Have you heard of Alternanthera Reineckii, also known as Scarlet Temple, or simply AR? This vibrant and versatile plant is a popular choice for aquascapers and aquarium enthusiasts alike. With its bright red hues and slow growing nature, Alternanthera Reineckii can add significant color contrast and texture to any planted aquarium. In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about this beautiful species.
|Medium to High
|4 to 30°C (39.2 to 86°F)
|17 to 25°C (62.6 to 77°F)
|0 to 14°dKH
|5 to 7
|Carbon dioxide (CO2)
|10 to 40 mg/l
|10 to 50 mg/l
|0.1 to 3 mg/l
|5 to 30 mg/l
|0.01 to 0.5 mg/l
|Can grow emersed?
|Accent (Red), Background, Midground, Street
The first thing to keep in mind when growing Alternanthera Reineckii is that it requires stable water parameters. Instability in the water temperature or pH can result in the plant melting or rotting, so it’s important to maintain a water temperature between 17 to 25°C (62.6 to 77°F) and a pH of 6.0-7.5.
Slow Growth at First
Alternanthera Reineckii is a slow grower until it gets established, so you may notice a decline in growth rate after transplanting. To help the plant get established, avoid moving it as much as possible. If you must replant an uprooted plant, trim the tops and leave the bottoms only – the side shoots will grow from the bottom of the plant. Pruning the plant and removing any leaves covered in algae can also encourage denser growth.
Good Substrate, Nutrients, and Lighting
To ensure the best growth and color, it’s important to provide Alternanthera Reineckii with a good substrate, sufficient nutrients, and enough light. A nutrient-based substrate, like aquarium soil, sand, or gravel, will help the roots secure themselves. The plant prefers high nitrates and phosphates, so adding quality aquarium plant fertilizers can be beneficial. For the best color, medium to high levels of light are recommended, but be careful not to let excessive light lead to algae growth.
Good lighting is important for optimal coloration with Alternanthera Reineckii. The plant responds well to strong lighting with a high red/blue spectrum, as addition to a good fertilization regime. It’s important to note that Alternanthera Reineckii is slow growing and very susceptible to algae, so maintaining a clean tank is crucial. The real challenge in growing this plant well is keeping it algae-free over the long term.
If the lower leaves begin to rot, it’s a sign of light deficiency. To keep the plant healthy, make sure it’s receiving enough light intensity. This plant won’t grow taller than 10-30 cm (4-12 inches), making it perfect for the foreground of your aquarium.
This plant can be propagated by top or lateral shoot cuttings or by separating the bushes.
CO2 injection can work wonders for Alternanthera Reineckii. While it can grow in a low-tech environment, adding CO2 will result in a more vibrant and robust plant. This stem plant can grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) tall, but is usually trimmed to a more compact size for an aquarium. And the best part? If it’s healthy, it will even produce additional stems that can be trimmed off to propagate a new plant!
Did you know that there are several different variations of Alternanthera Reineckii with their own unique coloration and characteristics? Here are some of the most popular:
- Alternanthera Reineckii Rosaefolia: Olive-colored tops and red bases make these plants a Dutch aquascape favorite. They reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall and need medium to high light and CO2 for optimum growth.
- Alternanthera Reineckii Lilacina: Reddish-purple stems and brownish-green leaves make this plant a stunning mid or background option. High-quality plant substrate and strong light, as well as CO2 injection, will bring out its vibrant colors.
- Alternanthera Reineckii Cardinalis: Compact growth, wavy and wide leaves, and dark red coloration make this plant a great midground or background option. It needs strong lighting, CO2, and a consistent nutrient supply.
- Alternanthera Reineckii Mini: This dwarf variant can be used in large or small aquariums as a foreground or midground option. It grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) and needs medium to high light and CO2 for optimum growth.
- Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanervig: Vivid pink leaves and light veins make this plant a delicate yet attractive background option. It requires good aquarium lighting and a consistent fertilizer regimen, but be careful as it has a softer stem.
Key Success Factors
Here are some key success factors to keep in mind when growing Alternanthera Reineckii:
- Stable tank parameters
- Soil-based substrate
- Algae-free environment
- Trimming technique (cut off tops, allow rooted base to regrow)
- Flexibility in terms of temperature, water hardness/alkalinity, and CO2 levels
Unfortunately, Alternanthera Reineckii is often plagued by problems like twisted, algae-covered leaves. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as:
- Too frequent uprooting
- Poor growth parameters after transplanting
- Unstable water parameters
- Poor algae management
- Substrate issues
The key to avoiding these problems is to provide a sustained period of stability for your Alternanthera Reineckii. Don’t try to change too many variables at once, and give your plant time to establish itself before making any major changes.
Nutrient-Rich Environment for Thriving A. Reineckii
Just like many other red-pigmented plants, A. reineckii thrives in a nutrient-rich environment with high levels of nitrate (10mg/l and over) and phosphate (0.5 mg/l and over). If your water has lower nutrient content, fertilizing the substrate can significantly improve the health and growth rate of your plant.
Easy Propagation and Stunning Visuals
When planting A. reineckii make sure to leave enough space between the stems to allow for proper growth. This plant is also incredibly easy to propagate – simply cut off the shoot tip and replant into the substrate. In no time, lateral shoots will start to grow on the remaining stem, giving your plant a bushier appearance.
The deep purple color of the undersides of the leaves of AR provide a striking contrast to the multitude of green aquatic plant species available in the trade, especially when planted in groups. Use three to five strong shoots to create stunning color accents in your aquarium background.
With its highly pubescent red stem reaching up to 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) in length, Alternanthera reineckii is sure to add a refreshing spectrum of color to your aquarium. The leaves can be sessile or petiolate and grow up to 0.5 cm (0.2 inches) in size. They are ovoid, pointed, and decussate, with green leaves on the topside and pink on the underside.
The inflorescence of Alternanthera reineckii is sessile, with axial spikes in groups of 1-5 and numerous densely arranged flowers. Bracts are ovoid and white, while the tepals are glabrous and white. With 4 stamens and a short style, this plant produces numerous seeds.
Alternanthera reineckii can be found in flooded areas, riverbanks, and the edges of ponds in South America. This species was observed in its natural environment in Bolivia and Argentina in two different locations with the following water parameters:
- Bolivia, a small stream with stagnant water and a sandy-boggy substrate in unshaded conditions. The temperature was 17°C (63°F) with a pH value of 6.5 and GH of 4°dH.
- Argentina, submersed in the remaining water of a former river with a loamy-stony substrate in sunny-shaded conditions. The temperature was 15.5°C (60°F) with a pH value of 6.1 and GH of 2°dH.
A Beautiful Addition to Your Aquascape
Up to now, Alternanthera Reineckii has mainly been used in Dutch-style aquascapes, where it provides a beautiful red contrast to green plants of low to medium height. It forms an optical counterpart to higher-growing red plants, making it a great choice for creating a harmonious and stunning aquascape. Though it hasn’t been widely used in the “Asian” nature aquarium style, it could make for an interesting red accent in a group of Staurogyne Repens, a plant with a similar leaf form but a fresh green color.
Tim Priest, a renowned aquarium expert with over 15 years of experience in aquatic gardening and fish education, is dedicated to helping enthusiasts create stunning and thriving aquatic environments. As the founder of LearnTheAquarium.com, Tim shares his wealth of knowledge, passion, and expertise through engaging articles, educational resources, and personalized advice.
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