Alternanthera reineckii or Scarlet Temple
- Scientific Name: Alternanthera reineckii
- Common Names: Scarlet Temple, Red Scarlet Temple
- Category: Stem Plant
- Lighting: High
- Growth: Moderate; several leaves a week.
- Positioning: Mid-Ground, Background
- Needs: Although it can be grown without CO2, it is recommended for proper growth
- Propagation: Cut stem at place where roots have formed and replant
- Difficulty: Medium
A. reineckii produces beautiful reddish-purple and sometimes bronze tinted leaves that can fill in a section of an aquarium wonderfully. With such bright, vibrant colors, the plant is sure to stand out in any tank.
Although you can plant it by itself, it does look better in bunches especially in the Mid-Ground of a planted tank. The leaves of the A. reineckii don’t get very large. They stay pretty thin for the most part. If it lacks proper lighting and care the leaves can turn green on top, but will stay their reddish color on bottom.
In my experiences, the evening hours are the best times to watch this plant as the leaves stand almost straight up as if they are reaching for every last bit of light for the day, almost like they know you’ll be turning off the lights soon. This is especially fun to watch because the undersides of the leaves are the brightest and best looking.
One problem I have had with the Scarlet Temple is keeping the leaves clean. I contribute this mostly to not performing weekly water changes. This was one of the first plants I ever owned and I didn’t fully understand the purpose of water changes. Over time the lower leaves would get covered in short hair algae. I would try to rub it off, but that had no effect. I ended up plucking off the algae covered leaves, cutting the stem and re-planting the A. reineckii so it would fuller and not have a bare stem sticking out. While I currently still have this plant, I have begun performing appropriate water changes and am looking to getting an Amano Shrimp to see if that will clean up some of the algae.
The Final Word: I love this plant and don’t see me getting rid of it anytime soon. When others ask for a semi-challenging plant or one that does well, I suggest the A. reineckii (Scarlet Temple). It is fun to watch grow, it stands out, and holds its colors well. I would suggest CO2 to achieve maximum growth, but I have been successful in growing it with the absence of CO2.