Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Java Fern for Aquarium Use

Related Articles: Java Fern for Aquarium Use

Related FAQs: 

A beautiful aquarium specimen

Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)<<Most don't eat. B>>    11/24/12
The snails are almost finished devouring the plants.  There's too many...it's too out of control.  The plants were expensive and they're almost all gone.
<These are Java Ferns, which are toxic, so few animals eat them. Fish certainly won't, and generally snails and shrimps leave them alone too. So try and identify the snails. Melanoides, Physa, Physella and Planorbis snails will not harm Java ferns or indeed most other healthy plants (Melanoides, whatever their other faults, won't eat *any* healthy plant of any kind, even seedlings). Nerite snails of all kinds are equally safe. About the only truly destructive snails commonly kept or encountered by tropical fishkeepers are the Apple Snails and their relatives: Pomacea spp. and Marisa cornuarietis. In virtually other situations where snails are "eating" the plant, they're actually eating at dead or dying plant material. Of course there are exceptions for some of the softer plants or for seedlings, where possibly an excessive number of Physa spp. might cause harm. But ordinarily, and especially with something as inedible as Java fern, the question is why is the plant failing not why is it being eaten by snails. For what it's worth, Java Ferns are not as easy to keep as many suppose, and are (in my experience) much less reliable than Anubias spp. One issue may be that "fake" Java Ferns are traded at the budget end of the market, and these simply don't survive for long underwater. But otherwise do review the needs of this species. While undemanding in terms of water chemistry and temperature, it will not do well planted too close (let alone in) the substrate and is best kept an inch or two clear of the substrate attached to bogwood rather than rocks or ornaments. Strong water currents seem to fragment the plant, and algae-eaters, especially raspers such as Panaque spp., can cause real damage very quickly. It grows slowly, and because of that, doesn't do well if constantly buffeted or pecked at. To be brutally frank, it's a plant I've given up with years ago, as I have with Neon Tetras among fish, because there are better, more reliable options available. One last thing. Your Anubias looks fine, and my golden rule with plants is this: buy one of whatever you like to begin with, see what does well, throw out what doesn't, and buy more of the species that seem happy. Your aquarium looks a bit sterile, and my gut feeling is any snail and algae problems you have is more to do with the lack of "balance" than anything else. Try and grab some floating Indian Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides, but as floating plants, not the more difficult to keep rooted plants, though if you snap off fronds from the rooted plant, they'll grow into floating plants just fine). This is the #1 plant, I think, for jump-starting an aquarium. It's easy to grow, seeds the tank with plenty of good bacteria, provides food for herbivorous fish, grows rapidly enough to shake off any nibbling by snails, and helps to prevent algae. Sure, it looks a bit scrappy to begin with, but a thick canopy of the stuff below the waterline has its own beauty (I tend to trim away over the waterline growth before it burns under the lights). It also provides shade, which Java fern and Anubias really appreciate.>
I've had two local fish shops recommend Skunk Botia to nix the snails and they have hard water too...though the one is selling water too so they have non hard water available.
They're the smart shops...not just a chain store.
<Skunk Botia, Yasuhikotakia morleti, are social (keep 5+ specimens), aggressive amongst themselves and towards other fish, and grow quite large. Think very, VERY carefully before purchasing.>
One lady said they're perfectly ok in hard water.
<Up to a point, yes, like most loaches they're tolerant. But they do prefer soft to moderately hard, pH 6-7.5 water.>
The guy I just spoke with (at the shop that also sells water) suggested skunk Botias are ok with Mollies, which actually implies they tolerate hard water based on Molly's sensitivity to soft!
<Not a wise combo. Do visit those folks over at Loaches.com for second opinions, or read over the excellent Loaches book some of them wrote on behalf of TFH.>
When I checked my facts online it looks like it's not so though....the skunk Botia looks like any other Botia in water preference..but these hard water folks say it's great for our water!!! You say you have hard water....do you know of people keeping skunk Botia in hard with any success (fish thriving)?  Is it a flexible species?
<It is, but there are better choices. The Horseface Loach for example can thrive in even slightly brackish water (around SG 1.002) and as such can be kept with Mollies.>
I think I definitely shouldn't keep it with Mollies.  They like marine salt to thrive, a loach no no.
<For the most part, yes, loaches avoid brackish water, though some species enter slightly brackish water, notably around the Caspian Sea. Among traded species, Acantopsis choirorhynchos, the True Horseface Loach, is the classic slightly salt-tolerant species. It's a fun species and will eat small snails, but does need a sandy, not gravel, substrate.>
I think I can get my water to 7.5 with mixing it like you said.  I think that would probably be alright for a Botia.... Should I add peat filtration too?
<No real need and unpredictable anyway.>
Do you know of anyone using this water system for filtration with success?
<Peat filtration is fiddly (not to mention questionable in terms of environmental sustainability!). Remember, few fish care about the pH _per se_, and provided you reduce the hardness down to around 10 or 12 degrees dH, soft water fish can thrive at pH 7.5 without the least trouble.>
It looks like this removes hardness and even the water softener's salt.  I could do 50/50 with this water and the outdoor spigot that's hard water that I have been using....  The filter is at this link:
I just thought....I wonder if there's something out there to filter water for tanks, and I checked online and there it is.  How good is it, is the question?....$40 is inexpensive comparatively.
<Still a waste of money. Your fish don't need this kind of molly-coddling. If we're talking standard community tropicals -- barbs, danios and whatnot -- then a 50/50 mix of hard tap water with RO bought from your local retailer will be just fine.>
Reverse osmosis not practical...it wastes too much and is too slow!
Since I have the million snail thing going on........do you think the Botia could tolerate it if temporarily I put a whole bunch of fake plants in the tank?
<Likely so, but Skunk Botia are a unwise bet for a small tank in many ways. You need 5 or more, and they'll get to around 10 cm/4 inches in length, and they fight amongst themselves a lot, and they chase slow-moving fish. Do read up carefully on this species.>
The guy suggested it would be easier to get rid of them if there were less food supply for them.  However Botias like a heavily planted tank.  And are known to be aggressive and territorial.  I'm wondering if they'd tolerate fake plants..or is that an issue?
