How to Grow Lily Pads in an Aquarium

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The best way to grow lily pads in an aquarium is to start with the bulbs of dwarf water lilies. Dwarf water lilies are small hardy pond plants that will do well in a cold water tank with goldfish as well as a freshwater tropical tank. They make a great addition to a goldfish tank where the goldfish produce plenty of waste for the lily to use as fertilizer. Dwarf water lilies can produce beautiful pads and help remove toxins, which will help you maintain a clean tank.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Dwarf water lily bulbs
  • Terra cotta pot
  • Aquarium cover with full spectrum florescent light
  1. Drop the dwarf water lily bulb into the aquarium water. It can take one to two weeks for the lily to sprout or longer. If you prefer, bury the lily bulb under the aquarium substrate which will secure the bulb and could speed its growth.

  2. Plant the sprouting bulb in a small terra cotta pot or another aquarium safe pot if your tank contains plant eating fish or snails. Planting the bulb will also provide room for root growth and will give you a larger plant.

  3. Install a strong full spectrum florescent light into the aquarium cover. This will speed the growth of the plant. The lillies will grow very slowly under dim aquarium lights and may not form the long shoots that become lily pads.

  4. Apply powerful light to the aquarium 12 hours a day to increase the chances of the plant forming the blossoms lily pads are known for.

Tips & Warnings

  • The bulbs come in packages of two or more, just in case one is a dud.

  • Some of the bulbs will not sprout and may rot in the aquarium water. Put the bulbs in a container of water filled with aquarium water until they begin to sprout, then drop or bury them in your aquarium.

  • Dwarf lilies kept in an aquarium may never blossom or form lily pads, and can stay very small. Provide plenty of substrate for the plant to root to get the biggest, healthiest plant possible.

  • Strong aquarium lights will speed the growth of algae as well as the water lily.

  • Dwarf water lily plants never grow very large. They can be planted in small tanks as well as large tanks.

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