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Hardiness: Difficult
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Eriocaulaceae
Genus: Eriocaulon
Region: Australasia
Location: Australasia
Size: Individual stem width: 6-16cm (3-6in)
Growth Rate: Medium
Can Be Grown Emersed: No


Eriocaulon setaceum is a native of southeast Asia and northern Australia, where it grows in still to running waters. In the U.S., it is an uncommon stem plant, occasionally imported into the country from Oriental Aquariums in Singapore.

E. setaceum is a challenging plant to grow in the long term. Like Tonina fluviatilis and Syngonanthus spp., this species seems to prefer an acidic environment and soft water (4dKH or less). Lighting should be intense (3 watts per gallon or more), and CO2 injection is a necessity. Water column fertilization should be balanced, with careful maintenance of nitrate (5-15 ppm), phosphate (1-2 ppm), and iron/micronutrient levels for best growth. Some hobbyists choose to set up special aquariums just for Eriocaulon spp. and T. fluviatilis because of their special needs.

This species of Eriocaulon is a tall, needle-leaved stem plant with white leaves. The vertical growth puts out a profusion of side shoots, making the plant look very bushy. It is slow to gain in height. Prune only when absolutely necessary, as this plant does not respond well to it. Topping and replanting seems to work best. Replant only the top two inches of each stem for best results, as starting with trimmings that are too tall will result in the lower portions becoming rooty and ratty.

E. setaceum is a great fine-leaved, green accent or filler plant in the midground and background. Because of its moderate growth rate and unique foliage, it is an excellent candidate for a Dutch style layout.

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

Photo #2: US and International Copyright 2008 by mrkookm All Rights Reserved.