<Do try floating plants as mentioned above before giving up. Remember, if you switch to fake plants, algae will make up the difference; few tanks without plants are algae-free without huge amounts of hard work.>
In a 29 gallon what is a good ratio of females and males to keep with this species?  He said 5 to 10 fish..... I'm ok if it's my only fish species.  I can live with that.  I just remember I understocked mollies and had issues and I wonder if 9 is best, or is it ok to start with 5 since the plants will be fake in the beginning?  I want to make sure there are enough and not too many, if that makes sense.
<Are we talking about the Skunk Botia here? An odd number, with more females than males is the ideal.>
I really want living plants and the java fern was absolutely covered in baby snails last night even with adding the plant food and an increased light source.  They look like java-lace-fern and there's not much more to eat on them!!!
<Bin 'em.>
I attached a picture.  They were $8.00 lg investments!
<This is actually a low, too low, price for Java Ferns, which is my concern. Here in the UK, a good sized "mother plant" Java Fern growing on a bogwood root will cost around £25, that's around $40 US. That's a bargain mind you, because a healthy Java Fern mother plant produces lots of baby plants on the tips of its leaves, at least some of which can be removed successfully and transplanted to new bits of wood. Such a healthy plant will live for many, many years so is a sound investment. But cheap Java Ferns may or may not be a bargain. If money is tight, there are many better species that I'd recommend.>
I want my tank back and I am willing to work with the skunk Botias based on their reputation of being snail annilators!
<Don't expect any fish to annihilate snails. Just isn't that easy. Dealing with snails demands an holistic approach, not just removal, but also understanding why they're thriving at the expense of your plants. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)     11/25/12
Wow....this is embarrassing.  I had bought a replacement bulb a couple months ago and that's when the plants started to noticeably go down hill. 
The guy really sold the bulb, he had claimed it was SO much brighter and great for plants too, so he said.  It was what HE uses.  I should have known better.  The bulb he enthusiastically sold to me is called actinic. 
it doesn't even grow coral!
<Actually, actinic tubes are used, alongside white tubes, in marine aquaria, and yes, they do encourage good coral growth. But you are correct that they're mostly for looks, helping to make the blues on marine fish really bright blue.>
There is so much misinformation in this hobby.
<Hard to argue with this. But perhaps a more charitable opinion is that there are many different opinions on things, some based on experience, some on sales and marketing literature, and sifting through these for what'll help in your situation isn't always easy.>
There should be a class for fish store employees because people will ask them questions and they will give out free advice.
<Can't speak for where you live, but here in the UK, yes, there is college called Sparsholt College that has vocational courses on fish husbandry, including one aimed at retailers. It's been running for some 20 years now and is very well respected. There may well be others offering equally useful courses, and I agree with you, it'd be helpful if retailers made an effort to train their staff more fully. If nothing else, mis-selling equipment such that hobbyists end up with dead fish or plants pretty quickly dampens any enthusiasm. That in turn means such people leave the hobby, never to come back. Proper training means sales staff can nurture good aquarium practice in their customers, and long term, such customers will come back for more stuff over the many years they stay in the hobby.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)     11/25/12
Thank you Neale!
I had been totally sold against skunk Botia in spite of their supposed snail eating prowess, due to the negative things I'd read about their temperament.  But then the LFS were selling it as a miracle cure to snails and downplaying what I'd read about it's aggression.  As there were two LFS recommending it, they'd convinced me against my better judgment to get them. Thank you for confirming that it's a bad idea!!!  I was ready to go and buy a bunch and it probably would have been a disaster.
<Could well have been. On the other hand, Assassin Snails (Clea helena) are generally safe, being harmless towards fish (though probably not fish eggs and fry) and much slower to multiply than plant-eating snails. Do consider these.>
I wouldn't do a pea puffer either I don't think...but the lady at LFS recommended a pea puffer for snails instead when I'd told her I worried about skunk loach aggression, and she said it wouldn't bother other fish if I just got one.  She said it's mouth was too small!!!!  LOL!  It sounded so cute I was tempted.  But all the authorities say it occasionally does ok with Otocinclus (because they're bottom dwellers and they swim FAST enough to get away), but that it will attack larger fish and it ought to be in a species only tank.  Also it's freshwater not brackish tolerant so I couldn't keep it with mollies.
<While I'm sure the Dwarf Puffer will tolerate a little salt without the least complaint, you are quite right that they're a bad species for mixed communities. Some people have had success mixing them with a variety of other fish, but on the whole, the results have been poor.>
They guy at the other LFS actually told me I could just keep a school of pea puffers but that also disagrees with everything else I've read, as they fight each other once they mature.  (His were young stock.)   Anyway they're so small.....  they probably wouldn't make much of a dent on millions of snails in the amount I could keep of them!
<Indeed. Big scheme of things, it's often easier to remove snails manually (or, _in extremis_ with snail-killing chemicals) as far as possible, then add something that will stop the remaining snails multiplying too quickly, such as the Assassin Snails. Adding big but harmless snail species that compete with pest snails can also keep snail populations down; Tylomelania spp for example don't eat plants but do eat leftover fish food. They're big (up to about 10 cm, but commonly around 6 cm) and valuable, so any new specimens that appear can be removed easily when they're 2-3 cm long and returned to retailers or shared with fishkeeping friends.>
I will buy a whole bunch of Indian fern and return the hideous plastic plants I purchased last night!!! I will also build up stock of fish again. 
I think I'll go all female this time, and I'll chose baby mollies about the same size as the two that I have now so they're equal. 
<Good luck with all.>
Hopefully I can balance the tank and with regular plant feedings and some supplemental light or a better bulb, the plants will grow again.    I'll offer more vegetable to the fish so they don't live on flake and algae alone. Neale, ironically, I've had incredible success with java ferns in the Betta setup, and that's why I was freaking out that they were failing in the large tank...it seemed such a hardy and durable plant in the Betta setup.
