Java Fern Aquarium Plant Microsorum Pteropus
Scientific Name: Microsorum Pteropus
Care Level: beginner
Growth Rate: slow
Tank Placement: mid to background
Lighting Requirement: low
Ideal Temperature: 70°-83°F (21.1°-28.3°C)
Water Hardness: 2-15 dKH (33.3-250.1 ppm)
Java fern (microsorum pteropus) is an aquatic plant native to parts of Southeast Asia. It was first described by Dutch-German botanist Karl Ludwig Blume in 1833.
It grows along the banks of freshwater rivers and streams in Thailand, Malaysia, India and China.
It is a true aquatic plant, meaning that it can grow and thrive while completely immersed in water. It can also be grown with the leaves sticking out of the water, but the rhizome and roots have to stay underwater at all times or the plant will dry out and die.
Java fern has three basic parts:
Leaves – these can be anywhere from ¼ inch to 12 inches long. In the natural form of the plant, the leaves are bright green, long, narrow and pointed
Rhizome – rhizomes look kind of like dark green roots, but they’re actually stems. They grow along the surface of whatever the Java fern is attached to.
The leaves grow out of the top of the rhizome and the roots grow out of the bottom. The rhizome is what absorbs most of the water and nutrients the plant needs.
Roots – dark brown, fuzzy roots grow off of the rhizome. But instead of absorbing nutrients, these roots mainly function to anchor the plant to something, like a log or rock, and keep it from being swept away in the current.
Java fern is an epiphyte, meaning its roots attach it to something, like a piece of driftwood or tree roots, instead of rooting itself in sand or soil.
Most plants draw water and nutrients from soil through their roots. However, Java fern works a little differently. It pulls these directly from the water column, instead of from underground.
Java fern reproduces by a process called apomixis. Instead of producing seeds that need to be fertilized, Java ferns clone themselves.
Underneath the leaves of mature plants, tiny baby plants, called plantlets, start to grow. Each plantlet is a perfect replica of the adult plant.
The plantlets develop roots and several small leaves. Eventually, they break off from the adult plant and get washed downstream until they can attach themselves somewhere and start a life of their own.
Some plants may not be in their full aquatic form upon arrival and stem plants may not have any roots yet. You may see some loss of leaves within the first couple weeks while it transitions to its aquatic form. This is perfectly normal as long as the structure remains intact.
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