Complete Overview of 5 Cognac Plants for your Aquarium

cognac plant

The cognac plant forms a color contrast to the other, mostly green plants in the aquarium due to the brownish-red color of the leaves and the stems.

It requires expert care and maintenance in order for it to survive and thrive in your Aquarium.

Most cognac plants require a constant supply of nutrients and plenty of light.

With its cognac red color it is a wonderful contrast e.g. to the light green tone of the Heteranthera zosterifolia. With Ammannia gracilis, you can easily create colorful accents in the background.

Overview of cognac plants

The following table gives an overview of the water hyacinth plants kept in aquariums, their origin, husbandry and reproduction:

Science NameCommon NameDistribution areaType of waterKeepingPropagation
Ammannia praetermissaRed-green NeseaWest Africavery difficultCuttings
Ammannia crassicaulisThick-stemmed NeseaAfrica and Madagascar swamps Rivers and rice fieldsDemandingCuttings
Ammannia pedicellataStalked NeseaTanzania and MozambiqueDrying poolsMediumCuttings
Ammannia gracilisLarge cognac plantWest Africa SwampsDemandingCuttings
Ammannia senegalensisSmall cognac plantAfricaSwampy terrainDemandingCuttings

1. Small cognac plant – Ammannia senegalensis

cognac plant
Ammannia senegalensis

Compared to its sister species, the large cognac plant, it remains smaller, looks more delicate thanks to its downward-curved leaves and is in no way inferior in the color of the leaves, provided the light intensity is high enough and the nutrient supply is optimally balanced.

The small cognac plant is somewhat more temperature-tolerant and relatively easy to propagate both with the help of cuttings and with their seeds.

Distribution of the small cognac plant

The small cognac plant is widespread in tropical Africa.

It populates mainly swampy terrain, but also saline soils.

Depending on the water level, it grows upright or prostrate close to the ground.

Appearance of the small cognac plant

The small cognac plant is a medium-sized Ammannia species.

The underwater plant has sessile, cross-opposite leaves on the stem and lanceolate in shape.

The leaves are up to 6cm long and a maximum of 1.3cm wide.

Compared to the large cognac plant, the leaves appear more delicate, as their leaf edges are more curved downwards.

The flowers of the small cognac plant have a pink color with a maximum diameter of only half a centimeter. They stand individually or in small groups in the axils of the leaves. The flower has 4 sepals, 4 petals and 4 stamens.

Best conditions for keeping the small cognac plant in the aquarium

The small cognac plant comes into its own as a bright brown-red colored, medium-sized stem plant in a small group in the center of the aquarium.

Similar to the sister species, it needs:

A lot of light

  • A balanced ratio of nutrients and trace elements
  • Does not do too well in high temperatures
  • If the lighting intensity is too low or the nitrate content in the water is too high, the leaves stay green instead of turning reddish brown

Vegetative propagation

  • Head cuttings about 15 cm long are cut from the plants and the two lower pairs of leaves are removed. The side shoots can also be used for this
  • As an immersed plant, the small cognac plant forms flowers and later fruits with seeds
  • The ripe seeds can also be used for reproduction
  • The seeds are sown in a shallow culture vessel on a moist soil substrate
  • After germination, the water level is gradually increased as the plants grow

2. Delicate Ammannia – Ammannia gracilis

cognac plant
Ammannia gracilis

The Delicate Ammannia  cognac plant from tropical West Africa impresses with its extraordinary coloration of the leaves and stems – under optimal environmental conditions.

With sufficient lighting and a balanced ratio of nutrients and trace elements, the plant takes on an intense brown-red color and lives up to its name, cognac plant.

The species name garcilis = graceful, on the other hand, seems to be less appropriate, because its sister species, the small cognac plant Ammannia senegalensis, is actually more graceful and has the more delicate leaves with at least the same luminosity of the colors.

Under optimal conditions, the large cognac plant grows quickly and when it reaches the water level it can be cut and propagated vegetative with the help of cuttings.

Distribution of the large cognac plant

The large cognac plant has its natural range in West Africa. It has so far been detected in Liberia, Gambia and the Senegal.

It normally colonizes swamps.

