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What is Cryptocoryne?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Cryptocoryne is a genus of aquatic plants native to Asia and some Pacific islands. These plants, affectionately known as “crypts,” are cultivated by aquarists in many regions of the world in addition to being found in nature. Some species are very finicky and can be challenging to grow, while others are relatively easy to cultivate. Aquarium suppliers and nurseries specializing in aquatic plants often carry Cryptocoryne species. When selecting aquatic plants to pair with fish, people should be aware that these plants may not survive in a tank with plant-eating fish because they cannot grow fast enough to compensate for being nibbled.

These slow growing plants produce broad leaves in brownish-green shades and trumpet-shaped flowers. They can grow entirely submerged or partially submerged in very humid environments, preferring slow moving water and low light conditions. In bright light, algae can colonize the leaves and kill the plants off, and fast-growing plants often become dominant in bright conditions, crowding out Cryptocoryne species. In the wild, they often grow in rivers, streams, and seasonal bodies of water.

People interested in growing Cryptocoryne species can grow them in aquaria or very humid indoor environments with an occasional spray of the leaves to keep them moist. The plants need to be in warm locations, as they are adapted for the tropics. They propagate both through flowering and the development of rhizomes. Many aquarists rely on rhizome propagation to grow crypts, using fertilizer to promote more rapid growth.

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One issue to be careful of with Cryptocoryne species is transplant shock. Many species do not like being moved and can go brown or shed leaves when they are transplanted. It is advisable to ask whether the plants were grown fully or partially submerged originally, and to gradually adjust the plants to the new environment. Plants unaccustomed to being submerged, for example, can be grown in a tank where the water level is increased slowly over time to acclimate the plants.

A good source for Cryptocoryne species can be trading with other people who cultivate aquatic plants. These plants hybridize very readily and trades provide access to unusual hybrids, including plants people have bred themselves. Many gardeners enjoy trading and there are online communities to facilitate trades of plants and seeds with people in different regions. Traders should package their plants carefully for shipping, use a fast shipping method, and label the containers to warn carriers about the live plants inside.

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