecting nerves. Nonetheless, the Aponogeton madagascariensis “henkelianus” is eye-catching.


How Many Madagascar Plants Can Be Kept per Gallon?

In a nano tank containing one Betta fish as a tank mate, one Madagascar lace bulb to 5 gallons is fair. A tank can easily get overcrowded because of Madagascar lace plant long leaves. However, be willing to prune the plant if needed; trim close to the bulb to prevent rotting.

Is Madagascar Lace Plant Beginner-friendly?

The plant is termed difficult, due to the misconception of the ideal practices to follow during the Madagascar lace plant resting phase. However, it is important to keep the lace plant as a fully aquatic Aponogeton bulb. In addition, remember it would need a “resting phase,” as an emersed plant. With both pointers in mind, the lace plant is more manageable.

What Makes the Madagascar Lace Plant Rot?

– Calcium

High calcium content in a Madagascar lace plant tank is disastrous. The spike is likely due to fertilizer addition. It is important to check the fertilizer content properly before dousing your lace plant roots and closely monitor the calcium levels.

– Environment Changes

Since the Madagascar lace plant is hardy, some botanists stretch its tolerance limit. They may do this to accommodate more tank inhabitants. However, these unstable conditions cause the lace plant to melt and rot. Other reasons would include stagnant water and excessive organic matter in the tank.


Here are reasons why we like the Madagascar lace plants:

  • They have net-like leaves, unlike any other aquarium plant
  • They are cool water plant that requires moderate lighting
  • They are easy to care for if their needs are met

Madagascar lace plant is simply impressive. It makes a new enclosure interesting to look at, if you already have an aquarium with similar temperatures and light conditions, this plant is for you. Try planting it as a centerpiece amid other plants and admire the view.

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