<For sure. Java Fern is one of those plants that either thrives amazingly well or fails abysmally; it rarely seems to just potter along.>
They do reproduce, hundreds of little off shoots which come loose and I stuff those into the java moss where they grow.  They grow super slow of course, but predictably.
<One issue its lighting. If overhead lighting is strong, red algae grows on the leaves (typically blue-black brush and hair algae, which are red algae despite the colour). Anyway, these algae are a sure sign that the Java Fern isn't in a good place. In the wild the Java Fern lives in shady places, usually above the waterline to be sure, but places like waterfalls in rainforests where the overhead light is filtered through trees and shrubs.
If you just dump a Java Fern in bright light, then this algae problem is common. Does the algae cause any specific harm to the plant? I don't know; but I've rarely seen Java Ferns thrive when covered with red algae.>
I did think they looked inedible... I think I'd also read somewhere that a fish that nibbles plants won't eat them.
<They contain poisons, supposedly, like many other ferns, and even if fish bite them, they don't like the taste, and won't eat them again. Snails of course have different metabolic systems to fish, and may well be able to handle eating Java Ferns. But that said, neither Bob nor I have seen much sign of snails eating them in our tanks. Indeed, I have a tank with lots of plants and lots of snails, and the snails do no harm at all.>
I was therefore shocked that the snails were devouring it.  So I suppose I have the notorious apple snails.
<You would know if you have Apple Snails, Pomacea spp. -- they're very big.>
Though....the javas in the big tank aren't reproducing.  Maybe they are imposters!!!  wow. That Anubias had more leaves.  At least it's holding stable.  I'll buy a ton of Indian fern..   hopefully I can find it.  I'll feed it too.  I suppose that was the issue too.  
<Do be careful with feeding. Anubias grows slowly, and like Java Fern, will become covered with algae if exposed to bright light. If you have a mix of Anubias and Indian Fern, I'd dose the tank at about 25% the amount the bottle says, only going upwards, to maybe 50%, after a few months if you see signs that the plants need more minerals (e.g., the leaves are going yellow, not green). Too much fertiliser will simply promote algae growth (and waste money, too).>
My tank became sterile as plants died back and I had trouble with mollies bullying and they slowly died out. The guy I spoke with yesterday at one of the shops said he's found if he does a vegetable like zucchini twice a week it really helps to curb molly aggression.  I tried squash to catch snails and while they ignored it....the mollies loved it.  I think I'm struggling for lack of experience at this!!! 
<Perhaps. But you're gaining experience, and that's the main thing. As I've said before, look for what works, and stick with it. If some plant or fish simply doesn't work with you, then skip it.>
I am going to try this cool home made snail trap today.....  i think the shrimp pellets will be more enticing than lettuce or zucchini.  I have a small plastic container.  I hope I can thin their population somewhat.
<Worth a shot, but generally traps are less than stellar in their performance. Here's what I'd do: strip the tank down to the glass. Put the fish in a bucket with the plants. Stick the filter into this as well, or if possible, into another pail of water big enough for you to leave the filter running (though switching it off for an hour won't do any harm at all, especially if you can open the filter to let the bacteria inside "breathe"). Clean everything as thoroughly as possible. Bin whatever you can, preferably the gravel if nothing else because removing all the snails from that is a chore. You can buy snail-killing potions that work well if you want to sterilise the gravel, but that may or may not be cheaper than replacing with new gravel. You can also use boiling water to clean the gravel, but that's surprisingly ineffective unless you do it in batches so that all the snails are killed. Dead snails tend to come to float to the surface if you stir small batches of gravel. But honestly, replacing with new is easier. Anyway, do this and then rebuild the tank. Fill up with mostly new water, and then top up with water from the buckets. Reconnect the filter and heater. With everything shipshape, net the fish out and put them back. They're doubtless be a few snails in the buckets that hitchhiked their way in on plants and filters, so don't pour them in by accident. Now go buy some Assassin Snails, 4-6 per 10-15 gallons of water. Add to the tank. They'll vanish into the gravel or sand, but if they take, they'll breed slowly, and they'll be a built-in anti-snail system!>
I thought horse faces get to 11" so I hadn't thought him an option, but I searched again today.
<Ah, they do get quite large, around 15-20 cm/6-8 inches being typical. I couldn't remember the size of your tank. Suitable for, say, 55 gallons upwards.>
There's a 2" variety that is rare, but is totally cute if I could find some.   Then there's also a 4.5"- The link to 4.5" here:
<This species is quite aggressive and predatory compared to the "true" Horseface, Acantopsis choirorhynchos.>
I guess it needs a small group due to the species.
<With these semi-aggressive loaches, they're best kept singly or in groups of 5+.>
I wonder if it would it bother full grown mollies?  (The article said it finds danios tasty.)
<Indeed Acantopsis octoactinotos has a rather poor reputation as a community aquarium fish!>
I'll see if a LFS could order the dwarfs..... I like the look of them and they're a perfect size.
<The smaller Acanthopsoides species like Acanthopsoides robertsi are fairly tolerant, schooling fish, but being so much smaller, their impact on snails will be much less intense.>
Thanks again, Neale, enjoy your weekend.
<So far, so good.>
These issues I have will take some time to resolve I think.  There's a learning curve for sure.  (Especially with LFS selling imposter plants and trying to get people to purchase mean tempered fish for a smallish aquarium.) 
<Soon enough, all will click into place. Do spend time reading a good aquarium book, there are many, but here are two inexpensive ones you might like:
Both are written my former aquarium magazine editors with lots of fishkeeping experience, and both take pains to point out species you shouldn't keep as well as ones that should do well. If you're looking for used book bargains, both "An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Tropical Freshwater Fish" and "Interpet Guide to Community Fishes" cost pennies on Amazon and cover the basics well (indeed, the second book named was my very first aquarium book, bought in the early 80s!). I like the "Complete Aquarium" by Peter Scott as well, even though it takes the quirky approach of step-by-step descriptions of around 20 different types of tank (about six pages for each). Do try and look at this one, it's inspirational!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails) - 11/25/12

