Cryptocoryne Balansae: The Ultimate Aquarium Plant

Cryptocoryne balansae, also known as cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae, is one of the most popular aquatic plants in the aquascaping community. With its long, flowing leaves that can reach up to 20 inches in length, Cryptocoryne balansae adds drama and movement to aquarium displays.

This beautiful plant is native to the streams and rivers in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Borneo, and India. It thrives in shaded areas along riverbanks where leaf litter accumulates. Cryptocoryne balansae is part of the Araceae family, which includes other popular aquarium plants like Anubias and African water fern.

Cryptocoryne balansae is treasured in an aquarium for its graceful, dangling leaves and relatively easy care requirements. Both beginning and advanced aquarists appreciate this plant for the visual interest it brings to aquascape designs. The vibrant green leaves look stunning as a background plant or grouped in bunches throughout the tank.

Cryptocoryne Balansae in Aquariums

The flowing, ribbon-like leaves of Cryptocoryne balansae add dynamism and energy to aquarium displays. This plant naturally grows in bunches, with multiple long leaves sprouting from the crown. Aquascapers often use Cryptocoryne balansae as a focal point, planting several bunches close together to create a wall of vibrant green foliage.

Cryptocoryne balansae is a background plant that can quickly reach the water’s surface. The elongated leaves gracefully wave in the current, mimicking the plant’s natural movement in streams and rivers. Planting Cryptocoryne balansae behind rocks or driftwood enhances the depth perception in an aquascape layout.

While Cryptocoryne balansae makes a striking background plant, it can also be used effectively throughout the midground or foreground. When allowed to spread, it forms a lush green carpet contrasting beautifully with red aquatic plants. Cryptocoryne balansae also helps conceal the filter intake and other equipment when planted densely at the sides of a tank.

Overall, Cryptocoryne balansae enhances aquascapes with its vibrant color, energetic motion, and ability to alter perceptions of space and depth. Both beginning and advanced aquarists love Cryptocoryne balansae for the beauty and life it brings to underwater layouts.

Cryptocoryne Balansae Care

Caring for Cryptocoryne balansae is relatively straightforward, especially compared to more delicate aquatic plants. Here are the recommended care guidelines to keep Cryptocoryne balansae thriving:


Moderate lighting between 2-3 watts per gallon allows Cryptocoryne balansae to flourish. Bright light will encourage faster growth while lower light results in smaller, more compact plants.


Cryptocoryne balansae prefers water temperatures between 75-82°F but can tolerate temperatures as low as 70°F. Cooler temperatures may slow growth.

pH Level
An ideal pH range for Cryptocoryne balansae is 6.0-7.5. More acidic or alkaline water can stunt growth.

Water Hardness

Soft to moderately hard water is best, between 4-8 KH. Avoid very soft or liquid rock hard water.


A nutrient-rich substrate with added fertilizers provides vital minerals. Sand over soil also works well.


CO2 injection is not necessary but will speed up growth. Consistent CO2 levels are more important than high concentrations.


Use aquatic plant fertilizer to replenish the water column 1-2 times weekly. Root tabs further enrich the substrate.


Trim outer leaves near the base as they get overgrown. Removing leaves promotes new growth.

Overall, Cryptocoryne balansae is flexible and can thrive under various conditions. Test your water parameters and tailor the care regimen to your aquarium’s environment. With a lush green thumb, you’ll have thriving Cryptocoryne balansae in no time!

Cryptocoryne Balansae Emersed vs Submerged

Cryptocoryne balansae exhibits some key differences in its appearance and growth habits depending on whether it is cultivated emersed or submersed underwater:


  • Grows in open air or very shallow water
  • Produces shorter, more compact leaves
  • Leaves have distinct striping and colorful patterns
  • Flowers readily when mature
  • Slower growth rate overall


  • Grows fully underwater, partially or fully submerged
  • Leaves grow taller, up to 20 inches long
  • Leaves lack vivid striping, more uniformly green
  • Rarely flowers and propagates mainly through runners
  • Faster vegetative growth underwater

When grown emersed, Cryptocoryne balansae invests more energy in reproduction through flower production. The shorter leaves often display excellent color variations like red, purple, and bronze hues with distinctive striped patterns along the edges.

Underwater as a fully submersed plant, Cryptocoryne balansae devotes its energy to vegetative reproduction. The elongated leaves grow quickly and propagate new plantlets. Without the need to attract pollinators, the leaves lack color highlights and are more uniformly green.

Aquatic plant farmers and hobbyists commonly use both emersed and submersed cultivation methods. Emersed growth typically produces shorter plants better suited for foreground placement while submerged cultivation results in tall background plants with flowing leaves.

