They could also be called "the classics," as they have given great pleasure to both veteran and novice aquarists for generations. Some are of particularly interest to beginners, as they are not only easy to cultivate but also inexpensive.
They are mainly stemmed plants which provide cuttings without any difficulty and grow rapidly provided they are given the appropriate level of light. Some are species that adapt to different types of water, others are more suited to a regional aquarium.
Acorus (Araceae, Asia)
The Acorus genus, native to temperate and cold waters, is widely distributed outsid its original breeding grounds. It will not tolerate temperatures over 22°C and is therefore exclusive to temperate aquariums. These plants reproduce by dividing a rhizome between the buds. They are generally paludal (marsh plants) and are equally suited to aquaterrariums and garden ponds, although they will also survive totally submerged. Acorus gramineus
There are two varieties of this species. The biggest, the green acorus, grows to a height of 30 cm; the smallest, the dwarf acorus, at around 10 cm, is ideal in foregrounds.
The sweet flag or muskrat root is found in Europe. As it can grow to a height of over 1 m, it is reserved for garden ponds.
Bacopa(Scrofulariaceae, southern United States, Central America)
These hardy plants, with their paired oval leaves, can be made to flower in an aquarium, but taking cuttings is the best way to propagate. They prefer water that is neutral or slightly acid and not too hard, and are best planted in groups, with small spaces between their stems.
The hardy water hyssop tolerates temperatures as low as 20°C, but will not stand those above 24-25°C. Size: 30 cm.
There is more space between the leaves than in the above species. The snowflake hyssop grows quite slowly and is very easy to keep but it requires good lighting. Size: 30 cm.
• Cabomba aquatica
Ceratophylls can be found all over the world, but only one species is common in aquariums.
Ceratophyllum demersum The water sprite is found in Europe and Central America, though this temperate water plant can adjust to tropical aquariums. It is well suited to tanks with goldfish or garden ponds, where it can sometimes grow in profusion. It is easy to cultivate, although its stem breaks easily. It does not have any true roots and finds it difficult to establish itself in the substrate; it therefore has to be "wedged in" by rocks or branches, or float on the surface. It is easy to take cuttings from the main stem, or from side shoots. It is relatively indifferent to the hardness and pH of the water, but it does require strong lighting. Size: 30-40 cm.
Cabomba (Cabombaceae, southern United States, South America)
Some fish, such as South American Characins, take advantage of the fine foliage of the cabomba to lay their eggs, while other partially herbivorous fish graze on it. These plants need good lighting, water that is not too hard, and a more or less neutral pH. For reproduction take cuttings from the side shoots, or from the top.
If the light is weak, the water cabomba spreads out on the surface of the water. It grows quickly, unless the water is lacking in carbon dioxide; this means that you must avoid circulating it too vigorously. Size: 30-40 cm. Cabomba caroliniana
More robust than its cousin, the fish grass or water shield can tolerate temperatures of 20°C but its soil must be fairly rich. The form of its leaves depends on the conditions under which it is cultivated. Size: 30-40 cm.
• Cabomba caroliniana
Elodea and Egeria (Hydrocharitaceae, cosmopolitan)
These are known as water pests, on account of their tendency to proliferate. Under an intense light they produce a great deal of oxygen. They put down roots but can also live afloat, preferably in hard, alkaline water.
Originally from North America, Canadian pond weed has been introduced into temperate regions all over the world, although only the female has been present in Europe since the middle of the 19th century, and it can obviously only reproduce through cuttings. It is a plant for temperate aquariums or garden ponds, with an optimum temperature range of 15-20°C. Egeria densa (formerly Elodea densa)
Both sexes of the dense elodea were, similarly, introduced into Europe, although it is highly unusual to find reproduction through flowering in an aquarium. It is suited to temperate aquariums, but can tolerate temperatures of up to 25°C. Size: 30-40 cm.
