Foreground "Carpet" Plants
- carpet plants
by Roxanne Bittman <rbittman/spock.dfg.ca.gov> (Thu, 22 Jan 1998)
- Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #41
by krombhol/teclink.net (Paul Krombholz) (Thu, 22 Jan 1998)
- Carpet plants
by mark.fisher/tpwd.state.tx.us (Fri, 23 Jan 98)
- Good "carpet" plant
by krandall/world.std.com (Fri, 23 Jan 1998)
- Carpet Plants
by "Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin/ncsl.org> (Wed, 5 May 1999)
- Ground Cover
by "Jennifer Glover" <jglover/autometric.com> (Tue, 13 Jul 1999)
- Foreground/lawn plants
by "Ole Larsen" <olet/larsen.dk> (Thu, 19 Aug 1999)
- #&! carpet plants
by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com> (Sun, 13 Feb 2000)
by Roxanne Bittman <rbittman/spock.dfg.ca.gov>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998
Ahhh, carpet plants, some of my favorite things.
My personal favorite due to looks, not ease of growing, is Glossostigma sp. I
know it is available from the Aquatic Greenhouse, and maybe elsewhere. It has
some specific requirements including very high CO2 and a rich, deep substrate
and possibly an acidic pH.
I am currently growing Marsilea sp (cuneata?) for the first time, so I can't
make recommendations on its behalf yet, though its seems to be propagating
rapidly so far. It looks a little like Glossostigma and is very cute and low
For a grassier look, try Echinodorus tenellus or Eleocharis acicularis. The
latter has very fine leaves; both propagate across the tank rapidly; they both
need thinning or at least controlling unless you want them all over.
I have been told that you can turn Micranthemum micranthemoides into a carpet,
but I prefer to grow this as more of a "bush."
Hope this helps.
by krombhol/teclink.net (Paul Krombholz)
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998
Lilaeopsis is often sold in pots and only gets about an inch or two tall.
Glossostigma is thought to be one of the best carpet plants, but is not as
commonly available. I have not yet got my hands on any Glossostigma and
can't speak from any experience. A low growing plant I really like is
Hemianthus micranthemoides. It is bright green and it grows like a weed.
Echinodorus tenellus, pigmey chain, or Echinodorus bolivianus (a bit
larger) or E. quadricostatus (same size as bolivianus but leaves are
broader) will also carpet the bottom nicely.
Paul Krombholz, in beyond soggy central Mississippi where the inch of rain
forcast became 4 inches.
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 98
My current favorite is dwarf Sagittaria, and a photo is at:
[right here! - Editor]
Mine grow quickly, and have covered every well-lit area (and some
not-so-well-lit). They are about 2-3 inches high. I must have 100+
plants by now. I had a small patch of E. tenellus, but the Sags
overrran and conquered them.
Thank you, Cynthia.
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998
>Hello, I'm in the process of buying plants for my tank, and I would really
>like some type of plant that I can use to kind of "carpet" the floor. I
>really like that look and I see it a lot in Aquatic Plant books. I am
>not familiar with a lot of plants yet, but I have thought of possibly
>trying Pygmy Chain Swordplant or some type of small Anubias? I don't know
>exactly... I need something that will propagate over the tank but remain
>low to the ground. Any suggestions?
Both of the above work well. Lillaeopsis is good too, if you have a fair
amount of light. Amano uses both Glossostigma and Riccia in his tanks, but
both need a lot of light, and Riccia requires a fair amount of work as
well. For lower light tanks, small Cryptocorynes work well, but require
some patience while they're growing in. Java Moss can be tied to stones
and used as an almost "instant" ground cover, but must be trimmed
frequently to maintain this look.
Finally, a good ground cover that many people don't even think of is
Hygrophila difformis. (Water Wisteria) In strong light, this plant can be
trained to gro along the substrate with little trouble. Just put a stone
down here and their on the stems until they take root. This is another one
that needs regular pruning to keep short, but it makes a very pretty ground
cover, and fills in _very_ quickly.
by "Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin/ncsl.org>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999
I think it depends what type of "carpet" you want to achieve... a thin mat
or a thick shag? Or perhaps a top-swimming fishes' carpet of 'forest'?
I've got dwarf sag on top of my flourite. I like it... it gives depth to
the tank, although it doesn't provide a thick carpet look, at least not with
my patience level (when it gets thick, I tend to pull it up and give it away
or bring in a couple of bucks at an auction). I've seen beautiful carpets
of micranthemum micranthemoides and glossostigma.