It is the most frequently cared for Ammannia species because of its graceful beauty and because it is not too difficult to cultivate.

Appearance of the large cognac plant

  • The large cognac plant is a stem plant that can grow a maximum of 60cm in height
  • As a submerged underwater plant, Ammannia gracilis has thick, sturdy sprouts, cross-opposed leaves that sit directly on the stem without a stem
  • These leaves have a lanceolate shape with a length of up to 12 cm and a width of 1.8 cm
  • With sufficient lighting, the leaves turn an intense brown-red color
  • The plants that grow above the surface of the water also develop inflorescences over time
  • The flowers are stalked, up to 8 flowers form an ear. The petals of the flowers are colored light purple
  • The stylus is pink with a number of stamens is 4 to a maximum of 8

Best conditions for the large cognac plant in the aquarium

  • The large cognac plant is adaptable to the environmental conditions, but only develops its full color splendor with intensive lighting
  • In addition, it must be adequately supplied with 25 to 30 mg of carbon dioxide per liter and other nutrients
  • It thrives best in soft, slightly acidic water (pH less than7)
  • If there is a lack of iron, the leaves pale
  • If there is an oversupply of nutrients and trace elements, the stems become thinner and then become too elongated. For example, if the nitrate content is too high, the leaves stay green instead of gradually turning reddish brown
  • The most intense red shade is obtained with a high content of phosphate and trace elements and at the same time a low level of nitrate in the water
  • The shoot tips of the plant begin to cripple with a nitrate content of 10mg / l. The nitrate content should be between 2 and 8 mg / l
  • In optimal environmental conditions, Ammannia gracilis grows quickly to the surface of the water. Then you can cut off the shoots and, like the side shoots, use them as head cuttings for vegetative reproduction
  • Depending on the height of growth, you can put this cognac plant in a small group in the center or in the background of the aquarium. It quickly becomes an eye-catcher in the aquarium

3. Thick-stemmed Nesea – Ammannia crassicaulis

cognac plant
Ammannia crassicaulis

The thick-stemmed Nesea is called Ammannia crassicaulis after a revision of the genus.

It differs from the cognac plants, especially Ammania gracilis, in the less intense red color of the leaves and stems.

This Ammannia species is also demanding, but grows into stately, compact plants under optimal light and nutrient supply.

It can be propagated relatively easily with the help of cuttings.

Distribution of the thick-stemmed Nesea

The thick-stemmed Nesea is native to tropical Africa and the island of Madagascar.

In the aquarium literature, the species is often still listed under its old name Nesea crassicaulis.

After a revision, all Nesea species were integrated into the genus Ammannia, which mainly includes the so-called cognac plants.

The Ammannia crassicaulis looks very similar to the cognac plant Ammania gracilis; It is therefore not surprising that the plants offered in specialist shops as Ammania crassicaulis are mostly plants of the Ammania gracilis species.

However, the thick-stemmed Nesea is more greenish yellow than red like the large cognac plant Ammannia gracilis.

In its natural range, Ammannia crassicaulis mainly inhabits swamps, smaller rivers and rice fields under water.

Appearance of the thick-stemmed Nesea

  • The thick-stemmed Nesea is a stem plant with relatively thick, fleshy shoots
  • The leaves of the underwater form sit directly on the stem and are arranged crosswise
  • The yellow-green to reddish colored leaves are up to 11cm long and 1.6cm wide
  • The immersed form of Ammania crassicaulis that grows above the surface of the water can also be made to bloom under aquarium conditions when the water levels are suitably shallow

Best conditions for the thick-stemmed Nesea in the aquarium

  • The thick-stemmed Nesea grows well under intensive lighting
  • It requires a nutrient-rich substrate
  • It thrives at relatively high water temperatures of up to 28 ° C
  • The water requirements are soft to at most medium-hard, slightly acidic water (i.e. pH <7)
  • Under optimal environmental conditions it forms stately specimens – planted in groups in the middle or background of the basin.
  • This Ammannia species is also easiest to propagate vegetative with the help of cuttings, which are cut from the shoot tips or from the side shoots when they reach the water surface

4. Stalked Nesea – Ammannia pedicellata

cognac plant
Ammannia pedicellata

The stalked Nesea occasionally inhabits dry-falling ponds in its natural range.

