Tiger Lotus Care Guide

Choosing fish is usually the first thought when starting an aquarium. However, live plants are just as diverse and can be very colorful, which is why some people start a paludarium.

Tiger Lotus is one distinctive option. Like a water lily, it stands out against other plants. It comes in multiple varieties too, which each offer a different aesthetic.

This is an easy species to care for, but there are certain things you need to be aware of. It can grow very large if not controlled properly, and it can have a negative impact on fellow plants in the tank.

We will talk you through all the information you might need to know before purchasing some Tiger Lotus. This includes their perfect tank, care techniques, how to propagate them, and much more…

Tiger Lotus Facts & Overview

tiger lotus

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Green or red
Origin:East Africa and Southeast Asia
Height:7 to 31 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Tropical freshwater
Growth Rate:Medium

Tiger Lotus is a species of water lily in the Nymphaeaceae family. It has a few other names, such as Egyptian Lotus, White Lotus, and the scientific name Nymphaea lotus.

It is mainly found in the tropical regions of East Africa and Southeast Asia. You’d find it in small bodies of water like ponds where water movement is low.

In an aquarium, it will grow underwater, though it will always be striving to reach the surface and spread horizontally.

This is a relatively easy species to keep. It can grow quite large, but there are ways to keep it under control, there’s time for you to intervene before it gets out of control.

There are a few variants of Tiger Lotus that come in different colors; mainly red and green. They have similar preferences so you can choose based on appearance.

When buying some, check that the plant is healthy. Do not buy it if the colors are fading or there’s any sign of damage.

If you are buying a bulb, make sure it feels firm in your hand. If it’s soft, it is likely dead.

You can find this species for $5 or less in stores.

Is Tiger Lotus Hardy

Yes, this is a rugged plant that can deal with lots of different water conditions, making it suitable for a range of tank setups.

It is a strong competitor and is well adapted to absorb nutrients, so it doesn’t need supplements.

Tiger Lotus can tolerate changes in its environment, but try to maintain its preferred conditions.

Benefits of Tiger Lotus

Perhaps the main benefit of Tiger Lotus is its appearance. It is a beautiful species that can be grown in both green and red. Its large leaves help to spread this color through the tank.

These large leaves also make excellent shelter for fish or any other animals in your tank. They act as a refuge from boisterous tank mates or bright lights.

Live plants like this are useful for improving the health of your aquarium. They help to oxygenate the water as a result of photosynthesis. They take in certain pollutants as well.

Tiger Lotus has a large roots system. This helps to break up anaerobic pockets of gas in the substrate. Hydrogen sulfide gas can develop over time. This is dangerous for animals and can be released when the substrate is disturbed.


Various varieties of Tiger Lotus are grown for sale in pet stores. The differences are primarily color-based, so pick the one you prefer.

The choice will likely be between green and red varieties. Both make excellent additions to a fish tank, pond, or paludarium.

The color of your Tiger Lotus might change as it grows. Once the leaves hit the surface, the colors should become stronger and speckled now that they have direct access to light.

Red varieties can display some green when fully submerged.

The roots of this plant are purple. You might never see these, but you’ll notice them if you are ever moving a mature plant.

This plant can become massive. It could be anywhere from 7-31 inches tall and 9-23 inches wide (at the surface). The largest sizes will need the perfect conditions in a large enough tank.

The leaves can be arrow-shaped or the classic round shape that you’d normally associate with lily pads.

At the surface, your Tiger Lotus may blossom to produce a white flower. This is used for seed production during reproduction.

“Training” your plant to grow beneath the surface is the safest option for an aquarium. Otherwise, they will form large lily pads.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Tiger Lotus is primarily spread across Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia where there is a tropical climate.

It grows in virtually stagnant bodies of fresh water, such as ponds. It can’t survive strong currents because it sits at the surface of the water where it can access lots of light to blossom.

The water itself would be warm with a fairly neutral pH. This is a hardy species that can tolerate many conditions.

It proves this by surviving drought seasons by controlling evaporation rates.

Replicating these natural conditions at home is the best way to keep your plant strong and healthy.

Tank Conditions

Use soil or fine-grained sand as a substrate along the bottom of the tank. You do not need a special nutrient-rich substrate. Tiger Lotus can find enough nutrients on its own.

You shouldn’t need to add CO2 either unless you think it is limiting the health of the plant.

Placement is important for a Tiger Lotus. Don’t plant it next to sensitive species because Tiger Lotus produces a chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants, to improve its own success in competition.

It also takes up lots of space and will absorb most of the nutrients around it.

Make sure it has space above it to grow up towards the surface. Be aware that it will cast a shadow on anything below it as it reaches higher.

