Water Sprite Care Guide: Is It Better Than Wisteria?

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

When I was searching for the hardy plants that can engulf the nitrate production of the aquarium, my friends suggested water sprite and wisteria. Some said water sprite was better whereas some said wisteria was better. So, I decided to plant both of them. It has been a while now. I am going to share my experience in planting water sprites. This article is all about water sprite care and I will also give my verdict on if it is better than wisteria.

Water Sprite; Indian Fern or Indian Water Fern is a beautiful bright green colored fern-like aquarium plant. Fish love to hide and play around with the water sprite plant. Keep it planted or floated, it makes a perfect decor for your tank. Due to its compatibility with lots of fish and other plants, people prefer it worldwide.

Water Sprite Overview

Commonly known as water fern or Indian fern, the water sprite is a beautiful green plant that assists you in aquascaping. Water sprites are fast-growing plants that need minimum care. They can adjust to a wide range of water conditions and are preferred by lots of fish.

Some fish love to nibble the water sprite, whereas some fish feel comfortable to spawn there.

The water sprite can thrive immersed or submerged in water. Either way, it beautifies your aquarium. It helps in cleaning your fish tank as well. It also contributes to producing oxygen in the fish tank.

This Indian fern can grow up to 12 inches tall.

Found in almost every continent, the water sprite is a low maintenance plant.

The scientific name of the water sprite is Ceratopteris thalictroides.

In their natural habitat, the water sprite has a life of a year only. But in captivity, this fern can live for several years.

Water Sprite Appearance

Body parts of water sprites are pretty basic, it consists of root, stem, and leaves. With the stem in the middle, the feather-like leaves extend at the sides. The leaves resemble the ferns.

The plant is light green colored. The color of the stem is a little darker than the leaves.

Feather like delicate leaves sheds often. The leaves are intricately-shaped.

The water sprite grows quite large up to 30cm. Having the branched leaf structure and narrow leaves, the water sprite is one of the best options if you want to keep a planted aquarium.

Pros Of Water Sprite – Is It Better Than Wisteria?

Adding water sprite to your aquarium not only makes it beautiful but also has more advantages:

  1. Visually, the tank looks very appealing.
  2. Water Sprite helps in the nitrogen cycle.
  3. This plant cleans up algae in the tank.
  4. It produces oxygen for your fish.
  5. When the plant floats in a tank or grows large over the substrate, then it provides shade to other plants and fish.
  6. Fish take water sprites as their home. They use it to lay eggs or hiding places.

How Do I Plant A Water Sprite?

The Indian ferns are quite flexible. They can be either planted in the substrate or can be left floating in the tank.

Plant Into Substrate

Planting the water sprite into the substrate is a quick and easy task. It also allows you to choose the location for its plantation.

It is better to plant the water sprite in the middle or background of the tank.

Follow these steps to plant water sprite into the surface:

Step 1: Firstly, manage the sand or gravel substrate. It should be 2 to 3 inches.

Step 2: Dig a tiny hole on the substrate and place your plant at the hole.

Step 3: Since the water sprite can uproot itself, you will need to attach small pebbles to its roots. Doing so will prevent your plant from floating after a few days.

Note: Do not bury the roots too below. This hinders the new growth of the plant.

Be tender in the process, the plant is fragile.

Keep It Floating

If you want to grow a water sprite on the top of the tank, that’s a great idea. It is as simple as throwing the stem and leaves into the water. Stay patient for a few days. You will see long, elongated roots growing.

Floating is better because it also makes the plant look healthy. The leaves grow wider and the plant itself grows taller. The roots also grow longer. The roots absorb and store essential nutrients from the water.

As a result, the shrimps and other small creatures hide and spend a lot of time in the roots.

Floating water sprite acts as an umbrella on a sunny day in the aquarium. It protects fish and other plants from excessive light. Consequently, this reduces algae in the aquarium.

Water Sprite Care

The ease of care also makes water sprites one of the most loved aquatic plants worldwide. They are not so choosy for the environment they reside in. Water Sprites can accept a wide range of fluctuations in their environment.


Care Level Easy
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons
Temperature 66-85
Light Moderate to High
Water parameters Soft to moderately hard
CO2 Optional

 Water Sprite In Natural Environment

Water Sprite or the Indian Fern, as the name suggests has its origin in India. People say the water sprite can be seen on all 7 continents.

In their natural habitat, the water sprite is found in places that contain water. It is found in swamps, marshes, rice paddies, irrigation ponds, and flooded forests, etc.

We can find water sprites in slow-moving or stagnant water.

Water Sprite Requirements

This less demanding and fresh-looking plant doesn’t have any particular requirement. However, if the conditions mentioned below are met, the plants sustain for a long.

However, changing 25% of the tank water in a couple of weeks can keep the plant healthy. Moreover, it keeps the fish healthy.


The water sprites need moderate to high lights depending on how we plant them. If you plan to float it, then you will require moderate light.

On the contrary, if you are planning to plant the water sprite to the surface then you will need a brighter light.

Too much light can burn the leaves and turn them into brown color.

Water Parameters

You will need to maintain soft to moderately hard water in your fish tank. The required hardness levels are:

pH level:6-8

Hardness: 3-8 dKH


A temperature of 66-85℉ or 19-30℃ is considered best.


Water Sprites are hardy plants and they do not need additional carbon dioxide.

Nevertheless, adding CO2 does no harm. Aquatic plants need CO2 for their growth, but water sprites can grow without it too.

Additional carbon dioxide can result in quick and better growth of plants.


Like carbon dioxide, water sprites also do not need fertilizers. They can absorb essential nutrients from the water and substrate itself.

