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Parrot Feather Complete Care Guide (Updated: )

Parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is a fast-growing, adaptable, and extremely invasive aquatic plant species.

This luscious green plant grows nicely in freshwater aquariums given the proper circumstances. It is a subtropical species that flourishes best in warm water and requires little maintenance, making it an ideal aquatic plant for beginners.

There are numerous distinct species of Myriophyllum, but the most popular species is the parrot feather type that was imported to Europe in the 1800s from Central and South America.

It is currently one among the world's top five most invasive plants. It is a resilient plant that can tolerate a variety of water conditions and thrives with minimum maintenance in the majority of freshwater aquariums.

Continue reading "Parrot Feather Complete Care Guide (Updated: %year%)" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) for further detailed information.

Useful Information About Parrot Feather

  • Family Name: Haloragaceae
  • Common Name: Watermilfoil
  • Origin: South America
  • Color: Light green
  • Size: 3-5 feet tall
  • Growth Rate: Moderately fast
  • Care Level: Beginner-friendly
  • Lighting: Moderate to high
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical, and temperate water temperatures
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Supplements: CO2 and fertilizers are optional
  • Placement: Background, foreground
  • Propagation: Spreads by floating pieces of rhizomes
  • Compatibility: Other foreground plants

Parrot Feather Appearance

Feathers from parrots are green with a little blue hue. It comprises of four to six feathery whorls that develop from the stem and occasionally protrude through the aquarium’s water surface.

In the spring, the adult plant produces tiny white blooms at the base of its freshly growing leaves. However, blossoming parrot feathers are an uncommon phenomenon. This plant is more likely to bloom when kept in optimal circumstances for several years and has flourished in the aquarium.

Feathers on parrots may either grow above or below the water’s surface. When the plant is entirely submerged in water, emergent leaves and stems will begin to develop above the waterline. The parrot feather plant may assist to provide more life to an aquarium and is highly appealing.

This plant can resemble a thick carpeting plant with a variety of dark green leaves and stalks when it gets completely submerged. The tall and skinny stems can reach a height of five inches. Each leaf of the parrot feather plant may grow around 0.5 inches in length and turns a deeper shade of green when exposed to moisture.

Where to Find It?

Due to the fact that parrot feather is classified an invasive species in some states, several local fish stores are prohibited from selling this plant.

In places where this plant is not declared invasive, however, you may find it at a number of local fish stores that offer aquatic plants. This affordable plant is not unique and is readily available at pet stores and on websites selling live plants.

General Care

It is simple to maintain the parrot feather plant in your aquarium, as it does not require any special fertilizers or additional CO2.

This plant should only be placed in an aquarium in which the nitrogen cycle has been completed and the water conditions are optimal.

High amounts of ammonia are detrimental to parrot feather because they can induce root and leaf burn, which will cause your parrot feather to slowly melt away and die.

This plant requires water with a nitrate concentration between 5 and 15 ppm (parts per million) and a nitrite and nitrate concentration of 0 ppm. The parrot feathers will utilize the nitrates in the water, which are created by waste and surplus nutrients, for development.

The most important fertilizer for this plant is iron-rich fertilizer with trace levels of other minerals. This can prevent this plant from becoming white due to a lack of nutrients. If you plant your parrot feather in an iron-rich medium, you do not need to apply iron fertilizer.

Parrot feather need routine pruning and trimming of any dead or damaged leaves or stems. This helps maintain the plant’s attractive appearance in your aquarium and promotes plant growth.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup


Feathers from parrots may be stored in aquariums and outdoor ponds. They are also capable of growing in both aquatic and dry conditions. In the natural, parrot feathers are often found in shallow, slow-moving bodies of water, such as lakes, canals, ponds, and streams.

It can grow in all depths, although it appears to develop more rapidly in deeper waters. The minimum tank size for parrot feathers might range from 10 to 20 gallons, depending on the size of the plant when it is first introduced.

Tank Conditions

It appears that parrot feather grows best in water temperatures between 60 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears to flourish in aquariums with somewhat alkaline conditions, including a KH range of 3 to 8 and a pH range of 6.8 to 8.0. This plant is a freshwater species, however it can tolerate slightly alkaline conditions up to 4 ppt.

Tank Setup

It can thrive in aquariums with natural illumination if the aquarium is near a window, but it appears to grow best with artificial lighting.

This plant may also grow under moderate illumination with a light bulb between 5000K and 7000K. Certain species, such as Myriophyllum tuberculatum, require a little greater light intensity.

Planting Tips

Feathers from parrots can float in an aquarium or be planted. Whether it is planted or let to float on the surface of the water, this plant need nutrients in the water to develop and thrive. The roots should ideally be placed in soil, quartz, or a sandy substrate.

If you wish to cover the roots of your parrot feathers with substrate, you can also use a root tab to promote growth and provide the plant with essential nutrients.

In a process known as fragmentation, wherein the roots proliferate, parrot feather develops, although it can also spread through subterranean stems. Additionally, you can remove a stem from the plant, and roots should begin to grow from the severed root to generate a new plant.

Benefits of Having Parrot Feather in Your Aquarium

Hiding Place for Tank Inhabitants: This plant’s thick whorls and stems provide excellent cover for fish and invertebrates living in the aquarium.

This can help the residents of the tank feel more safe, and it can also assist bullied fish hide from other fish.

Helps To Improve Water Quality: The growth of parrot feather requires nitrates, which helps remove them from the water column and improves the water quality for fish and invertebrates. Parrot feather helps to oxygenate the water and contributes to the aeration of an aquarium during the day.

Safe Spot for Fish to Lay Eggs: Most species of fish will consume their eggs once they have been laid, however parrot feather can give a safe place for fish eggs to adhere, allowing them to be concealed from predators.

Depending on the size and thickness of the parrot feather, it can provide a secure hiding spot for the fry once they hatch.

Concerns About Parrot Feather

There is worry that mosquitoes prefer to deposit their eggs near these plants if their leaves are floating on the water’s surface. This might lead to an increase in the amount of mosquitoes entering your home, which can be a nuisance.

If you have this plant growing in your pond, it can potentially become a more apparent issue. Some fish species (koi, goldfish, and guppies) like eating mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes that settle on the water’s surface.

Since parrot feather is an invasive plant, it grows swiftly and should be maintained away from streams to prevent it from invading your region’s water sources and competing with native species.

First, ensure that your state authorizes the cultivation of parrot feathers, as this plant’s fast growth can be detrimental to native plant species.

Additionally, parrot feather requires a great deal of nitrates and nutrients from the water, which might lead other plants to compete with it for resources, particularly if the aquarium has a low bioload and is not fertilized.

Final Thoughts

When cultivated properly, parrot feathers will flourish in optimal conditions with ample sunlight, nutrients, and clean water. The dark-green foliage look fantastic in planted aquariums and may help bring vitality to aquatic environments.

This plant is highly adaptable and resilient, making it ideal for novices to cultivate in their aquarium with a variety of fish and invertebrates.

You will discover that parrot feather grows more quickly than other aquarium plants, and you may need to trim them more frequently to prevent overgrowth.

Thank you for reading “Parrot Feather Complete Care Guide” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org). We hope this article is helpful to you.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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