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BLYXA AUBERTII

Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: Medium High
Plant Structure: Rosette
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Genus: Blyxa
Region: Old World tropics
Location: Asia, Africa, Australia
Size: 16 inches
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: No

Description:

Blyxa (bly-za) aubertii is a true aquatic plant found throughout Southeastern Asia, Africa, Japan and Australia. It is found in a wide variety of habitats from rice paddies to swiftly-flowing streams. Although it has been in the hobby for quite some time, it has inexplicably not become very commonly encountered. At present, it is usually only available through trade or through specialty retailers. Blyxa echinosperma was previously considered a species unto its own but is now recognized as a variety of B. aubertii.

Growing B. aubertii is not especially difficult. While it does appreciate high light the conditions found in ‘high tech’ tanks, it is rather forgiving and not prone to any particular deficiencies. As long as it is given abundant carbon dioxide and subjected to a well-balanced fertilization program, it should do well. When given an open and unobstructed location along with a great deal of iron, B. aubertii can take on a rather strong maroon coloration. One thing that should be kept in mind is that this species is somewhat delicate and should not be subjected to overly strong currents or boisterous fauna. Otherwise, it can become rather tattered.

Propagation of B. aubertii can be accomplished in two ways. The first is simply to let the plant mature and divide on its own. New specimens can be gently separated and planted in an appropriate place. The second method of propagation is somewhat more interesting: When provided with ideal conditions, it often produces numerous tiny white flowers on the tips of modified leaves. While it is possible to pollinate them manually, that’s not necessary, as the flowers are perfectly capable of pollinating themselves. The horizontally oriented and vertically stacked seeds can be seen through the walls of their encasement. When they have changed from a light green to a brownish color, it is time for sowing, which can be accomplished either in a separate container or in the tank itself. In either case, a fine grained substrate under completely unobstructed light is a must. Seeds will sink on their own and should be placed where they will not be blown away by current or disturbed. Plantlets can be moved when they have reached about two inches in height. Alternatively, the plant can be left alone to populate the tank through seed, although that is definitely less productive.

Owing to its somewhat smaller size under strong light, B. aubertii makes a good alternative or compliment to Cyperus helferi and other grass-like plants. That is not to say that it is a compact plant like B. japonica. When mature, it can easily grow over 16 inches (41 cm) tall and 8 inches (20 cm) wide at its base; plan for its eventual size accordingly. B. aubertii is a superb background plant for aquariums of about forty gallons and up and a mid ground plant for larger tanks. In the opinion of the author, it goes quite well with ferns like Bolbitis heudelotii.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2006 by Bryce Millar All Rights Reserved.