If you have a bulb, place it on the surface of the substrate so that only the roots are buried. Bury the roots in a plastic container if you want to limit the size and spread of the plant.

The temperature of the water should be 72-83°F and the pH should be 6.0-7.5.

Bright lights will allow this plant to grow quickly. It will do fine under lower lighting and it will be easier to control and maintain.

What Size Aquarium does it need?

The smaller your tank, the more maintenance will be needed in order to keep Tiger Lotus at a reasonable size.

There are ways to control Tiger Lotus growth, such as limiting environmental conditions and containing the roots, so it can be kept in small aquariums.

At least a 10-gallon tank is recommended, it will be difficult to maintain it in nano setups.


This is an easy plant to grow. It is hardy and adaptable, being well able to compete for space and resources. Beginners won’t struggle to keep this species thriving.

It is always important to keep a plant’s environment clean. Perform regular water changes and remove excess algae as it can be a nuisance.

Keeping the plant under control can be a bit more challenging.

Once at the surface of the water, Tiger Lotus will form lily pads and spread quickly. You will need to control its growth to prevent the rest of the tank from being cast in shadow.

To do this, you can trim overgrown leaves, limit light intensity, or contain the roots to a limited area.

To contain the roots, you can bury them in a plastic container. This means they can’t access the rest of the substrate, preventing them from spreading.

You will need to pay attention to the growth of this plant. Prune leaves that reach above the overall height of the main plant.

Try to “train” the plant to stay fully submerged. Cut pads off at the base. By preventing the plant from using energy to reach the surface, it will gradually reduce its efforts to do so.

Dispose of cuttings via compost, burying them, or dissolving them in bleach. Other methods could result in Tiger Lotus spreading to your local ecosystem.

To slow the growth rate, you can try cooling the water and dimming the lights slightly. Reduce the use of supplements too, if you’re using any in the first place.

The opposite actions can be done if you want to increase the growth rate, perhaps for propagation.

If you ever want to move this plant, cut it off instead of pulling it up. The roots can extend very far so you might end up pulling up a lot of the tank.

Tank Mates

Tiger Lotus is a suitable addition to a community aquarium or paludarium, but you must plan out your setup to ensure everything is compatible.

Fish make great tank mates; the list of compatible species would go on for ages. The main thing to consider is whether they are known to be destructive towards plants.

Light nibbling is fine, but species like Jack Dempsey can cause a lot of damage through eating. Other species like Oscars are notorious for uprooting plants and equipment, so they should be avoided.

Invertebrates are commonly used tank mates too. You could try Ghost Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Mystery Snails, or Nerite Snails.

There are lots of other good options, but check if they eat plants before buying. Certain snail species can cause problems this way.

Do not keep Tiger Lotus with crayfish or freshwater crabs and they can tear through live plants quickly.

When keeping Tiger Lotus with other species, either in a fish tank or paludarium, be careful when spacing them out. If a plant is too close to Tiger Lotus, its growth will be stunted due to the release of growth-inhibiting chemicals.

Tiger Lotus is also very good at competing for nutrients and space.


You can propagate this plant quite easily at home. It will likely start propagating on its own anyway if you leave it be, but you can speed up the process.

Tiger Lotus propagates in two ways.

The first is through the production of seeds. This requires the plant to reach the surface of the water and develop white flowers.

The more common propagation method in captivity is the growth of daughter plants. This works best if you buy a bulb initially.

Place the bulb on the surface of the substrate, making sure only the roots are buried. Over time the bulb will produce roots and shoots.

Once the shoots are fully developed, they will have a root system of their own. You can cut these and separate them to plant elsewhere. The bulb will regrow a new plant.

Do not plant the cutting close to other plants, neither the same species nor others. Tiger Lotus will inhibit the growth of nearby plants by releasing chemicals.

Propagation requires patience because you need to wait for new plants to grow before repeating the process. You might want to increase the growth rate to speed this up.

You can do this by adding CO2 or nutrient supplements, raising the temperature, and using brighter lighting.

Is Tiger Lotus Suitable for Your Aquarium?

Anyone will be able to look after Tiger Lotus. It is a strong plant that does very well without additional supplements or bright lights if you choose not to use them.

It fends for itself, being able to survive in a range of conditions and even affecting the growth of other plants for its own benefit, which is something to always consider.

You must pay close attention to this plant to make sure it doesn’t take over the tank. We have discussed some ways to control it. Most are not difficult but may take up more of your time.

Under the right conditions and care, Tiger Lotus makes a great addition to an aquarium or paludarium, offering some bright greens or powerful reds.

How do you keep Tiger Lotus under control? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below…

About Robert 386 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.

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