Ceratopteris thalictroides - Watersprite

Ceratopteris thalictroides - Watersprite

Watersprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is also known as Water Fern and Indian Fern. Its native habitat is still or slowly moving waters in tropical regions around the globe. Watersprite has been a popular aquarium plant since the early 20th century and is still one of the most commonly utilized aquarium plants due to its sturdiness, fast growth rate and ease of propagation. It will also bind a lot of organic waste and release plenty of oxygen into the water. Watersprite a versatile plant that can be planted in the substrate, anchored to aquarium decoration, or left floating on the surface.

Watersprite description

Watersprite can grow taller than 60 cm and is somewhat similar to the Chrysanthemum plant. The leaves are soft and of an emerald green shade. The exact color will depend on how much light your aquarium receives. This plant can grow up above the surface and the leaves will then become brittle and quite fleshy. This can be compared to the big, pliable leaves that grow below the surface. 

Planting Watersprite

One of the reasons why Watersprite is so popular is that it will grow planted as well as unplanted. If you want to keep it planted, you can use a pot or plant it directly in the aquarium substrate. If you have digging fish, you can instead anchor Watersprite to rocks, driftwood or other types of aquarium decorations. Anchoring is however far from mandatory since Watersprite can float on the surface, thereby dimming the light and providing great cover for shy fishes.

Recommended conditions for Watersprite

Watersprite is a really sturdy plant that will adapt to most freshwater conditions. The preferred conditions are however soft and slightly acidic water. The water temperature should ideally be kept above 20 degrees C. Direct or indirect incandescent lighting (i.e. “normal” aquarium lighting) is enough for this plant, but is will appreciate fluorescent lighting. Natural light is also an option.

Since Watersprite is robust and grows fast, it can be kept even in aquariums where the fish like to nibble on plants. It is also resilient towards algae growth and snails. Its nemesis is instead potassium permanganate and this should therefore never be used to disinfect the aquarium.

Watersprite propagation

Watersprite propagates by forming “babies” on the outer leaf margins. These babies will then break of and develop their own roots. If the babies are unwilling to leave on their own, you can gently pull them from the parent plant when you begin to see tiny roots. If a leaf is torn from your Watersprite, you can leave it floating in the aquarium and wait for it to form new babies. Babies can be formed by both submerged and non-submerged Watersprite leaves. The parent plant normally dies within a year, but by then it will have formed numerous babies.  

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