Tiger lotus makes an excellent addition to your fish tank; they are easy to care for and add color to your otherwise dull tank.

Over the years, we have studied this plant and come up with easy ways to plant tiger lotus, care for and propagate them.

Let’s dive into the world of the tiger lotus.

What Is a Tiger Lotus

The tiger lotus is an aquarium plant with colorful broad, wavy leaves. Its leaves come in two structures: the completely submerged leaves that are heart-shaped and the floating leaves that closely resemble lily pads gracing the surface of your tank’s water.


Red tiger lotus has beautiful leaves that are shaped like an arrow or a heart. Can you guess what color the leaves of the red tiger lotus are? Yes, they are red! Under intense lighting, you will notice the leaves begin to have striped variegation.

The red leaves grow and form arrow-shaped lily pads at the surface of the water. As they grow, they produce white or blue flowers that wilt and produce seeds later on. These seeds give you an efficient way to propagate the lily pad. Thanks to hybridization and selective breeding, it is now commonplace to find other colors of flowers like blue and red.

With adequate care, red tiger lotus seeds grow into bulbs with roots that allow them to anchor themselves to the substrate. The new bulbs eventually continue the cycle.

– Red Tiger Lotus

The red tiger lotus, also known as Nymphaea zenkeri, is one of the variants of Tiger lotus. It is, in effect, a lily pad with red arrow-shaped leaves. Red tiger lotus is a flowering plant that belongs to the Nymphaeaceae family. It is found predominantly in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

Red tiger lotus tends to favor areas with stagnant water. The shallow ponds and lakes point to the fact that this plant can tolerate a range of temperatures, dissolved carbon dioxide concentration, and lighting. They do best in tanks with waters with temperatures between 71-86 F and medium to intense light.

– Green Tiger Lotus

Green tiger lotus looks just like the red tiger lotus, except, of course, that they are green in color. Their leaves are shaped like an arrow, and they form a lily pad as they grow.


Tiger lotus is tolerant of a wide range of tank conditions and water temperatures; thus, they are easy to care for. Nonetheless, to get the most out of tiger lotus, learning about the best way to care for them is crucial.

– Tank Size

We advise that you get a tank size of at least 10 gallons for this species to thrive. The more space your tank has, the better your plant will spread.

– Water Conditions

Although this plant species can grow in a range of water conditions, it is still best to mimic its conditions in the wild. That said, the best temperature range for tiger lotus is 71-86 F. Tiger lotus do poorly in lower temperatures and tend to enter dormancy.

We recommend a pH of 6-8 and water hardness between 2-15 dGH for this water plant’s optimal growth and health. Regardless, the tiger lotus can easily tolerate soft and hard water.

– Lighting

Tiger lotus is not too particular about the lighting conditions in the tank. It can grow in high light and low-light tank setup. However, we recommend setting up your tank lighting to fall between medium and high to promote dense growth.

– Substrate

The best substrate for this plant is one rich in iron and gravel. They fulfill the plants’ nutritional requirements, and the gravel allows the plant roots to grow and spread. In the absence of these, you can get a nutrient-enriched soil from the market.

Additionally, this plant will benefit a lot from fertilizer application and CO2 injection. Liquid fertilizers and root tab fertilizers help keep your tiger lotus plant looking vibrant and healthy.

How To Plant a Tiger Lotus

You can get tiger lotus from your local store. Usually, it comes in a plastic pot covered in rock wool. Most times, the leaves may get damaged in transit, but don’t worry; as long as the bulb is healthy, your plant will grow.

The best place to plant your tiger lotus is in the middle of your fish tank so that it has enough space to grow.

Ensure that this spot is far away from other sensitive aquarium plants because tiger lotus tends to draw large amounts of nutrients to itself. This could lead to an unhealthy competition for nutrients amongst your other plants.

Once you have chosen a suitable spot, take the bulb and bury it partially in the tank substrate so that while the bulb remains underground, the leaves and shoots can still be seen. Remember, the keyword is partly; if you bury the entire bulb in the substrate, it will rot. As the bulb grows, its roots will anchor it firmly in place.

Once your tiger lotus is well anchored, it will begin to sprout big leaves. Ensure that you nurture the plant adequately. Supplement its food with fertilizers and keep the lighting in the tank low.

We advise that you prune the leaves of your tiger lotus as it grows bigger so that the plant doesn’t grow too tall.

How To Propagate Tiger Lotus

Propagating tiger lotus is a relatively easy task that you can achieve in two ways:

– Bulb Propagation

An easy way to propagate this aquarium lotus is to detach the tiny daughter bulbs growing on the main bulb. These daughter bulbs can then be replanted in a different aquarium. These bulbs now develop a thick root system in the tank, allowing them to anchor themselves firmly.

– Seed Propagation

Once your Tiger lotus has enough lily pads, it will begin to grow colorful flowers. As the flowers wilt, they form seeds that you can collect and propagate.

However, this method of propagation is not as common in aquariums because the seeds can scatter all around the tank and pose another problem for you.

If you choose seed propagation, you will need an efficient method to keep it under control. One way we have found to keep the seeds in check is to wrap the fruits and tie them up with a fishing line until they can be transferred to the nursery or pond.

