Cuphea anagalloidea

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Accent (red), Midground, Nano tanks, Street (Dutch style), Foreground, group
Difficulty: difficult
Growth: medium
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Range and localities: 

Species distribution: Brazil (Pará, Tocantins, Bahia, Goiás, Minas Gerais); origin of the aquarium plant: likely Rio Araguaia (Ost-Brasilien)

Availability [?]: 
  • occasionally available from other aquarists

Misapplied names: 
  • Rotala sp. 'Araguaia'
  • Bacopa sp. 'Red'

Habit, plant type:

  • stem
Botanical name [?]: Cuphea anagalloidea A.St.-Hil.

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Myrtales
Family: Lythraceae
Genus: Cuphea


This plant was brought into the hobby as Rotala sp. "Araguaia". Only recently (2010), after it was brought to bloom, Cavan Allen was able to identfiy the true species of this alleged Rotala species by comparing it with samples from the Smithsonian Herbarium (Washington, D.C.). The genus Cuphea holds around 260 species and is distributed in the American tropics and subtropics. Like Rotala, it belongs to the family of Lythraceae. Most species are terrestrial semi-shrubs, like the cigar plant (Cuphea ignea), which has long been in cultivation as an ornamental plant, and false heather (C. hyssopifolia). There are only a few aquatic Cuphea species, and C. anagalloidea is the first plant of the genus that is cultivated in aquaria. This species is endemic in Brazil, where it is distributed in the north, east, and south-east (Pará, Tocantins, Bahia, Goiás, Minas Gerais).

Cuphea anagalloidea is a small, demanding stem plant. Its shoots grow around 1.5 to 2 cm wide, measured from leaf tip to leaf tip. The striking red colour on the upper side of the submersed leaves is most intensive under strong light, and it can look like it was brushed on. The red leaves often have small green spots. Emersed plants have green leaves and grow to an overall larger size.
Up to now, not much is known about its demands regarding aquarium culture, thus we cannot give more details. However, it can be said that, like all stem plants, it can be propagated by top and lateral cuttings.

- To be continued -

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