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Bolbitis heudelotii
African Water Fern

 Age of Aquariums > Aquarium Plants

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bolbitis1.jpg (24kb)
Photo Credit: Shawna McGregor-King

Name: Bolbitis heudelotii
Care GravelLight
Origin: African Continent
Hard None Any


African Water fern is a wonderful plant. While the care is listed as HARD on this site, it is one of the easiest plants to grow. If you can get Java fern to grow, you can get this plant to grow. Just put it in a spot with a decent water current (yes it loves a current, not a high one but a current nonetheless) and leave it alone, it'll grow given time and if left alone. It always looks awesome. If you have a high iron content in your water the leaves will turn more brownish. If you have a high light level the leaves will be more translucent green. Low light will result in darker green leaves.

Contributed by Nathan

Twice I have been very successful at dissolving this plant in my tank. It is really a great looking plant, with big, lush, divided leaves and a marvelous, deep deep green color. My tank is a 200 liter, more or less with a West African theme. Kribs, debaui cats, yellowtail congo tetras, and, well, a big pleco. Water pH is around 7.5 and slightly on the hard side (maybe my problem) though I cut my well water with rain or RO. I have 4x40 W fluorescents of different natures, substrate fertilization, and semi-regular dosing with an aquafertilizer, but I couldn't keep this plant alive.

Contributed by Keegan Smith

The first plant I ever put in my tank was a bolbitis on a piece of driftwood - every new fish owner has to have a plant on a piece of driftwood! I had no idea what the plant was, and didn't care about it or for it at all. But it grew ... once these plants get going you will be supplying the whole district. Though it is true that they shouldn't be planting IN the gravel, they are very easy to keep. All I do is cut runners of my parent plant, place them where I want them, and sprinkle some gravel, ten or so pieces, over the top. This will hold them in place until the roots penetrate. Note that only the tips of the roots penetrate the gravel, while the rest of the root system remains clear. If you have lively fish you may need to replace a bit of gravel until the plant is rooted. Cuttings can be grown up without being rooted at all! They can just float around the bottom of the tank.

Contributed by Rachael

I've got a small 60 L tank with a compact flourescent on it. I've had bolbitis in my tank now for at least 4 years, it's pretty much taken over the tank. I did mount it on a piece of drift wood up high in the water column where the incoming water hits it first thing. I really like it, and don't find it hard to grow as long as you pay attention to placement. I do have a few Otocinclus cats in there, as well as a bristlenose pleco, which leave it alone. All other inhabitants are local natives, given that I work in a fishery in Knoxville, USA. The banded pygmy sunfish love to hide in it, as well as the cypress darters, slackwater darters and warrior darters.

Contributed by Crystal

I have been growing this beautiful plant (and sharing it) since I bought it about 18 years ago. It will readily root on driftwood or grow in the gravel. Until now however, I didn't know what the name of it was or where it came from. I guess I was just lucky with it all these years!

Contributed by Boni Trombetta

I've not had much luck at all with aquarium plants other than Java fern. So when I saw this related species I bought it (although it was fairly expensive) and just tossed it in my tank. The supposedly hard to grow plant has set out many new branches of deep green leaves and flourishes in spite of my amateur aquarium skills.

Contributed by a visitor

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