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BACOPA AUSTRALIS

Hardiness: Very Easy
Light Needs: Low
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Plantaganaceae
Genus: Bacopa
Region: Central/South America
Location: Brazil
Size: Individual stem width: 2-4cm (1-2in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes

Description:

Though it is a relatively new addition to the aquarium plant hobby, Bacopa australis will most certainly remain a popular choice due to its ease of culture. Though at first glace this South American native resembles a larger version of Micranthemum umbrosum, it is far easier to maintain. Very little data is available concerning the native habitat of this species, since it was discovered and named only recently (2000). Although it is not yet widely available commercially, it can usually be obtained through other hobbyists.

B. australis is a bush-forming stem plant featuring an intense green color, which, under high enough light, will creep across the substrate much like Hemianthus glomeratus. Low light, however, seems to be sufficient for growth. The addition of macro- and micronutrients is not entirely necessary, though this species will respond to such with stronger color and thicker stems. The same can be said for CO2 supplementation, though, if it is employed, the growth rate of this species (which is very rapid and unproblematic to begin with) usually improves. The richness of the substrate appears to be of little importance to B. australis.

B. australis can be pruned much like other bush-forming aquatic plants�with scissors. Care should be taken to prevent the bush from becoming too thick, however, since the lower stems can melt away from lack of light. Propagation involves the removal of superfluous stems from strongly branching shoots and the replanting thereof�these will soon evolve into bushes of their own.

The use of B. australis within the aquascape is relegated somewhat to the middle and front areas of the aquarium, where its bush-like appearance contrasts well with foreground species and reddish plants. This plant is beginning to gain popularity proportionate to its availability�the author would not be surprised to see this species in place of other creeping foreground plants in the near future.

Photo #1: Submersed US and International Copyright 2004 by Oliver Knott All Rights Reserved

Photo #2: Emersed US and International Copyright 2004 by Oliver Knott All Rights Reserved

Photo #3: Submersed US and International Copyright 2004 by Dam Nguyen All Rights Reserved