Therefore, to a certain extent, the species is adapted to strongly fluctuating environmental conditions.

However, in order to achieve compact, bushy growth and bright leaf and stem colors, the plants should be regularly supplied with a balanced ratio of nutrients.

Good lighting is also essential for growth.

Ammania pedcellata can be cared for submerged in a warm water aquarium or as an immersed plant in palludariums or damp terrariums.

Distribution of the Stalked Nesea

The stalked Nesea has its natural range in Tanzania and Mozambique.

There it mainly populates ponds, which can sometimes dry out.

Appearance of the Stalked Nesea

Until a few years ago the Nesea plants – there are around 30 species worldwide – formed their own genus Nesea

Under this generic name, they are still mostly carried in aquarium circles

However, they have now been assigned to the cognac plants of the genus Ammannia

Of the 30 Nesea species only 10 live in a moist environment and not all of them are suitable for submerged cultivation in the aquarium

  • The stemmed Nesea is a medium-sized stem plant
  • The submerged underwater plants have leaves up to 9cm long and 1.5cm wide, which sit close to the stem and are alternate and opposite, sometimes also in whorls
  • The leaf color ranges from green-yellow to reddish shades. The stems are orange to reddish in color
  • Plants that grow above the surface of the water form flowers. The flowers each have 8 stamens

Best conditions for the stalked Nesea in the aquarium

  • The stemmed Nesea grows in medium to high light intensity
  • It can cope with frequently dry watering places and ponds, even with strongly fluctuating nutrient ratios, and is able to compensate for deficiency symptoms to a certain extent and to recover again and again.. Ammania pedicellata grows optimally in the aquarium However with ample of nitrates. So make sure you check nitrate levels regularly and fertilize the plants if needed. However, too much fertilizer can also damage the plants, especially if the potassium concentration in the water is too high
  • The plants grow compact and bushy if they are additionally supplied with carbon dioxide.
  • Ammania pedicellata also grows well as an emersed plant in a palludarium with shallow water or in a humid terrarium. Stalked Nesea plants have dark green leaves and a bright red stem
  • The stalked Nesea can be propagated vegetatively by cutting cuttings from the shoot tips and the side shoots and reinserting them in the ground

5. Red-green Nesea – Ammannia praetermissa

cognac plant
Ammannia praetermissa

The red-green Nesea has been popular as an aquarium plant for years because of its intensely red leaves.

It tends to be demanding so beginners should reconsider it.

It needs a lot of light, very soft water and a balanced, constant supply of nutrients. It presumably comes from West Africa, but the exact location is not known.

Distribution of the red-green Nesea

The red-green Nesea probably comes from West Africa

The species is usually offered as Ammannia or Nesea crassicaulis, with which it is probably more closely related.

Appearance of the red-green Nesea

  • The red-green Nesea is particularly striking because of its intense ruby-red leaves
  • It is one of the smallest species in the genus Ammannia

Best conditions of the red-green Nesea in the aquarium

  • The red-green Nesea is popular as an aquarium plant with experienced aquarists because of its bright red leaves, but it makes very high demands on care
  • It needs a lot of light, very soft water and a permanent supply of carbon dioxide (20 to 30 mg CO2 / l) and other nutrients (including 10 to 50 mg nitrate / l, 5 to 30 mg potassium / l, 0.1 to 3 mg phosphate / l and 0.01 to 0.5 mg iron / l)
  • Since this species grows very slowly, you can put it in the foreground instead of in the middle distance at a length of 3 to 5 cm and then prune something again and again in good time
  • It quickly becomes the focal point in the pool
  • Like all Ammannia species, this species can easily be propagated with the help of head cuttings

General care of a cognac plant in the aquarium

If you want to try caring for the cognac plants, you should choose the Nesea stems that are easiest to look after.

The red-green Nesea – Ammannia praetermissa is categorized as very hard to take care of and maintain in the long run. If you are a beginner, I would not recommend getting the red-green nesea

The large and small cognac plants are often found in plants stores. These two species have very memorable wine-red leaves and stems.

However, you should remember that achieving such a leaf color can only be achieved with an optimal supply of nutrients and a low nitrate value in the aquarium.

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