The Complete Jungle Val Care & Planting Guide

Jungle Val is a fantastic aquarium plant that can add a whole new element to your tank. It’s beneficial to the water, low-maintenance, and pretty!

This guide will cover everything you need to know about Jungle Val care, so you can be sure that your plant thrives.

Species Summary

The Jungle Val (Vallisneria americana) is a gorgeous aquatic plant species that goes by many other names. You might see it being sold as Eelgrass, Water Celery, or Tape Grass. Whatever the name it’s holding, this plant is a welcome addition to any freshwater tank.

Two Jungle Val plants in a freshwater aquarium

It’s native to the Americas and belongs to the extensive Hydrocharitaceae family. Despite its prevalence in North, Central, and South America, the plant also grows naturally in Australia and Asia. In the wild, these plants grow in slow-moving streams and lakes.

Resilient and easy to care for, Jungle Val is an excellent choice for beginners. In fact, this plant was one of the first to be used in freshwater home aquariums. It has a long history in the trade and continues to be a trusted choice for aquarists of all skill levels.

The Benefits Of Having It In Your Tank

Like many live plants, Jungle Val can do a lot to improve your freshwater tank. Not only does it boost aesthetics with its vivid coloration, but the plant can improve water conditions as well.

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Live plants release oxygen into the water during the photosynthesis process. It creates a more oxygen-rich environment for your fish. 

On top of that, the plant can absorb pollutants and unwanted chemicals. For example, plants can absorb ammonia and use it as a source of nitrogen. Ammonia is a byproduct of fish waste that becomes fatal in high concentrations.

Plants like Jungle Val can keep ammonia levels nice and manageable, which takes a load off of you.

Finally, Jungle Val can do wonders to improve the quality of life for tank inhabitants. Most fish and invertebrates love living among vegetation. It offers some stimulation while also providing coverage.

Author Note: Jungle Val is a particularly helpful aquarium plant for more rambunctious fish. It’s surprisingly resilient and can withstand heavy play (more on that later).


Jungle Val is on the simpler side when it comes to appearance. It doesn’t have any complex colors or fanciful blooms. But make no mistake, this plant is still breathtaking.

The plant looks very similar to seagrass. Thin leaves burst from the plant’s base and stretch up the water column. The leaves can grow very long and touch the top of the waterline.

Even with low water flow, the plant can sway with the current. It creates a dense sea of movement that’s beautiful all on its own. The addition of playful fish only highlights the plant’s beauty.

Size & Growth Rate

In the wild, Jungle Val plants can grow up to six feet tall! They usually grow in shallow waters, so it’s not uncommon to see the leaves flowing sideways with the current. In deeper waters, the plant stands tall and takes up most of the water column.

Captive plants don’t get that big, but they will certainly try to. The Jungle Val is a fast grower that will quickly reach surface level. 

The plant is not strong enough to grow outside of the water. Even if it were, the leaves would not survive long without being submerged.

As a result, most plants will naturally stop growing after they reach the surface. If there’s enough room, some will continue to grow. The excess will simply float on the surface like a blanket.

Author Note: Like most plants, Jungle Val’s growth rate depends entirely on the water conditions and lighting. In acidic or soft water, it tends to grow slower.

Jungle Val Care

These plants are one of the easiest in the aquarium trade! Once established, they don’t need much to thrive.

That said, you have to get them started off right to see success. Here are some basic Jungle Val care guidelines to help these plants flourish.

Tank Size

The first thing to consider is the tank size. Thanks to the massive size potential of Jungle Vals, bigger is better.

On the lower end of the volume spectrum, aquarists typically recommend getting a tank that’s around 20 to 30 gallons. That’s the smallest you can go!

If you attempt to grow these plants in anything smaller, you won’t have much room for any fish. Jungle Val quickly outgrows small aquariums, so it’s good to go big!

Author Note: Jungle Val care is usually even easier if you keep it in an outdoor pond. There’s a bit less required maintenance and trimming, you have plenty of space to work with, and the hardy nature of this plant can do most of the work.

Water Parameters

When it comes to Jungle Val care, the best way to support this freshwater plant is to mimic the water parameters of its natural habitat. Fortunately, the wild distribution of Jungle Val is pretty vast. As a result, the plant can grow in a wide range of environments.

It prefers warm waters that err on the alkaline side of the pH scale. The plant also enjoys moderately hard water conditions and low flow. In most cases, your average tropical freshwater aquarium conditions will do just fine.

  • Water temperature: 64 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 9.0 (slightly alkaline is best)
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 dGH


The Jungle Val grows in depths of 10 feet or less. It stays pretty close to the surface, resulting in high light exposure.

It’s best to replicate those conditions in your aquarium. Provide high lighting with specialized plant bulbs or bright LEDs. The plant should have light exposure for eight to ten hours every day.

