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Jungle Val ‘Vallisneria Americana’: Everything You Need To Know

Jungle Val ‘Vallisneria Americana’: Everything You Need To Know

Valliseneria Americana, or ‘Jungle Val,’ is one of the most popular aquatic plants, and rightly so. These plants produce oxygen, control pH levels, and improve your fish’s well-being. But to grow this plant successfully and enjoy its benefits, you need to understand what it is and its growth requirements.

Jungle Val is a bright green plant that looks like tall, underwater grass. It’s also commonly referred to as Eelgrass, Tape Grass, or Water Celery. It grows wild in Central and South America and does well in most freshwater tanks.

The rest of this article will cover everything you need to know about Jungle Val, from propagation and care to benefits. Let’s get started.

What Is Jungle Val?

Jungle Val is a resilient, beginner-friendly aquatic member of the Hydrochariticeae, or ‘tape grasses’ family. This plant is truly beautiful in an aquarium, it has long, vibrant green ribbon-like leaves.

Wild Jungle Val typically grows in slow-moving waters like lakes, ponds, and streams. They thrive in freshwater but will survive with limited growth in brackish waters.

Wild tape grasses are important to the environment. Ducks, turtles, and manatees use it as a major food source. Captive tape grasses are frequently cultivated for aquariums and can improve your tank’s health.

These attractive, low-maintenance plants are also a popular choice for backyard ponds. Research shows that they decrease bacteria and algae growth in the surrounding water. 

How Tall Can Jungle Val Grow?

Wild Jungle Val plants can grow to approximately four to six feet (1.22-1.83 m) tall. However, it’s unlikely they’ll get this tall in your tank unless it’s extra large. The size of your tank determines the plant’s size.

Jungle Val leaves typically stop growing when they reach the water’s surface. These plants grow fast, so it won’t take them long to reach that point. 

Leaves growing above the surface may bend and float on the water. If you want to avoid a green surface layer, consider periodically trimming your plants.

Is Jungle Val Good for Fish?

These plants are fabulous fish companions. Their tough, leathery leaves make them ideal for tanks with aggressive fish and herbivorous nibblers. 

Jungle Val plants have particularly robust root systems. Therefore, they can handle fish that dig in your substrate. That said, no plant is indestructible. Crabs and crayfish are aggressive diggers that even the tough Jungle Val can’t tolerate.

The ideal tank mates for Jungle Val include:

  • Shrimp
  • Snails
  • Guppies
  • Mollys

‘Problematic’ fish that Jungle Val can handle include:

Note: Jungle Val tolerates ‘problematic’ fish better than other aquatic plants. However, fish who frequently nibble will still wear it down. It will just take longer.

Jungle Val Benefits

Jungle Val plants help keep your tank clean. Instances of phytoplankton, bacteria, ammonia, and algae are significantly lower in tanks and natural water bodies with Jungle Val. 

Like all plants, Jungle Val releases oxygen through photosynthesis, helping boost Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels in the water. DO is critical to fish health. If there’s no oxygen in the water, fish can’t live in it. Appropriate oxygen levels reduce stress, increase appetite, and promote fish growth. 

Like all animals, fish need enrichment to stay happy and healthy. Research on goldfish indicates that they prefer to spend time in areas that have plants. 

There’s no evidence to suggest that fish are more stimulated by live plants than by artificial ones. However, live plants typically have softer leaves than their plastic counterparts. Therefore, your fish are less likely to scratch or injure themselves while playing in the plants.

Jungle Val has dense, clustered leaves that make great hiding spots. Adding it to your aquarium is a great way to reduce stress levels in your fish. This is especially beneficial for shy fish, who often like to hide from external stimuli or overbearing tank mates.

Adding Jungle Val to your tank can also encourage breeding. Some fish prefer dense planted areas for reproduction, and Jungle Val’s dense growth provides much-needed shelter. 