But, if you want to add fertilizers then, use liquid fertilizers. But if you have a compact aquarium with different plants in it then liquid fertilizers are the best.

Filter and Water Current

As I mentioned earlier, the water sprites are found in stagnant or very low flowing water. So, in the aquarium also the water current should not be too high.

Avoid using power filters in the aquarium. The power filters may suck these wide growing delicate plants. As a result, the filter may clog.

Water Sprite Maintenance

Maintenance of a few aquatic plants can be a headache!! But it is not in the case of water sprites. You just need to look at the size and trim it, if it is causing any issues. As simple as that.

We know that water sprite is a fast-growing plant. So sometimes its growth may even be causing problems to other plants. It can cover the whole aquarium. So, you will need to check and trim the plant accordingly.

Keep in mind not to cut the main stem of the plant. If you do so, the whole plant may die. The stem that is directly connected to the root is the main stem.

Do not forget to remove the stem that you’ve just cut. Otherwise, they may float and grow again.

Since they can outgrow in the tank, sometimes the nutrients they get may not be enough. So, if you find so you can add liquid or powder supplements.


The propagation of the water step is easy and quick. You just need to maintain a suitable temperature and water temperature. You will soon see new other Indian ferns. There are two basic ways you can propagate it.

Water sprite propagates through adventitious plantlets. The mother plant will develop small buds and plantlets. Then these buds and plantlets fall-off from the mother plant and individually form roots. Consequently, many other individual water sprites can grow.

The second way is to plant or let float a stem of water sprite containing few leaves in it. If you are in a hurry or want to grow it for commercial purposes you can do so. Keep in mind that the stem you are planting must contain few leaves too.

Common Problems In Water Sprite

Though the water sprite is hardy and can live for several years, it is not a “perfect” plant. It is not free from problems even if the problems are few.

Here are a few common problems that one may face while planting the water sprite:

Hole In The Leaves

Sometimes the narrow branched leaves can be seen with the hole. This indicates a potassium deficiency.

You can add potassium supplements to solve this issue.


Melting is a common problem that a majority of aquatic plants face. Water sprites are not free from it either. It can be due to bright lights or fewer nutrients in the water.

People mistake melting with dying plants. But it is not the case. You can just pluck off the melting part to avoid spreading over the whole plant.

Pale Color Of Water Sprite

The original color of the water sprite is bright green. But the plant may lose color resulting in its paleness and less vibrance. The lack of This hint of iron in plants.

If you are using fertilizer in a plant, make sure it contains iron in it.

If you are not using fertilizers, then you can insert iron supplements in water.

Purchasing Water Sprite? Consider These Factors

From fish shops or online sites, you have a lot of options to purchase a water sprite. But, be wise and choose a healthy plant for yourself.

Factors To Consider While Purchasing A Water Sprite

  1. The plant should be green in color. Do not accept if the leaves and stems are yellow, brown, or any other color.
  2. Make sure the leaves are not twisting or curling up on their blades.
  3. Buy the plant that has long and fresh roots, not decomposing one.
  4. Purchase upright plants only.

Cost Of Water Sprite

On average, the water sprite will cost you $5. As per the size, the price differs. The larger plants cost more and vice-versa.

Water Sprite VS Wisteria. Is Water Sprite Better Than Wisteria?

Water Wisteria

Let’s have a quick introduction to water wisteria.

Often confused with a water sprite, the water wisteria is a hardy, green aquarium plant. It can be beautifully planted as a carpet in a community aquarium. They can be quite huge, they can grow up to 20 inches tall and 10 inches wide. Therefore, they can cover the whole aquarium if not maintained properly.

The leaves of water wisteria have narrow protrusions and are bright green. The stems are darker colored. The leaves of water wisteria are quite broader than that of a water sprite. They are natives of the South-Asian countries Nepal, Bangladesh, and India.

Is Water Sprite Better Than Wisteria?

Now let’s narrow down to the second major issue of this article. Here I will drop my opinion on if the Wisteria is better than the water sprite.

The water sprite propagates too quickly and they can cover the entire aquarium if not taken care of it. On the other hand, wisteria is less messy. Also, the wisteria is harder and can adapt to a lot of changes in water parameters.

Well, it is a tough choice but I prefer wisteria to water sprite.

Water Sprite Care & Is It Better Than Wisteria? FAQ

Can We Plant Water Sprite In The Goldfish Aquarium?

Yes, you can plant water sprites in the goldfish aquarium. But let me tell you the goldfish will nibble the leaves.

Water sprites are among one of the favorite foods of goldfish. As we know the water sprites can grow too fast, you can replenish the loss. Be careful not to use too many or too large goldfishes. As they can simply finish the plant.

Water sprites also help in cycling the waste the goldfish produce.

Some people will tell you it’s a bad idea to put them both together. The only reason is the goldfish eat the leaves. But let me tell you they are a nice combo.

Does a Water Sprite Need CO2?

The water sprites are hardy plants and they do not need additional CO2.

Adding CO2 does not harm the plant, it does better. CO2 helps in the growth of plants.

Last Words-

Water Sprite Care & Is It Better Than Wisteria

If you want a hardy, beautiful and fast-growing plant, then water sprite is a top contender for you. Apart from aesthetics, it has many other advantages. The best part about water sprites is that it helps to cycle the tank.

Fish love them, they love to play “Hide and Seek” around the water sprite. They love to eat it as well. Shrimps too love this plant.

As much as wisteria and water sprite are concerned, both have unique features.

If you were thinking of purchasing the water sprite plants, don’t think much and bring them home. You won’t regret buying it.

Write A Comment