A Complete Care Guide of Pogostemon Helferi

Pogostemon Helferi
By Garrison Hickles Updated

If you are looking for a freshwater plant for your home tank and are confused with the millions of suggestions on the internet, we are here to help you out. One of the fastest-growing freshwater aquarium plants out there, Pogostemon Helferi stands at the perfect gateway of not being too easy to rear, neither too challenging. As such, most aquarists can try their hands on them. And to help you do just that, we are bringing before you with their comprehensive care guide. Follow through.

Key Specifications of Pogostemon Helferi

Before taking each of their aspects in detail, we think it is of utmost importance that you take a look at some of their key specifications first. The following table might come in handy for that same purpose.

Scientific NamePogostemon Helferi
FamilyLamiaceae
Care LevelModerate
Size2-6” (5-15 cm)
Growth RateFast
Tank Size5 gallons
LightingStrong
Water Conditions74-86° F (23-30° C), 5.5-7.0 pH,

Overview

Often used as a foreground plant, Pogostemon Helferi belongs to the Lamiaceae family. This family is also very commonly referred to as the sage, deadnettle or mint family. You would often notice a distinctive scent in most of the members of this family. Their versatility has made them extremely popular among aquarists across the globe and they are viewed as ideal additions to both aquariums and planted tanks.

The term ‘dao noi’ originates from Thailand and it translates to ‘little star’ in English.

Origin & Habitat of Pogostemon Helferi

Native to Thailand, Pogostemon Helferi can be found in various parts of Myanmar and India. They are tropical plants by nature and you can find them growing both in and out of the water. However, when they grow out of the water, they still grow close to a body of water.

The water bodies where you would mostly find them are that of kales, creeks, and rivers. These plants don’t have to be completely underwater. Since the levels of water shift due to seasonal changes throughout the year, you would sometimes find them to be completely underwater, and sometimes to be submerged in the water.

This speaks volumes about the versatility of Pogostemon Helferi as you can find it adapting to various different environments. This is another reason why they are so widely popular across the globe.

Appearance of Pogostemon Helferi

The aesthetic beauty that Pogostemon Helferi brings to your freshwater tank is unmatched. It is one of the smallest freshwater aquarium plants that you can host. A great thing about this plant is that not only it looks great if you keep it by itself, but it can also work extremely well with other plants since it can complement them well enough.

Appearance-wise, they are pretty close to Dwarf Baby Tears and Glossostigma elatinoides.

The leaves of this plant grow outwards from a central point and the vibrant green colours of the leaves add to their mesmerizing appearance. In addition, not only do the leaves have a waxy coat on themselves (which adds to the luscious look) but they also curly and long, which adds to their overall beauty.

Usually, this plant will grow to a length that would range anywhere between 2-6” (5-15 cm). As such, they are excellent options to be kept as foreground plants. Be mindful of not using too strong lighting since that would hinder their overall growth and would create a situation where the leaves won’t be able to grow as long as they otherwise should.

On the other end of the spectrum, you would notice them stretching themselves too much (more than usual) towards the source of light when you use too dim of a lighting setting in your aquarium.  This, in turn, would result in a situation where their shape will get altered from their usual star-shaped pattern.

Benefits of Pogostemon Helferi

There is no per se major benefit of Pogostemon Helferi but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any benefit at all. Being foreground plants, they add an aesthetic element to your freshwater tank, which makes it more pleasing to the eyes of the spectators.

In addition, they help in maintaining the ecological balance inside the environment of your freshwater tank. This, in turn, creates a healthy place for your pet fish to thrive in. Furthermore, there are many pet fish and non-fish pets who are naturally shy and are always on the lookout for hiding spots. This plant can act as a great hiding spot for them.

Having this plant in your tank also makes them feel that they are living in their natural habitat. This contributes towards them having a stress-free life. Many non-fish pets can build their nests in and around this plant too.

It also can play a vital role in the breeding process since many aquarium plants lay their eggs on the leaves of aquatic plants. The leaves of this plant can serve as excellent resting spots for their eggs.

So, as you see, the benefits that this plant provides are plenty and it can really serve your aquatic pets well if you keep them in your tank.

Tank Requirements for Pogostemon Helferi

Providing an environment that reflects the natural habitat of Pogostemon Helferi as closely as possible is extremely important since it helps in keeping them healthy. As such, keep the following things in mind.

Tank Size

A great aspect of this aquatic freshwater plant is that it is extremely small in size. As such, you can even keep it in an extremely small tank that measures 5-gallon.

Substrate

It is extremely versatile too. Therefore, you can choose your style of substrate for it. But clay would work best since it would help you in planting the roots of this plant in a much easier and quicker way.

Lighting

When it comes to lighting, you need to be careful of not using too strong lighting since that would hinder their overall growth and would create a situation where the leaves won’t be able to grow as long as they otherwise should.

