Riccia fluitans (Crystalwort)

Riccia fluitans (Crystalwort)

Riccia fluitans, commonly known as Crystalwort, is a lush floating plant. Due to its versatility, it is often used for intricate aquascaping in show aquariums. This does not mean that it is for experts only; even novice aquarists can normally keep Riccia fluitans without any trouble. Riccia fluitans should not be kept with vigorous plant eaters, because this plant does not cope well with such attacks.


Riccia fluitans forms thick clusters of bright green threads. If you refrain from pruning, Riccia fluitans will grow into a sphere shaped clump with slightly flattened “poles”, quite similar to planet Earth. Small clumps of Riccia fluitans normally float at or just below the surface. As the plant grows bigger and heavier, it will gradually sink down into the water.

Riccia fluitans does not develop any real root system, but it can anchor itself to solid objects such as rocks and branches. Use a piece of string or a rubber band to attach your Riccia fluitans to begin with and remove the string/rubber band when the plant has anchored itself. In some cases, there will be no need to remove the thread because it will be completely covered in lush green.

Riccia fluitans in the aquarium

As mentioned earlier, Riccia fluitans is a truly versatile plant that can be utilized in a wide range of ways on the aquarium. Even though it is a floating plant, it can be grown completely submerged. You can let it float free or anchor it to rocks and driftwood to make an “aquarium lawn”. You can let it grow over larger rocks and/or ledges in the aquarium to create a green, hilly landscape. 

Riccia fluitans care

Caring for Riccia fluitans is not an arduous task, unless you wish to spend a lot of time pruning into specific shapes. Riccia fluitans is found in a rich assortment of various habitats in many different parts of the wild, and can tolerate a water temperature from 15 to 30 degrees C. This means that you can keep it with a wide range of different fish species. The water can be medium soft to really hard and the pH-value can vary from 6.0 to 8.0.

In fry rearing aquariums

Ricca fluitans provides great shelter for fry, and small fry can also feed on micro organisms that live on this plant. You can either let your Ricca fluitans float at the surface, or anchor it down and create a “lawn” in which eggs and fry can stay hidden. By including plenty of Ricca fluitans, you can actually achieve a rather high survival rate even when fry is left in the same aquarium as adult fish. If you do not wish to set up a separate fry rearing aquarium, adding plenty of Ricca fluitans is a great alternative for many species.

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