Microsorum Pteropus, Java Fern
- Hardiness: Very Easy
- Light Needs: Low
- Plant Structure: Moss / Fern
- Family: Polypodiaceae
- Genus: Microsorum
- Region: Asia
- Location: Southeast Asia
- Size: Height: 15-30 cm (6-12 in)
- Growth Rate: Medium
- Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes
Microsorum pteropus, known far and wide as 'Java Fern', can be found growing in a myriad of environments on its native continent of Asia. This universal aquarium plant is available for sale in most every establishment that sells aquatic plants, though the cultivars Microsorum pteropus 'Tropica' and Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov' (so named for the aquatic plant nursery Tropica and its owner) are less frequently encountered.
Microsorum pteropus is one of the easiest aquatic plants to cultivate, and as such, it is an indispensable starting point for the aquatic plant novice. This ease of maintenance combined with its ability to root on rocks and other surfaces that are typically unavailable for planting have assured this species' longevity in the hobby. Medium light is sufficient for optimal growth, though higher and lower values are tolerated well. Like plants from the genus Anubias, Microsorum pteropus features a rhizome from which both leaves and roots develop. This can be anchored to a rock or a piece of driftwood using threads or other materials; after a few months the roots will take hold and the binding media can be removed. If the aquarist desires to plant this plant in the substrate, he or she should take care to bury only the roots and not the rhizome. Though exceptional fertilization and CO2 supplementation are not necessary, good circulation is essential for good growth. Emersed cultivation within a paludarium or terrarium is easy, as long as the planting surface or substrate is kept fairly moist.
The propagation of Microsorum pteropus is merely a matter of either dividing the creeping rhizome with a knife and reattaching or replanting the severed piece, or removing the adventitious plants that periodically form on the leaves and securing them.
With its distinctive ability to grow on otherwise unplantable surfaces, the possible applications of Microsorum pteropus in the aquascape are virtually unlimited. A favourite place for this species is growing on a piece of wood in the middle or rear area of the aquarium. Another popular practice is the planting of a cork wood background with this species, where it proves an excellent backdrop for other species growing in the substrate.
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