Cryptocoryne Parva: The Smallest Water Trumpet

Cryptocoryne parva is a fascinating aquatic plant native to Sri Lanka. Known as the smallest water trumpet, it’s a popular choice for aquarists looking to add some greenery to their tanks. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive look into the care, propagation, and unique characteristics of Cryptocoryne parva.

Cryptocoryne Parva

What is Cryptocoryne Parva?

Cryptocoryne parva is the smallest known water trumpet species, originating from Sri Lanka. It’s a slow-growing plant that forms dense, extended lawns with underground runners. The plant is robust and can grow in both emersed and submerged conditions.

This petite species has olive-green leaves that are oval-shaped and smooth-edged. The leaves typically grow up to 1-3 cm in length. During its emersed form, the leaves take on a reddish-brown coloration.

One of the defining features of Cryptocoryne parva is its compact size. Under aquarium conditions, the plant usually reaches a 2 to 5 cm height only, making it ideal for nano tanks. Its petite structure allows it to be used as an aquatic carpet plant.

Cryptocoryne Parva Care

Caring for Cryptocoryne parva is relatively easy, making it a beginner-friendly aquarium plant. Here are some key care guidelines:


Cryptocoryne parva thrives with low to moderate lighting conditions. Aim for 2-4 watts per gallon for optimal growth using full spectrum or 6500K bulbs. High lighting often causes melt and stunted growth.


A nutrient-rich substrate is recommended, with a 1-3mm grain size. Cryptocoryne parva can grow in most substrates like gravel, sand, aqua soil or clay pellets. Using root tabs further encourages growth.

CO2 Injection

Additional CO2 is beneficial but not essential for this plant. You can grow it without CO2 supplementation in a low-tech setup. With CO2 injection, growth will be faster. Maintain levels between 5-15 ppm.


Use a complete liquid fertilizer to provide necessary macros and micro nutrients. Use root tabs near the root zone every 3-4 months.

Water Parameters

Ideal water parameters are:

  • Temperature: 22-28°C
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • KH: 3-8° dKH
  • GH: 4-12° dGH


Trim older leaves as they start to melt. Propagate stem cuttings to create a dense carpet. Provide good water circulation within the tank.

Algae Control

Lower light intensity and duration of algae growth occurs. Introduce algae eaters like Amano shrimp and Siamese algae, which will graze on algae without harming the plant.

Propagation Techniques

Cryptocoryne parva is quite easy to propagate. You can use any of these methods:

Runners and Rhizomes

This plant naturally sends out runners from the mother plant. Allow the runners to grow and attach to the substrate, then new daughter plants will emerge.


Carefully uproot the plant and divide into smaller portions, ensuring each division has some roots and crown attached. Replant the divisions.


Take healthy stem cuttings with a few leaves. Remove the lowest leaves and plant either partially or fully submerged. New plants will sprout from the nodes.

Cryptocoryne Parva Carpeting

Due to its compact structure, Cryptocoryne parva is an excellent carpeting plant for nano aquariums and foreground areas. Here are some tips for creating a lush parva carpet:

  • Start with tissue culture plants for faster carpeting. Use at least 3 pots to cover a 6″ x 6″ area.
  • Plant very densely at 1-1.5 inches distance between each stem. This will fill in quicker.
  • Use small grain aquarium soil for better root development. Level the substrate properly.
  • Ensure optimal light, nutrients and CO2 to encourage horizontal growth. Trim vertically growing leaves.
  • Maintain consistent conditions and fertilization routine to fill in any gaps.
  • Cut and replant the carpet section by section until the whole area fills up.

Cryptocoryne Parva vs. Crypt Parva

Cryptocoryne parva is often confused with Crypt parva, but they are two distinct species. Here’s how to tell them apart:

  • Cryptocoryne parva has smooth-edged, olive green leaves while Crypt parva has wavy or ruffled edges.
  • Crypt parva leaves are more elongated and pointed compared to the oval leaves of C. parva.
  • Under high light, Crypt parva develops a beautiful red coloration on the underside of leaves. C. parva does not.
  • Cryptocoryne parva is slower growing and stays much shorter. Crypt parva can reach 10+ cm height.
  • Cryptocoryne parva originates from Sri Lanka while Crypt parva is native to Thailand.

Growing Conditions

Here is an overview of the natural growing conditions of Cryptocoryne parva:

Natural Habitat: Shallow streams and marshy areas

Light Conditions: Grows in shaded humid forests with moderate diffused light. Can adapt to low to high light.

Water Conditions: Grows well in relatively soft acidic water with very slow flow. Tolerates a wide temperature range of 68°F – 82°F.

Substrate: Often found growing over sandy loam or laterite clay substrates. Root feeder that prefers nutrient rich sediment.

Hardiness Zone: Can thrive year-round in tropical zones 10-12. Suitable for indoor growth in colder hardiness zones.

By replicating its natural habitat, you can provide optimal growing conditions for Cryptocoryne parva in an aquarium setup.

Purchasing Guide

When buying Cryptocoryne parva, look for the following to get healthy plants:

  • Look for green, intact leaves without holes, tears or blackening edges. Avoid plants with several melted leaves.
  • Roots should be white in color and plentiful. Don’t buy plants with no roots or transparent roots.
  • Buy from reputed sellers and check reviews about plant quality. Read seller specifications.
  • Inspect for pests like snails or algae and any signs of disease/rotting.
  • Purchasing tissue culture plants or potted plants reduces chances of hitchhikers.
  • For carpeting, buy at least 3 tissue culture cups or 5-6 potted stems to cover a 6″ x 6″ area.


Does Cryptocoryne parva need CO2?

CO2 is not mandatory for Cryptocoryne parva but will result in faster growth. It grows fine in a low-tech tank too.

What causes Cryptocoryne parva melting?

Drastic changes in conditions like light intensity, CO2 levels, nutrients or water parameters can trigger melt. Allow it to re-acclimate and new growth will emerge.

Is Cryptocoryne parva rare?

It is not the rarest Cryptocoryne, but limited availability as an endemic plant contributes to high demand. It is considered rare in the hobby currently. Availability is increasing through commercial cultivation.

Will Excel or liquid carbon help Cryptocoryne parva grow?

Yes, liquid carbon supplements like Excel provide an alternative carbon source and aid photosynthesis. Use half or quarter dose recommended on the product to prevent melting. Observe plant response.

How fast does Cryptocoryne parva spread?

It is a slow growing plant, spreading at a rate of 2-3 inches per month. Provide ideal conditions and propagate frequently to fill out an aquascape faster.


With its petite size, adaptability and carpeting ability, Cryptocoryne parva is one of the best foreground plants. Though relatively new to the hobby, its popularity continues to soar. Following the care guidelines and propagation techniques outlined, you can easily incorporate this lovely dwarf Crypt into your freshwater aquarium for an exceptional look. With time and patience, Cryptocoryne Parva will reward you with a lush miniature lawn effect.