Growing bulb type aquatic plants

If you’re a plant enthusiast, you may be interested in growing bulb plants in your aquarium. These types of plants have a bulb or tuber that stores nutrients and energy, which allows them to survive in a wide range of conditions.

In New Zealand, unfortunately we are only limited to a few types of bulb plants – more commonly available ones that are circulated include Green Tiger Lotus, Red Tiger Lotus, Green Barclaya, Aponogeton Undulatus, Nymphaea Stellata and Nymphaea Indica aka ‘Water Snowflake’.

Green Tiger Lotus
Green Tiger Lotus

If you are interested in growing any of these read-on as we discuss some tips and tricks to successfully look after these plants.

Choosing the Right Bulb Plants

Before you start planting, it’s essential to choose the right bulb plants for your aquarium. Green Tiger Lotus and Red Tiger Lotus are great choices as they are easy to grow and add a pop of color to your tank. Nymphaea Stellata and Nymphaea Indica are also great options for beginners, but they require a bit more attention.

Dwarf Lilly
Dwarf Lilly

Lighting Requirements

Bulb plants require moderate to high lighting levels to grow properly. In a New Zealand climate, depending on the location, natural light may not be enough, and you may need to invest in an aquarium light. Be sure to choose a light that is appropriate for your tank size and intensity needs.


The ideal temperature range for these plants is between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius. It’s essential to ensure that the temperature in your aquarium stays within this range to promote optimal growth.

Water Chemistry

The pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.5, and the water hardness should be between 5 and 15 dGH. Regular water changes are crucial to keep the water chemistry balanced and maintain healthy plant growth.


When planting your bulb plants, make sure you use a nutrient-rich substrate. You can use gravel, sand, or a specific aquatic plant substrate. Gently push the bulb or tuber into the substrate with the growing tip facing upward and cover it with a thin layer of substrate. If your plant has no bulb – fret not as the plant will still continue to grow propagate and grow a new bulb over time.

Barclaya Bulb
Barclaya Bulb


Regular maintenance is key to keeping your bulb plants healthy. Ensure that the plants are getting enough light and nutrients and prune them regularly to prevent overgrowth. You should also add liquid fertilizers and root tabs to promote healthier growth. We recommend using 2HR Aquarist Fertilizers for these.

Plant Pro Tip: If you don’t want your lotus plants to send off floating leaves – aka keeping their leaves underwater. Cut them before the leaves reach the top, because when they’ve hit the top – that’s when they will start sending all their leaves up. Some species even have the potential to send leaves 90cm vertically from the ground!! If you want them to flower, let the leaves hit the top of the water surface. Having very strong lights will encourage them to flower.

Red Tiger Lotus
Red Tiger Lotus

With the right care and attention, Green Tiger Lotus, Red Tiger Lotus, Nymphaea Stellata, and Nymphaea Indica can add a beautiful touch of color and life to your underwater world.

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