arrowhead aquatic plant (Sagittaria) for aquarium

Arrowhead (Sagittaria) is an unpretentious aquarium plant type that can exist in both warm and cool water. Different types of perennial crops can be used for planting in the fore, middle or background of an aquarium. The plant adapts well to a new habitat, does not get sick and does not die when the temperature drops, it has a fast growth rate and an attractive appearance.

arrowhead aquatic plant sagittaria for aquarium

Arrowhead Aquatic Plant (Sagittaria) characteristics

Sagittaria botanical name, translated from Latin meaning “lancet”. The reason for the name Arrowhead was the shape of the leaves long and narrow, similar to arrows. Popularly, the plant is often called a bog, a shilnik, or an arrow. According to various taxonomists, there are from 25 to 45 varieties of Sagittarius in the world. In natural biotopes, the plant can be seen in shallow waters, the shores of freshwater rivers and lakes, in marshy areas. These representatives of the flora are hydrophytes – they are able to grow fully or partially submerged in water.

The area of ​​distribution of hydrophytes falls on the southern regions of North America and certain regions of Eurasia. Thickets of common sagittarius, trefoil and floating are found in Primorye, the Volga region and the Lower Don.

All species are characterized by the phenomenon of heterophyllous a variety of underwater and emergent arrowhead leaves, depending on the habitat, as follows:

  • emergent leaves, located on a long triangular petiole, reach a length of 25-30 cm and resemble an arrow in shape;
  • leaves floating on the surface of the water are oval-elliptical;
  • underwater leaves look like narrow ribbons 1-4 cm wide and 15-120 cm long.

In the wild, Sagittaria prefers muddy soils or fresh peat bogs. In artificial reservoirs with infertile soil, plants often remain in the juvenile stage of development. All types of arrowhead have the same structure:

  • leaves are collected in dense basal rosettes;
  • powerful white tuberous roots go 5-8 cm deep into the substrate;
  • under favorable conditions, the plant throws out a flower arrow, on which small, white flowers appear, and then daughter rosettes.

In the video, you can see how attractive the Sagittaria looks in the aquarium.

Types of Arrowhead Aquatic Plant

Arrowhead can be used to decorate aquariums, paludariums, and humid greenhouses. In pet stores in our country, several varieties are most often offered for sale – dwarf, subulate, broad-leaved, and stiff-leaved. They look equally impressive in aquascapes but differ in growth intensity and size.

types of arrowhead aquatic plant


The dwarf variety was bred by Dutch breeders and brought to our country about 40 years ago. Since then, hydrophyte has become in demand among US florists and has settled in many aquariums. The height of miniature bushes does not exceed 10 cm, so they are often planted at the front wall of a home reservoir.

The plant does not tolerate turbid water well, but does not impose special requirements on the rest of the environmental parameters. For growing dwarf sagittaria, it is better to use sand. If a coarse soil is laid in the aquarium, you need to build sandy “islands” 3 cm or more in height and plant seedlings in them.


Sagittaria subulata is one of the most popular aquarium species. The length of its narrow leaves varies from 10-12 to 30-50 cm. The color of the leaf plates depends on the subspecies, the level of illumination and the parameters of the aquatic environment. The leaves can be colored in different shades of green or brownish.

Under natural conditions, the styloid variety grows on silted soils, but in artificial reservoirs it prefers less nutritious soil. Sagittarius subulata is undemanding to the hardness and acidity of water. It easily adapts to the conditions created for other aquaflora representatives. After transplanting into the aquarium, the plant can shed some of the leaves, but as it gets used to the new environment, it will grow young greens.

Low-growing subspecies are suitable for decorating the foreground and middle plans of the aquarium landscape. Subulata develops a strong root system, takes root well and multiplies rapidly: in 10-12 months, up to 100 basal offspring can form from one plant.


The hard-leaved arrowhead is native to South and Central America. Adult specimens rise 20 cm above the surface of the ground. Their dense and fleshy leaves form fluffy bushes as they develop.

Hydrophyte cannot stand being close to other underwater plants – it stops growing and loses its attractiveness. Therefore, the hard-leaved variety is recommended to be planted in separate groups.


The long, banded leaves of the broad-leaved variety gently fall down and sway at the slightest movement of the water, creating a mesmerizing sight. The height of adult specimens can reach 15-25 cm, and the width of the leaf plates is 4 cm. The spreading form refers to slow-growing plants. Arrowhead with wide leaves develops more actively with partial immersion in water, so it is better to plant it on a hill.

Arrowhead (Sagittaria) Aquarium Plant Care Guide

When planting sagittaria in an aquarium, care must be taken to ensure that the root collar remains above the ground surface. If the neck of the plant is deepened, it will begin to rot over time, and the plant will die.

A fine substrate should be used as a soil – coarse sand, quartz, gravel or pebbles of a small fraction. In order for the roots to firmly anchor and develop normally, the soil thickness in small aquariums should be at least 5 cm, and in large tanks it can be increased to 9 cm.

All types of arrowhead are capable of long-term existence in an unfavorable environment. But in order for the plants to look attractive, they need to be kept in optimal conditions:

  1. Lighting. The light source should be above the aquarium. Lighting from the side will deform the bush. The duration of daylight hours is 10-13 hours. The estimated power of fluorescent lamps (type LB) is not less than 0.4 W per 1 liter of water.
  2. Water parameters. Any indicators of acidity and hardness will do – sagittaria develops equally well in hard and soft water. A short-term decrease in temperature to + 12 … + 14 ° С is allowed, but it is better to grow a flower at temperatures of + 18 … + 28 ° С. The purity of the water plays an important role for the plant. Organic debris settling on numerous leaves impairs the appearance of the hydrophyte and slows down metabolic processes in its cells. A weekly change of 20-25% of the volume of water is a prerequisite for growing sagittarii.
  3. Top dressing. Pale color of leaves is a sign of a lack of micro- and macroelements in the water. To make arrowhead bushes look attractive, they need to be regularly fed with complex fertilizers for aquarium plants, especially during the breeding season. To determine a single dosage, you should use the manufacturer’s tips specified in the instructions. Low light or short daylight hours require carbon dioxide supply.

A sign of improper care is a change in leaf color:

  1. Yellow indicates a lack of iron. You can fill the lack of a vital substance by regularly adding special preparations or ferrous sulfate at the rate of 1.5-2 g per 100 liters of water.
  2. A red tint indicates too bright lighting for a long time. Reddened leaves should be a signal to reduce daylight hours or replace powerful lamps with weaker ones.

It is recommended that the arrowhead be periodically trimmed or thinned out, otherwise after a few months it will fill the entire bottom and turn into unkempt thickets.

Propagation of Sagittaria in Aquarium

The plant propagates with the help of lateral suckers emerging from dormant buds on the rhizome. To plant the arrowhead in another place or in another aquarium, it is enough to divide the mother bush into parts and deepen them into the ground where they will look most successful.

The second option is to separate one or more offspring from the mother liquor. Daughter outlets can be pre-grown in a damp greenhouse, and then placed in an aquarium: the plant tolerates such transplants well.

Another way to get new specimens is to root daughter plants, which are formed in the place of pollinated inflorescences. When 4-5 leaves and full-fledged roots are formed at a small outlet, it can be cut off and planted in a permanent place in an aquarium or paludarium.

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