The Fish Guru

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Dwarf Baby Tears in Your Aquarium

Introduction to Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf baby tears, also known as Hemianthus callitrichoides, are beloved by hobbyists and aquascapers alike for their lush green foliage and tiny bubbles that create an otherworldly underwater atmosphere. These tiny plants are native to rocky riverbanks in Cuba, where they grow in clusters that create a mesmerizing carpet of green.

However, with proper care and lighting, dwarf baby tears can thrive in home aquariums, creating a stunning aquatic landscape. In this article, we will discuss the scientific information and overview of dwarf baby tears, as well as their care level and growth rate.

We will also delve into the tank requirements, such as the minimum tank size, water parameters, and lighting conditions needed to ensure their survival. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of how to care for these beautiful aquatic plants.

Scientific information and overview

Dwarf baby tears are scientifically known as Hemianthus callitrichoides and are a member of the plant family Scrophulariaceae. They are small, stemless plants that grow between 1-3cm in height and are native to the rocky riverbanks of Cuba.

Their leaves are bright green and small, with a diameter of only 2mm, and create a carpet-like effect when grown in clusters. In the wild, dwarf baby tears grow in a wet, marshy habitat required for survival.

However, with proper care and adequate lighting, they can thrive in home aquariums. This is often done in the pursuit of creating a beautifully designed aquascape, with the baby tears creating a lush, natural carpet that often contrast with larger, bushier plants.

Care level and growth rate

The care level required for dwarf baby tears is moderate to high, ensuring that they receive enough nutrients to maintain growth and prevent decay. They require a specific set of environmental conditions ranging from temperature, pH, kH, and hardness.

The plant is known for having a slow growth rate, making it best for hobbyists who are patient and willing to care for it over time.

Tank requirements for Dwarf Baby Tears

One of the most critical factors when caring for dwarf baby tears is providing the correct set of environmental conditions. Before purchasing these plants, it is essential to have a basic understanding of tank requirements.

Minimum tank size and water parameters

The minimum tank size for growing dwarf baby tears is 10 gallons. So if you have a smaller tank, you may want to consider adding other plants first before you introduce dwarf baby tears to avoid any possible issues.

Additionally, because dwarf baby tears are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, maintaining stable water parameters is critical. These include temperature, pH, kH, and hardness.

Temperature should be between 72F to 78F, pH between 5.0 to 7.5, kH between 2 to 4 dKH, and hardness between 4 to 8 dGH.

Lighting conditions

Dwarf baby tears require moderate to high lighting conditions to thrive and produce those famous tiny bubbles. They are photophilic (light-loving) plants, requiring at least 2-3 watts per gallon of light intensity.

A suitable LED light, high in photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), is recommended to allow for photosynthesis and promote healthy growth.


In summary, dwarf baby tears are a beautiful addition to any aquarium, creating a unique and lush underwater landscape. While they may have specific environmental requirements to thrive, their slow growth rate and photophilic nature make them a fascinating and engaging plant to care for.

With the correct lighting conditions, adequate water parameters, and patience, you can create a thriving ecosystem in your tank to be enjoyed for years to come.

Substrate and Fertilizers for Dwarf Baby Tears

When it comes to caring for dwarf baby tears, selecting the proper substrate and fertilizer is vital for a healthy and thriving environment. These plants have weak root anchorage, which means selecting the correct substrate and boosting fertilization is necessary.

Importance of substrate and types suitable for weak rooting systems

The porous and small-grained substrates are the most suitable for weak root anchorage plants. Dwarf Baby Tears require a substrate that is lightweight so that their roots can grow and anchor themselves, and at the same time, these substrates must act as a source of nutrition to support plant growth.

Some of the most popular substrates that can provide the necessary nutrients for dwarf baby tears include ADA Amazonia, CaribSea Eco Complete, Fluval Stratum, and UNS Controsoil. These substrates are specially formulated to provide essential nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.

Nutrient-rich soils or substrates that offer beneficial bacteria are also great for arranging a suitable environment for dwarf baby tears. In this way, roots have enough nutrients available, and it helps cultivate a breeding ground for helpful bacteria that keep your tank healthy.