Eleocharis (Cyperaceae, tropical regions)
These plants, resembling tufts of grass, live in swamps, and are therefore suited to aquaterrariums, although they can also be cultivated in aquariums under strong lighting, in hard, alkaline water.
When the stems of the spiked rush reach the surface, they spread out and do not emerge above it. Vegetative multiplication occurs with the help of runners or the division of a clump. Size: 20-30 cm.
Heteranthera (Pontederiaceae, Central or South America)
These plants are totally aquatic, requiring intense light and a fairly rich soil. They are sensitive to any deficiency in iron. The water must be slightly alkaline and moderately hard. Heteranthera dubia
The yellow-flowered heteranthera can be reproduced with cuttings, a process that is facilitated by adventitious roots on the stem. The stem is quite fine and can float on the surface of the water. Size: 40 cm. Heteranthera zosterifolia
The stargrass can live totally submerged. It multiplies through cuttings of the side shoots; it can also grow as a creeper. Size: 30 cm.
Hygrophil (Acanthace South-East
More than 10 species are found in the aquarium trade, although the existence of different varieties and the modifications made to scientific names can lec confusion. They live half-submerged, but can tolerate i in a moderately hard acid or neutral water. They need light to grow well, and should be planted in groups, b with sufficient spaces between the stems. It is easy to 1 cuttings: just chop off the head of the stem as soon as it reaches the surface.
Hygrophila corymbosa (formerly Nomaphila) The giant hygro tolerates temperatures as low as 15°C. The presence of adventitious roots is an advantage when taking cuttings. Size: 30 cm. Hygrophila guianensis (formerly H. salicifolia) The willow leaf hygro, recognizable by an almost square stem, is sensitive to excessively hard water or a lack of iron. When the light is insufficient, the leaves a the bottom of the stem fall off. Size: 30 cm. Hygrophila dlfformis (formerly Synnema triflorun Considered a weed in its native region, the water wis prized by aquarists for its pale color and finely serrated leaves, although when these first appear their form is less delicate. This plant tolerates fairly wide ranges of hardr and pH. When the leaves drop off the stem, young sh< appear in their place. Size: 30 cm.
• Eleocharis vivapara, a species closely related toEleocharis minima
Hygrophila difformis Hygrophila corymbosa
Limnophila (Scrofulariaceae, South-East Asia)
Its fine foliage is much appreciated by certain fish which lay their eggs on it or, depending on the species, munch on it. These amphibian plants can live submerged, and when they reach the surface of water they spread out on top of it. At this point cuttings should be taken and transplanted. Good lighting is essential. A lack of iron causes their leaves to turn yellow. Limnophila aquatica
The aquatic ambulia grows well in soft or slightly hard and acid water, providing it has an adequate supply of mineral salts. Small shoots from its base are perfect for cuttings, although removing the top is equally effective. This ambulia must be planted in clumps, with the stems slightly separated to take advantage of the light. Size: 30 cm. Limnophila heterophylla
The heterophyllous ambulia is less tufted than the above, but its tips must nevertheless be removed regularly. Size: 30 cm.
• Limnophila heterophylla
Ludwigia (Onagraceae, tropical regions)
Ludwigs thrive on light, iron, and fairly rich soils. Cuttings are taken by lopping off a stalk under the adventitious roots. Another option is to cut off the top of the plant, which avoids the loss of any of the lower leaves. Size: 30 cm. Ludwigia ascendens
The totally aquatic large-petaled ludwig can sometimes appear above the surface. It tolerates a wide range of hardness and a pH of around 7. It is especially recommended for beginners. Ludwigia alternifolia
As its name indicates, the leaves of the alternate leaf ludwig are arranged alternately along the stem, and not directly opposite each other. It prefers soft, acid water. Size: 30 cm. Ludwigia brevipes
A fairly resistant plant, the false lusimakhos tolerates hard, alkaline water and temperatures slightly below 20°C. It can therefore be used in a temperate aquarium. Size: 30 cm. Ludwigia repens
The rampant ludwig is found in both a green variety and a reddish variety. Both require good lighting but are considered hardy. Size: 30 cm.
