The Ultimate Guide to Telanthera Cardinalis Care

Telanthera Cardinalis

Are you ready to dive into the fascinating world of Telanthera Cardinalis? This aquatic plant, also known as Alternanthera reineckii, offers a vibrant and captivating addition to your home aquarium. With its deep red coloration and unique leaf patterns, Telanthera Cardinalis is a true showstopper. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about caring for these beautiful aquatic plants. Let’s dive in!

Telanthera Cardinalis Facts & Overview

Telanthera Cardinalis

Telanthera Cardinalis, a member of the Amaranth family, is native to South America, particularly the southern regions of Brazil and Paraguay. Its scientific name, Alternanthera reineckii, hints at its ability to adapt and change. This versatile plant can grow both fully submerged and partially emerged, making it a fantastic choice for both aquariums and paludariums.

In the wild, Telanthera Cardinalis thrives in flooded fields, with its tops gracefully emerging above the water. In your home aquarium, it can reach heights of approximately 16 inches (40.6 cm) and brings a touch of striking red hue to your aquascape.

Typical Behavior/Features

Telanthera Cardinalis exhibits an interesting growth pattern. When planted underwater, its stems grow vertically and quickly emerge from below the water’s surface, giving it a unique appearance. This behavior is a preparation for its ability to adapt to ground-growing conditions.

The dwarf variation, Alternanthera reineckii Mini, is particularly fascinating. It produces multiple shoots and creates a carpet-like growth along the substrate, adding a visually stunning element to your aquascape. Additionally, Telanthera Cardinalis provides oxygenation to the water and offers hiding places for fry, ensuring their safety from potential predators.

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Telanthera Cardinalis

The leaves of Telanthera Cardinalis have an oval shape and grow perpendicular to each other, forming a captivating pattern known as decussate. The bottom leaf surface displays a deep red hue, while the top of the leaf exhibits a vibrant green color. However, the color intensity may vary depending on the leaf’s position. Leaves closer to the water’s surface tend to have a more reddish hue, while those closer to the bottom display a richer green shade.

Telanthera Cardinalis leaves lack stalks and measure approximately 1 inch (2.5-3.5 cm) in length and 0.2-0.6 inches (0.5-1.5 cm) in width. If you choose to float the clippings, you will notice that Telanthera Cardinalis’ roots are fibrous, long, and thin.


Alternanthera reineckii rosaefolia, a variation of Telanthera Cardinalis, features pink veins and a pinkish or purplish hue underneath, creating a visually distinct appearance. Another intriguing variation is the dwarf Alternanthera reineckii Mini, which showcases purple and pink tones and grows in a carpet-like pattern, adding a captivating touch to your aquascape.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Telanthera Cardinalis

Telanthera Cardinalis thrives in a freshwater environment and requires specific tank conditions to ensure its optimal growth. When setting up your aquarium, it is essential to consider the substrate, lighting, and water parameters.

Substrate and Planting

Telanthera Cardinalis requires a substrate depth of approximately 0.75 inches (2 cm) consisting of sand, mud, or gravel. While they obtain most of their nutrition from the water, a suitable substrate will provide stability for the plants.

When planting Telanthera Cardinalis, handle it with care to avoid breakage. The gentle touch and proper placement in the background or midground of the tank are crucial for its well-being. Clipping and floating the emergent stems is an excellent way to achieve a bushier appearance.

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Lighting and Water Conditions

Proper lighting is essential for the successful growth of Alternanthera reineckii. Providing moderate to bright light will enhance its growth rate, coloration, and overall appearance. If natural sunlight is limited, artificial lighting can be used, but be cautious about the intensity to prevent burning the plants.

Telanthera Cardinalis thrives in fresh and tropical water conditions, similar to its native habitat. Regular partial water changes every other week are necessary to maintain water freshness. Adding water fertilizer tablets and considering CO2 injections will provide additional nutrients for optimal growth.

The ideal water parameters for Telanthera Cardinalis are as follows:

  • pH levels: 6.5-7.5
  • Water temperature: 75°-80.6°F (23.9°-27°C)
  • KH: 2-12°

Aquarium Size

Telanthera Cardinalis is suitable for both small and large tanks, making it an adaptable choice for various aquarium sizes. As the curator of your aquatic paradise, you have the flexibility to prune the plants according to your tank’s needs.

Planting and Growing

Telanthera Cardinalis

The growth of Alternanthera reineckii largely depends on how you care for it. In smaller tanks, it may not grow as tall as it would in larger tanks. To achieve intense deep red coloration, provide intense lighting and maintain the temperature at the lower end of the recommended range.

When planting Telanthera Cardinalis, consider creating leafy bunches while maintaining a distance of approximately 4 inches (10 cm) between each plant. This spacing allows sufficient light penetration to the lower leaves, ensuring their vitality.

Regular pruning is essential to encourage side shoots and create a bushier appearance. Floating the top buds until they develop roots and planting them next to the parent plant promotes the growth of additional shoots, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the plant.

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To ensure the successful and thriving growth of Telanthera Cardinalis, providing adequate minerals and nutrition is crucial. Besides moderate to intense lighting, consider CO2 infusions or injections and fertilization. Telanthera Cardinalis benefits from the presence of iron, potassium, and nitrogenous matter derived from fish waste.

Regular pruning and replanting are essential maintenance activities to promote healthy growth and vibrant colors.

Is Telanthera Cardinalis Suitable for Your Aquarium?

Telanthera Cardinalis is an excellent choice for any home aquarium. With the right lighting and care, it is relatively easy to maintain. The striking red coloration creates a beautiful contrast with other greenery in your tank, allowing for a visually captivating aquascape. Feel free to experiment with different varieties of Alternanthera reineckii to explore various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Remember, when planting Telanthera Cardinalis, consider its placement in the midground or background. Pruning and floating the clippings offer flexibility and allow you to showcase the plant’s full potential.

Now it’s time to bring the vibrancy of Telanthera Cardinalis to your aquarium. Share your experiences and the type of Telanthera Cardinalis plant you have in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out Ames Farm Center for all your aquatic plant needs. Happy aquascaping!