Alternanthera Reineckii is a popular aquatic plant known for its attractive reddish-purple leaves. Native to South America, it is a great choice for planted aquariums due to its vibrant colors and relatively easy care requirements.
Types of Alternanthera Reineckii
There are several different varieties of Alternanthera Reineckii available to aquarium hobbyists. Here are some of the most popular types:
Alternanthera Reineckii ‘Mini’
Alternanthera Reineckii ‘Mini’ is a compact, slow-growing variation of Alternanthera Reineckii. It typically grows to 5-10 cm tall and spreads gradually via side shoots. The leaves are small, pointed and deep purple.
‘Mini’ is an excellent foreground plant choice for smaller aquariums, especially nano tanks, due to its petite size. It can be grown in bunches or a lush purple carpet across the substrate.
Alternanthera Reineckii Lilacina
Alternanthera Reineckii Lilacina exhibits delicate leaves with lilac-colored undersides. The top sides of the leaves are olive green to deep red. This variety has a creeping growth habit, spreading horizontally as it grows.
Lilacina thrives with high light intensity and appreciates regular trimming to encourage bushy growth. Use sharp scissors to pinch off tops and replant the cuttings to fill bare spots. Target an ideal height of 10-15 cm.
Alternanthera Reineckii Variegated
The Alternanthera Reineckii Variegated variety features leaves with blotchy variegation. The leaves are randomly splashed with shades of green, pink and cream. This unique look provides striking contrast against the deep red leaves.
Variegated plants tend to grow somewhat slower than the normal green form. Providing optimal nutrients and light levels will encourage the variegation to be more pronounced. Prune off any all-green leaves to maintain the desired appearance.
Alternanthera Reineckii ‘Pink’
Alternanthera Reineckii ‘Pink’ is prized for the vibrant pink coloration on the undersides of its leaves. The top sides are olive green to purple. When positioned strategically in the aquarium, the pink undersides create a dramatic pop of color.
This variety exhibits moderate growth speed and should be trimmed regularly to encourage bushy growth. Target a height of 15-25 cm for the healthiest growth habit. The pink color is most vivid in high lighting conditions.
Alternanthera Reineckii Rosaefolia
Alternanthera Reineckii Rosaefolia is a unique variety with narrow, linear leaves that emerge pinkish-red and darken to deep purple. The long, grass-like leaves give this plant a distinctive look among other Alternanthera.
Rosaefolia requires careful attention to lighting and nutrients to thrive. Very high light is essential for the red colors to develop properly. Use rich substrate and target the roots with root tabs or other fertilizers to fuel growth. CO2 injection also benefits this variety.
Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanervig
Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanervig sports olive green leaves with prominent pink veins running through them. The pink veining stands out well against the darker green leaf background. Leaves may develop some purple shades in very intense lighting.
This Alternanthera variety grows taller than some others, potentially reaching 20-30 cm high. Give it plenty of room to spread out or prune frequently to contain its size and encourage compact growth. The lower leaves can be cleared away to show off the colorful veined pattern.
Care Guide for Alternanthera Reineckii
Caring for Alternanthera Reineckii is straightforward, but optimal growing conditions encourage vibrant leaf colors and healthy plants. Here are some key care tips:
Bright illumination is essential for Alternanthera Reineckii. Without sufficient light intensity, the leaves will remain green and fail to develop the desired red hues.
Aim for high-output lighting such as 2-4 watts per gallon provided by LEDs or T5 fluorescent bulbs. The light should penetrate down through the water column. Position the Alternanthera in a spot that receives direct lighting for best results.
Using pressurized CO2 can significantly boost growth rates and intensify leaf colors in Alternanthera Reineckii. The plants can photosynthesize faster with increased carbon available.
30-40 ppm CO2 is ideal for Alternanthera. This level can be maintained using a good quality CO2 regulator with a pH controller or drop checker to monitor concentration. Start with lower levels and slowly increase to find the sweet spot.
While Alternanthera Reineckii can grow in various substrates, root fertilizing products will provide an extra nutritional boost. Place root tabs or balls near the base of the plants every 2-3 months. Liquid supplements can also be dosed into the substrate bed periodically.
Enriched substrates like ADA Aquasoil also supply nutrients, but root dosing is still recommended. Lean substrates will require more frequent fertilization to prevent deficiency.
Regular trimming encourages Alternanthera Reineckii to grow bushy and spread. Use sharp scissors to trim off the top 1-2” of stem tips. Replant the cuttings to fill in any gaps. Remove any old or damaged leaves at the base as needed.
Trimmed stems will branch out with new side shoots. Continual pruning creates compact, full growth. Letting the plants grow tall without trimming results in sparse lower regions.
Propagating Alternanthera Reineckii
Alternanthera Reineckii is easy to propagate by cuttings. Snip off healthy stem tops and replant in the substrate. Here are some propagation tips:
Take 3-6 inch Cuttings
Use sharp, clean scissors to cut stem sections about 3-6 inches long. Try to take cuttings from the upper portions of the plant where the growth is most vigorous. The cut end can be trimmed to just below a leaf node.
