Name: Nymphoides aquatica
Origin: Southeast USA
I can't say much about this plant other than it is very interesting and seemingly very hearty. I bought a small banana plant as a joke because my girlfriend thought it was obscene, and it has lived in my planted livebearer tank for about six months so far. I moved it a few times, it doesn't seem to like much water movement. For about a week it was in my loach tank, when I upped the water flow in the livebearer tank, and the loaches feasted on the leaves (at least I think they did, at any rate, no leaves left after a week!). I found a spot for it in the livebearer tank where there is little water movement, and the leaves grew back in two weeks! One tough little plant. I like the way it seems to re-right itself after a week or so after one of my male swordtails knocks it over during mating attempts. It grows little shoots that serve as tripods of sorts.
Banana plants are quite easy to keep, but do require a lot of light to grow well. They look quite good in the foreground of my community livebearer tank. After some time, shoots usually appear. These grow towards the surface of the water and look like miniature lily pads. They really are quite cute, if not untidy. After letting these pads grow to a nice size (maybe 4 cm in diameter?) detach them from the main plant, leaving about 5 cm of stalk to the pad. After some time, little roots appear at the end. The banana plant can thus be propagated in this way. Banana plants don't last that long, losing all its bottom leaves soon after the first long shoot appears. It will die after it has sprouted a few shoots. It's definitely a good idea to cultivate these plants if you don't want to keep buying them after they die.
With it's heart shaped leaves, the banana plant is both elegant and tenacious. It usually is an easy plant to grow and to take care of. It rapidly adapts to most water conditions. In my tanks, it grew very fast sending new white roots reaching for the substrate. I made the mistake of burying the bananas too deep. This caused the plant to send lilies to the top of my tank taking up a large amount of available light. Unburied, the banana sends leaves up 8-12 cm high every 4 to 5 days! Also, it will grow replica plants like the famous Val family. In my opinion, the banana plant is great for the beginner as well as the extreme hobbyist.
I bought 3 of these plants all at once in amazement of their looks. With medium water flow and strong light in the tank, they flourished. In the first day some of the shoots and leaves had grown as much as 25 cm! The plants grew towards all of the avaliable light, in some areas totally restricting light flow to the area below. I found that I had to prune regularly to keep them under control. Excluding the fact that the plant took over the surface area of the tank, the fish didn't eat them and I found that they were very hardy little things.
This is such a hardy plant. My 2 Dojos and the 4 cories I have packed a pretty hard punch to the poor little thing. They played with it as a ball, to the point where it had only 2 leaves, and was tucked in a little notch in my tank. Then about a month later I found it and then realized it had developed a root! The root came from the top, where the stems come out. Now it is growing at top speed. Recently, it grew a fourth leaf. I had to put a plant weight on it to keep it in place and to deter the Dojos from terrorizing it. This is a really cute plant. I would recommend buying it in 3's and 4's. I had a friend who did that and they seem to be doing well. They look prettier that way too.
The "banana plant" is a great pond plant! Just take a 10 cm pot, fill it with clay soil and put in the pond. When temperature stabilizes at 10°C or higher it will grow leaves up to 10 cm and will grow beautiful yellow squash-like flowers. Then just put it back in your fish tank "pot and all" when the temperature goes below 7°C until next season. All in all, on a scale from 1-10 I would rate this an 8.