Peacock Fern: Complete Guide to Care, Reproduction, Tank Size

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Peacock Fern Overview

Numerous plants can be grown in the aquarium to spruce it up. They also act as a source of food and shelter for the fish. One of the lovely plants you could choose to hang in a basket over the tank is the peacock fern. Selaginella Uncinata is the scientific name of the peacock fern. The fern appears colorful as it refracts light that falls onto it.

There are a lot of plants that either live inside the water in an aquarium or outside it in the dry. The peacock fern is a plant that thrives outside the water but is good next to it.

Apart from its appearance that seems to change each time it is viewed from a different angle, the fact that it thrives in environments where humidity is high makes it a highly desirable plant for terrariums, paludariums, and aquariums.  

Information Chart Peacock Fern
Scientific Name: Selaginella Willdenowii
Family: Selaginellaceae
Care Level: Intermediate
Growth Rate: Slow 
Maximum Size: Grows up to a height ranging between 6 to 10 inches with foliage spreading to about 18 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Water Conditions: Humid and moisture-rich environment
Lighting: Low – Medium Lighting
Propagation: Divide the mat and move to another location
Placement: A shady nook near the aquarium

Peacock Fern Appearance

The peacock fern is one of the most unusual plants that you may find in and around freshwater aquariums. This is a credit to many factors. It appears to be a slightly different color when viewed from different angles. The most common color it seems to display apart from its original is blue. When light is reflected from another vantage point, it changes to purple. At some point, it almost appears brown. Then when there is little light or none at all, the plant is dark green. This same phenomenon is seen with the stems. Depending on the lighting and viewing angle, they may appear blue, green, or brown.

peacock fern

The leaves of the peacock fern are small yet widespread. They are also well cut, creating a canopy or oriental carpet. This gives the plant an intricate appearance. It is typically a short plant, with its maximum height reaching 6 to 10 inches. However, they do have an extensive network of leaves. All the leaves stem out from the central stem and create this network. The leaves begin foliage that covers a distance of up to 18 square inches. Wherever the leaves grow, they spread out and form a wide canopy.

Peacock Fern Size

The typical Peacock Fern grows up to 6 inches on the lower end and 10 inches for a larger specimen. 

The peacock fern is not a very large plant. It typically grows to a height that ranges between 6 and 10 inches. However, it creates a broader canopy. This leaves network can make foliage that ranges up to 18 square inches.  

Peacock Fern Care and Tank Set-Up

Peacock Fern Tank Size and Specifications

Optimum Tank Size and Shape for Peacock Fern

Peacock Fern Care and Tank Set-Up

The optimum tank size for Peacock Fern is not specific.

Peacock fern is not a plant that lives or grows inside the water. They need to be placed in a humid environment, preferably near a tank or water body. This means they do not require a place inside the tank.

Filter Type

Since the peacock fern is a plant that does not grow under the water, there is no requirement for a filter. The peacock fern grows outside the water and only requires some shade and a humid environment. 

Substrate

The best substrate for peacock fern is soil. This is one of the conditions that must be met for peacock ferns to stay healthy. Fine grainy particles may also suffice, but the ground is the ideal substrate that must be kept for peacock fern. However, when you decide on a substrate, make sure there are no large particles that may hinder the plant’s growth. Also, adding a little bit of fertilizer to the substrate is a good idea. This will allow the plants to absorb nutrients as well. 

How Much Space do Peacock Ferns Require?

The peacock fern is a plant that does not need too much space. This means even a tiny 10-gallon tank is good enough to house peacock ferns. Beyond that, you can use your discretion. Do not overcrowd your aquarium with too many plants, as it may also hamper the amount of light that the fish receive. 

Water Parameters for Peacock Ferns

Temperature

The ideal temperature for peacock ferns is between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 26 degrees Centigrade). 

The peacock fern is a very hardy plant. This is very evident with the wide temperature range.  

pH Level

The pH level for a peacock fern is a parameter that is not applicable as it is a plant that does not live inside the water. It lives right next to the water and is therefore ideal for terrariums. However, the conditions that must be maintained should be mildly acidic or neutral.  

Water Hardness

The water hardness for a peacock fern is a parameter that is not applicable as it is a plant that does not live inside the water. It lives right next to the water and is therefore ideal for terrariums. 

Peacock Fern Tank Landscape

Do-it-yourself strategies can be applied in having the plant thrive at home. The following are steps to help you grow a healthy peacock fern in your freshwater aquarium, the back garden, or wherever an individual deems fit. They can also be used as pointers on how to set up the terrarium for your peacock fern. 

  1. Identify a spot in the tank that has some shade most of the day. In this case, there should be other taller plants with a vast canopy that will keep the fern sheltered and not get direct lighting.
  2. As an aquarium plant, the tank should not be placed next to a window sill; instead, place the tank in the house where there is no direct sunlight.
  3. Ensure the substrate is fine and free from stones or other substances that may inhibit its growth (plastic or metals).
  4. Add fertilizer into the substrate. One teaspoonful is just enough. Pour some more substrate onto the fertilizer so that the young plant is not placed directly.
  5. Gently place the young peacock fern into a space that is dug out inside the tank.
  6. Cover the roots and stem with a fine substrate and press just a little bit to help it obtain stability.