Wow, I'd love to attend those classes!  I suppose they have something in TX at College Station or maybe in a University near the coast, but it's likely more commercial and not for hobbyists.
<Likely so.>
I'm studying real estate classes now, though I read a lot about fish in my spare time, and having some classes to help me better understand the chemical biology of tanks would be useful. Now I know the actinic is what caused the downward spiral with the plants.  I'm mad at myself for letting myself be sold on that bulb in spite of misgivings, but I guess if I get a two bulb strip I can use it in the future beside a plant bulb.
I appreciate your educated advice!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails) - 11/25/12
Thank you, Neale, I'll try those books, the used book I started to read last night contained outdated info and I was wanting to find some reputable ones! The last book sounds like fun.  I have a short book on biotopes that I love, and it sounds like that one's even more detailed about the different kinds of tanks.
<It is a good book.>
No one had Indian fern….
<Do search under "Water Sprite", another name often applied to this species.>
but soft hornwort was working reasonably well before the light bulb change, and it's popular locally.
<Hornwort tends to be demanding (of light) in tropical conditions, but it can do well, yes.>
A guy's going to give me a huge bunch free this Friday as they throw it out at that shop anyway....it's just what their cherry shrimp are shipped in. (I'm hoping I'll find a tiny shrimp or two in it!)  Other stores sell it and claim it grows like a weed.
<Indeed, though I've found not indefinitely in tropical tanks without strong lighting.>
I ordered a bunch of Indian Fern from him also as no one carries it but the farthest away store who was out Saturday and needing to reorder… These plants will provide a quick planting replacement, the hornwort bridging the gap until the Indian fern grows larger.
This way I don't have to spend a lot and I can rebuild my plant stock gradually.  I may temporarily hook hornwort to decorations to simulate rooted plants... To give more hideaways.  I'm sure the fish won't  be picky.
<But the Hornwort; it does prefer floating, especially if lighting levels are low to middling.>
I'm up to 5 assassins..... I've been buying them weekly.  It looks like a couple of them are growing larger...probably from the massive food supply.
I guess it will best to wait till the new plants arrive next weekend to do a thorough clean and gravel switch, as I don't want it to get too sterile.  I have a Quick Start too...whether or not that will be helpful remains to be seen. 
<It's not that helpful, and if the tank is already cycled (if you don't have an undergravel filter, of course) then it's pointless because hardly any of the bacteria you want are living in the existing gravel.>
Thanks again.  I'm going to hit up some garden stores now for fine gravel.  It's cheaper to rinse it than pay all that money for the gourmet pet store variety.
Though I saw some on sale claiming to already have the bacteria......  That is tempting and may be worth a little extra cost.
<It's not.>
But Quick Start was $3 and claims to be the bacteria needed.
<It's a claim, and not one many experienced aquarists take too seriously.>
I could probably soak a little of the gravel in it and add it that way to make sure it takes as opposed to just dumping it into the water.
<Rinse well; the silt is messy. Otherwise, the existing aquarium fixtures, especially the filter, have all the bacteria you need.>

