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Hardiness: Easy
Light Needs: Medium
Plant Structure: Floating
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Genus: Limnobium
Region: Americas
Location: Central and South America
Size: Width: 1-8cm (.5-3in)
Growth Rate: Very Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Limnobium laevigatum, or Amazon Frogbit, is a floating plant that is reminiscent of a large duckweed (Lemna minor). It can be found growing wild in lakes, ponds, and slow rivers all over Central and South America. Since this species is far more tolerant (most notably of extreme temperatures) than standard frogbit (L. spongia), it is becoming increasingly more common in cultivation.

The growth habit of L. laevigatum is similar to that of most other floating plants. The floating rosettes send runners out into the water, the ends of which form juvenile plants. If left in a calm area of the aquarium, a large mat of runners and adult plants can develop very quickly, which in turn can result in the unwelcome shading of plants growing below. Under conditions of strong lighting and good fertilization, as well as a high humidity just above the surface of the water, aerial leaves will develop. CO2 supplementation is often helpful. Flowers are rare in the aquarium.

Propagation is comparatively automatic with this species; no special effort other than providing optimal conditions must be undertaken on the part of the aquarist to achieve more plants than he or she knows what to do with.

Many aquascapers feel that floating plants have no practical use in an aquacape since they only add shade and unsightly roots. It is, however, possible to utilize these attributes quite effectively. The shading element in particular can be useful to create contrasts in different areas of the aquarium or to shade lower-light species in a tank that otherwise is very bright. The elegant roots as well can also be quite decorative.

Photo #1: US and International Copyright 2004 by Loh Koah Fong All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2004 by Loh Koah Fong All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3 Flower: US and International Copyright 2008 by Kris Weinhold. All Rights Reserved.