Utricularia graminifolia, a beautiful foreground plant, originated in Asia (Burma, China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam) and was discovered in 1804 by Martin Vahl, but it was introduced in freshwater aquariums only in 2005. In its natural environment, it grows both emersed and submersed in marshes and flooded areas.
Utricularia graminifolia is a perennial, carnivorous plant belonging to the Lentibulariaceae family, the Utricularia genus, the Bivalvaria subgenus. The name “graminifolia” originates from its resemblance to grass leaves, while the name of the genus “Utricularia” comes from the small vesicles present on the leaves of the plant. These vesicles are traps through which the plant catches small crustaceans from which it can extract, after dissolving them with enzymes, nitrogen and phosphorus to grow.
General description of Utricularia Graminifolia
Utricularia Graminifolia is a grass-like plant. It is made up of a multitude of leaves, connected to each other by a runner that runs through the substrate (a runner). The leaves are up to 1 cm long and about 1-2 mm wide. The color is light green-yellowish green. If planted in an aquarium with good development conditions, Urticularia will stretch across layers, across the entire lit surface, making a green and beautiful lawn.
Aquarium and water conditions
In aquarium, Utricularia graminifolia is considered a difficult plant to grow. Due to the fact that in nature it grows in soft water. Maintaining a kH around 4 to 5 degrees is a welcome addition (although the plant has adapted over time and in water with higher hardness). He prefers a nutrient substrate, slightly acidic and not too large to be anchored. Although we can find different values in terms of water temperature, we can say that a preferred average is between 18 and 25 °C. Although it grows in aquariums without the addition of CO2, such a supplement is very welcome, which ensures a faster and healthier growth, the plant reaching its true potential (also the addition of CO2 will also lead to a decrease in pH, preferring a water more acidic, around 6.5). An intense illumination is preferred (around 1 W / liter). Fertilization in water column with macro and micro elements is also required.
This plant can be easily gown emersed on a soil bed made of gravel and sand. Under poor light conditions the plant will grow longer and dark green colored leaves compared to the shorter, light green ones that are found in the plant growing in appropriate light conditions.
By some, this plant is considered to be a weed, because, if it has good growing conditions (a good CO2 supply, fertilizers and good light) it can spread very fast and easily cover the entire bed of the aquarium.
Planting Method for Utricularia Graminifolia
On a big scale this plant is grown both emersed and submersed by aquarium plant farms. They are often shipped in small pots that contain a couple dozen leaves. The plant will quickly adapt to its new environment and will not pose any transfer problems. The usual problem that can be encountered is the lack of CO2 in some tanks, with that the plant will start to melt and develop slowly, but it will recover rather quickly and there is nothing to worry about that. It is recommended that it is transplanted in a tank that has a CO2 supply.
The Utricularia Graminifolia is fairly to plant. Usually most big plant growers sell them on ceramic disks or mineral wool. To plant it, you simply have to cut the wool in several small pieces and plant them a couple cm apart from each other. In a few months they plant will start to propagate and will cover most of the aquarium substrate. It is good to keep some of the ceramic disk or mineral wool on the roots of the plant when planting it because it will weight down the plant making it easier to hold on the aquarium floor.
Propagation and maintenance
Propagation is relatively easy. The plant should be clipped once or twice a month, once it has stabilized in the aquarium and has grown. The trim of the plant will help to get the lawn effect. If the plant is not clipped often and is allowed to grow too much, its roots get a yellowish color and rot. The plant should be divided into small bushes, and they can be planted 5 cm apart. An easier method of plant Utricularia is to use anchor devices (JBL Plantis clips).
Does it work in shrimp tanks?
Utricularia Graminifolia is a carnivorous plant that uses small aquatic creatures to survive. It can be used in shrimp tanks but it’s not recommended because it can consume small baby shrimps, which will eventually lead to a stagnating tank that will only have adult shrimps which, in time, will eventually die.
Are fish fry safe?
Usually eggs of that lay them in community tanks have a very high chance to be eaten by other fish rather than the plant. The eggs are too big to be trapped by the vesicles of the plant. Even the smallest fish fry will be able to successfully avoid the death trap.
Aquascape ideas which involve Utricularia Graminifolia
The first aquascape involving Utricularia Graminifolia we can think of is made by combining different shades of green by using plants like Anubias Petite, Vasicularia Ferrei, Aponogeton bolvinianus and A. madagascariensis with the tones of red provided by Hygrophila pinnatifida.
Utricularia Graminifolia will also go along with longer leaves plants like Vallisneria Americana and Helanthium Vesuvius, adding Pogostemon erectus for a slightly bushy effect and toping it with some shades of red from Hygrophila Araguaia.
This plant is also ideal for underwater growth and can survive perfectly completely immersed in water, making it ideal for aquariums. If the plant finds good conditions within the aquarium, it may start developing small vesicles on the leaves to catch small creatures living in the water. Not all the plants will develop this feature.
It can be blended with other green plants to create a beautiful green tone aquascapes that can be topped with shades of red or blue.