Bolbitis heteroclita, commonly known as the water fern or creeping fern, is a species of aquatic fern that belongs to the family Dryopteridaceae. It is native to various regions in Asia, including China, India, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries. Bolbitis heteroclita is a popular choice among aquarists and plant enthusiasts due to its unique and attractive appearance.
The water fern has a distinctive growth habit with long, creeping rhizomes that give it a creeping or trailing appearance. The fronds of Bolbitis heteroclita are dark green and have a leathery texture. They are pinnate, meaning they have a feather-like appearance, with multiple leaflets or pinnae arranged along a central axis. The pinnae are oblong or lance-shaped and have serrated edges, giving the fronds an elegant and ornamental look.
When cultivated in aquariums, Bolbitis heteroclita can grow both submersed and emersed. In submersed conditions, the fronds are typically shorter and more compact, while emersed growth can result in taller fronds with a more open and flowing appearance. The water fern can attach itself to rocks, driftwood, or other aquarium decorations using its rhizomes and can also be planted directly in the substrate.
Bolbitis heteroclita thrives in moderate to high lighting conditions, and it appreciates nutrient-rich water. It is a versatile plant that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, including slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH levels and temperatures between 68°F and 82°F (20°C to 28°C). However, it is sensitive to excessive fluctuations in water chemistry, so maintaining stable conditions is important for its overall health and growth.
In terms of care, Bolbitis heteroclita benefits from regular fertilization with a comprehensive plant fertilizer and supplementation with carbon dioxide (CO2) if available. Trimming the fronds can help maintain its shape and prevent overgrowth, although it generally grows at a moderate pace. It is important to note that the water fern is a slow-growing plant compared to some other aquatic species.
In an aquarium setup, Bolbitis heteroclita can provide a natural and visually appealing focal point. Its lush, green fronds add a touch of elegance and softness to the aquascape, and its trailing growth pattern can create a sense of depth and movement. It can be used as a foreground or midground plant, or even as a centerpiece if allowed to grow taller.
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