Cryptocoryne Flamingo: From Care to Propagation

Cryptocoryne Flamingo is a captivating aquatic plant, known for its striking pink leaves. It’s a cultivar of Cryptocoryne wendtii and a slow-growing, relatively undemanding plant. However, its care can be tricky, especially for beginners. This comprehensive guide aims to cover all aspects of Cryptocoryne Flamingo care, including its needs for light, CO2, substrate, fertilization, and other factors that contribute to its unique coloration.

We’ll provide tips on how to get the vibrant pink hues this plant is prized for, troubleshoot issues like melting leaves, and compare it to similar varieties. You’ll also learn all about propagating Cryptocoryne Flamingo to expand your collection. You’ll have in-depth knowledge to grow and care for this eye-catching freshwater plant by the end.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Basics

What is Cryptocoryne Flamingo?

Cryptocoryne Flamingo is a cultivated variety or cultivar of the species Cryptocoryne wendtii. It gets its name from the striking pink coloration of its leaves when grown in optimal conditions. Unlike its green-leaved cousins, this cultivar has an exciting and unique look, making it a coveted addition to planted aquariums.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo is native to the island of Sri Lanka, where it grows along river banks and in flooded areas. In the wild, its leaves remain green. It is only through selective breeding by aquatic plant enthusiasts that the pink-leaved variants emerged.

While classed under C. wendtii, Cryptocoryne Flamingo differs in its pinkish leaves with reddish veining and underwater hue. It also has slightly wavy or ruffled leaf margins compared to the smooth edges of regular Crypt wendtii. When grown emersed or above water, the leaves turn olive-green.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Size

How big does this plant get? Cryptocoryne Flamingo is considered a midground plant in most aquarium settings. Its ultimate height depends on factors like lighting and CO2 levels. But generally reaches about 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall when allowed to mature.

The adult leaves of Cryptocoryne Flamingo grow up to 10 cm or 4 inches in length. This makes it a better fit for 10 gallons and up nano tanks. In smaller enclosures, the plant tends to stay petite and compact.

From an initial 2-3 inch tiny plantlet, Cryptocoryne Flamingo takes around 3 to 5 months to attain its full size. Growth occurs slowly but steadily. With good conditions, you’ll notice new leaves emerging every few weeks.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Tropica

Tropica is a reputable aquatic plant nursery that bred several popular Cryptocoryne Flamingo varieties. Their cultivars are specially adapted for life fully submerged in aquariums.

Compared to the wild variants, Tropica’s Cryptocoryne Flamingo grows shorter leaves with more intense coloration. The undersides of the leaves have prominent red veining. Tropica’s cultivar also seems to transition between submerged and emersed growth better than others.

When buying Cryptocoryne Flamingo, look for Tropica tissue culture cups or pots to adapt plants to underwater life. You can also find Tropica’s Cryptocoryne Flamingo sold under brand names like Pink Flamingo or Flamingo.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Care

Caring for Cryptocoryne Flamingo may seem daunting initially. But, providing a few key ingredients helps this plant thrive. Here are the main factors to get right when cultivating Crypt Flamingo in your aquascape:

Light Requirements

Giving Cryptocoryne Flamingo the right kind and intensity of light is crucial for bringing out its prized pink leaves. This plant takes on better coloration when grown under stronger light.

Aim for a light intensity of at least 80 micromols (umols) or higher at the substrate level for the pinkest crypt flamingo leaves. This is considered high light for many aquarium plants.

You can use full spectrum LED aquarium lights to provide intense lighting. Place the Cryptocoryne Flamingo at the focal point directly under the light source. Swiftly decreasing intensity further away often causes green leaves.

When setting up the aquarium, get a timer to ensure the plants enjoy at least 8 hours of light daily. Start at 8 hours, and slowly increase to 10-12 hours per day over a few weeks. This intense photoperiod encourages the growth of lush, pink crypt leaves.

Standard fluorescent lighting may encourage growth for low tech setups but not bring out the brightest pink hues. Supplementing ambient sunlight can boost intensities. High power LED or metal halide lighting works best for Cryptocoryne Flamingo.

CO2 Requirements

Does Cryptocoryne Flamingo need CO2 supplementation? While not an absolute must, injecting CO2 positively impacts the plant’s coloration and growth rate.

You see, Cryptocoryne Flamingo originates from shaded river banks. So in the aquarium, intense lighting creates a high CO2 demand. Without added carbon, growth eventually plateaus.

A carbon dioxide system helps meet the CO2 needs under strong lighting. Aim for a stable CO2 concentration between 15-25 ppm. Drastic CO2 fluctuations cause crypt melt.

Even without CO2 injection, avoid sudden drop-offs in carbon dioxide levels. For example, limit surface agitation and prolonged lights-off periods. Consistency is key.

