Elatine Hydropiper Beginner's Guide

Published on August 5, 2019
Elatine Hydropiper Beginner's Guide

Have you ever wondered how those aquarists pull off a nice and neat carpeting plant in their tanks? The secret is using the micro plant, Elatine hydropiper.

This carpet plant is the perfect aquatic version of a lawn. They have the fresh green-colored tiny leaves that make an ideal underwater ground plant.

You’ve also probably heard of how easy they are to maintain. Still, there is a lot more to know about growing the beautiful Elatine hydropipers.

Read on to learn all about the plant from their history down to how consistent CO2 injections play a significant role in keeping them alive and pretty.

A Short History

Also known as eight-stamen waterwort, Elatine hydropiper traces its roots from the colder waters of Europe and East Asia.

In 2010, the Anubias plant company brought the plant into the trade. They gathered the aquarium species of the plant in Italy where it only grows in the Northwestern ponds, rivers, and marshes.

Two species of Elatine hydropiper are popular in the Italian and Mediterranean regions, too. They are the Elatine macropoda and Elatine gussonei.

The E. macropoda goes all the way back in the almost ancient aquarium literature. E. gussonei has only proved itself as a tank-cultivated plant recently.

These two species brought the Elatine hydropiper forward into the aquascaping world. Many aquarists have developed a liking for the plant’s moderately fast growth.

Before 2010, many aquascapers struggled with fast-growing carpeting plants as they would have to trim them regularly. Now, the Elatine Hydropiper has a wide distribution in Europe, (even reaching Northern Scandinavia and Siberia) and  Northern China.

How it Looks

elatine hydropiper carpet

Elatine hydropipers have several look-alike plants, and you mustn’t just confuse them. Most plants mistaken for Elatine hydropipers either grow too fast or have leaves that don’t look that good in many tank types.

To avoid picking the wrong carpeting plant, here are the physical characteristics of the Elatine hydropiper:

Stem

  • Soft
  • Whitish when buried in the soil
  • Greenish in water

Leaves

  • Whorled
  • Elliptic
  • Stay smaller and closer to the substrate

Flowers

  • Tiny
  • Single in each leaf axil (main stem where the bud develops)

Petals

  • 3 or 4
  • Thin, somewhat transparent
  • Whitish for submerged flowers
  • Mostly pink for aerial flowers

Elatine Hydropiper Care

Elatine hydropiper is a tissue culture plant, which means they go through a rigorous process before introducing them into the aquarium. We bet you didn’t know about that pre-aquarium stage right there until now.

Allow us to give you the complete guide for this process and a few other maintenance points for successful growth.

Pre-Aquarium Process

When you buy an Elatine hydropiper, it comes in a cup where it has been propagated, in-vitro style, in a laboratory. The reason is to ensure that the plant doesn’t carry any pests into the tank.

Once you’ve received them, you should immediately remove them off that cup. After that, rinse off the liquid or gel they’re planted into.

Massage the roots in a light manner until the gel completely goes away. Allowing the roots to be free will enable you to spread the plant around the aquarium as recommended.

Difficulty

Elatine hydropiper is a demanding aquatic plant. Many manuals define the challenge of planting and caring for this plant as either medium to hard or just demanding.

The plant needs a lot of things when placed in the tank to make up for what its natural habitat can provide. Check out the other sections below to find out more.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of the Elatine hydropiper is medium, which is the average. Still, it means that the aquarist caring for it should regularly watch and trim the plant.

It’s not as demanding as plants with high growth levels, but average growth depends on nourishment. If your Elatine hydropiper is well-nourished as it should be, then it might have growth spurts you’d need to maintain often.

Lighting

He growth rate of the elatine hydropiper may be average, but it demands a high amount of lighting. The average light is 0.5 watts per liter.

Water and Temperature

The Elatine hydropiper grows at a cold temperature, ideally 16C to 26C. The water condition should be soft, and it has to have the pH-value of 4, 6, or 8.

It’s essential to maintain these water and temperature conditions right from the beginning. It takes a while for a tissue culture plant to get used to new environments, so acclimating them to the mentioned states as soon as possible eases their growth in the tank.

Carbon Dioxide and other Requirements

Like terrestrial plants, aquatic plants need CO2 for nourishment. The Elatine hydropiper is quite the CO2 junkie, requiring high amounts of it regularly.

Without sufficient exposure to CO2, the plant will rapidly turn yellow or wither. Professional aquascapers suggest the use of CO2 injections rather than retractors or other methods.

CO2 injections have an accurate aim compared to other methods. This is important if you want to keep a nice and smooth tank carpet.

Propagation

Trimming the top of the plant is a big part of propagating the Elatine hydropiper. Shortening the dwarf plants regularly will ensure that the mother plant grows healthy leaves.

Once the plants start multiplying, they’ll be away from the mother plant. That means they would have to rely on the root system.

The root system developed with proper nutrition and maintained trimming.

Aquascaping Advice

As mentioned above, Elatine hydropiper is the ultimate floor plant. However, it also looks good as a foreground for large aquariums.

Since the color is fresh green, it blends naturally with different shades of rocks, wood, and other plants. The best aquascaping tip we could give is for you to take advantage of how the E. hydropiper matches all tank ornaments, and just put them all in the tank.

That way, you get to decorate your underwater scene to the fullest.

Additional Tips

The Elatine hydropiper, as described, is grown in-vitro. So you can rely on it to be free from unwanted organisms that can harm your fish, but you still have to remember one thing.

Not all shops that sell this plant does the in-vitro growth the proper way. The best way to determine whether they are doing it right or not is by checking the cup and the gel it’s planted into.

A trustworthy shop will go into details about the security of the cup and gel they use, so make sure to look for this quality, too. Elatine hydropiper isn’t high maintenance after all, given the information we’ve provided above.

Sure, it needs proper care, but you’ll be surprised by how therapeutic the process can be. We found the whole trimming and styling processes relaxing, so we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy it as well.

Featured image by Tropica

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