CO2 injections and fertilizers necessary for healthy growth

Dwarf baby tears require CO2 to ensure photosynthesis and maintain a healthy and lush appearance. Most planted tanks with dwarf baby tears have CO2 injection intended to boost plant growth.

CO2 injections will assist in keeping up stable pH levels while providing oxygen to your plants. This will enable your plants to thrive and will also prevent spikes in carbon dioxide levels, which can be harmful to your plants and fish.

The second most essential factor for the plant’s growth rate is fertilizer, which brings beneficial minerals and necessary nutrients to maintain proper growth. There are various fertilizers available in the market, such as Seachem Flourish, API Leaf Zone, and Brightwell Aquatics.

As with all fertilizers, follow the instructions for the exact dosing frequency and amount. Fertilizer supplements normally contain all the vital necessary nutrients needed for the plant, including calcium, nitrogen, iron, and phosphorus.

It’s also recommended to use Seachem Flourish Excel or other carbon supplements, which are beneficial since they enhance aquatic life, such as the plants and fauna. These supplements come with organic carbon mixtures that provide CO2 to assist dwarf baby tears.

Maintenance of Dwarf Baby Tears

To maintain the longevity and health of dwarf baby tears, you must address their specific needs regularly. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure proper maintenance:

Importance of supplementing CO2, fertilizers, and iron

The plant’s longevity and health depend on the amount of CO2 and the frequency and correct application of fertilizers and iron supplements.

Maintaining good water quality and sufficient light supply is also necessary for the overall health and maintenance of dwarf baby tears.

Preventing weakened roots and stagnant growth

Dwarf baby tears must be regularly trimmed and pruned to;

Keep the plant in shape

Ensure adequate nutrient supply and healthy growth

Control the growth rate of the plant

Another way to prevent weak roots is by removing any dead or decaying plant material from the tank, such as dead leaves and debris, which can contaminate the environment and serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause more harm than good to your aquatic life.


Dwarf baby tears are stunning aquatic plants that can bring life and color to your aquarium. However, to create the ideal growing conditions that enable them to thrive, it is important to provide the right substrate, fertilizers, and supplements.

Following these maintenance protocols will help you achieve the maximum potential for these plants, keeping them healthy, beautiful, and contributing to lasting longevity in your tank.

Planting Dwarf Baby Tears

Now that you know what substrate and fertilizers to use, you may be wondering how to plant dwarf baby tears correctly. When planting these delicate plants, it is important to ensure that their roots are deeply embedded in the substrate, so they do not float away.

How to plant and ensure roots are deeply embedded in substrate

Firstly, allow the plant to acclimatize to its surroundings for about twenty minutes before planting it. During this time, take the opportunity to ensure the substrate has suitable moisture levels.

Carefully part the carpet, or the patch you intend to plant the baby tears on, then place the clump of plants within the substrate. Ensure the roots spread and are deeply embedded in the substrate.

Then, gently push the substrate back together to secure the plant in place. It is best to plant the baby tears in a shady area of the aquarium for the first week or so.

Doing so will give them the time to acclimatize and root themselves firmly in the substrate.

Propagation of Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf baby tears are slow growers, and as such, expect for full-carpet growth may take several months. To propagate dwarf baby tears, wait for each stem to develop 2-3 leaves, and tiny shoots will appear.

These tiny shoots will eventually grow into new plants, and a carpeted growth will emerge. Be patient during this process as it can take time.

Tank Mates for Dwarf Baby Tears

It is important to select the right plant and fish species for high-intensity lighting to ensure compatibility with dwarf baby tears. Let’s look at some possible tank mates:

Plant species:

Rotala Macrandra: a beautiful, vibrant red plant that can help enhance the color of your tank.

Christmas Moss: an excellent moss that grows on rocks or driftwood. It is easy to grow and requires little maintenance.