Is Jungle Val Safe for Turtles?

Wild freshwater turtles use Jungle Val as a food source, so these plants are safe for turtles. However, that isn’t the only way turtles can benefit from these plants.

Like many other plants, Jungle Val filters CO2 out of your turtle’s water. If you’re familiar with aquatic turtles, you probably know that high CO2 content won’t harm them because they don’t breathe underwater.

So how does filtering CO2 help keep them healthy? 

It’s all about the pH. You see, CO2 can lower the water’s pH levels, creating an acidic environment that isn’t good for turtles. These animals thrive in a slightly alkaline aquatic environment with a pH of between 7.4 and 8. So by filtering out excess CO2 from the water, Jungle Val helps create an ideal environment for turtles.

Be aware that your turtles will probably do some damage as they snack on your plants. Jungle Val is tough, but turtle jaws are stronger than a typical fish bite. So while these plants will last longer than other aquatic plants, they won’t be as durable as they would with herbivorous fish.

How To Plant Jungle Val

Aquarium stores usually sell Jungle Val in pots. Prices typically range anywhere between $6.00 and $15.00 USD for about three stems, depending on the store location.

To plant it in your tank, simply remove it from the pot and place it in your substrate. I recommend placing it close to the back of your tank. Jungle Val can get tall and may block your view if it’s too close to the front.

Make sure the plant is completely immersed; it won’t grow without full immersion. To facilitate this, make sure you get a large enough tank. This plant’s size varies between tanks, but a 20-gallon (75.7 L) minimum is strongly recommended. 

Jungle Val will survive in smaller tanks. The problem is that it can take up too much space and overcrowd any tank with a lower capacity than 20 gallons (75.7 L).

You also need to think about your choice of substrate. Jungle Val has a robust, extensive root system, so it needs a substrate that will let it spread its roots. The ideal substrate is sand, but this plant can adapt to fine gravel. Whatever you do, don’t plant it in chunky gravel.

If you’re planting multiple plants, give them space. Jungle Vals will compete for resources if they’re too close to each other. Spacing them out encourages even resource distribution. 

It’s not unusual for Jungle Vals to appear slightly brown and wilted at first. These plants take time to adjust to new environments. If this happens, remove the brown and shriveled leaves. This will encourage new healthy growth as the plant adjusts.

How To Care for Jungle Val

Proper care of Jungle Val requires that you look at such factors as lighting and the amount of fertilizer used on the plant. Let’s take a look at these and other factors. 


Jungle Val naturally grows in shallow water, where it has plenty of sunlight exposure. Therefore, it won’t do well in a low-light tank. It thrives in bright light but will adapt to partial light. 

Jungle Val doesn’t grow to full height in medium-light tanks. As such, you can limit light exposure to control its height if you don’t have a large-enough tank.

Aim for 8-10 hours of 30-50 PAR lighting per day. While it’s better to err on the side of brighter, try not to overdo it because Jungle Vals that get too much light will turn red. On the other end of the spectrum, they will turn a sickly pale yellow if they don’t get enough light each day.


Jungle Val can handle a fairly wide range of temperatures. However, it’s best to err on the side of warmer. Aim for between 64°F and 82°F (17°C and 27°C).

These plants can survive beneath the ice in your outdoor pond during the winter months. However, they will need water beneath the layer of ice. If your region gets cold enough to freeze your pond all the way through, move it to a sheltered area. 

Water Conditions

The best water conditions for your Jungle Val are moderately alkaline and harder. Aim for pH levels between 6.0 and 9.0 and hardness levels between 8 and 12 dGH.

If you have a backyard pond, it’s important to prepare it for the winter by removing debris or fallen leaves before it freezes. Leaving debris beneath the ice over winter can disturb your pond’s pH levels.


Jungle Val doesn’t need CO2 supplementation. In the wild, these plants grow in shallow pond water that’s naturally lower in CO2. As such, an environment with limited CO2 is closer to its natural habitat. 

