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Java Fern, Microsorum pteropus, is a beautiful addition to the freshwater, planted aquarium. A native of southeast Asia, Java Fern is highly variable with several different geographic varieties that vary in leaf size and shape. It is often found attached to roots and rocks in nature. Growing around 8 inches tall, with creeping, green rhizomes, Java Ferns are well suited for not only planted aquariums, but also those that contain cichlids and other large South American fish as well as fish that are normally detrimental to plants, on account of its relatively bitter taste.

Cultivation in the aquarium is not problematic as long as the rhizome is tied to rock or driftwood and not planted directly into the substrate. It can be easily reproduced from small adventitious plants which are formed on the older leaves. These new plants should be attached to a rock or driftwood with a thin wire, rubber band or fishing line until new anchor roots have been formed. Once new rhizomes have formed these can be taken off and planted onto more rocks or driftwood. It can also be done with cotton thread, as this dissolves in water after about two months.

Java Ferns will do well if planted in moderate light as well as in a shaded area. It is amphibious, meaning that it will grow either partially or fully submersed. Provide at least 2 watts per gallon of light supplied by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. This particular species will thrive in an aquarium with an alkalinity of 3-8 dKH and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Surprisingly, Java Ferns can withstand slightly brackish conditions as well. Java Fern will look great planted singly, or in groups if there is enough room in the aquarium.



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