Understanding Cryptocoryne Balansae Height and Size

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Cryptocoryne balansae is its impressive height and size potential. Here are some key facts about the height and proportions of this plant:

  • Mature Size: 16 to 20 inches tall (40 to 55 cm), 8 to 12 inches wide (20 to 30 cm)
  • Leaves: 6 to 12 inches long (15 to 30 cm), 0.4 to 1 inch wide (1 to 2.5 cm)
  • Growth Rate: Fast, up to 3 inches per month under ideal conditions
  • Maximum Height: Often reaches the water surface at 16 to 20 inches high
  • Growth Habit: Vertical elongation of leaves, spreading through stolons and runners

Cryptocoryne balansae requires ample space and light to achieve full size and height. When crowded or shaded, growth becomes stunted and slower. Given ideal conditions of nutrients, light, CO2, and room to expand, Cryptocoryne balansae becomes a commanding aquatic plant that makes a dramatic backdrop.

The elongated, ribbon-like leaves range from a deep forest green to olive green. Reddish-brown hues may develop on the underside of mature leaves. Cryptocoryne balansae should be strategically positioned as a large plant for maximum visual impact in aquarium layouts.

Cryptocoryne Balansae Propagation

Cryptocoryne balansae propagates through vegetative methods, primarily via runners and daughter plants. Here are the techniques for successfully propagating Cryptocoryne balansae:


This plant continually produces stolons, also called runners, from the central crown. The stolons extend horizontally, putting out roots and new daughter crowns along the way. Trimming and replanting the runners is an easy propagation method.

Rhizome Division

Carefully divide the rhizome into smaller sections, ensuring each piece has some roots and crowns attached. Replant the rhizome pieces to grow into new plants.

Daughter Plants

Trim the small plantlets that form on stolons and transplant them to a new location. These daughter plants are mini versions of the parent plant.

Tissue Culture

Specialized aquatic plant growers use sterile tissue culture labs to generate large quantities of identical Cryptocoryne balansae plants. Home aquarists can purchase tissue cultured plantlets.

No matter which propagation technique you use, Cryptocoryne balansae is easy to multiply once established. Share extras with fellow aquarist friends to spread the enjoyment of this beautiful aquatic plant.

The Unique Features of Cryptocoryne Balansae Red

Cryptocoryne balansae red is a striking color variant of the popular C. balansae green. Here are some of the unique features that set this red plant apart:

Vibrant Red Coloration

Cryptocoryne balansae red displays intense crimson-red leaves. The underside of leaves is often burgundy.

Compact Growth Habit

The red variant has shorter leaves, averaging 6-8 inches. It stays more compact compared to the green.

Requires Bright Lighting

The red pigmentation develops best under high intensity lighting, approximately 3-4 watts per gallon. Lower light causes fading.

Sensitive to Changes

Fluctuations in nutrients, CO2 levels, or water parameters can quickly cause melting. Stable conditions are crucial.

Challenging for Beginners

Compared to the easier green form, the red variant is sensitive and demanding. It requires expertise to thrive.

Adds Drama and Contrast

Deep red crypt adds vibrancy and contrast when combined with green aquatic plants.

Choosing the Right Substrate for Cryptocoryne Balansae

Choosing an appropriate aquarium substrate is key to growing healthy Cryptocoryne balansae plants. Here are the best substrate options:

Fine Gravel

A nutrient-rich gravel with 2-5mm grain sizes provides excellent drainage and root penetration. Blended gravel mixes work well.


Sand substrates like pool filter or blasting sand offer a smooth, natural look. Choose coarser grades for better water flow to the roots.

Soil/Potting Mix

High-quality organic potting soil overlaid with sand supports vigorous growth. The soil provides nutrients while the sand prevents the soil from diffusing into the water.

Aquatic Plant Substrates

Specialized substrates like Fluval Stratum, Eco-Complete, and ADA Aqua Soil contain mineral-rich volcanic clay ideal for crypts.


Adding laterite clay supplements iron, potassium, and other trace elements crypts need. Mix with gravel or use clay root tabs.

Avoid large, coarse gravel or crushed coral substrates, which are too dense and inhibit root development. When in doubt, plant crypts in quality aquatic plant substrate for consistently robust growth.

Trimming and Maintenance

Trimming Cryptocoryne balansae improves the plant’s appearance and promotes new growth:

  • Remove damaged, dying leaves close to the base. Healthy leaves will regrow from the crown.
  • Cut away outer leaves that outgrow the desired size. Crypts continually produce new leaves from the center.
  • Thin dense clumps by removing baby plantlets. Replant them to propagate or create a bushier look.
  • Prune runners to control spread. Cut and replant runners to fill in bare spots.
  • Trim leaves consistently over time for a neater appearance. Crypts naturally develop an unkempt look if left untrimmed.
  • Remove leaf debris and waste from the rhizome area to prevent rotting.

With simple, periodic trimming, Cryptocoryne balansae maintains a lush, full appearance year after year. Consistent maintenance keeps crypts looking their best.

