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MICROSORUM PTEROPUS

Hardiness: Very Easy
Light Needs: Low
Plant Structure: Moss / Fern
Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Microsorum
Region: Asia
Location: Southeast Asia
Size: Height: 15-30cm (6-12in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes

Description:

Microsorum pteropus, known far and wide as 'Java Fern', can be found growing in a myriad of environments on its native continent of Asia. This universal aquarium plant is available for sale in most every establishment that sells aquatic plants, though the cultivars M. pteropus 'Tropica' and M. pteropus 'Windelov' (so named for the aquatic plant nursery Tropica and its owner) are less frequently encountered.

M. pteropus is one of the easiest aquatic plants to cultivate, and as such, it is an indispensable starting point for the aquatic plant novice. This ease of maintenance combined with its ability to root on rocks and other surfaces that are typically unavailable for planting have assured this species' longevity in the hobby. Medium light is sufficient for optimal growth, though higher and lower values are tolerated well. Like plants from the genus Anubias, M. pteropus features a rhizome from which both leaves and roots develop. This can be anchored to a rock or a piece of driftwood using threads or other materials; after a few months the roots will take hold and the binding media can be removed. If the aquarist desires to plant this plant in the substrate, he or she should take care to bury only the roots and not the rhizome. Though exceptional fertilization and CO2 supplementation are not necessary, good circulation is essential for good growth. Emersed cultivation within a paludarium or terrarium is easy, as long as the planting surface or substrate is kept fairly moist.

The propagation of M. pteropus is merely a matter of either dividing the creeping rhizome with a knife and reattaching or replanting the severed piece, or removing the adventitious plants that periodically form on the leaves and securing them.

With its distinctive ability to grow on otherwise unplantable surfaces, the possible applications of M. pteropus in the aquascape are virtually unlimited. A favorite place for this species is growing on a piece of wood in the middle or rear area of the aquarium. Another popular practice is the planting of a corkwood background with this species, where it proves an excellent backdrop for other species growing in the substrate.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Nikolay All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2004 by Nikolay All Rights Reserved.