One comment on the Java fern as a community plant. I have kept them for a number of years and they are as near as possible to a totally indestructible plant; mine just keep growing and reproducing. I have had to throw away bushels of them. They do seem to be extremely greedy in sucking out nutrients available for other plants, especially iron. I had Cryptocoryne sp. (probably C. becketii) that were enormously successful in reproducing under a variety of conditions. That is, until I introduced Java fern and in a few months all the Crypts had died out. I now find that to keep the Cryps alive in the presence of the Java fern, I must add massive amounts of iron just to keep the Cryps alive, yet not flourishing and reproducing as they normally do. Just an observation on my part.
A great plant to grow in your aquarium - especially good for low light tanks, it will still thrive in them. It has a great, really distinct look. It is known as an easy to grow, tough plant, and it is - but take into account the following. When I first bought Java ferns I didn't have much luck with them - one after another the leaves of the plants would all brown off and shrivel away and the Java fern would die on me. To my great disappointment this kept on happening - I thought to myself, this is supposed to be one of the easiest to care for plants? Everywhere I read, the advice was these plants are impossible to kill - not for me! Maybe I should forget about planted tanks after all? That is until after searching the web I got advised to add some calcium and magnesium to my water. The General Hardness of my tap water is very low - 1 or 2 degrees GH. After raising the GH of my water by adding calcium carbonate and magnesium sulphate, the latest in a long line of (expensive) Java ferns that had practically turned to a crisp in my aquarium took off (if you can use that phrase for slow growing java ferns!). What a difference! These plants are still growing strongly lush and dark green 3 months later now.
I keep Java Ferns in a 106 liter aquarium with 15 watts of light, no CO2, and a plain gravel substrate. They do fine. Once I buried a leaf I thought was dead, only to find it again a month later. It was vivid green and had a baby fern growing off of it. These plants are incredibly hardy, and require no care at all. My fish love them.
This plant has instincts that took me by complete surprise. I had bought two rhizomes with three leaves on each one. These leaves stood about 30 cm tall. They slowly started browning and dying when, in a matter of 2 days, all of the leaves started producing daughter plants. I thought this was amazing because it's as if the plant knew it was dying so in a last ditch effort to keep its ancestry alive, it produced as many daughter plants as possible. Some leaves even had two or three daughter plants developing on them.
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