Dwarf Baby Tears Care Guide Planting, Growing, & Propagation

Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides) are vibrant, lush green, flowering plants popularly used to create thick foregrounds in aquariums. 

Growing Dwarf Baby Tears requires some skill and is probably best suited for someone with a bit of experience. Use this care guide to assist you in planting your Dwarf Baby Tears, along with the maintenance required to reap the long-term benefits of this unique aquatic plant.

Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides) Overview

Dwarf baby tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides)

This lush green plant has some fascinating scientific facts; read on to explore more about them. 

  • Scientific Name: Hemianthus Callitrichoides
  • Family: Scrophulariaceae
  • Order: Lamiales
  • Genus: Hemianthus
  • Care Level: Moderate to high level
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Maximum Size: 1.2 inches vertically and 4 inches horizontally
  • Water Conditions: Soft, neutral water at room temperature 
  • Lighting: Medium to high lighting levels
  • Propagation: Required to help in the rooting of the plant.
  • Tank Placement: Foreground or free-floating 

Rocky rivers and streams in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica are the original habitats of Dwarf Baby Tears or Hemianthus Callitrichoides. Thankfully, they’ve adapted to life in captivity, so many aquariums can reap the advantages of growing them.

They’re one of the tiniest aquarium plants, growing to about 1.2 inches, with exceptional bright green coloring combined with a soft creamy color of their roots.

The leaves of the plant are only about a millimeter and are oval-round shaped. They also feature long spindly roots that help propagate the carpeting foreground for tanks, as the roots stay anchored in the substrate, absorbing essential nutrients. 

But what’s truly magnificent about this plant is its unique feature of producing tiny bubbles of oxygen that resemble pearls that sit on top of the plant, giving the plant a very magical appearance.

Caring & Growing Dwarf Baby Tears

The below care guidelines ensure that you select the suitable methods for looking after your plant, allowing it to blossom with health and longevity.

Tank Requirements

For these beautiful greens to thrive and blossom, a minimum tank size of at least 10 gallons is best.

Water Parameters

The water parameters below are guidelines for what conditions the Dwarf Baby Tears enjoy.

  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature between the ranges of 68 – 75° F in your tank. This small plant tends to be sensitive to temperature, so you mustn’t overlook this factor. 
  • pH: Dwarf Baby Tears plant enjoys a pH level between 6.0 – 7.5. 
  • kH: Secure the water hardness to be between 1 – 10 dGH.
  • Hardness: This plant enjoys relatively soft water. 

Lighting Conditions

Dwarf Baby Tears are photophilic, which means they can’t sustain growth in dark lighting. Thus you’ll need to provide medium to high lighting, 10-12 hours daily, for this plant to grow healthily.

If you don’t have adequate natural lighting, you can use LED lighting of 40 to 50 PAR. Since Dwarf Baby Tears lie close to the substrate, the light will need to be powerful enough to reach it. 

Substrate and Fertilizers

Dwarf Baby Tears have a weak root anchorage and can take time to root well into the substrate. Thus, when selecting your substrate, look out for porous, small-grained, lightweight substrates as these work better for plants with weak rooting systems.

Opt for nutrient-rich soils such as the Amazonia Aqua Soil or powder. These two have refined grains that help the plant’s roots anchor quickly, enabling faster growth and substrate anchorage.

Dwarf Baby Tears require CO2 injections to maintain healthy growth. It isn’t easy to grow thick carpets and sustain them for long durations of time without using some fertilizer or CO2. You will require about 10-3 mg/l of CO2 and some iron supplements every time you notice the stems of the plant pointing upwards or the leaves turning smaller.

You can use fertilizers like Flourish Excel to speed up growth and supplement with some iron if the plant leaves and shoots start turning yellow. 


You can maintain the plant’s growth by supplementing it every now and then with CO2 injections, fertilizers, and iron to prevent weakened roots and stagnant growth. 

How to Plant Dwarf Baby Tears

These greens take time to grow; once they acclimatize to the tank conditions and lighting, they will start budding. Take small bunches of Dwarf Baby Tears and spread them across the tank’s bottom. Ensure that the roots are deeply embedded in the substrate to stop them from floating away.  

How to Propagate Dwarf Baby Tears

As slow growers, you can give Dwarf Baby Tears a headstart to creating a carpet through propagation. These plants reproduce by releasing shoots from their roots that form a whole new plant. These shoots can be gently cut and placed into another part of the tank to help speed up the carpeted growth.

Tank Mates for Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf Baby Tears require high-intensity lighting, so pair them with plants such as Rotala Macrandra, Christmas Moss, and Eleocharis Montevidensis that also require this. 

Freshwater, peaceful fish such as Cichlids and Tetras would be perfect tank mates for Dwarf Baby Tears.

Larger, ravaging fish such as Oscars or Jack Dempseys may nip at the plant and damage its integrity. 

How to Use Dwarf Baby Tears in Aquarium 

Dwarf baby tears used as carpeting plant in aquascape

These beautiful plants grow in bright clusters that you can use to aquascape your tank to create a lush carpeted effect. You can even allow them to float freely at the top of your tank, blocking some light for tank mates that may prefer subdued conditions for hideouts and breeding.

You can use Dwarf Baby Tears to create a natural aquatic environment by growing them on driftwood and other natural porous materials, giving your aquarium a unique aquascape

How to Choose Healthy Dwarf Baby Tears

You can find these plants in most pet stores, but to ensure you choose healthy ones for your tank, look out for bright green shoots, no rips on the leaves, and many creamy-white roots.

Will You Use Dwarf Baby Tears?

Dwarf Baby Tears are beautiful plants, perfect for aquascaping tanks for the popularly sought-after carpeted effect. The benefits of creating a unique aquarium atmosphere far outweigh the work needed to sustain this beautiful plant.

Remember that these aquatic plants require CO2, high-intensity light, and nutrients to thrive. You’ll need to keep an eye on these 3 factors to ensure your plant sustains long-term growth. 

Christopher Adams
Christopher Adams

Hey there, my name is Christopher, and I've successfully ran freshwater aquariums for the past few decades. The mission of this site is to make it simple for anyone to run their own freshwater aquarium.

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