Dwarf hair grass, or Eleocharis Parvula as it is scientifically known, is a popular choice when it comes to adding plant life to your aquarium. This extremely versatile plant is commonly used to “carpet” areas of tanks and gives off a seaweed-like vibe, making the motion in the aquarium very obvious.
There are various ways of implementing dwarf hair grass in your environment, but not all of them are for beginners. (For beginners, I recommend you read this post) From the absolute novice to the well-experienced aquarist, dwarf hair grass can be the extra touch that takes your tank from pretty good to great! Let’s take a look at a few methods to grow dwarf hair grass.
Carpet? Berber or Shag…
Just as you must decide on a type of carpet for your new home, you must choose a style for your dwarf hair grass. Some people like to achieve a grassy, dense effect by planting dwarf hair grass in tight clumps, similar to what you would see in well-manicured lawn. Others like a sparse look and use the plant as an accent around other decorations. The thinned out approach entails dotting dwarf hair grass around the edges of rocks or plants to create a softer appearance.
Regardless of the approach you take, one oddity in regards to dwarf hair grass is its tendency to “remember” haircuts. That is to say, generally speaking, that cutting the dwarf hair grass short prior to planting it will usually result in a plant that does not grow very long. Meanwhile, leaving it untrimmed will result in longer growing varieties. The only limitation is your sense of style so choose a detail level that matches your aquarium. Try a mixture of both long and short if you like, layering longer strands near the back of the aquarium and shorter strands in front.
Planting Your Dwarf Hair Grass
The particular approach you take when planting your dwarf hair grass is entirely up to you. However, there are some basic tips that will make the process less frustrating. Once you have decided on how you want your plants to lie, place individual sections of dwarf hair grass approximately one inch into your tank’s substrate or gravel system. Consider picking up a special pair of tweezers just for this task, as it will make insertion that much easier.
Dwarf Hair Grass is a good plant to create a carpet in your aquarium as previously mentioned in my carpet guide post and infographic. Carpet-type installations call for a one to two inch space between each plant. Arrange the “saplings” in a box pattern, with one plant at each of the four corners and one smack dab in the middle. This will make for a nice layer of coverage.
Like many other aquatic plants, dwarf hair grass deploys runners throughout the substrate (or gravel), which will accelerate both the growth and the spread of the plant. Choose a soil solution with small granule size, as these will be easier for the dwarf hair grass to absorb.
Maintaining Your Dwarf Hair Grass
Dwarf hair grass is fairly neutral when it comes to maintenance. There are many higher maintenance plants as well as some that are even easier to “set and forget.” They are particularly well suited for low light levels, making them an excellent choice in your nocturnal themed aquascapes. As with most other aquarium plants, increased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels will result in faster growth. Read up on fertilizer solutions for all the plants you plan on using in your tank to find a method that will work for you. There are plenty of short-term and long-term solutions on the market today, guaranteeing a fit for any size aquarium or budget.
As mentioned earlier, there are several different layouts to choose from when it comes to dwarf hair grass. If you have already decided on a theme or style for your tank, then let your plant choices stem (pun intended!) from that selection.
When all else fails, experiment with different layouts and styles until you find one that checks all of your boxes. Dwarf hair grass can also be used in tandem with other carpeting plants (such as utricularia graminifolia), which can add an extra layer of complexity to even the simplest underwater scenes. Don’t be afraid to mix and match!