Cryptocoryne Balansae Tropica: A Special Variant

Cryptocoryne balansae ‘Tropica’ is a unique cultivated variety exclusively sold by the aquatic plant brand Tropica. Here’s an overview:

  • Leaves have a distinct bullated, or puckered, texture not seen on wild types.
  • Tropica stays shorter, growing to only 12 inches maximum height.
  • The leaves display attractive brown mottling along the edges and veins.
  • A fast grower that propagates quickly, making it popular for the aquarium trade.
  • Requires very soft, acidic water with a pH under 6.5. The wild type tolerates a wider pH range.
  • Overall an easy, reliable aquarium plant. Less demanding than other Tropica cultivars.

The bullated leaves and controlled size of Cryptocoryne balansae ‘Tropica’ make it suitable for midground placement. This unique variety adds texture and interest without growing as towering tall as the wild form.

Comparing Cryptocoryne Balansae and Retrospiralis

Cryptocoryne retrospiralis is often confused with C. balansae since both have long, strap-shaped leaves. Here’s how to tell them apart:


  • Balansae leaves grow up to 20 inches long. Retrospiralis only reaches 12 inches maximum.
  • Retrospiralis leaves are spirally twisted while balansae leaves grow straight.
  • The leaves of retrospiralis are slightly crinkled compared to balansae.

Growth Habit

  • Retrospiralis is a slower grower and stays smaller than balansae.
  • Balansae is faster growing and propagates readily by runners.

Water Conditions

  • Balansae adapts to a wide temperature range of 70-82°F.
  • Retrospiralis prefers higher temperatures of 75-86°F.

Both plants prefer soft, acidic water. When given proper care, C. retrospiralis and C. balansae make striking additions to aquarium displays.

Cryptocoryne Crispatula Balansae vs Cryptocoryne Lucens and Parva

Cryptocoryne lucens and C. parva have some similarities with C. crispatula balansae but also key differences:


  • Balansae grows quite tall, up to 20 inches.
  • Lucens reaches a maximum of 10 inches.
  • Parva is a true dwarf crypt, staying under 6 inches.

Leaf Shape

  • Balansae has very long, narrow leaves.
  • Lucens leaves are elliptical with ruffled edges.
  • Parva leaves are small, oval-shaped.


  • Balansae is medium to dark green.
  • Lucens leaves are bronze to reddish green.
  • Parva new leaves are yellowish turning green.


  • Balansae is relatively easy for all experience levels.
  • Lucens can be quite demanding, requiring stable conditions.
  • Parva grows slowly but is undemanding.

Cryptocoryne balansae, lucens, and parva each bring unique size, texture, and color options to aquarium spaces.

CO2 Requirements

While CO2 injection provides benefits, Cryptocoryne balansae grows readily without added carbon dioxide:

  • CO2 speeds growth up to 2-3 times faster. But growth remains moderate to fast without CO2 enrichment.
  • Consistent CO2 levels around 5-15 ppm are more important than maximizing concentration. Fluctuations cause issues.
  • Provide high light and nutrients to balance any added CO2. Crypts can struggle if CO2 is too high relative to other inputs.
  • A nutrient-rich substrate, quality light, and fish waste are often sufficient to sustain growth.
  • Adding liquid carbon products like Flourish Excel offers a simple alternative to pressurized CO2.

Overall, Cryptocoryne balansae does not require CO2 supplementation to thrive. Focus instead on providing optimal light, nutrients, water flow, and parameters for robust growth.


How tall does Cryptocoryne Balansae grow?

Cryptocoryne balansae is one of the largest aquarium crypt species. Given proper conditions, it can reach heights of 16 to 20 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide when fully grown. The long, narrow leaves extend up to 12 inches outward from the crown.

How to plant and trim Cryptocoryne Balansae?

Plant crypt bunches with the crown just beneath the substrate, allowing leaves to reach upwards. Spread rhizomes 1-2 inches apart. Trim outer leaves at the base as they age or degrade. Remove runners and plantlets to control spread. Prune consistently to maintain an attractive shape.

What is the difference between Cryptocoryne Crispatula and Balansae?

Cryptocoryne crispatula is the broad species, while C. balansae is a variety within the crispatula group. Balansae has long, narrow leaves while crispatula has shorter, wider ones. Balansae stays under 20 inches tall while general crispatula can exceed 20 inches. Both have ruffled edges but balansae is dramatically elongated.


With its flowing ribbons of green and nearly unlimited size potential, Cryptocoryne balansae makes a stunning centerpiece plant for aquarium displays. Yet this beautiful crypt remains easy enough for beginner aquarists to grow and enjoy. Given bright light, a rich substrate, and ample room to spread, Cryptocoryne balansae infuses aquascape designs with vitality and vibrant plant energy. This iconic aquatic plant is sure to remain prized for years to come.