For low tech setups, liquid carbon supplements like Excel provide an alternative carbon source. Though less effective than CO2 systems, it suffices for slower growing crypts. Just dose per the product instructions.

In both cases, closely monitor CO2 along with pH and kh. This ensures maximum coloration without endangering livestock. Strike a balance between pink leaves and a safe environment.

Water Parameters

Succeeding with Cryptocoryne Flamingo requires optimizing several water parameters beyond just CO2. Here are some ideal conditions to strive for:

Temperature: Cryptocoryne Flamingo grows well between 22 – 28°C. Cooler temperatures below 20°C slow its metabolic rate. Warmer conditions speed growth up to a point.

pH: An acidic to neutral pH between 6.0 – 7.2 is recommended. Alkaline water above 7.5 pH can hinder nutrient uptake.

Hardness: The plant tolerates a wide range of general hardness levels. But growth is fastest and healthiest between 4 – 12 dGH.

Alkalinity: Moderate alkalinity between 4-8 dKH provides stable pH. High alkalinity is better than low.

Getting this combination right encourages lush pink crypt growth. Test water parameters weekly at first. Then, monthly, once conditions stabilize. Make gradual adjustments to get into the ideal ranges.

Substrate Choice

Cryptocoryne Flamingo thrives best in nutrient-rich substrate. Some great options include:

  • Laterite clay gravel
  • Potting soil capped with gravel
  • Commercial aquasoils like ADA Amazonia

Avoid plain gravel, coarse sand, or crushed coral. These offer minimal nutrients to feed root growth.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo propagates via runners. So having a soft substrate for the roots to spread into aids the process. Small-grain sand and powder-type soils work well.

Adding root tabs provides an added nutrient boost. Position them near the central root zone about 3-4 inches apart. This fuels extensive rhizome and runner growth.


With high lighting, CO2, and a fertile substrate, Cryptocoryne Flamingo gets most nutrients it needs. But supplementing micro and macronutrients via the water column optimizes growth.

For beginners, an all-in-one liquid fertilizer provides a simple option. Dose as per the product instructions. Alternately, you can mix your customized blend targeting the needs of rooted plants.

Here are some nutrients useful for Cryptocoryne Flamingo:

  • Macronutrients: Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P) aid robust rhizome growth. Add 2-5 ppm per week.
  • Micronutrients: Iron (Fe) improves leaf coloration. Add 0.5-2 ppm weekly with boron, manganese, zinc, and others.
  • Root supplements: Add root tabs every 3-4 months near the base.

With lean dosing of nutrients and no CO2, growth remains manageable. You can limit ferts and carbon to restrict size in small tanks.

Crypt Flamingo No CO2

Is it possible to grow vibrant Cryptocoryne Flamingo without injecting CO2? While challenging, you can provide high lighting and nutrients while minimizing surface agitation. This allows the limited atmospheric CO2 to accumulate.

Here are some tips for keeping Cryptocoryne Flamingo without added carbon:

  • Use an air-tight lid to prevent CO2 off-gassing.
  • Limit water movement and surface disruption.
  • Ensure adequate water circulation within the tank using lower flow powerheads.
  • Inject an initial CO2 burst at plant introduction to boost establishment.
  • Use liquid carbon supplements instead of CO2 injection.
  • Provide very high lighting to drive growth and compensate for lower CO2.
  • Keep the aquarium cooler as CO2 dissolves better at lower temperatures.
  • Test pH regularly and aim for a lower value around 6.5-6.8.
  • Prune aggressively and uproot frequently to stimulate faster new growth.

However, growth will remain slow, and leaves may not reach peak pinkness without CO2 supplementation. You may end up with more olive-green leaves rather than intense red.

But it’s not impossible. With meticulous fertilization and aquarium maintenance, you can still enjoy this stunning plant even in low tech setups.

Why is My Cryptocoryne Pink Flamingo Not Pink?

After introducing Cryptocoryne Flamingo to your aquarium, you may notice leaves remaining olive-green or brownish. Why isn’t it turning that much-coveted pink hue?

There are a few common reasons for lack of color in Cryptocoryne Flamingo leaves:


Insufficient light intensity or duration can lead to poor coloration. Leaves need at least 80 umols of light for 6-8 hours daily. Increase intensity or photoperiod if needed.

CO2 levels

Fluctuating or inadequate CO2 prevents optimal growth. Use CO2 injection or liquid supplements to maintain 15-30 ppm.

Nutrient deficiency

Lack of macro and micronutrients affects health. Dose the water column and supplement the substrate.

New growth

New leaves start brownish, turning pink with age. Allow 1-2 months for optimal color to develop.

Transition periods

Crypts lose color after shipping or rescaping as they adapt to new conditions.

Suboptimal water parameters

Extreme temperatures, pH levels, hardness, or alkalinity impact pigmentation over time.

Location in tank

Leaves farthest from the light source often remain greener. Move plant nearer to light.