On the other end of the horizon, you would notice it stretching itself too much (more than usual) towards the source of light when you use too dim of a lighting setting in your aquarium.  This, in turn, would result in a situation where their shape will get altered from their usual star-shaped pattern.

To put it more simply, we recommend you to place your to Pogostemon Helferi with direct access to aquarium light. You also need to ensure that you keep it away from anything that would cast a shadow on the leaves.

Cleaning Method

Cleaning the tank on a regular basis would ensure that you plant stay healthy and fit. The leaves would be more radiant and the growth rate will invariably be better. Ideally, you should clean the tank on a monthly basis.

For cleaning the tank, you need to wipe the interior walls of the tank with a soft cloth that is dipped in lukewarm water. For cleaning the substrate and ornaments, you can put them under running tap water. Use an algae-scraper to get rid of algae. Please remember not to use any products that are chemical or soap-based since their residues are hard to get rid of and it would negatively affect the health of your plant.

Water Type for Pogostemon Helferi

Next up, you need to focus on the type of water you need to use for the freshwater tank where you host Pogostemon Helferi. So, follow through.

Temperature

This plant prefers slightly warm water since it is tropical by nature. So, try to keep the temperature of the freshwater tank you host it in between 74-86° F (23-30° C). You may use an aquarium heater and thermometer to keep a watch on the temperature.

pH Level

It lives in slightly acidic water in the wild. Therefore, make sure the pH level of the freshwater tank that you host it in stay between 5.5-7.0. Use a pH testing kit to maintain the optimal pH level.

Water Replacement

Regular water replacement is a healthy habit that you need to follow always. Remember, never to replace the entire water content of your freshwater tank altogether. Doing so would kill off the beneficial bacteria that are needed for maintaining the ecological balance of the tank. So, be careful.

You can replace 10 per cent of the tank water every seven days or you can replace 30 per cent of the tank water every 15 days. Else, you can even do it on a monthly basis by replacing 50 per cent of the water.

One thing that you need to bear in mind is that whenever you are replacing the water, you need to make sure that the parameters of the new batch of water (temperature, pH level) should be same as that of the existing batch of the water.

Plantation Procedure Pogostemon Helferi

This plant needs the supply of a lot of resources, which means you need to commit if you want to rear this beautiful aquatic plant in your freshwater tank.

First and foremost, you need to select a well-lit area of your tank where you can plant it. You would need the assistance of carbon-dioxide and fertilizers in case your plant starts looking pale, yellow or overall unhealthy.

It should also be kept in mind that this plant requires a substantial amount of lighting. Therefore, be sure to provide it proper lighting at least 8-10 hours in a day. We suggest you purchase an adult plant that already has a strong root system. This would ensure it the best chance at surviving in your freshwater tank.

If you notice your plant melting, meaning the leaves falling down after getting weakened which mainly happens due to the struggle of adjusting to a new environment, then you can either cut off the dying sections. This would ensure the regrown portions adapt well to the new environment.

Be careful not to dispose of the cuttings here and there since it might become an invasive plant in your nearby environment. Either bury them completely or compost or bleach them.

Compatibility of Pogostemon Helferi

Fortunately, you can keep this plant with a wide range of tankmates, which means it is an excellent option to be kept in a community aquarium.  Even if you keep it with fish that are known for nibbling (unless it is super aggressive), then it won’t be an issue since it grows pretty fast enough. However, don’t keep it with species that are known for uprooting aquatic plants. It can survive well enough with other aquatic plants as well most notably Dwarf Baby Tear and Glossostigma elatinoides.

Suitable Tankmates for Pogostemon Helferi

Some of the most ideal tankmates that you can keep this plant with are as follows:

  • Silver Shark
  • Molly
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Rosy Barb
  • Neon Tetra
  • Yoyo Loach
  • Angelfish
  • Otocinclus

Basically, any peaceful fish or invertebrates (small peaceful shrimps and snails) can be kept with this plant.

Unsuitable Tankmates for Pogostemon Helferi

Avoid keeping them with species that are known for nibbling leaves too aggressively or uprooting the plants. Most Crabs and Crayfish, therefore, are unsuitable tankmates for Pogostemon Helferi.

Summary

Pogostemon Helferi is one of the most sought-after freshwater aquatic plants that you can bring home. Of course, we won’t deny that it requires a bit of commitment from your end but at the end, but it is worth the effort because of the multiple benefits it brings to the table and also it is aesthetically pleasing.

As long as you regularly clean the tank and provide it with the supplies it needs, then it shouldn’t be a problem to grow this plant healthily in your freshwater tank. Planting it is also very easy. It is also quite sturdy by nature and has a fast growth rate.

Care Guide of Similar Freshwater Aquarium Plants

If you want to find out more about other freshwater aquatic plants, then you should browse through the following articles: