Cryptocoryne usteriana

Described by Engler, 1905

Etymology: Cryptocoryne comes from Greek: kryptos = hidden, and koryne = club, in reference to the spadix (a fleshy spike of tiny flowers, usually enclosed in a spathe) which is characteristic of the flowers in this genus. Usteriana refers to the German botanist A. Usteri (1869-1948).

Family: Araeae (arum family-Calla Lily)Cryptocoryne usteriana

Temperature: 22-26°C  (72-79°F)

pH:  6 to 7.8, it likes harder water than many other Crypts.

Lighting: Medium

Origin:  Philippines

Height: up to 76 cm. (30”)

Positioning in Tank: Background

There are 4 slightly different plants that are known as Cryptocoryne usteriana; Bogner, Bednii, Christensen and Morco.  They refer to different collections.  One is a collection by Joseph Bogner on Guimaras Island, Philippines in 1983. The second collection was shipped by Alexei Bednii from Russia from an unknown locale.  The third was a collection by Claus Chrisensen from or near to Cebu; a province in the Philippines. The last one is a collection by Morco, again from Guimaras Island.  All the locales do very well in an aquarium. I am unsure what collection I have but I suspect it may be the Bogner collection, but I have no proof of this.  I am only going on the appearance of the plant.

For a long time it was thought that C. usteriana was a synonym of C. aponogetifolia.  The Bogner collection proved that they were indeed two separate species.  The basic distinguishing characteristics are that C. aponogetifolia have green leaves and C. usteriana has red colour underneath the leaves.

Cryptocoryne usteriana has long leaves with long petioles (the stem looking part of the leaf).  The leaves are crinkled.   The leaf is dark green in my tank.  The underside of the leaf is reddish-purple.  Like other Cryptocorynes in propagates by runners.

I first got this plant from a fellow CAOAC member who asked me to ID it.  It was a small plant, obviously a Cryptocoryne of some sort.  It had been planted in a small clay ‘frog’.  I thought I could work it out by letting it grow a little more.  So, I placed it into a 20 gallon tank on one of my tank stands.  I just put the frog into the tank, and basically left it alone.  It did not do much of anything for a long time.  I got busy with other things, and just left the tank alone except for feeding fish and doing water changes.  After several months, I realized I had runners going over the top of the frog into the gravel in the tank, which had put up several new plantlets.  I was happy they were finally settling in properly into the tank. 

Fast forward a year or so and the tank is jam packed full of this Cryptocoryne.  There’s barely enough room for the fish to swim in.  This plant obviously enjoys the tank it was placed into.   There are enough plants that I occasionally find baby fish in the tank that evade their hungry parents.   The tank has Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi in it.   The substrate is a small grain gravel.  There is a Hydrosponge filter in the tank.  I don’t add any nutrients for the plants at all.   The lighting on the tank is a double fluorescent setup.  I finally got the plant Ided as Cryptocoryne usteriana.

This plant is really neat with the dual coloured leaves that are really crinkly giving it texture and visual appeal.

<>© Copyright 2012 Lisa Boorman
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Suggested Reading:

Aquarium Plants : Their Identification, Cultivation and Ecology by Karel Rataj & Thomas J. Horeman

Aquarium Plants Manual by Ines Scheurmann

To check other plant references:

Plant and Pond Book List

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