Staurogyne Repens: Plant Information and Owner’s Guide

Are you looking for a low maintenance plant to add a vibrant and natural feel to your aquarium?

Staurogyne repens is a light green tropical freshwater plant from South America.

This popular plant is loved by hobbyists because of its beautiful appearance and low maintenance.

It can be kept with many different tank members, but bottom dwellers in particular will love this plant the most.

Does this sound like the right plant for you?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this low maintenance plant…

Staurogyne repens

Staurogyne Repens 101

Staurogyne repens is a bright green freshwater aquatic plant from the family of flowering plants (Acanthaceae).

They are most commonly known by their shortened scientific name S repens and originate from the Cristalino River in Western Brazil.

Although this plant has not been in the aquarium trade for long, it has recently become increasingly popular amongst aquarists. This plant is loved because of its low maintenance and bush-like appearance. It is also commonly used as a carpet species.

The care and maintenance of this hardy species is not very demanding too because it is considered slow growing.

5 Reasons Why You Should Keep This Plant

  1. Beginner friendly: This aquatic plant is slow growing and does not need to be pruned often. It is not very demanding to maintain this species so they are great for beginner aquarists who want to keep live plants for the first time.
  2. Appearance: This plant is a vibrant green color which will brighten up any tropical aquaria.
  3. Well suited for most tanks: Because of their versatility they are well suited to most tank sizes. They are a great carpet species for small tanks and easily propagate and spread in larger tanks.
  4. Perfect for bottom dwellers: This plant species is great for many bottom dwelling species and provides shelters and breeding grounds.
  5. Very affordable: Because propagation is very easy you will not need to buy lots of specimens.


Staurogyne repens is a bright and beautiful plant that brings a very natural look to any aquarium.

Their green leaves are broad and oval shaped.

You will see that their leaves are closely packed in along the stems. The density and compactness of the leaves gives them a bushy appearance.

Their stems are strong and bring stability whereas their roots are fragile and white.

The majority of their roots will grow below the sediment however you may notice that some roots grow above the sediment in search of more nutrients in the water column.

Their growth rate is slower than most aquatic plants at around 1 inch every month and a half. For comparison another popular aquarium plant Water Wisteria, grows at 2-3 inches a week.

Once fully grown this plant will reach 2-4 inches in height and each stem is usually just over 1 inch wide.

How To Plant Staurogyne Repens

Planting Staurogyne repens

Staurogyne repens is a root feeder.

This means that they search and collect nutrients from the sediment where they grow.

A thick and bulky substrate would make this task more difficult so it is best to choose a soft substrate (such as fine gravel or sand) that will allow the roots to grow without much resistance.

Before you plant Staurogyne repens you will need to add a nutrient layer underneath your chosen substrate. This layer will hold a mixture of essential nutrients that your plant needs and it should be around 1 inch deep.

Next you will cover this with around 2-3 inches of substrate.

You should only plant a few stems first, you can always take their cuttings and plant more later.

Now you have everything ready you will need to choose where to plant them. This should be in an unsheltered area which has direct access to light so they can photosynthesize and grow. It is best to avoid areas where tall plants are close by.

This species can be planted close to décor in the aquarium but be aware that the roots may grow over and around them. Just make sure to leave 6-8 inches between each plant.

Once you have decided where to place them you can start to plant your roots.

The easiest way to do this is with a pair of tweezers. The roots should be buried in the sediment at around 0.5 inches deep. This will provide enough room to anchor the plant without covering any leaves. Once the roots establish themselves you will see the stems and leaves start to grow.

From researching live plant care you may have come across the dry-start method. In the wild Staurogyne repens usually grows at the waterline of the Cristalino river. This species can grow emersed or submersed and different sellers may grow them in either of these environments.

The dry-start method is a way of gradually acclimatizing a previously emersed species to a submersed environment.

First the substrate is set up in the tank with any décor and hardscape that you have chosen for the aquarium along with the lighting. The plants are then placed and the aquarium substrate is misted to create a moist atmosphere.

Cling film is then used to cover the tank and trap the moisture inside – make sure to leave a slight gap for air exchange. This method requires misting daily to keep condensation levels high. After a month or so you should see root growth and you can now begin to fill your tank with water.

Your plant may experience melt once submerged but the new leaves should gradually grow through.

Staurogyne Repens Care Guide

S repens

Staurogyne repens will need to be kept in at least a 10 gallon tank.

This will make sure that once the plants are placed there will be enough space for them to grow.

The water temperature should be 68-86°F, it will grow and look its best at a set temperature in the middle of this range. Generally a higher temperature will promote faster growth. PH levels should stay between 6-8 with water hardness between 10-25 dGH and carbonate hardness of 0-10 dKH.