Myriophyllum aquaticum •
Myriophyllum (Haloragaceae, North and South America)
Around a dozen species from this genus, both amphibian and totally aquatic, constitute some of the most popular aquarium plants. Their soft foliage is appreciated by fish with herbivorous tastes, while others use it to lay their eggs. The aquatic milfoils thrive on light and relatively hard water, although this must be clear, as small suspended particles get trapped in the foliage. The main method used for reproduction is that of taking cuttings. Myriophyllum aquaticum
In contrast with the other species, the water milfoil prefers soft, acid water. Cuttings are taken by removing the top or the tiny branches. You can achieve a stunning decorative effect by planting a copse of these plants. Size: 40 cm. Myriophyllum spicatum
The spiked milfoil is a hardy, fast-growing plant that needs fairly hard alkaline water. It must be pruned regularly to ensure that it remains sturdy. Several other species of milfoils are available on the market, some with reddish hues; they all require good lighting. Size: 40 cm.
Rotala (Lythraceae, South-East Asia)
The leaves of these species are reddish in color, especially on the underside, but their shape varies according to the setting. They grow in soft, acid water, under strong lighting, and need plenty of iron. The formation of adventitious roots makes it easy to take cuttings. They can produce a striking visual effect if they are planted in a grove, as they stand out well against green plants.
The coloring of the giant red rotala varies according to the intensity of the lighting, but, as is name suggests, red usually sets the tone. It grows quite quickly, but pruning encourages the growth of lateral shoots which can be used for cuttings. Size: 30 cm.
The upper face of the leaves of the round-leaf rotalia is green, the lower one a reddish color. When the leaves emerge from the water they turn completely green. It is beautiful in clumps, though you must leave sufficient spaces between the stems when planting. Size: 30 cm.
Sagittaria (Alismataceae, North and South America, and Europe)
The leaves of these paludal plants that are above water are arrow-shaped, while the submerged ones take the form of thin ribbons. Take care not to push the rhizome too far into the soil: the plant can be held in place by a curved piece of wire. Vegetative multiplication occurs by means of seedlings formed on a runner, which can took root on their own, or with the help of the aquarist. The runner can then be cut off.
There are several varieties of the narrow leaf arrowhead, which differ in the length and width of their leaves. They all prefer moderate lighting, soft or slightly hard water, and an approximately neutral pH. Size: 40 cm. Sagittaria sagittifolia
The amphibious arrowhead is quite common in calm waters in Europe, especially in garden ponds, where it resists the winters, although it prefers sunny areas. Size: 40-50 cm in water.
HOW TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN SAGITTARIAS AND VALLISNERIAS
Sagittarias and vallisnerias can be distinguished by the tips of their leaves.
The longitudinal veins do not reach the tip. The transversal veins are perpendicular and numerous.
The longitudinal veins reach the tips. Few transversal veins, sometimes at oblique angles.
PLANTS FOR THE MORE EXPERIENCED
Vallisneria (Hydrocharitaceae, Asia)
The vallisnerias are often confused with the sagittarias. Like them, they reproduce through runners, need plenty of light, water that is not too hard, and a slightly acid pH. Vallisneria asiatica The eel grass is found in several
/varieties. Its leaves are spiraled. It can exceed 40 cm in height, which makes it ideal for decorating the sides or rear of an
¡aquarium. Size: 40-50 cm. Vallisneria spiralis
/and not the leaves. The spiraled eel grass is very popular in aquariums and reproduces actively under good conditions. Size: 40-50 cm. Vallisneria gigantea Its leaves, which can grow to 1 m in length and 3 cm in width, rest on the surface of the water. The giant vallisneria prefers intense lighting and a slightly enriched soil. It is obviously only suitable for large aquariums. Size: 1 m.
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