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Home Lifestyle Gardening Crinum Calamistratum: Everything You Need to Know

Crinum Calamistratum: Everything You Need to Know

Crinum calamistratum, or African Onion Plant, is an aquatic plant from Central Africa. They are predominantly found in Cameroon. In 1948, they found indications from a holotype specimen that the crinum calamistratum plant originated in a region called Kumba.

They usually grow fully submerged in their natural habitat but have survived droughts, too. Their elegant shape adds rich diversity to any aquascape.

Distinct in nature, they are aquatic bulb plants that are popular backgrounds in the aquarium hobby. Although not mainstream, Our guide has everything you need to know about the crinum calamistratum plant.

Crinum Calamistratum Description

Although considered one of the tiniest Crinum plants, its slender, wrinkled leaves grow all the way to the surface. They can get as long as 48-inches (122 cm) and are a rich green color. That’s part of what makes them so unique.

Crinum calamistratum plants grow slowly. The leaves grow from the base of this aquatic African Onion. They are straight at first, then begin to twist and curl, creating beautifully distinctive leaves.

Avoid moving them often; they are resilient but take time to settle. Once these plants take root, the Crinum calamistratum are sturdy and can even survive droughts in their natural habitats. Even fish bites won’t leave permanent damage.

Fish and other aquatic animals enjoy hiding among the leaves of the Crinum calamistratum. These plants usually work well in the background of an aquarium or as a focal point.

Scientific Facts

When propagating any plant, even aquatic ones, it’s best to learn as much as you can. These are the scientific classifications and facts of the Crinum calamistratum aquatic plant.

  • Scientific name: Crinum calamistratum
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Native Distribution: Central Africa, mostly Cameroon
  • Height: 48-60 in (50-150 cm)
  • Width: 11 in (30 cm)
  • Hardness Tolerance: 6dKH

How to Use Crinum Calamistratum in Aquascaping

The unique structure of the Crinum calamistratum makes it the perfect centerpiece for any aquarium. They add dynamic contrast to the usual aquarium plant life. Crinum calamistratum plants also benefit aquarium animals. They can easily play or hide among the twisted leaves of this plant.

Crinum calamistratum works best in the background of smaller tanks and in the mid-to foregrounds of larger ones. Carefully choose the place you want to put your African Onion Plant. They take up space and need plenty of light. Moving them too often or putting them in the shade will stunt their growth or kill them.

Crinum calamistratum grows comfortable in hard or soft water. Medium brackish water isn’t their favorite, but they will still grow. Slightly brackish is ideal for their growth and health.

The twisted leaves usually protect the plant from herbivorous aquarium life, but not always. Avoid growing the Crinum calamistratum with fish that will eat it. It can survive and continue to grow. However, constant nibbling can interfere with the overall health of the plant.

Some grew their Crinum calamistratum in saltwater and others in fresh. Both found that the plants grew well in either condition.

Propagation of Crinum Calamistratum Plants

You must create the perfect growing condition before you can propagate a Crinum calamistratum. The plants will begin to take root. Then the main bulb will start growing bulb shoots. Remove these bulbs to start propagation.

Start by taking your Crinum calamistratum out of the water. Try not to cut the extra bulbs off. Gently nudge them until they come off and then plant them in a nutrient-rich substrate. This will boost root growth in the newly planted bulbs.

The African Onion Plant is utterly unique because it can also produce flowers if you allow. These flowers are magnificent. The propagation process to grow them is challenging but possible. Use exceptionally high lighting and soft water. Once they start flowering, they will do so regularly.

Propagating the Crinum calamistratum from seed is exceptionally difficult. It’s usually only possible if you are an expert.

Care Guide

Crinum calamistratum may grow slowly, but they need a lot of light. It’s a good idea to supplement their CO² as they require high levels of it.

The crinum calamistratum is a unique aquatic plant that’s somewhat difficult to grow. Once they are deeply rooted, they require little maintenance. You must create the perfect environment so they will thrive.

Remember that it’s impossible to remove 100% of the snail life that inhabits crinum calamistratum plants. Most aquarium retailers will let you know this before you make a purchase.

Here are a few crucial things to do when growing crinum calamistratum.

  • Plant supplements can help your crinum calamistratum grow strong and healthy but aren’t necessary if the aquarium environment is nutrient-rich.
  • The ideal temperature is between 68° – 82.4° F (20° – 28° C).
  • Keep pH levels between 6.0 – 8.0.
  • The hardness of the water should be around dGH 0 – 18°N (321.43ppm).
  • Make sure you provide adequate lighting for the crinum calamistratum; they need moderate to high levels.

Fun Things to Know

  1. A new aquarium plant needs time to acclimatize and can often turn brown or lose leaves in the process.
  2. Add unvarnished marine shells to freshwater. They decompose and add minerals to the water.
  3. Blue Crayfish will eat your plants if you don’t have nutrient-rich water.
  4. You can use small plants and rocks in the background to enhance the beauty of your Crinum calamistratum.

Final Thoughts

They aren’t common among aquarium hobbyists but are popular at the same time. The Crinum calamistratum, also called the African Onion Plant, is a distinctive aquatic plant that adds flair to any aquarium background.

They require high levels of light and CO² for optimal growth. It’s a good idea to supplement the water and soil of your aquarium with nutrients. They thrive in slightly brackish, soft, and hard water but prefer slightly brackish water.

If you want your Crinum calamistratum to flower, use lots of light and carbon dioxide. You will have a beautiful focal point for your aquarium with a Crinum calamistratum at the center.



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