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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Phrymaceae
Genus: Glossostigma
Region: Australasia
Location: Australia
Size: 2-3 cm (1-1.5in)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Glossostigma elatinoides, one of the smaller aquarium plants, is a prostrate herb that can be found growing in swamps and inundated areas in Australia. It can be distinguished from the closely related G. diandrum in that it has four stamens within the flower instead of two. In the 1980s, Takashi Amano discovered this (then) uncommon, unpopular plant while reading an issue of European Aquarium Style Magazine. He imported the plant into Japan through the nursery Dennerle. With these imported specimens, he created the first Nature Aquariums with low-growing carpets of Glossostigma. Now, G. elatinoides is one of the most popular foreground plants in the world.

This small aquarium plant is fairly easy to grow in aquariums with decent lighting and CO2 injection. When lit well (at least 2 watts per gallon with power compact lighting, preferably more) and planted well (see below), this plant will respond by quickly carpeting an aquarium with prostrate runners. When poorly lit, G. elatinoides will respond by growing upright. For fastest growth and vigor, this plant prefers regular additions of nitrate (5 ppm or more), phosphate (0.5 ppm or more), and iron into the water column. This plant will respond to low nitrate by yellowing and prematurely losing its older leaves. Phosphate limited situations will result in slow growth and a dark green color. When it is not getting enough iron and traces, transparent patches will appear on the leaves.

When one first receives it, Glossostigma is usually in its emersed form. Plant the stems in groups of three to four and allow two weeks for new submersed growth. Pull out the bunches and snip off the submersed growth with a pair of scissors. Take a stem with a pair of tweezers and run it horizontally under the substrate until it is completely buried. Clear away some substrate until a couple green leaves are visible. The plant should begin to grow horizontally and cover the foreground in a matter of weeks if well lit, provided with ample CO2, and nutrients.

G. elatinoides is usually planted in the foreground where it forms a low growing, dense carpet�typically in Nature Aquarium/Amano style layouts. This plant can also be used as a foreground accent. Individual runners form excellent larger leaved accents when growing along a Riccia foreground.

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

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

Photo #3: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ricky Cain All Rights Reserved.