Generally this plant will grow in an environment that has very low/no CO2 but will have a much slower growth rate. The nutrients available in the sediment are very important for the appearance of this plant, so a nutrient layer will make sure that the levels are substantial. However if you choose not to do this you can use root tabs instead.

Light Requirements

You will need medium light when keeping Staurogyne repens.

The bulb wattage will be dependent on the size of your aquarium. However a good rule to follow is 0.5 watts per liter.

At low levels of light this plant can lose its bright color and its growth can be significantly slower too.

The higher the light intensity for this species the denser the plant will grow. Whereas a lower light intensity will encourage this species to grow taller. Make sure the aquarium that you wish to keep this species in is away from any direct natural light. Natural light will cause algae to grow on and around your plants.

Care and Maintenance

The growth rate of this plant is very slow, however you will still have to do the occasional trimming.

Stems will need to be trimmed every couple of months.

It is best to avoid removing the roots from the sediment when doing these trims.

Regular disruption of the sediment can cause the roots to grow very compact, which causes more roots to try to grow above the sediment to obtain nutrients from the water column. Trimming the stems regular on the top will encourage more horizontal growth.

Compatibility and Tank Mates

Staurogyne repens in tank

One of the things that makes this plant so popular is that they are compatible with most popular freshwater fish.

This species is loved by bottom dwellers who scavenge for fallen food and also by those fish who are a little more timid and need places to hide. Most freshwater fish will not nibble at their leaves and will happily coexist with this plant.

Staurogyne repens is suitable for non-fish tank mates too.

You can keep many species of shrimp with this plant, including Red Cherry Shrimp which would look amazing against the bright leaves. Adding shrimp to your tank will also improve the water clarity in your tank.

Unfortunately you cannot keep this plant with most snails as they will eat and damage the leaves.

The only exception is the Assassin Snail.

Goldfish and Cichlids are also common offenders for planted fish tanks. They will eat new shoots and leaves which stops this plant from propagating. Because this plant has such a slow growth rate you should keep it away from fish that will eat it.

Staurogyne Repens Propagation

This plant is very easy to propagate.

First you need to wait until the plant is 3-4 inches tall and then you can start to take cuttings.

You should cut the stems from the side shoots and place them within the sediment until the roots are produced to provide an anchor. This is the quickest way to carpet a tank with this species.

In the wild this plant will naturally produce side shoots that will drop off the parent plant and begin to grow beside it.

This will happen within the tank environment as well. Naturally this plant will produce side shootings which will fall from the plant creating a new individual plant which will produce roots. This process will spread the species across the floor of your tank.

5 Common Problems (And How To Fix Them)

  1. Melting: In new tanks it is common for Staurogyne repens to melt. This is where the plant’s leaves start to lose their color and disintegrate when touched. Melting is most often caused by introducing this plant to new water parameters. When purchasing this species make sure to ask what conditions the plant is accustomed to. However this issue usually resolves itself over time as the plant adapts.
  2. Planting too many stems: Planting live plants can be exciting and it can be very easy to buy too many at one time. With this species it is better to have too few stems than to have too many – you do not want to overcrowd your tank. A general rule to follow is that for every 3 gallons of water you can plant 1 stem.
  3. Nutrient deficiency: Because this plant gets most of its nutrients from the soil it can be easy for them to get malnourished. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow, pin holes in the leaves to form and darkening of the veins. You should treat them with fertilizers and supplements.
  4. Water parameters: Although this plant has the reputation of being hardy it is important to always monitor the water quality of your aquarium. Changes in nutrients and water parameters are not just detrimental to plants but also to the fish you keep.
  5. Buying damaged plants: Damaged plants will struggle to grow and establish in a new aquarium. When buying this plant you need to make sure the stems are sturdy. The leaves should be bright green and their roots should be pale white. It is best to purchase fully grown plants that are 2 to 4 inches in size.

FAQs About Staurogyne Repens

How fast does Staurogyne repens grow?

This plant is well known for its very slow growth rate.

You should expect it to grow around 1 inch every month and a half.

Does Staurogyne repens spread?

Yes this plant will spread naturally as their side shoots fall off and self-propagate.

Should You Keep Staurogyne Repens In Your Aquarium?

Overall Staurogyne repens is a great way to brighten up your tank with some natural beauty.

This is a perfect small plant for any aquarium that is at least 10 gallons. It is often used as a carpet plant in many larger aquariums because of its bush appearance and slow growth.

Not only do they look good but they are also compatible with lots of tropical freshwater fish.

This makes it a great species for people keeping their first live plant.

Have you found the perfect live plant you have been looking for? Let us know in the comments section below…