Snail mug shots       thanks again!!   re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)       11/28/12
Thanks Neale.  Yes, it's  called Water Sprite here, and I used the Latin name too when asking around.
<Real good.>
The chains used to carry it I think, ages ago, but they all went to small packaged plants...only one chain store still has a plant tank except for the specialty stores....and they all carry limited stock in their plant tanks, planted in gravel not substrate, with a few fish and apparently lots of tiny snails and every kind of algae imaginable!  That's why I like the ones packaged in moisture beads that are clean!  They also have the Latin name.  The only fern they carry is Peacock and it isn't the same Latin name.
<Ah no. This isn't even an aquatic plant; a species called Selaginella willdenowii that inevitably dies underwater.
Not even sure why this plant gets traded.>
Here are some mug shots of the snails. If you don't really look you might not know they're there.
<Most of these seem to be Melanoides spp.; they're harmless to healthy plants.>

The one on the java is dead center and harder to spot.  I use a paper towel to wipe-capture as many as I can from the glass but some still fall back into the gravel so restarting is the best option. Thank you again!  I'll take your advise and see if I can save this tank.  I guess if it works, thinking very optimistically, I'll need to drop live food occasionally for the assassins?
<Nope. They're as much scavengers as predators, and need very little extra food beyond the odd bit of fish food they'll find themselves. But they aren't herbivores, so they don't eat plants.>
Maybe a little live food is ok for Mollies even though they're primarily vegetarian.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail and Java Fern... sel., sys., Betta.... sys...  3/8/2010
I have two questions. I have a Red Ramshorn Snail I bought about five hours ago.
<Planorbis spp.; these are coldwater snails that don't last long in tropical tanks.>
At first, he was coming out of his shell a little bit. I put him in my four gallon tank with my Betta and now he doesn't come out. My Betta hasn't touched him as I've been monitoring the tank.
<These two life forms aren't really compatible. Bettas need to be kept at 28 C/82 F, or they eventually die. The snail will soon suffer if kept this warm, and won't last more than a few months.>
First time I put him in I accidentally dropped him but he landed on my plant, so I don't think he got hurt?
His shell seems to be fine. He is defecating at the moment. What's wrong with the little man?
<Little snail, surely...?>
Also, my Java Fern looks like it has a white cottony- growth all over the leaves and the roots. I was told to just wash it but I can't get it all off.
<Likely fungus, a sign of organic decay in aquaria with poor water quality and not enough water movement or filtration.>
It's not dying as there are other little plants growing on it.
<Actually, one thing Java ferns do when unhappy is to produce plantlets at the tip of the leaves while the big leaves rot away. Java ferns need at least some proper lighting, and won't live in tanks without lighting. Aim for about 0.5 to 1 watt per gallon.>
I thought it may of been the oxygen shell that was in my tank as the growths first started on the plants roots. I threw out the oxygen shell.
<These are the white lumps in the shape of a scallop shell, right? Useless products. No substitute for filtration.>
Is the plants problem connected to the snail problem?
<Review the environment. Both may be suffering for the same reasons.>
How can I solve both? Any information will be greatly appreciated. Also, my tank is not filtered or have a heater.
<You're keeping a Betta in a tank without a heater? Who told you that was a good idea? They lied to you. Read here:
Bettas are tropical fish. The word "tropical" means they come from somewhere hot and sunny. A centrally heated home in the temperate zone won't be hot enough. You MUST have a heater AND a simple, air-powered
filter for this aquarium.>
It's just plain freshwater with water conditioner.
<Tap water with water conditioner is fine, but don't use water from a domestic water softener.>
I also replace 10% of the water every few days with new, conditioned water.
<No substitute for filtration.>
Thanks :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Snail and Java Fern  ' 3/8/2010
Thanks for the response :)
<Happy to help.>
I got the Betta as a present from somebody in a brandy glass. I knew that this is an improper home for him so I got him the larger tank as soon as I could. It is a round bowl as that is all I could afford unfortunately.
<Won't live long. A few weeks if the house is warm, much less if the house is cold. But not for anything like the two years or so they should live for.>
I haven't been able to find any filtration, pumps, heaters or lights that can fit or a suitable for my tank.
<Are available. A 25 watt heater should be fine for a 5 gallon tank. A small air pump and internal sponge filter will be adequate for filtration.>
I've searched many pet shops, aquarium specialists, I've asked people and I've looked on many websites including eBay but I've had no luck.
I plan to get a rectangular tank and all these things as soon as I can but I don't know how long this is going to take as I am a full time student, not working and living on my own.
<I see.>
So is there anything apart from all the above mentioned that I can do?
<Not really, no. Regular water changes will help offset water quality problems, but even with clean water, the cold will eventually kill the Betta.>
Also, my snail has moved as its fairly far away from where I originally put him (from on top a leaf on the plant to close to a rock, he's also the right way up, foot touching the ground). My Betta seems curious, he stares at the snail and sleeps right next to him. He doesn't flare up at him or look agitated or aggressive, he just simply stays next to him. Would this be a good indication that my Betta is OK with the snail?
<Cheers, Neale.>

Lighting 11/5/08 Hello, Hope all is going well for you today. I have a question on lighting, please. I am setting up a 75 gallon fw tank with a black background. I am probably going to have a couple of java ferns . I plan on having pearl Gouramis, rainbow fish, cribs and some Corys. I have done some reading about selecting the right lighting but can find nothing very specific. I guess it all a matter of taste, but could you please recommend a type of lighting for this setup that will be attractive, bring out the colors of the fish and also be comfortable for the fish? I appreciate your help with this! James <Hello James. Java ferns generally adapt to a range of lighting conditions.  Something around two watts per gallon should be appropriate, given that a 75 gallon tank is going to be fairly deep. One thing about Java ferns is that they rot if not planted properly; they are epiphytes and should be attached to wood or rock. Often you see them sold in pots: that's fine for when they're being grown in a hydroculture system, but doesn't work once the pot is stuck in sand or gravel. So unpot the plants and bind them to bogwood with dark cotton thread. You can sometimes buy them already attached to bogwood; these are useful and good value. Anubias and Java moss require exactly the same treatment, and the three plants are often used in combination. When choosing lights, go with ones designed specifically for plant growth. You can get pinkish tubes called Gro-Lux that work well with plants and make the red colours on your fish very intense. The downside is that these lights don't "punch" the light very far, so most aquarists prefer to use the much "punch" blue and blue-white tubes. It doesn't matter too much to the fish, particularly if you add some floating plants (like Indian Ferns) to create some instant shade. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Lighting 11/6/08 Thank you Neale, Good information. I learned something. Didn't know they had lights just for plant growth. I do have some driftwood and was going to tie the java fern to that, but I was also going to let some float because I had read that that is what the Gouramis felt comfortable with, and I was thinking the colors on the fish would show up better with floating plants since I was going to use a light colored substrate. But you say that java fern will rot like that so I may just forget the floaters and use a darker substrate (like 3m colorquartz). I have never tried live plants before anyway and am kind of leery. Also, do the lights made specifically for plant growth show off fish as much as those that aren't? Might just go with artificial if I can find any that look realistic. As always you do a good job. James <James, thanks for the kind words. I've never had much success with "floating" Java ferns; by all means try some, but I usually find it disintegrates or gets sucked into the filter. Indian Fern (Ceratopteris cornuta) is the floating plant of choice for aquarists who want something easy and adaptable. Gouramis love the stuff. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/ceratopteris.htm Indian Fern is easy to grow, and Java fern, Anubias, and Java Moss are very hardy indeed. I also happen to like Cryptocoryne wendtii, and consider it one of the easiest and most reliable plants with roots. Pots of this species are inexpensive and can be almost guaranteed to do well in any aquarium, quickly spreading outwards over the substrate.  Be careful when choosing colour substrates. Some black sands (e.g., Tahitian Moon Sand) are too sharp for use with burrowing fish, and even the manufacturers recommend against using them with catfish, loaches, etc. http://www.caribsea.com/pages/products/super_nat.html So do check with the manufacturer prior to purchase before selecting such media. The colour of the lights hardly matters once you have areas of light and shade created by floating plants. Thickets of submerged vegetation (like pots of Cryptocoryne) also make an enormous difference. Fish welcome the shade and will adopt natural colours. Plastic plants can look very good in tanks with clean water, but in messy tanks (e.g., with Oscars, Plecs, etc.) I find they become "mud magnets", getting covered with silt and algae too quickly for my tastes. In tanks with tetras, barbs, etc. and decent filtration this isn't a problem, and a tank decorated with lots of the same "species" of plastic plant can look extremely realistic. Bad results with plastic plants usually follow from when people choose "one of everything" in the shop, so there's a riot of colours and shapes. Cheers, Neale.>