What Are the Challenges Aquarists Face Raising Tiger Lotus

Tiger lotus is relatively easy to raise, but like other plants, they have their challenges. Let’s look at some of the reasons why aquarists shy away from this aquarium plant.

– Rapid Growth

Tiger lotus grows very fast, so they are regarded as invasive species. Left alone, they will quickly overtake your shallow waters. They also grow tall and dense within weeks of planting, so aquarists always have to be on their toes.

– Enormous Root System

Another problem is that their roots grow to be enormous and easily strangle all other plants around them.

– Seed Production

One of their propagation methods is via seed, and as long as they continue to flower, the seeds will continue to form and drop. That means you always have to be on the ground to ensure that these seeds don’t get into the water.

– Lots of Nutrients

Tiger lotus has high nutrient requirements and tends to sap nutrients from all around them. They extract large amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, nitrate, carbon dioxide, and iron from the water to aid their growth. The result is that most of your other plants will die because they won’t get enough nutrients to grow.

How To Prevent Your Tank From Being Overrun by Tiger Lotus

Follow these tips to ensure that your tiger lotus remains healthy.

1. Trim Regularly

Tiger lotus proliferates and can take over the entire aquarium if they are left unattended. Trimming the plant helps curtail the growth rate and prevent them from growing too tall or rotting. Remember to trim off the leaves near the base of the tiger lotus bulb.

Trimming some of the floating leaves creates room for the plant to spread out more across the water surface.

2. Monitor Your Plant Closely

Since tiger lotus produces seeds easily, you must watch them closely to ensure that your tank does not become overrun by them. Prune the leaves and flowers, so they do not have a chance to wilt and turn to fruit. Once the fruits don’t form, your tank won’t be overpopulated.

An alternative way to stop the plant from flowering is to run their tank with soft white light or actinic blue light. As long as you starve them of red light, they will not blossom.

3. Limit the Fertilizer

To get your tiger lotus to grow, you need to supplement the nutrients in the soil with fertilizer and CO2 injections. So, to stall their growth, limit the addition of Co2 and fertilizer so that the plant does not have extra nutrients to grow.

4. Control Their Roots

The best way to keep tiger lotus from overrunning the aquarium substrate is to tackle its roots. Here’s how we succeeded in containing their roots.

First, you need to get these supplies:

  • A plastic container.
  • Fishing line.
  • Four cups of the substrate.
  • Fine nylon fabric to wrap the container.
  • Root tab fertilizer.

Next, fill the plastic container up with the substrate and add the root tab fertilizer to it. Use the nylon fabric to wrap the container tightly and tie it up with the fishing line. Twist the excess nylon mesh fabric together, double it over and tie it well.

Create a hole on top for the tiger lotus to grow out from. Finally, keep the container in the aquarium and conceal it with flat rocks and root wood. You can leave it this way until you want to begin propagating the lotus again.

Best Tank Mates for Tiger Lotus

Like all aquarium plants and animals, the tiger lotus has certain fish it is compatible with. Take care to avoid putting aggressive, hostile fish in their tank as they will bear the brunt of the numerous fights for dominance. Some prime examples of the best fish to keep with tiger lotus are Guppy, Molly, Angelfish, Swordtail, Zebra Danios, Discus, Tetras, and Platies.

They also thrive well with shrimp varieties. Typical examples are Red Cherry Shrimp, Snowball Shrimp, Blue Tiger Shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, Blue Velvet shrimp, and Vampire shrimp.

Also, snails are great tank mates for Tiger lotus, although you will need to be careful with your selection. Don’t choose snail species that can eat up your plant and damage it. Our favorite snails for this aquarium plant are Ramshorn snail, Nerite snail, Japanese trapdoor snail, Malaysian trumpet snail, and Mystery snail.

It is an open secret that crabs and crayfish don’t do well with red tiger lotus. These invertebrates are very destructive and love to eat and uproot the plants they find in the tank. So, keep them out of their tank. Avoid fish species like Jack Dempsey, Texas cichlid, Frontosa Cichlid, and Red Devil cichlid.

What Are the Advantages of Having a Tiger Lotus in Your Aquarium

Tiger Lotus provides you with several benefits, asides, of course, their stunning beauty.

Aquascape: Tiger lotus grows beautifully in your fish tank and can serve as a focal point in your tank. They grow from lily pads, making them a great choice for natural aquascaping.

Break up Gas Pockets: Gas pockets form in your tank from time to time and can be pretty dangerous for your fish. However, the elaborate roots system tiger lotus has, helps to break up the dangerous gas pockets. One of the hazardous gases is hydrogen sulfide, a gas with the smell of rotten eggs.

Oxygenation: Like all plants, tiger lotus helps oxygenate your tank’s water so that your fish have adequate oxygen to carry out their life processes.

Foraging: Tiger lotus provides more foraging spots for fry and shrimps. They are also great growth spots for biofilms.


Here’s a short summary of what we’ve discussed about the Tiger Lotus.

  • Tiger lotus are aquarium plants perfectly suited for beginners
  • They grow rapidly and can easily overrun your tank
  • These aquatic plants provide your tank with lots of benefits
  • They thrive well with shrimp varieties
  • Avoid planting them in tanks with aggressive fish species

Our comprehensive guide will help you successfully raise Tiger lotus. Go ahead, give it a try.

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