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There are several variants of Bolbitus that i have kept over the years. One that had very thick rhizomes, tall stiff "stems" that would reach the top of a 22" high 125g tank. The leaves were very erect. Folks from the Northeast may remember this plant. I originally obtained mine from Karen Randall in the early 90's. Also know to aquarists in the BayArea; it was frequently offered at the SFAS auctions during the late 90's. (Maybe it is not even B.heudelotti!).

There is at least one other variant which has more delicate rhizome and stems; its leaves tended to bend and sway with the current. I seem to recall that it only grew 6-10" tall. I obtained this much smaller plant in the early 1980's. In the same tank, it never grew as large as the "tall" variant. When i sent some to Karen, I seem to recall learning that it was uncommon among the NEC crowd. Since then this smaller variant has become relative common. Probably more than one clone. Unfortunately, i lost mine during my recent move.

I am looking for some of the "small" variety. Of course, as with most plants, environment can also change morphology, but only to some degree. We know how variable are Java Ferns (Microsorum). No reason to believe that is not also the case for African Water Fern. I dont think it has received nearly the same attention.

Most likely many imports of Bolbitus have occurred over the past 25 years. I am trying to figure out how many variants may be circulating and how much a factor is aquarium environment.

APC's plantfinder lists it at 18". Lets hear how tall are the Bolbitus that you currently keep. If possible, please provide pictures of the entire plant, its leaf shape lying on a piece of white paper and changes you recall since you acquired it. Also helpful is the shade of green (some are very dark) to further help document the different versions. Finally, try to remember from who you obtained the plants to help establish the lineage. Tank conditions would be helpful, but I can't guess what the most important factors might be (KH&GH?). thx, Neil.
 

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There are atleast two varients IMO floating around in the hobby. One is the dark green / really tall kind. The other is the 'short form', with lighter colored fronds, and the edges of the 'leaves' are not sharply serrated - but rather rounded. I suspect there is yet a third variety, which is also short, but has fairly light green leaves as compared to the other two - but that may be due to growing conditions - can't be certain.
 

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Lets hear how tall are the Bolbitus that you currently keep. If possible, please provide pictures of the entire plant, its leaf shape lying on a piece of white paper and changes you recall since you acquired it. Also helpful is the shade of green (some are very dark) to further help document the different versions. Finally, try to remember from who you obtained the plants to help establish the lineage. Tank conditions would be helpful, but I can't guess what the most important factors might be (KH&GH?). thx, Neil.
The Bolbitis that I currently keep gets to about 11" or so. I think it came originally from David Lim, which he sold as 'mini' Bolbitis. The reason I'm not certain is that I had another Bolbitis in one of my tanks that I had gotten from somebody else and they have gotten mixed somewhat. I seem to remember the Bolbitis I got from David was fuller towards the base of each frond and into the stem than what you see here. Maybe it's changed over time.

My Bolbitis is a light green, and KH and GH of tank is 90 ppm. This has been growing in a CO2 supplemented tank and 2.4 wpg of T5HO light.



 

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I was always told this plant is not cultivated commercially, but all the plants sold commercially have been wild collected and exported from west Africa. So are these variations cultivated or in the wild? I thought the difference in color and size were simply do to growing conditions and those that are collected, wild, emersed grown. A large amount of Anubias and Bolbitis come into this country thru big trans shippers who import fish and plants from west Africa.

I'll give an example: I planted Bolbitis that had a very thick rhizome with two very dark green leaves that were about 15" tall. Over the course of a year it grew out to be a bushy plant with leaves light green in color and about 6" tall maximum. The rhizome grew out smaller pieces that were quite skinny. The large leaves eventually died off. The plant came from an African importer. My water is soft, 7.2 ph, low light, strong current with a power head. I have since chopped up the plant and sold it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A large amount of Anubias and Bolbitis come into this country thru big trans shippers who import fish and plants from west Africa.

....I planted Bolbitis that had a very thick rhizome with two very dark green leaves that were about 15" tall. Over the course of a year it grew out to be a bushy plant with leaves light green in color and about 6" tall maximum. The rhizome grew out smaller pieces that were quite skinny. The large leaves eventually died off. .
It seems reasonable that a lot of commerical Bolbitus comes from Africa. I know that Oriental and FAN do not grow it. What RH is describing is the transformation in appearance between emersed and submersed culture that we see many/most plants. In his case the plant changed from large to small.
As i said in my initial post, there are variants of this plant that are very large in submersed culture too.
On the other hand, a very large amount of Bobitus that is circulating thru the hobby are plants grown by aquarists that have keep the plant for years, even decades. For example, large bags of it are typically seen at RAS and probably other aquarium society auctions.
--N.
 

