What is the Red Tiger Lotus?
The Red Tiger Lotus (Nypmhaea Zenkeri) is an African stagnant water plant that is easy to keep and is widely used in aquariums. It has a medium growth speed in medium to strong light and can reach between 7-31 inches high and 9-23 inches wide.
The aquarium water needs to be anywhere between 71-86° Fahrenheit (22-30 C) for the Red Tiger Lotus to develop.
It can be surprising to some that the Zenkeri is actually a lily pad, as the red tiger has arrow-shaped leaves instead of round ones.
Blossoms are usually white, but due to selective breeding, there are varieties with red or blue flowers.
Red Tiger Lotus in Aquariums
When buying the bulb, it’s very important to know what you have because many people can try to sell dead bulbs. A good, living bulb has to feel firm, while a dead one is quite soft and mushy.
You can drop the bulb on top of the substrate and it’s very important to leave it on the surface and have only the roots underneath.
The Zekeri needs a lot of space and takes in most of the nutrients in the water, so you have to keep in mind not to plant it near sensitive plants, as the red tiger lotus produces a dangerous chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants.
This is why it’s very important to keep the plants well-fertilized and carefully monitor the level of nutrients in the water.
Also, as the red tiger lotus can grow and spread very quickly on the surface as well as in height, one may consider keeping its growth under control.
This can be done by containing the roots in a confined space, controlling the amount of light in the aquarium, preventing seeds from developing and falling on the substrate, or by trimming overgrown leaves.
In order to control the growth speed of the Zenkeri, many aquarists have tried to restrain the bulb and roots to prevent it from spreading into the whole substrate. Among the methods used, placing the bulb in a plastic container seems to be the most efficient.
The container has to hold about four cups of substrate and a root fertilizer tab. After placing the substrate and the bulb, the container has to be covered in a mesh fabric.
The plant will grow through a hole left in the mesh. Finally, the container can be put in the aquarium and hidden behind larger rocks or pieces of wood.
Controlling the Seeds from Spreading
The red tiger lotus flower produces a large amount of seeds that can generate more fast-growing lotus plants that take over the aquarium.
In order to prevent blossoms for developing into fruits and producing seeds, the first thing you can do is cut the flowers before they wilt. Thus, you keep them from creating new plants and they get to blossom for months.
Another trick to control the spreading of the plant is to prevent it from developing surface leaves by constantly trimming them as they grow.
Blossoms only develop when surface leaves are present. By doing this, the plant would start to grow more submerged leaves and slow down the growth rate.
Finally, you can control the overall growth of the red tiger lotus by using the right light. The Zekeri will grow quickly and produce blossoms under red light, but blue and white light would prevent the plant from growing any flowers.
Slowing the Growth Rate
The red tiger lotus grows at an amazing rate, even a few inches per day if left with proper lighting. Also, if one or two leaves reach the surface, the plant will “learn” it can do this and try to do it constantly afterwards.
But don’t get scared, as it can be kept under control with a lot of attention and constant surveillance. First, you need to clip any leaves that reach higher than the overall plant height. Many aquarists observed the Zekeri would grow slower after being trimmed for a while.
Another useful trick would be using a colder and less bright light, as leaves tend to develop faster in bright red light. This way, the lotus will grow at a slower pace.
Enjoy your Aquarium
The red tiger lotus can be a beautiful contrast with the other green plants in your aquarium, but the aquarist needs to be very cautious; the blossoms it produces are wonderful and have a very nice scent.
By keeping its development under control you protect other plant species in the aquarium, but will also have the ecosystem running smoothly, without any of the elements invading the space.