Nymphaea lotus, var. lotus

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Nymphaea lotus

This spectacular red aquarium/paludarium lily is a true centerpiece plant that can grow to an impressive size and produce beautiful flowers. Red Tiger Lotus Aquarium Lily (running in the aquaristics under the name of  Nymphaea zenkeri, which il a synonym to Nymphaea lotus var. lotus, according to Plants of the World Online) is a remarkable red bulb plant that is native to Africa.

It is known for its triangular leaves and, as its name states, its deep red coloration. It can grow to a very large size of 80cm tall and 50cm wide under optimal conditions. It will sometimes flower when kept in shallow enough water or emersed conditions, so it is a terrific plant for paludariums as well.

Native to: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Chad, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe.

Introduced into: Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast, Colombia, Costa Rica, Florida, Guyana, Louisiana, Mauritius, Panamá, Romania, Seychelles, Society Is., Venezuela.

Submitted by
Benedetta Spelta


Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
22-28 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

2-15 mg/l
Dissolved Oxygen


Plant form
Plant type
Plant size
20-80 cm
Plant growth rate
Plant light demand
Aquarium equipment

Red Tiger lotus can be found dwelling in ditches of stagnant water, the sidelines of lakes, ponds, and other areas of stagnant water. The relatively shallow water in its native habitat has made the plant quite tolerant of water temperature, lighting, and dissolved CO2 in the water.

Plant care

Growing completely sumerse, Nymphaea zenkeri has broad, wavy-edged leaves and variegated color pattern. Once your tiger lotus becomes well-established, it will quickly grow plenty of big leaves – on this stage it will need the fertilizers (iron) to thrive.

The leaves will extend arrow-shaped lily pads to the surface of the water, producing blue or white flowers; it is these flowers that when they wilt, the fruit bears seeds that serve as a propagative means of the Red Tiger Lotus. The flowers are usually white and exceedingly fragrant, but some varieties produce blue or red flowers as a result of selective breeding and hybridization.

Propapages: daughter plants via bulbs or seeds. If the Red Tiger Lotus is doing well, the parent bulb may form little daughter bulbs that can be detached and replanted in another aquarium.

Water care

The Nymphaea zenkeri rapid growth rate assists it in softening water and absorbing large amount of nitrate and phosphate.

Normally CO2 is not required, albeit small amounts of CO2 injection may help increase growth rate.