Eleocharis Montevidensis: another popular foreground plant that resembles grass and complements the dwarf baby tears nicely. Fish species:

Cichlids: Cichlids are freshwater fish that are larger and more aggressive but can still be compatible with plants such as dwarf baby tears.

Note that not all varieties of cichlids are peaceful fish that complement this plant. Tetras: Tetras are peaceful fish that are perfect tank mates for dwarf baby tears.

They come in a variety of colors and create a vibrant visual contrast with the lush green of the dwarf baby tears. Other peaceful fish species can also complement dwarf baby tears.

Ensure tank mates are not known to cause havoc, disrupt the environment, or damage plants. Ravaging fish species can be very harmful to your dwarf baby tears, as they can eat the leaves and uproot the plant while moving or alone.

Avoid aggressive large-sized fish species or those that are known to distinguish smaller fish within the aquarium community.


Dwarf baby tears are easy to care for and can add a unique and beautiful touch to your aquarium. Ensuring their longevity and health requires selecting the right substrate, fertilizers, and supplements.

In addition, acclimating the plants correctly, ensuring frequent pruning, and selecting the right aquarium companions is essential if you want to create a healthy, balanced environment for your aquascape. By employing these tips, you can ensure that your dwarf baby tears remain healthy, lush, and a vibrant addition to your aquatic environment.

Using Dwarf Baby Tears in Aquarium

Dwarf baby tears are a much-loved addition to any aquarium, and many hobbyists and aquascapers find creative ways to incorporate them into their aquascape. In this section, we will explore how to aquascape with them and how to select healthy plants to ensure the best results in your unique aquatic environment.

How to aquascape and create a lush carpeted effect

One of the most popular ways to use dwarf baby tears is to create a dense carpet within your aquarium. This can be done by planting them in clusters roughly 1-2 inches apart from one another.

As the plants grow and spread, their bright green leaves will interlock, creating an intricate and mesmerizing carpet. To create a more complex and dynamic aquascape, consider pairing dwarf baby tears with a variety of other plants, such as Rotala Macrandra or Christmas Moss.

This combined with a proper substrate and fertilization protocol will help to create a striking and healthy underwater landscape. Creating different heights and textures can add depth to your aquarium and make the habitat more natural-looking, challenging, and engaging for even the most attentive hobbyists.

For instance, you may choose to make some plants a bit taller than others or allow some to grow along the sides of your aquarium or hang from driftwood or rock formations.

How to choose healthy Dwarf Baby Tears

When you make a purchase from your local pet store, you should look for healthy plants with bright green shoots that appear lush. If you see any discoloration, spots, or holes on the leaves, it may indicate an underlying disease or nutrient deficiency.

Be sure to carefully assess the roots as well, looking for creamy-white roots and NO rips or tears. When in doubt, be sure to ask your local fish or pet shop for further assistance and guidance.

If possible, having a knowledgeable staff can be a very helpful bonus in creating a healthy and thriving aquatic environment. Its beneficial to check reviews as well as the experiences of other hobbyists and aquascapers online.

By doing so, you can learn from their experiences and make smarter purchase decisions.


Using dwarf baby tears in your aquarium can create a unique and lush aquatic landscape that is sure to be admired and enjoyed. By learning how to aquascape them to achieve a carpeted effect, with healthy and vibrant plants, and pairing them with compatible tank mates or other plants, you can bring the beauty of the outdoors into your own home aquarium.

Regular maintenance will ensure that the plants remain healthy and vibrant, and be sure to share tips and inspiration with other hobbyists, especially those just starting out with their own aquascapes. In this article, we have explored various aspects of growing and caring for dwarf baby tears in an aquarium.

We have covered the scientific information and overview of dwarf baby tears, their care level and growth rate, tank requirements, substrate, fertilizers, and CO2 injections necessary for healthy growth, as well as maintenance protocols. We have also discussed the importance of selecting healthy plants and how to aquascape for the best effect.

When it comes to aquarium care, understanding the requirements for each plant is essential, and Dwarf Baby Tears are no exception. By following the care protocols detailed above, you can maintain a lush and captivating aquarium while providing a healthy and supportive environment for these stunning plants.

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