Vallisneria asiatica
Vallis asiatica on far left

There are several species of vallis available in the trade:  spiralis, australis ‘curly’, spiralis ‘tortifolia’, australis ‘gigantea’, nana, tortifolia and asiatica, with leaf lengths ranging from the longest at 1.5m (gigantea) to the shortest at 20 cm (tortifolia).  Vallisneria asiatica, also known as twisted vallis, is the second shortest topping out at 30 cm and is a wonderful plant for smaller aquaria.

Vallis is easy to plant and propagate

Planting vallis is straightforward – the usual advice is to not plant too deeply so that the crown stays unburied.  There may be an adaptation phase where some of the leaves ‘melt’ – simply remove any damage as it arises.  Once vallis is established it will propagate itself by sending out lateral runners which will establish new plants at a distance of around 6 or 7 cm from the mother plant.  It’s worth paying some semi-regular attention to vallis since once it gets going, it will take over everywhere if you let it.  Keep vallis under control by snipping the connecting runner and then gently tugging out the plant to be removed/relocated.  The roots will let go of the substrate easily and without mess.

Mature vallis makes a curtain of green

Sometimes the final height of aquarium plants is not exactly as advertised, but in the case of Vallis asiatica, the listed 30 cm maximum height seem pretty much spot on.  The natural spacing of the runners puts the daughter plants at just the right distance to create a more or less solid wall of green.  Vallis has a reputation as being delicate to the presence of liquid carbon, which may or may not be true.  Planting the vallis was the excuse to stop using liquid carbon in the Fireplace Aquarium which overall has been a net positive change.

The fish will of occasion swim through the vallis, and the snails will sometimes access it as well.  I have not noticed the ottos hang out on it very often, nor do the shrimp seem to pay it much mind.  In general, other than making sure it doesn’t get too out of control, the vallis is a very attractive, low maintenance option – highly recommended!


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