Plants for Peacock Fern Tanks

The peacock fern is typically a very hardy plant. However, it does have specific needs that need to be met. It is essential that the plants kept with it maintain these conditions. Other hardy plants with very intense requirements are a good fit. The peacock fern is a plant that is not drought tolerant. Therefore if the adjacent plant has a high water requirement, they may not be compatible. 

Another critical factor is ensuring that the substrate is not overly fertilized. This may lead to fertilizer burn for the peacock fern. Therefore, the plant that accompanies the peacock fern must not have a very high requirement of nutrients from the soil. It shouldn’t have very thick roots that act as an obstruction to the fern’s roots. 

Lighting for Peacock Fern Tanks

The peacock fern is a plant that does not require much light. It can also flourish in the shade. The peacock fern should not be exposed to more than 2 hours of natural sunlight a day. That is why it is recommended to have artificial lighting in the tank. The maximum amount of light exposure that a peacock fern should have is 4 hours of light in a day. Also, ensure that the plant is kept away from the glass. This is to help reduce the direct exposure it has to any kind of light.

Peacock Fern Compatibility and Tank Mates

This plant is an excellent option for community tanks because there are many plants and fish that you can keep with it. Even the fish who occasionally nibble on plants should not be a problem unless they are very aggressive.

Ideal Peacock Fern Tank Mates

 Some ideal fish tankmates for this plant who will benefit from it are

  • Yoyo loach
  • Rosy barb
  • Silver shark
  • Neon tetra
  • Angelfish
  • Molly 
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Otocinclus 
  • Invertebrates like shrimps and snails

Peacock Fern Reproduction

There are do-it-yourself strategies that can be applied in having the plant thrive at home. The following are steps to help you grow a healthy peacock fern in your freshwater aquarium, the back garden or wherever an individual deems fit:

  1. Identify a spot in the tank that has some shade most of the day. In this case, there should be other taller plants with a vast canopy that will keep the fern sheltered and not get direct lighting.
  2. As an aquarium plant, the tank should not be placed next to a window sill; instead, place the tank in the house where there is no direct sunlight.
  3. Ensure the substrate is fine and free from stones or other substances that may inhibit its growth (plastic or metals).
  4. Add fertilizer into the substrate. One teaspoonful is just enough. Pour some more substrate onto the fertilizer so that the young plant is not placed directly.
  5. Gently place the young peacock fern into a space that is dug out inside the tank.
  6. Cover the roots and stem with a fine substrate and press just a little bit to help it obtain stability.

To help the plant maintain a healthy outlook, it is important to add top-dressing fertilizer once every two weeks. While doing this, ensure the fertilizer does not contact the plant stem.

Peacock Fern Care

The peacock fern can thrive if well taken care of. The secret is always to keep it away from strong sunshine. During the cold winter months, the temperatures can be heightened just a little bit. At least set the house’s heating to not more than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer months are quite humid. Ensure the peacock fern finds sufficient shade. If potted, keep the plant within the shade and only exposed to the sunshine early morning and late evening. The afternoon heat is too much for it and may cause it to burn. Remember to trim the plant occasionally.

Facts about Peacock Fern

  • The peacock fern grows quite slowly.
  • Peacock Fern isn’t a fern, despite what its name suggests. It is moss.
  • The plant is also known as Blue Spikemoss and Peacock Spikemoss.
  • You shouldn’t fully submerge this plant, so you can only use it in a terrarium or paludarium.

Are Peacock Fern Right For You?

Peacock Fern is one of the best plants to have in the tank. You just need to remember some important things about its care. The best part about the plant is that the peacock fern can have part of it uprooted and replanted again. This is best done carefully and ensures that the roots are still intact with the substrate. It should not be left to spread too wide. Peacock Fern is one of the cutest options to have in your tank.

FAQ

Can I keep peacock fern in a 10-gallon tank?

These days peacock ferns are treated more like a houseplant and less as in-tank plants. However, you can plant them in tanks under the right conditions. These plants do not need a lot of space to grow, so a 10-gallon tank will be more than enough.

Why is my peacock fern not growing?

Peacock fern is a slow-growing plant. It will take time to grow as it is sensitive to heat and light conditions. Do not be devastated if it does not grow immediately. Fertilize the plant well, spread the roots in the substrate, and wait for a couple of weeks.

Can we fully submerge peacock fern in a tank?

Peacock fern cannot be fully submerged in a tank or die. This is one of the beginner mistakes made by amateurs. Peacock ferns should only be partially submerged.

Conclusion

Peacock Fern is one of the most popular plants. Of course, like all plants, they need care and attention, but the effort you put in is worth the results. They bring beauty to your tank and grow pretty slowly but are very rewarding.

As long as you care for their water and lighting needs, they will thrive and look stunning in your tank. Just keep them watered and give them light, and take care not to submerge them in water, as that is a fatal mistake.

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