Removing lower leaves from the cutting allows for better contact with the substrate. But leave a few leaves at the top to continue photosynthesis.
Plant in Small Groups
Plant 2-4 cuttings together in a small bunch to create a focal point. Over time, the original stems will bush out and fill in the area. Planting several together helps create the desired fuller look faster.
Cuttings can also be used solo to fill gaps or create new groupings elsewhere in the aquascape. Allow some space between groupings to account for spreading growth over time.
Use Enriched Substrate
Plant the Alternanthera cuttings in a nutrient-rich substrate for best rooting and growth results. Materials like ADA Aquasoil provide essential minerals and speed up the establishment process. Sprinkle root tabs around the cuttings as well.
Even in plain gravel or sand, supplementing with liquid fertilizer will boost the new plants while the roots develop. Take care not to overdose at first.
Transition to Emersed Growth
Alternanthera Reineckii can also be propagated by transitioning it emersed out of water. Allow the lower stems to remain submerged while the tops grow above the water line. Humidity should be kept high with a cover.
Once rooted strongly in the emersed form, the plants can be snipped and transitioned back underwater. This can help produce bushier specimens.
Submerged vs. Emersed Growth
Alternanthera Reineckii exhibits some key differences when grown submerged underwater compared to emersed form above water:
- Leaves are smaller and closer together
- Stems elongate rapidly from internode spacing
- Slow transition in leaf colors from green to red hues
- Displays vibrant reddish-purple leaves
- Larger, spaced out leaves on short stems
- Leaves emerge reddish from the start
- Growth habit is more compact overall
- Lower maintenance trimming needs
Both forms can yield beautiful results. Submerged growth allows the dramatic underwater foliage colors, while emersed form is easier to manage. Using both techniques provides propagation flexibility.
How Alternanthera Reineckii Compares to Similar Plants
Alternanthera Reineckii shares some similarities with other popular aquatic plants but has some distinct differences. Here’s how it compares to a few top contenders:
Alternanthera Reineckii vs. Staurogyne Repens
|Leaves||Pointed, deep red-purple||Round, green to red shades|
|Propagation||By cuttings||By cuttings or plantlets|
|Position in Tank||Midground to background||Carpet, foreground|
Alternanthera Reineckii grows a bit taller and larger than the petite Staurogyne Repens. Both plants can develop nice reddish colors, but Alternanthera is known for its deeper hues. Staurogyne requires more trimming to form a compact carpet across the substrate.
Alternanthera Reineckii vs. Hygrophila Pinnatifida
|Alternanthera Reineckii||Hygrophila Pinnatifida|
|Leaf Shape||Pointed||Deeply lobed|
Alternanthera Reineckii has a stem-like growth pattern with pointed leaves while Hygrophila Pinnatifida grows from a central crown with deeply lobed leaves. Alternanthera needs more frequent trimming to shape its growth. Hygrophila is lower maintenance in that regard. Both grow well with CO2 supplementation.
Alternanthera Reineckii vs. Alternanthera Lilacina
|Alternanthera Reineckii||Alternanthera Lilacina|
|Leaf Underside Color||Pink||Lilac purple|
|Maximum Height||20-30 cm||10-15 cm|
|Light Demand||High||Very high|
Alternanthera Reineckii and Alternanthera Lilacina are two similar species often confused for one another. Lilacina is more compact with light purple leaf undersides. Reineckii grows taller and shows off pinkish lower leaf coloration. Both thrive under very bright lighting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alternanthera Reineckii an Easy Plant?
Yes, Alternanthera Reineckii is relatively easy to grow compared to many aquatic plants, especially for the dramatic pop of color it provides. It is undemanding regarding water parameters and fertilization as long as its lighting needs are met. Frequent pruning is required to maintain its best form, but propagation from cuttings is straightforward. Overall, its requirements are very manageable.
How Big Does Alternanthera Reineckii Grow?
Alternanthera Reineckii typically grows to a height of 10-20cm tall when kept trimmed. It can reach up to 30cm high if allowed to grow wild. The stems spread horizontally by branching out, with side shoots widening the footprint over time. Pruning and replanting the trimmings helps constrain overall size and encourages dense growth. The varieties have varying size ranges, but most are ideal midground plants.
With its eye-catching deep red leaves and relatively easy care requirements, it’s no wonder Alternanthera Reineckii has become a coveted aquatic plant. This South American beauty offers lush colors and texture to aquarium displays. Its versatility suits many scapes from Iwagumi layouts to Dutch style tanks. Attention to proper lighting and routine trimming will allow Alternanthera Reineckii to thrive. Propagation from cuttings expands your plant stock too! For those seeking drama and vibrancy for their freshwater planted tank, Alternanthera Reineckii is a star player.