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The Small Parrot Leaf or Water Hedge is often referred as "the species" Alternanthera reineckii. It got known in the aquarium hobby many years ago, but in contrast to other A. reineckii forms such as 'Rosaefolia' and 'Lilacina' it almost disappeared from cultivation and is far less known than those today. Despite its small size it is not to be confused with the popular Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini'. Its submerged leaves mostly get only 2 cm long and 1 cm wide. However we have notice that with abundant nutrient and CO2 supply the leaves may get about 4-5 cm long and 1,7 cm broad. Good lighting provided, the upper side is light reddish green, also with red-orange tones. The lower side is light purple-red. Its growth habit is not as compact and bushy as the much darker coloured A. reineckii 'Mini'. The Small Parrot Leaf looks best when its stems have reached a height of only 10 to 30 cm.
Alternanthera reineckii originates from the southern part of South America, e.g. Bolivia and Argentina, where it occurs above and below water in floodplains and at the edges of rivers and ponds.
This small A. reineckii form is moderately demanding. It should be well lit; a nutrient-rich bottom and CO2 addition are beneficial. The plant prefers soft to medium hard, slightly acid water. The optimum temperatures lie between 17 and 25 °C, however this plant tolerates a wide temperature range of 4 to 30 °C. It is best planted as a group; we recommend to set single cuttings with a little distance between them.
The Small Parrot Leaf deserves more popularity as aquarium plant. With its bright reddish tones, it looks especially well as a group in the foreground to midground, and it is small enough for nano aquariums. Its upright, symmetrical growth habit makes it especially suited for Dutch style planted aquariums.