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I know that Oriental and FAN do not grow it.
I was going to say that, but I didn't know if anyone would believe me! FAN imports a lot of plants, but before they sell it they try to increase what they imported by two or three fold by growing it out and propagating. Some plants take too long for them to do that. To what extent they do that with Bolbitis I do not know. They only have the plant periodically, not throughout the whole year. I wonder if Tropica cultivates it? So the plant definetly does not have intentional, induced variants by nurserys, right? Different variants of Java fern come from different parts of Asia. Does B. heudelotii grow anywhere off the continent of Africa? Any African islands? I thought it was restricted solely to west Africa.

On the other hand, a very large amount of Bobitus that is circulating thru the hobby are plants grown by aquarists that have keep the plant for years, even decades. For example, large bags of it are typically seen at RAS and probably other aquarium society auctions.
Yeah, Tom Barr used to give away bag fulls. They were pretty large.
 

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Thanks David. Perfect response. The collective documentation from the APC will help us learn something new about this important plant. If you happen to know the pH (or CO2 concentration)that may also be helpful to describe the carbonate chemistry.
--Neil
? I'm not David, David sold me the Bolbitis.

The pH of my tank is 6.02.

HTH
 

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Does B. heudelotii grow anywhere off the continent of Africa? Any African islands?
Not that I'm aware of...

I thought it was restricted solely to west Africa.
Nope, found in "Tropical and Subtropical Africa, from Ethiopia West to Senegal and South to Northern South Africa."
 

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Sorry for the necromancy. I'm wondering if any of the smaller or finer-leafed variants mentioned here, like the one in Nevermore's post, are still around in the US hobby, or if new "mini" variants are in circulation. Pics would be much appreciated.
 

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Hi Veneer,

When I first got into the hobby 9 years ago the Bolbitis I got was dark green and grew to the top and then some of my 24" tall aquarium. I'm pretty sure that was the original B. heudelotii. In October of 2011 I purchased from Ghazanfar Ghori (post #2 in the APC thread) the 'short form' he refers to. It is indeed different from the B. heudelotii I first grew. This species puts out much shorter stems than B. heudelotii and they seem to grow mostly horizontally rather than vertically.

Bolibitis 'short form'
 

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There are mini bolbitis(bolbitis babyleaf) and cuspidata in circulation at the moment. Both could be the same plant but I'm not sure. I know babyleaf is common on eBay and it does grow submerged but takes quite a while to transition and grow. The fronds reaches only a few inches tall. As for cuspidata, I have no experience on.
 

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Thanks. Those are actually not African B. heudelotii or similar but Southeast Asian forms, supposedly B. heteroclita (which I find less interesting visually - but that's just my personal preference). Some discussion of how they do submersed here.

There are mini bolbitis(bolbitis babyleaf) and cuspidata in circulation at the moment. Both could be the same plant but I'm not sure. I know babyleaf is common on eBay and it does grow submerged but takes quite a while to transition and grow. The fronds reaches only a few inches tall. As for cuspidata, I have no experience on.
 

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I purchased it under the name Bolbitis heudelotii difformis/baby leaf/mini and still see many places selling it under the epithet, heudelotii. I never suspected it to be incorrect; thanks for clearing things up.

I recall seeing that thread a while back and after re-reading it, I have a different experience than some of them regarding growing it submersed. I have it for ~11 months now submerged in a low tech tank and don't see any signs of it browning/dying. Just grows excruciatingly slow.
 

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This plant is near impossible to find now. It took me five months of going through every plant site and seeing that around May of 2018,stocks in the USA were dried up. I was actually sold by two different vendors the worthless "difformis" a plant that only dies fast or slow underwater. It was sold as the real B.heudelotii..BEWARE! I also tried overseas..Confiscated! Three strikes.
I finally bought some- very dark green -from the great Han Aquatics.
Sellers are on ebay now naming their price for this plant,and shipping doubles the cost. If it's the real thing? Be glad to have even that. I would be very careful you don't shell out near $40 for "difformis"!
 

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Everywhere I read say that bolbitis is easy. I tried a couple time and both died slowly. The plant just wouldn’t grow, and heavily covered with bba. I have CO2, medium light, slightly alkaline water, and temp in the high 70s. My Java fern, Anubias, Buce are doing fine, but not bolbitis. What environment bolbitis thrive?
 

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Tiger,if you really got the "difformis'? Than that's par for the course. Its really a plant that has no place in the hobby. I've seen Co2 tanks by pros..and "difformis"..was down to its last piece of stem.
As a matter of fact,you wont find a single Google/Internet photo of difformis thriving in an aquarium..all are just newly placed ( and newly submerged) plants. I was sent two..and the sellers didnt want them back. As of now,they are both fading away when all other plants are doing well to thriving.
I've only had the TRUE B.heudelotii for a few days..but its looking good. No rot in any leaf. Where some plants just wont adapt to submerged without Co2,the true Bolbitis will since it grows submerged in habitat.. "Difformis" and "Trifolia" are not found submerged.

Bolbitis heudelotii that are doing best I notice are in high flow tanks..water is making the fronds wave. So,I placed mine where the big pump's outlet washes over them a few feet away. Its a big tank with a big pump so..a few feet is close enough.
 
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