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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Rhizome
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Lilaeopsis
Region: Central/South America
Location: Brazil
Size: Height: 3-6cm (1-2
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Lilaeopsis brasiliensis has been in the hobby for years as one of the few plants commonly available for the foreground. It is produced by all the major nurseries of the world and can be obtained through most any local fish store that stocks live plants. In its native habitat of Brazil, L. brasiliensis can often be found growing along the shores of streams in both emersed and submersed states. Despite its common name 'Brazilian micro sword', this grass-like plant is more closely related to the genera Limnobium and Hydrocotyle.

L. brasiliensis is not too difficult to grow, given enough light and CO2 supplementation. This hardy species will even grow in dim lighting. However, it will form dense, beautiful foreground lawns only when supplied with bright, unobstructed light (3wpg or more). A rich substrate encourages faster, taller growth --so it may be more desirable to have a lean substrate, depending on the size and height of the aquarium. As with most all plants, this species benefits from the regular addition of nitrate, phosphate, potassium, and micronutrients through the water column.

This herbaceous plant grows along a long rhizome in a somewhat similar fashion to Hydrocotyle verticellata, except that the leaves are grass-like and grow in more densely. To create a micro sword lawn, insert small bunches of this plant in a checkerboard pattern across the substrate. In a few months, the plants will grow in and form a shaggy carpet. As this plant is very invasive, runners that grow into neighboring plant groupings will need to be regularly pruned off. These clippings can be used for propagation in other tanks if desired.

L. brasiliensis, due to its low stature, is an excellent grassy foreground alternative to the more common Eleocharis spp. (hairgrass) and Echinodorus tenellus. It can also be used to provide vertical accents in Glossotigma and Riccia lawns.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Roger Miller All Rights Reserved