With troubleshooting and adjustments, you can get Cryptocoryne Flamingo reaching its true potential in size and coloration.

Propagation and Price

Once your Cryptocoryne Flamingo fills out, it’s only a matter of time before you want to spread it to other parts of the aquascape. Propagating this plant is quite straightforward.

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Propagation

Mature Cryptocoryne Flamingo plants produce offsets known as plantlets. These offshoots emerge from the central rhizome and root structure. Eventually they detach to start new independent plants.

These young reddish plantlets appear around the mother plant’s base. Use tweezers to separate and re-plant them elsewhere carefully.

These runner plantlets mature faster if left attached to the main plant initially. The mother provides nutrients as they develop their root system.

Divide an overgrown clump for quicker propagation by uprooting and splitting it into several smaller bunches. The resulting plant sections acclimate faster.

Once detached, plant the divisions or runners about 2 inches into the substrate. Space them a few inches apart to allow room for growth. Then watch your Cryptocoryne Flamingo population expand!

Cryptocoryne Flamingo Price

Due to its striking appearance, Cryptocoryne Flamingo costs more than regular green crypt species. Depending on size, expect to pay $5 to $15 per tissue culture cup or pot.

Buying tissue-cultured plants avoids issues with snails or algae introduction. Pots give you larger starter plants at a lower cost per plant.

Rarer variants like Cryptocoryne Flamingo Red or the albino White Flamingo cost $25-30. But these offer little benefit over the regular Flamingo for most aquarists.

Comparisons and Alternatives

While uniquely beautiful, Cryptocoryne Flamingo isn’t the only pink aquatic plant suitable for aquascaping. Let’s compare it to some rosy alternatives you might consider:

Cryptocoryne Pink Panther vs Flamingo

Pink Panther is perhaps the closest cousin to the Flamingo. This cultivar has slightly wavier leaves with a dark pink or magenta hue. It is virtually identical in size and requirements to Cryptocoryne Flamingo.

Both thrive under high light with added CO2 and fertilization. Pink Panther gains a deeper, darker coloration but is harder to find commercially. It also tends to be slower growing.

In most cases, either plant works equally well to add a vivid pop of pink. Go with whichever you can source easier and cheaper.

Hygrophila Chai

Hygrophila chai offers bolder color contrast with dark green foliage and intense pink veins and undersides. It needs similar conditions but grows faster with larger, long leaf structures.

Chai works well mixed in the mid or background to provide accents of color. Its height and spread make it too overpowering for foreground placement, like flamingo crypts.

Hygrophila Pinnatifida

Another hygrophila relative, pinnatifida has wiry, clover-shaped leaves that develop a nice reddish hue. Its compact size and minimal care requirements make it an easy alternative to Cryptocoryne Flamingo.

However, coloration is often more subdued. It shows up only on the leaf undersides and edges, not taking over the whole plant.

Staurogyne Repens

Though technically a purple plant, Staurogyne repens also gains a neat pinkish tone when given high light and CO2. Its low carpeting structure contrasts nicely with the height of cryptocorynes.

Use S. repens as an accompanying foreground plant to create dimension and interest. It propagates readily via cuttings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cryptocoryne Pink Panther Care

How does care for Cryptocoryne Pink Panther compare to the Flamingo variety?

Fortunately, both plants have virtually identical requirements and can be treated similarly regarding lighting, CO2, nutrients, substrate, and other parameters. Focus on providing high light of at least 80 umols, with stable CO2 in the 20-30 ppm range. Use a rich substrate and dose the water column as needed. With similar conditions, they will both thrive and color up beautifully.

How to Get Cryptocoryne Flamingo Redder

If your Cryptocoryne Flamingo leaves are more green or brown than pink, here are some tricks to enhance the red coloration:

  • Increase light intensity to 100 umols or more at the substrate level
  • Reduce distance between plant and light source
  • Add CO2 injection if not using it already
  • Increase Fe dosing to 1-2 ppm to boost red pigments
  • Ensure ample nutrients with fertilizer and root tabs
  • Raise temperature slightly within the ideal range
  • Prune old growth to encourage new red leaves
  • Wait several weeks for optimal color to develop

Getting the balance right between lighting, nutrients and CO2 is key to maximizing the intensity of red in Cryptocoryne Flamingo.


With its vibrant pink leaves and lush growth, Cryptocoryne Flamingo makes a striking addition to planted freshwater aquariums. While not the easiest aquarium plant, given the right care it will thrive and add a bold pop of color. Concentrate on providing intense light, stable CO2 injection, a fertile substrate, and comprehensive fertilization. Test and optimize water parameters like pH and hardness. Once adapted, this eye-catching plant will propagate readily, allowing you to expand your colorful crypt collection. Not only is Cryptocoryne Flamingo beautiful, it’s the perfect way to show off your aquascaping skills!