For many years, Ammannia gracilis is known in the aquarium hobby as one of the most colourful stem plants. It is native to West Africa (Senegambia) where it occurs as swamp plant in full sun, at sandy riverbanks and in floodplains. The plant is able to grow above and under water. In its terrestrial form its leaves are inconspicuously green. However under water it develops its up to 12 cm long submerged leaves. The upper side of the leaves is brown-red, the lower side deeply violet. Ammannia gracilis looks very similar to A. crassicaulis that is rather yellowish green to reddish.
The Red Ammannia is one of the more demanding aquarium plants. It should get much light; complete macro- and micronutrient supply, also via the bottom, is important. Rather soft water is beneficial, but with CO2 addition the plant also thrives in medium hard water. It prefers higher temperatures above 24 °C and still tolerates 32 °C. Several stems of different length should be planted into the ground with some space to each other. As well as other stem plants, this Ammannia is propagated by cuttings of the stem tip and side shoots.
With its broad shoots and splendid brown-red coloration, the Red Ammannia looks best as a group in the midground of larger aquariums. It is well suited for creating “plant streets” in Dutch style tanks. Ammannia gracilis may also be interesting for open tanks because it readily grows out of the water. Strong lighting provided, one may expect its little light purple flowers.
Ammannia Gracilis is a moderately demanding plant which will not show its full potential unless its requirements are met. Lighting should be moderate. Ammannia Gracilis prefers mildly acidic, moderately soft water although it is quite adaptable to more extreme water conditions. If there is not enough iron in the water column, the foliage of this plant will become pale. This large, colorful stem plant, when under good growing conditions, grows rapidly upwards toward the water’s surface. Pruning should be done by topping and replanting the more robust top portions. Propagation should be done by removing side shoots from the main stem plant with a pair of scissors.