If you’re unable to provide tons of light, Jungle Val will adapt to moderate lighting. However, it may experience slower growth as a result of this. 

A lack of light can lead to a slow death. This isn’t a low light aquarium plant! Jungle Val needs light exposure to photosynthesize properly. Without it, the Jungle Val can’t manufacture food and fuel to survive.

Author Note: Improper lighting results in discoloration and wilting. If you spot those issues, adjust your lighting setup as quickly as possible to promote recovery.


The best substrate for Jungle Val is gravel or sand. Sand is closer to what these plants use in the wild, but they quickly adapt to small rocks or pebbles.

The interesting thing about Jungle Val is that it has an extensive and robust root system. The roots remain firmly rooted. Not long after planting, the tiny rhizomes will spread horizontally and spread beneath the substrate. They get thicker as the plant ages, adding even more strength.

The roots provide tons of security, so you don’t have to worry about accidental uprooting or damage.

How To Plant Jungle Val

Planting Jungle Val is pretty simple. 

Generally, stores sell these plants as bare propagations or in pots. Whatever the case may be, planting them in your freshwater tank is straightforward. Simply remove the plant from the medium it came in and secure it into the substrate.

Thanks to its growth potential, Jungle Val does best as a background plant. Position it towards the back of the aquarium where it’s free to grow as tall as it can.

Close up of a Jungle Val aquarium plant

Make sure that the crown is above the substrate. The crown is the base of the plant. If buried beneath the substrate, the plant will shed its leaves and eventually die out.

Jungle Vals sometimes go through a period of “melting.” It’s a unique phenomenon that many novice aquarists mistake for dying.

When it “melts,” some of the plant’s weaker leaves will fall out. Don’t worry!

This process is completely normal. It’s the plant’s way of adjusting to the new conditions. Releasing old leaves is like shedding dead weight. Without the extra baggage, it can focus its energy on producing new growth.

Author Note: It doesn’t take long for the roots to become established. Once the roots spread, Jungle Val care becomes a whole lot easier. You don’t have to worry about CO2 injections, fertilizer, or any other complex planting techniques.

Trimming & Pruning

Trimming is a point of contention in the aquarist community, but the general consensus is that you should never trim or prune a Jungle Val. 

Some enthusiasts argue that the sentiment is overly cautious. You might hear people talking about cutting the plant without experiencing any issues.

While there’s doubt that some have had success with trimming, the potential risks might make you reconsider! Pruning often damages the foliage and causes the leaves to rot. With leaves of this size, even a little bit of rotting can wreak havoc on tank conditions.

The decaying leaves will sour the water and put the health of your fish at risk.

Author Note: If trimming is an absolute necessity, use extremely sharp shears. Take some time to sharpen the scissors to ensure that you’re making a clean cut. A precise slice will reduce the chances of rot and infection.

The good news is that pruning usually isn’t necessary. As mentioned earlier, most plants will adapt to the height and water volume of your tank. Few will reach their full potential because they lack the room to do so.

Tank Mates

When it comes to tank mates, you have many options to consider! Jungle Val is the quintessential community tank plant. Not only is it beautiful and fun for fish to swim through, but it’s surprisingly resilient.

Despite the somewhat frilly look of these grass-like plants, the root system makes it a solid contender for rowdier fish. Usually, live plants are a no-go for wild species because they tend to uproot them at any given opportunity.

Those fish can try that behavior with Jungle Val, but most aren’t going to get anywhere! Remember, the root system for this plant is expansive and secure. As long as the Jungle Val is well-established, it’ll have no problem staying upright even when paired with stronger fish species!

Feel free to put them in the tank with aggressive cichlids or known herbivores. Of course, you can also put them in peaceful tanks with the likes of guppy fish, molly fish, and more.

They also do well with inverts like:

You can’t go wrong with Jungle Val. This plant even does well in brackish tanks with some light salinity. It’s a proper universal choice that can complement most aquariums and aquatic creatures.


Jungle Val plants reproduce a couple of different ways.

In the wild, the plant generates a female flower that floats to the surface. Male flowers release from the plant below. Female flowers catch the male ones for pollination at the surface of the water.

If you have a pond, you might be lucky enough to observe this cycle. However, it rarely occurs in an aquarium setting.

Most Jungle Vals will reproduce in freshwater tanks through runners.

The plant puts out runners underneath the substrate. Eventually, they will root and produce a new plant not too far from the main one. You can separate this propagation and relocate it.

But before you do, give them some time to develop. Wait until the leaves grow a bit before separating the propagation from the parent plant. Otherwise, it’ll die before it has the chance to establish itself.


Jungle Val care is about as straightforward as it gets. The hardy and low-maintenance nature of this plant makes it a great choice for beginners and experts alike.

Let us know if you have any questions about this plant that you think we can help you with. We’re always happy to give feedback and advice to our readers.

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