Thoughts/ questions on Java Fern reproduction    1/21/07 Hi crew,   I was wondering if you guys had any information on the sexual reproduction (NOT by rhizome division) of Java ferns. I read somewhere (not here... I can't seem to find the site) that the black spots that seem to plague Java owners actually are caused by the release of spores from them "going sexual." <Mmm, yes... like terrestrial Pteridophytes... the "sori" are reproductive structures... These ferns do display alternation of sexual/asexual generations...> Do you know if this is true? I ask because my java ferns are reproducing like rodents. <Happens... not often discussed/thought of, but a huge part of aquatic biomass is tied up/invested in gametes (sex cells) and juvenile forms... Think of the many organisms employing filter-feeding moda...> Here are my tank stats: 24g, moderately planted (about 50%) Ammonia: 0, Nitrate: 0, Nitrate around 1 ppm, pH: 7.4. I don't have a test for hardness, but my alk/hardness/buffering capacity is so high that even though I dose with CO2 there is no difference between the tank water and my well water, and the pH does not fluctuate at night. <Likely quite hard...>   When I got my Java ferns, I just tossed them into the tank. Some floated, most sank. In a couple days, the "floaters" settled out. About a week after that, they ALL started getting the dreaded black spots. <Not dreaded... if symmetrical...> Now, about a month later, about half of them are producing plantlets on the leaves.   Did I do something right or did I just get lucky? <Perhaps a bit of both>   I also have an Amazon sword that has put out 3 shoots that are producing plantlets. So far, 4 plantlets have put out roots and have been separated from the mother plant, and more buds are starting to open. I talked to the owner/manager of a really good LFS in my area (the only true fish store in the area, and they specialize in reef and planted tanks) and he'll either give me cash or store credit for the swords... I guess I need to talk to him about the Java ferns too.   But, I digress... Basically, I'm just looking for any information you can give me on the sexual reproduction of Java ferns. <Mmm, others have already done a good job, with graphics: http://www.google.com/search?q=reproduction+in+ferns&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&ie=utf8&oe=utf8> I'm very interested of the biology of all the living things I keep and care for, which include snakes, geckos, rats, a parakeet, a scorpion, a Russian hamster, several houseplants and cacti, 2 bonsai, and my 2 planted tanks (this is a partial list... my fiancée has threatened to call off the wedding if I bring anything else home). <Including him?>   Oh... as long as I've got you, I have another question... What's the best way to deal with spot algae on plants? <Mmm, perhaps small, more-gentle algae eaters... Otocinclus, SAE's...> I don't have a large bioload in either tank, I've added Otos to the 24g and Cherry shrimp to my 5g, I've reduced the photoperiod, I've added more fast growing plants to try to starve out the algae. What else can I do? Should I use RO or DI for water changes instead of/ in addition to well water? Thanks in advance for your feedback.    Sean <Mmm, see the Krib re PMDD DIY fertilizer formulation... test your water for a deficiency syndrome that is favoring BGA... Bob Fenner>

Java Moss, amphib. sys.   3/23/06 I have been an aquarium enthusiast for nearly 40 years--both fresh and saltwater.  I can honestly say that I've probably learned more in the past six months from your website than I did in the previous 39.5 years. I have recently converted a 45 gallon freshwater tank to live plants.  I've upgrades my lighting to  96 watts.  My question concerns Java moss.  I would like to create the effect of it growing up the back wall of the aquarium, sort of like a garden trellis.  Are there materials you would suggest that would not effect water quality.  I have read that corkboard could be used, although it seems to me that it would crumble. >> Corkboard will work fine, as will Styrofoam. My suggestion is to first place the background in an empty aquarium with a half inch of water and a weak spray bar, cover it and add strong light, Java moss will grow rapidly under these conditions (nearly all Poison Arrow Frog keepers use it), as they are much more similar to the way the moss grows in nature. When you have good growth on the flat background try moving it to your tank. Submerged the moss grows more slowly.   Good Luck, Oliver

Growing Java Fern It has loads of black spots and died in the middle. Its on bog wood. It was a big plant, sort of growing back what caused this? <Not sure of the cause. Cut away the dead spots and remount it on the wood. Good luck.>

Growing Java Fern Java fern rotted and died, not all of it, half of it. What is the problem? <Java Fern grows from a rhizome. This is a stem that grows along the gravel. The fronds then grow up from the rhizome. If the rhizome is buried it will rot and the plant will die. I grow mine on driftwood. To mount it cut slivers in the wood, but leave them attached at one end. Then use it to "clip" the plant to the wood. Cut away any dead rhizome before mounting it. Don>

