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Hi chipster55,
You can trim the leaves to any height you would like (just leave enough for the plant to continue to grow), you may get a brown edge where you cut. The tops of the leaves that you cut off will not grow if planted and should be thrown out.
 

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Hi chipster55,
I just let my val grow, but my tank is 24" tall so the leaves don't block the light. If your val gets so long that it blocks the light or effects the circulation in the tank, then I would trim. I trim with very sharp scissors, and I don't get brown edges at the cut.
 

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Hi chipster55,
They were probably aerial or feeder roots, some plant types seem to generate them more than other types. The roots tend to form at the leaf / stem junction. They look unsightly, I just remove them when they form. My Ludwigia repens tends to form feeder roots but my Rotala 'Nanjenshan' and Bacopa australis does not.
 

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chipster55,
I just pull mine off while holding onto the stem. The roots I get usually pull off fairly easily. Sometimes they grow back, sometimes not. The roots seem to occur more frequently on stems I have trimmed.
 
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