This week, though, my husband and I visited John Mangan's tanks (he was
passing on the archives of PVAS' Delta Tale to us) and I was astonished to
see his thick, beautiful carpets... of CRYPTS. Sure, it's a good five or
six inches tall... but if you've got the patience, even in low light it can
make a beautiful, albeit quite thick 'carpet'.
I've got a new section of my tank, with a 'carpet' of heteranthera
zosterifolia. I'd heard that it was fragile, but it seems to tolerate
frequent trimming well. YMMV, but I can get it to grow tall, or I can clip
it low... it's when I try to clip it at mid-level that it turns black.
by "Jennifer Glover" <jglover/autometric.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999
> I'm looking for a plant suitable for a ground cover in the foreground of
> my tank (20 gal). I've seen ideal plants that form a 'carpeted' affect
> in Amano's Tanks but I'm not sure of their names. If anyone knows of a
> plant that fits these requirements, aswell as being moderately
> fast-growing and suitable for low light (1.5 watts/gallon), please reply
> to this message.
> Thanks in advance,
> Keely Bays
I have used, as foreground plants, Lilaeopsis and 4-leaf clover. I have had great
success with both, but the 4-leaf clover starts to look non-impressive after it has
been submersed for awhile. The growth does not have the same 4-leaf clover look that
emersed growth does (or at least, not in my tank). The lilaeopsis will give you a
lawn affect, as it has small narrow leaves just like grass.
Other plants some people use is Glossostigma and Baby tears (Micranthemum umbrosum).
These are really pretty with small fluffy leaves. Another choice is Chain Sword
(Echinodorus tennellus) which will also give a lawn like look, as it has narrow
leaves like grass.
I think that Amano uses Glossostigma and Riccia in his tanks. Riccia in the
substrate is a nightmare. It is a floating plant that can be coerced into growing on
objects/substrate, but only with great effort. Hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis) is
used by him to anchor the riccia down into the substrate. Most people tie it onto a
rock and keep trimming it to keep it there.
Hmm, I think there are some cryptocorynes that also stay small, but I am not that
familiar of the top of my head with the Crypts. I have C. Willisii on one side of my
tank with the four-leaf clover growing underneath it. The C. Willisii grows between
four and eight inches tall. I like the combination as one or the other on their own
is kindof missing something.
If you have alot of light, do not put Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata) in the
front! It looks grass-like, similiar to the lilaeopsis and chain sword, but the
height that it grows is dependent on how much light it gets. If you want it short,
make sure it won't get too much light.
Speaking of light, if you want nice foreground plants in low-light conditions,
Anubias are great plants. They are a really pretty deep green with broad leaves.
They do not do well against algae, so make sure they have some algae-eating buddies
around to clean them off. As they are slow-growing, they are the most expensive of
all the plants mentioned above, but they are really hardy and can be grown on
rocks/driftwood like Jave Fern.
I just reread your message and realized that my diatribe on foreground plants didn't
really answer your question :) The crypts and anubias will not care about the light
levels and may prefer it darker. They are what most people recommend for lower light
tanks. For lower light levels, Glossostigma, riccia, and maybe the chain sword
probably won't do so well. 4-leaf clover doesn't seem to care (at least not in my
tank, but that may be why it looks funny:). Lilaeopsis has grown in the shadowy
areas in my tank, so I think it may do well in lower light than the books say for
it. I know that there was some discussion about glossostigma and lilaeopsis and the
hardness of water, so you might want to look that up in the digest. I would
recommend getting small samples of each you want to experiment with and trying them
out. The ones that do well, keep and the ones that die off, probably aren't worth
the hassle, so don't sweat it. Remember that any of the Crypts will take about a
month to settle in and start growing.
Whew! What a mouthful! Sorry about the long post, but hopefully it helped some. If
there is any wrong information in what I posted, I am sure someone will correct it :)
Waldorf, MD, USA
by "Ole Larsen" <olet/larsen.dk>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999
I have never seen this mentioned here on the APD, so here it is.
The Microsorum (I don´t know if var. Windeloev or Tropica will do). Big
leaves, broken off, placed on the gravel, back side up, hold in place by a
few pepples will in time create a beautifull "lawn". And it doesn´t need CO2
injection or much light ( the last in opposition to most "lawn"plants) It
tolerates high pH and even a little salt ( if anybody could ever think of
using that, routinely :-) )
by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000
While I'm at it I might as well take the time to grumble about care and
maintenance of plant "carpets". I just spent the better part of an hour
separating Hydrocotyle and Marsilea and replanting. I can't escape the
sense that there has to be a better way.
