Many species of water lily would make great tropical aquarium plants if they didn't grow too large for home aquariums. The dwarf water lily (Nuphar stellata) stays small enough to serve in most fish tanks. It adapts well to tropical fish tank conditions and can thrive with proper care.
Dwarf water lilies are not particular about habitat. Depending on aquarium size, they make good foreground or midground plants. Plant them away from other plants to create an aesthetic element. This water lily requires strong lighting to thrive in the home aquarium.
This water lily comes from soft, acidic water. However, it adapts well to a wide range of aquarium conditions. This lily can thrive in water with pH between 5.0 and 8.0. It needs a tropical temperature, between 71 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure it has supplemental fertilizer that contains chelated iron. This aquarium plant benefits from dissolved carbon dioxide.
This plant does require some pruning to look its best and remain in good health. Dwarf water lilies will send off taller stems to reach toward the surface of the water. Left unchecked, these will grow into large floating leaves, which will block light from the rest of the plant and make the underwater leaves wilt. Control them by trimming off the longer, floating stems near their bases. Remove leaves that look ragged and are covered in algae.
Dwarf water lilies can handle most aquarium fish. The leaves and stems are durable enough to handle casual jostling and maybe even a little light nibbling by less-than-dedicated herbivores. However, avoid avid vegetarians like silver dollars and larger cichlids. Small sucker-mouth catfish, like otto cats (Ottocinclus affinis), can improve dwarf water lilies' health by eating algae off the plant's leaves. This improves the dwarf water lilies' ability to photosynthesize.