Lagenandra meeboldii "pink"
Author: Bryce Millar, MD
Common Names: N/A
Native Distribution: India, Sri Lanka
Aquarium Placement: Focal plant
Requirements: Relatively undemanding, but appreciates CO2 and moderate to intense lighting
Lagenandra meeboldii “pink” is a plant that is not frequently encountered in the hobby. This is no doubt due in part to its tank-busting proportions. Except for the largest of aquariums, it may be best suited to a temperate, outdoor pond setting.
There are several recognized species within the Lagenandra genus. For the most part, these are large plants with robust, ovoid leaves. They are similar in many ways to Cryptocoryne in growth pattern, but this plant exhibits a strong rhizome from which the leaves arise. Positive identification of individual species is often dependent on inspection of the flower, or more properly, the inflorescence of specimens growing in the emersed state. These inflorescences are often strikingly beautiful, and this is certainly true of L. meeboldii.
In suitable aquarium conditions this plant will respond with rapid growth and proliferation of leaves, often to the frustration of the aquarist. Small specimens exhibit an attractive deep wine coloration with relatively large leaves. Once growth takes off, these leaves will become larger and larger and will form atop long stalks arising from the rhizome.
There are few reports in hobbyist literature regarding the preferences of this plant. The specimen in the photo grew very nicely in soft water (KH 3, GH5) with CO2 supplementation and metal halide lighting. The plant can be kept in the absence of CO2 supplementation but will not exhibit the same dense leaf arrangement.
The chief difficulty with the placement of this specimen is its size and growth rate. It tends to send leaves near the surface where they will shade lower areas. In some settings this may be employed to provide areas of relative shadow where Cryptocoryne might flourish. In large aquaria this plant can be positioned as one would use the larger sword plants. The dark coloration will automatically create a strong, contrasting focal point.
If the tallest leaves are diligently removed at the rhizome, an attractive plant with smaller, shorter leaves can sometimes be maintained. Actual growth is slow, but if pruning is neglected, the plant can increase in size at a surprising rate. The sheer bulk and mass of a mature specimen can be astonishing upon removal from the aquarium.
Lagenandra meeboldii is easily propagated. Growth will occur along a rhizome, similar to the pattern of the Anubias species. Simply divide the rhizome, leaving each section with at least three or four healthy leaves. New leaves will subsequently arise from the active end of the rhizome. The small roots can be used to anchor the plant in the substrate, but the rhizome should not be buried, or stem rot can occur.