I bought a couple of Java Fern plants when I first started this hobby a few years ago. I knew very little about having an aquarium, so took the suggestion of the pet store owner that they were easy to look after. What really sold me was the strange way they reproduce themselves. A mature plant will start growing a miniature version of itself at the tip of a leaf. The leaf usually withers and the new plant drops off. The new plant does well attached to a rock or piece of driftwood with a piece of fishing line until the roots attach themselves. It attaches better to a rock with a rough surface. Occasionally a plant will anchor itself to gravel. At present, I still don't have any sophisticated CO2 but I do add some liquid fertilizer occasionally. I don't have a lot of light either; just a 20 W fluorescent for a 105 liter tank. The plants grow slow but steady and look great. I have had a few get quite large; about 30 cm in all directions. My Pleco loves to hide under it. What's nice about them too, is you can lift them up, rock and all, vacuum the gravel underneath during a water change, then put them all back when your through. Or try it in a different spot to change the look of your tank. Highly recommended for beginners and pros!
Very nice plant. I find that with the right amount of fertilizers and light, you can get the nice deep green that you often see in photos of master aqauscapers. I have yet to see what CO2 will do to the plant. It is very undermanding.
I had made a paludarium with the idea of having a few Java Ferns in the bottom, hoping they wouldn't mind the low light levels. They didn't, but the largest did partially die when the water level was lower than the leaf was tall. I transplanted them into my girlfriend's 40 liter tank and within a week the large half dead leaf had small leaves forming on the underside. Several small (3 cm) leaves I planted also had begun to grow new leaves from their bases. I couldn't believe how long they survived in the less than ideal conditions of my paludarium, then took off immediately when they got in the higher light levels of my girlfriend's tank.
This is an amazingly hardy plant. I had this plant in an unlit 40 liter tank for more than a month, and it still proceeded to reproduce! Great plant that grows very quickly.
Java ferns are great! They live in both tropical and coldwater and do amazingly well with no effort in either climate. We threw our excess java ferns into the pond, from our tropical tank, along with some Java moss. When it came time for tank #2, we simply scooped them out the pond a year later to find double the amount!
I've kept Java ferns under two very different lighting systems. Under 10000 K lighting at 3 WPG, with CO2 levels hovering around 20 ppm, the ferns pearled up nicely and grew well, but not too fast. I have since switched the lighting to a much softer 1.5 WPG @ 3200 K, and it was under these new conditions that my Java fern reproduced for the first time, though I haven't noticed any other differences in the growth or color of my two plants.