Keeping the CO2 levels can also benefit turtles and other aquatic animal species that don’t do well in acidic conditions.


Fertilizer isn’t necessary for your Jungle Val’s survival unless you use a low-nutrient substrate, such as gravel. However, it can promote growth and give it a more vivid color. 

Apply an iron-rich fertilizer weekly basis to create a lush, bright green look. Avoid fertilizers that contain copper if you have shrimp or snails. Copper is poisonous to both of these species.

Do Jungle Val Need Root Tabs?

Root tabs aren’t essential to your Jungle Val’s survival, but it wouldn’t hurt to provide these plants with the extra nutrients. If you opt for root tabs, add a new one once a month. Be careful not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can burn the roots and hurt fish.


Jungle Val will help clean your water. However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your regular cleaning duties. These plants may shrivel if the water gets too polluted. 

Regularly wipe algae buildup off of your glass if it appears. Clear debris out of your ponds, and don’t let other pets urinate or defecate in it. Cloudy water can block light, preventing your Jungle Val from getting one of its main growth requirements.

Lastly, don’t allow your dog or cat to drink from your tank or pond. Their mouths may contain bacteria that will mess with your water’s pH levels. What’s more, outdoor ponds often contain parasites that are benign to your plants and fish but harmful to your cat or dog. 


You may want to prune your Jungle Vals to control their height. Be aware that pruning them is a delicate process, and being too rough or casual with it can kill these plants. For this reason, some enthusiasts discourage pruning altogether.

Snip small pieces off the top with sharp shears or scissors. Be careful not to take too much off at once. If you cut too much off of a leaf, that leaf will stop growing and fall off. If this happens too many times, your plant will die.

As with any other plant, sanitize your shears before pruning. This will prevent bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. 


Jungle Vals can propagate asexually and sexually. Asexual propagation usually occurs through runners and is more common in aquariums. In this type of propagation, new plants sprout from the parent’s vast root system. 

You can relocate baby plants if desired. Just make sure you don’t uproot young plants until their leaves are fully developed — development usually takes 4 weeks. Uprooting a young plant prematurely will kill it. Don’t do it unless you’re intentionally controlling your plant population.

When Jungle Val reproduces sexually, female plants produce white flowers that float on the surface. Male plants then pollinate these flowers from beneath the surface. The pollinated flowers develop into fruits with seeds that eventually sprout new plants.

Jungle Val FAQs

Can Jungle Val Grow Floating?

Yes, Jungle Val can grow floating, it’s a great choice that can provide oxygen and cover for fish as well as help maintain water quality.

Will Jungle Val Grow In Gravel?

Yes, the best substrates for Jungle Val are sand and gravel. Sand is closer to what they grow in, in their natural habitat but they do adapt to gravel. Jungle Val has a robust root system so it will remain firmly rooted.

Is Jungle Val A Low Light Plant?

Jungle Val thrives better under bright lighting. They can live under moderate light levels but their growth will be significantly slower.

Can You Propagate Jungle Val With Leaf Cuttings?

Many terrestrial plants, especially succulents, propagate with leaf cuttings. This doesn’t apply to Jungle Val. Remove loose leaves from your tank. Planting leaf cuttings in your substrate won’t create a new plant.

Can You Grow Jungle Val Outside Water?

When relocating a young plant, ensure it stays submerged in water. Jungle Vals won’t grow without a water medium and will eventually die. If you want to develop a young plant outside of your tank or pond, place it in a jar with appropriate substrate and water conditions. 

Wrapping Up

Jungle Val is an excellent choice for novice aquatic gardeners. These plants are forgiving and will survive a few ‘rookie mistakes.’ Many experienced aquarists also love them for their ability to tolerate difficult fish that other plants cannot.

With the right care, Jungle Val will improve your tank’s health and give it a gorgeous, lush appearance.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...