Columbian Sharks and Java Ferns Sorry to bother you guys again, but I have two questions I couldn't find on your site. I have two Columbian sharks. They are both still pretty young (about 5 inches). <You'll need about 100 gallons of brackish water to keep these large fish into adulthood.> I've noticed recently that their fins are a little torn, the smaller shark more than the bigger one. I doesn't look at all like it could be fin and tail rot, besides they are both really healthy. They are inseparable and I've never seen them be violent to one another, I was wondering if they could be doing this to themselves since they are the most aggressive fish in the tank. <Possible> (33 gal with the two sharks, pleco, African leaf fish, leopard leaf fish and fire eel) <The eel may be causing a ruckus at night> Don't worry we are eventually moving the sharks to a brackish tank. <Salt will help heal as well as start adjusting them to their adult requirements. Host of reasons for tattered fins. Aggression, very high or low pH, ammonia, very high nitrates etc..> Second question, we have sand as our substrate and have live plants I think they are java ferns. The pet store told us that if the plants are submerged directly into the sand eventually they will start emitting toxic gases that are undetectable and will kill our fish. Because of this I put the plants in little plastic cups filled with gravel and submerged those in the sand. <Will not help> I was just wondering if this was necessary. I couldn't find any info on the net. <Java Fern grows from a "stem" that grows horizontal to the substrate. The fronds then grow up along this stem. If it is buried in *any* substrate it will die and decay. This will result in more ammonia entering your cycle. I know of no other "gas" that decaying Java emits. I planted mine on driftwood. Just cut a sliver, leaving it attached to the wood. Then use this sliver to clip the base of the fern to the wood. That will hold it in place until the roots grab the wood. Don>

Java Fern Dear Crew, Thanks so much for your help. I might have a problem with my Java fern. Three of its four leaves have a discoloration around the veins that color the leaf a coppery-red. These leaves also have some holes in them. Also, one of these has .25 in. "hairs" growing from the top of the leaf (is it hair algae?). < Probably hair or beard algae.> The pH is 8, ammonia is 0, and nitrites have just started to decrease from their spike. Only one of the leaves is healthy and a bright green. Should I remove these leaves? < Many times new plants take some time to adjust to their new surroundings. So they lose some of their old leaves and use that energy stored in the old leaves to make new leaves that are adaptable to their new surroundings. Wait until the old leaves are almost completely dead before removing them. Java fern doesn't like bright light so make sure it is in the corner away from strong direct light.> This is a freshwater tank with two 1.5 in. bluegill and healthy pennywort. I was also sold a plant that the people at my LFS called an Amazon sword, but I'm not sure because I can't find any pictures of Amazon swords that look like it. It has about 5 in long stems with leaves about 1.5 in across and 2 in long and pointed at the end. Each stem comes individually from the clump of roots (there is no common stem). Its healthy, but I really want to know what it is. If you could identify this plant and help me with the Java fern, that would be great. < Amazon swords are a very common aquarium plant and you should have no problems identifying it as such. To find the particular species may be very difficult since many plants are identified by their flower structures. From what you have described I think you do indeed have an Amazon sword plant.-Chuck> Thanks again, Andrew

Java fern issues <Hi! Ananda here today for the plant questions...> I have many java ferns in my 50 gallon tank. On the ferns, the leaves are naturally a light green.... <Odd. My java ferns' leaves are normally a moderately dark green....> my problem is that the tips of the leaves are turning a dark green color. I believe it is harming the plants. But I am not sure what to do about it. Thanks JEREMY <Dark green, as in almost black? This could be a type of algae. Do check your tank's nitrate and phosphate levels, as both encourage the growth of algae. --Ananda> 

Of Java Ferns and panty hose!!   Hey guys!! Terrific site....with tonnes of info....I searched for the info. I require but have not come across any specific information on my problems....I will greatly appreciate any info you have, and I will try and keep my question brief as possible....   1) Is panty hose entirely safe for the aquarium?? < Panty hose made from nylon is safe as longs as all the detergents have been removed.> I have read in many places to use this for such things as putting crushed coral in for calcium carbonate addition to the tank, and many other uses...I am currently using it to cover the intake tubes on my power filters. so to avoid sucking up any guppy babies....is this safe??  No toxins from the elastic in panty hose??   I rinsed it first to remove any detergents etc...but still one wonders?? < I wonder. I will assume that the area you are from that the water is fairly soft. I would get a hardness kit and check it to see if you really need to do this. You could always put the crushed coral in the filters too.>   2) My tank is growing with Java Fern. and it is growing well....except for the black leaves. and some holes  (prob. the snails...not so bothersome). but the black spots!! And leaves going black. not all of them mind you. but a few. is this just old growth, or is the plant lacking something?? < You did not mention anything about the lighting. Java fern does not like bright light and soft water. Check the water and put the fern in a dimly lighted area of the tank.>   I do have 2 power filters (both fo a 15 gallon tank)...the tank is 15 gallons, plus two airstones...am I overdoing it??  Is that possible??   Am I doing more harm than good??  Removing CO2, or helping the fish with O2 ??  The decisions!!! < In hard water the co2 combines with the calcium in the water. This leaves little co2 for plants. With the airstones it is almost a sure bet that there is no co2 in the tank at all. You can check this with a co2 test kit.> Plus my snails are not the best either...one kind...conical shell is doing fine...the other live -bearing Malaysian seems to be having their shells erode away...they go white and then almost see through....and sometimes the snails seem almost dead...sticking out of their shells a bit...but then they move and crawl away a few hours later.... < I suspect that you have little buffering in your water and the soft water is dissolving the shells of your snails. The plants will also take up calcium as well as the bacteria in the filters.>   Tank info....15 gallons, 2 power filters plus two airstones, 1 inch gravel, lots of Java fern, lots of snails, 7 guppies (2 are male), 1 Betta, 1 Pleco, 2 spotted Corys....that's it....have treated with Melafix now and then for fin tears in Betta and some fin problems in Guppies...(.5 are new additions to tank).....they are doing fine. the fish that is....mostly....also tests....pH...7.6, ammonia 0.0, Nitrate 5 mg/L, Nitrite .1 mg/L, and Iron 0.0.  These are all the test kits I currently have.....Tank temp.. around 78 degrees F.  Water changes 15% every week. with vacuumed.   So, any ideas for improving the condition of my plants or snails??   Without hurting my fish?? I'm scared of taking the airstones away and having things go bad. and to loose it all!!  Please. I'm confused........I've been into aquariums for 15 years plus. on and off....and am constantly learning....I have lots of books and encyclopedias on the hobby and the fish.....but I find you can never know it all!!!  That is half the fun of this hobby. the learning!!  I love to learn knew things about this stuff...I love the natural systems....(no burping clams thank you!!)...and hate the panty hose!!!  But what else to do??? < I would like to recommend a book to you that I you will find extremely helpful. It is called the Baensch Atlas #1. You have been at this for a number of years so I think it will help you understand water chemistry a little better and let you read your plants to decide how to manage it. I would service the filters on week and gravel vac on the other week. This way you will not remove all of the bacteria at once.-Chuck>     Willing to learn and treading water here in Cape Breton  (Nova Scotia Canada)!!!  Thanks in advance for any advice!!

