Alternanthera Reineckii Mini Low Tech

AR Mini Low Tech

This blog post is an experiment on whether Alternanthera Reineckii Mini (AR Mini) can survive in a low tech (i.e. no CO2 supplementation) tank.

The plant used is Tropica tissue culture as shown below:

Tropica Alternanthera reineckii ‘Mini’ Live Aquarium Plant – in Vitro Tissue Culture 1-2-Grow!

Traditionally, Alternanthera reineckii ‘Mini’ (AR Mini) is grown in high tech, high light tanks where it will grow into a deep red purplish color. In low tech, lower light tanks, I am trying to see if it can still grow, albeit less red. Maybe a lighter red or olive / bronze color like its cousin Alternanthera Roseafolia (below), would be a good enough result.

Mainam Alternanthera Reineckii VAR. Roseafolia Telanthera Freshwater Red Stem Live Aquarium Plant

Tank Parameters and Fertilization

Tank size: 5 Gallon (I am using this tank: Ripples Premium Aquarium Glass Fish Tank (with Filter and LED Lights) 18.9L)

Light: It is just a basic starter kit LED light with 7 bulbs. Apparently rated just 2.9W.

Substrate: Aqua Gro Aquarium Soil by Ocean Free (it is a local brand by Qian Hu). It should be something similar to ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia II Normal Type (9L), maybe with less nutrients.

Fertilizer: So far I am only using Tropica Plant Growth Premium Fertiliser – 125 ml, one pump per week after water change.

Lighting schedule: I am using an electronic timer with 12 hour photoperiod: 10am-4pm, 5pm-11pm. In between 4-5pm is a siesta (rest/blackout) period (to build up some CO2 if possible).


Day 1 (23 Jan 2020): This is the first day of planting. Still quite purplish undertones. To plant the Tropica tissue culture, I plucked off some of the leaves on the lower stem, and then inserted it into the substrate. No trimming of roots were done (the roots were not long anyway).

Day 3: The next video below is the 3rd day. The pinkish red colors on the underside are mostly gone (quite worrying), but the plants is clearly alive and it has oriented its leaves to face upwards! It is now a olive color with hints of red/pink.

Day 4: Video below. Not much different from Day 3. I realized that there is a Dwarf Sag small plantlet with runner amongst the AR Mini. The Dwarf Sag is one plant that is thriving in the tank. It started with 2 mother plants and now there are at least 8 plants propagated naturally via runners. If necessary, I may remove the dwarf sag (just the one amongst the AR Mini).

Day 5: Melting and shedding of leaves. This is day 5 of planting the AR Mini in the low tech tank. A total of 3 leaves were shed today. I think it is either (a) transitioning from emersed to submersed growth or (b) dying. Hopefully it is the former!

Day 6: Just one leaf melt today. One entire stem got uprooted, maybe it was the snail or the shrimp that disturbed it. There is a little frenzy among the neon tetras and Amano shrimp trying to grab the shrimp pellet. I removed a dwarf sag plantlet among the AR Mini, and replanted the uprooted stem there.

Day 7: No shedding of leaves today, which is good news. I spotted something that looks like hair algae, it could well be a disintegrated Marimo moss ball from “Secret Shrimp Society”. Water change was done, as well as dosing of Tropica Premium Nutrition liquid fertilizer. I ended up trimming the Cryptocoryne Wendtii as its leaves were almost reaching the water surface. I also removed the disintegrated Marimo moss balls from “Secret Shrimp Society” as it was starting to look like hair algae.

Day 10: This is day 10 of growing Alternanthera Reineckii Mini in a low tech tank. The leaves seem to have “perked up” and are slightly pinkish. Overall it looks better than on day 7, I think. The contrast between day 3 is also quite clear. No CO2 in this tank.

Day 13: The AR Mini has changed to a nice orangey-red. There has been shedding of around one leaf per day. The plant still looks alive overall, and in fact has grown taller than the Dwarf Sag beside it. There has been some trimming of the taller plants in the tank (crypts and Anubias).

Day 16: It has passed the 2 week mark. The AR Mini is still alive in the low tech tank. I do observe some new leaves growing.

Day 20: The AR Mini plants are getting more bronze color and less red. The undersides are still a little pinkish red though. Overall quite surprised at the result in my low tech tank. (I was half expecting the plants to die.)

Day 50 (12 March 2020): The aquarium light was upgraded around 10 days ago on 2 March 2020. It has helped the AR Mini in my opinion, making it slightly redder. The AR Mini is very much alive in the low tech tank! I think this dispels the myth that Alternanthera Reineckii Mini requires CO2 to live.

Day 50: AR Mini is still doing well in low tech tank.

Further Ideas

I may add some root tabs in the future (will clearly indicate the moment when I do add it). According to the below video review (it is really excellent), the best root tab on the market seems to be Seachem Flourish Tabs Growth Supplement – Aquatic Plant Stimulant 40 ct.

Update (31 March 2020): I have added 2 root tabs (Seachem Flourish). One right next to the AR Mini, and another a few inches away.