I grow carpets from 5, maybe 6 (depending on your definitions) different
plants. Here's my experience with each. I'd love to hear other people's
experience with these and others and the solutions they used.
Hydrocotyle sp. (leucocephala?): Really worked well once I got it to grow
horizontally. It's easier to plant if you let it float at the surface for
a while before trying to plant it. That way the leaves and roots are all
pointing in the right directions. The stems don't branch much and (in my
tank) older leaves tend to get holes and look bad. That leads to a lot of
maintenance because old leaves need to be removed and trimmed stems need
to be replanted to keep the carpet thick.
Marsilea sp.: I've had this stuff for several years. It has always grown
very slowly when the plants were small. Growth accelerates as the plants
spread out and mine now are large enough that they can extend their
horizontal runners 6 inches or more in a week, with new leaves coming up
every inch or so. The leaves are mostly of the 4-leaf clover variety,
with some of the "inverted ladle" type. I've had two problems with the
Marsilea; old leaves turn dark, gradually die and need to be removed, and
shading causes the plant to send its leaves up higher. The first problem
requires trimming, but nothing too extreme. The second problem is getting
really annoying because young leaves coming up in the middle of the carpet
where they are shaded by older leaves tend to grow above the older leaves
- - way above, sometimes 8 inches to a foot above the substrate.
E. tenellus: It's a heavy feeder that grows like mad. Stands of it get
so dense that the plants starve each other competing for nutrients. The
carpet gets light colored, sickly and weak if it isn't continually
uprooted, thinned and fertilized. It also tends to bolt for the light
when it's shaded and in that case it's a pretty lousy carpet.
Sagittaria sp. (subulata? - or possibly another grass-like Echinodorus):
Broad, grass-like leaves with a prominant central vein and two less
prominant veins parallel the central vein. Runners are mostly (but not
always) below the substrate. This stuff makes really dense stands without
strangling itself, but it gets tall enough that it's more of a
middle-ground plant (maybe foreground in a large, deep tank). It's very
invasive. Less demanding than E. tenellus, but usually too big. It may
stay lower when the plants are separated and unshaded.
Lileaopsis sp.: I had a heck of a time getting this to grow. I bought a
single pot of lileaopsis 5 or 6 years ago and it grew poorly. Eventually
it died back to the point where I had 1 inch of runner with one healthy
leaf and half of a dying leaf. I moved it to another tank and got a very
slow recovery. I tried it in a few other conditions without success, then
last year I moved what I had (then two or three runners, each 6 inches
long or so) to a third tank - a 20 gallon tank with 2 20 watt fluorescent
lights and a mature substrate with peat mixed into the lower half. There
it burgeoned. Now I have a pretty respectable little carpet spreading
fast. It's pretty invasive and I have to uproot and replant some every
couple weeks. It gets really dense and doesn't seem to choke on itself
the way E. tenellus does. Lileaopsis would be a nearly ideal carpet plant
if it weren't for the difficulty finding a place where it would grow.
Isoetes sp.: I have a couple clumps of this stuff that send their quills
up about 2 inches then spreads horizontally to a diameter of 6 inches or
so. It grows slowly and requires no regular feeding or trimming and seems
like an ideal low-growing foreground plant, It even provides a nice bush
or bunch-grass look that could be used well in an Amano-style landscape
analogy. Its downside seems to be the same as its upside. It is slow
growing and I'm continually weeding more aggressive plants out from around
it so that it doesn't get smothered. It's in the same tank with the
Lileaopsis stand and some E. tenellus and both plants tend to grow into
Letting two different kinds of carpet plants grow into each other seems
like a maintenance no-no. Different plants require different care, and
when they're intergrown you can't do anything to one without doing it to
In addition to these, there a few other plants that I've grown that have
some promise as foreground or carpet plants, and I wouldn't mind hearing
from people who tried these or anthing else.
I've tried a couple small Crypts and found that they shade each other and
get taller. I have some Bolbitis (huedelotti?) tied to small pieces of
driftwood and arrayed at the front of a tank somewhat like some people use
riccia. I like the Bolbitis, but it's growing very slowly and tends to
harbor an annoying algae. Riccia - I started with it but it seemed like
way more trouble than it was worth. I've also used Java moss on rocks in
the foreground and decided it wasn't very attractive. I haven't tried
glossostigma yet despite it's being fairly commonly available these days.
Nor have I tried pinning down Hygrophilla difformis the way I do
Hydrocotyle - I understand it works very well that way.
Any more thoughts?
In Albuquerque, where all the courses I run seem to be up hill all the way