Java Fern Propagation 11/03/03 Hi Guys and Gals! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First, let me be the n-thousandth person to congratulate you on a truly wonderful site that has been a very valuable learning resource for me. Saved much money and heartache by taking the time to read the valuable knowledge and experience that you have shared with so many. <thank you very much!> On to the question...  I have java fern growing well in one of my tanks and it's producing "shoots" (baby plants) from the upper half of the leaves. How do I go about harvesting those shoots so as not to damage the parent plant, so that I can continue to grow those shoots into adult plants for use in other tanks? What would be the best way to grow the shoots into adults? <I just take the shoots off & stick it where I want it to grow.  It won't hurt the parent plant.> I noted that you've mentioned it's a brackish plant, but I am having really good success in fresh water (ph 7.4, Ammo = 0, Nitrate = 0, Nitrate = near 0 most of the time, good high-rate of cross flow from small power heads in conjunction with a moderate amount of aeration and nice high filtration rate (about 8x)), with a mix of regular fluoro (peaks in red and blue spectrum) and actinic (visible blue) lighting. The java fern is growing like a weed! And nothing (not even the Oscars!) seems interested in eating or attacking it. :D <It will do well in FW & light BW.  Also in low light.> Hope you can give me some hints.  Cheers - Virgil StJohn. <Hope this helps--Pufferpunk>

Java Ferns Hello, On the website it says that Java is naturally brackish.  Can it survive a brackish system with higher levels of salt than 1.005?  And if so, how much higher do you think? <I have had java ferns in a tank with a specific gravity of around 1.008, and they grew fairly slowly. I actually raised the specific gravity in that tank to 1.015 for a brief period, and the java ferns didn't flinch. They didn't grow much during that time, either.> Secondly, a 55 gallon tank I have houses about 10 cichlids.  I've always used an air-pump, a Fluval canister filter, and an aquaclear power filter.  My first question is, can I get rid of this air-pump with a lot of plants?   <You not only can get rid of it, but you should get rid of it. The air pump will take the carbon dioxide out of the water column and away from the plants that need it.> I  have a decent amount of hornwort, five large Java ferns (at least 8 full leaves), and a few less developed Java ferns.   <Very nice.> Also, I read in a book yesterday that power filters weren't so good, because they leave no CO2 in the water.  Should I think about going without the aquaclear, or is this bad advice? <I've seen the same advice. I don't have any experience with canister filters. I have a power filter on one of my planted tanks, and my plants are still growing. If your Fluval is big enough to filter the tank by itself, you could try it solo for awhile.> Thanks, Andy B <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: Fwd: Java Fern Okay, this is all kind of half remembered, but here goes... IIRC, Java fern grows pretty quick. the ones I had in my small hex tank with the betta grew like weeds. I'm not sure about rooting on bare rock, but you can drill holes into driftwood and plant java fern in them. It should send out runners and grow along them. Sorry I can't help more, but I haven't done much with FW plants in quite a while. My advice would be to seek out some opinions and do some more online research. <Well done Mike. Will post to WWM on the morrow. Bob F>

Java Fern I have a tank with Mbuna cichlids. It is largely a rock scaped tank with a crushed coral substrate. I would like to include some Java fern. I know that Mbuna are very hard on plants, but I read recently that they will not eat Java Fern (especially if they are given small bits of Romaine lettuce), but will dig up any plant including Java. The article went on to say that one could defeat the digging problem by planting the Java directly onto the rocks or other tank ornaments, i.e., that Java does not need to be rooted in the substrate to flourish. <The latter is correct... the former? Some mbuna cichlids species and individuals will chew up most any plant material> 1. Is the above relatively accurate and consistent with your experience? (That Mbuna will not eat Java and it can grow directly on rocks or other tank ornaments)? 2. If Java can grow without being in the substrate or soil, how does one attach it to the rock or other object, and will the plant itself eventually take hold of the object, like a vine does as it climbs a fence post or a wall? <Sort of... as this is a pteripedan (fern like those on land)... most folks loosely tie (with thread, fish line of small strength) the principal parts of the thallus (plant body) to submersed wood> 3. If Java is inappropriate, is there some other plant you would recommend? <This is a good start... as are crinums, tougher cryptocoryne species, the genus Anubias... Please see the scant (so far... you've encouraged me to write more on Lake Tanganyika and Malawi systems) coverage on these plants posted on our principal site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Your help would be most appreciated. Thank you. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> GEOFFREY W. VEITH


Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: