Water Sprite Plant: A Comprehensive Care Guide


With so many options when it comes to aquarium plants, you may have spent a few hours here and there contemplating what would go best in your tank. 

The Water Sprite plant is one you don’t have to think too much about, as it is a plant that goes well in almost any aquarium tank, and that might be that little extra which you have been looking for, that will provide additional comfort for your fish while also making your tank look great and leafy.



About the Water Sprite Plant



The Water Sprint, also known by its scientific name Ceratopteris thalictroides, is a species belonging to the genus Ceratopteris, which in turn is part of the Pteridaceae family. Other names are Oriental Waterfern, Indian Fern, Water Fern, and Water Hornfern, and it is known as an aquarium plant that is easy to care for and highly versatile. 

It can be placed both in the background or in the middle of the tank and provides pleasant shade for fish that might enjoy having somewhere to hide away, and it thrives in most freshwater tanks. 

Here is some basic information in regards to the Water Sprite plant: 



Information Chart  
Care Level: Easy
Average Size: Varies
Family Pteridaceae
Minimum Tank Size:

Suitable for all tank sizes, but 10+ gallons preferred

Temperature: 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit
PH between 7.0 and 7.5
Plant Placement Background




It is that perfect addition to any aquarium, and a plant for anyone who wants to make their tank more pleasant to look at, and more comfortable for its inhabiting fish to live in, thanks to how easily the plant adapts to almost any freshwater tank. When it comes to ecology, this is a plant most commonly found in still waters, and it can survive on altitudes of anything from sea level and all the way to 1300 meters, even though it seems to thrive more on altitudes of less than 500 meters.



Physical Appearance of the Water Sprite Plant



These plants are very bright and green in color, and they are known for making an aquarium come to life in a unique way, with its lush leafy look that dances in the water. The plant tends to be pale green when healthy and ripe, while it might darken and even go slightly brown when mature. 

Many aquarium owners opt for changing them if this happens, as they will no longer have that fresh and inviting appearance you fell for in the first place.



The stem of these plants is often slightly darker in shade than the leaves, and if you look closely you can see how the leaves seem to stretch away from the stem they are attached to, which is what creates such a visually attractive plant for tanks and aquariums. 

The plant will also take on a different look depending on if you have chosen to plant it or let it float, as a floating Water Sprite can become quite a tangled mix of roots, stems, and leaves.



What to Look for When Buying a Water Sprite



There are a few things to take into consideration if you want to make sure you get a healthy quality plant, and one is to have a close look at the leaves. The leaves should be fresh and green, and you are best off avoiding plants with browning leaves, or leaves that are starting to curl at the tips, as these could be indicators that the plant is dying. 

Also, look for other signs of either the stem or leaves being damaged or dying, as this is likely to reduce the lifespan of your new Water Sprite aquarium plant, and cause you to have to spend money twice when being forced to purchase a new one.



Another thing to pay close attention to when you pick out your aquarium Water Sprite is the roots. Yes, you heard right – the roots can tell you a lot about the plant’s general health. If the roots seem very short, if there seem to be very few roots or if they appear to be decomposing already (pay attention to the color and feel) – this is a bad sign, and it means you are probably better off choosing a different plant. 



Conditioning the Tank



There is a step to take before you get your perfect plant, though, and this would be to make sure your tank will provide the ideal conditions for your plant to thrive. The way to do this is to start with having a look at how Water Sprite plants live in the wild, and in what conditions they thrive. 

The water sprite grows in swamps and still waters, and this is something you will want to recreate in your aquarium or small fish tank. Keep any direct water flow away from the plant, as this is not something it does well with, and it can cause damage.



Other than that, the Water Sprite is very resistant and can easily adapt to most water conditions, however, the ideal water temperature is somewhere between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a PH of 6.0-7.5 and a hardness of KH 3-8. 

If you are unsure of whether your plant is thriving, the best way to tell is to have a close look at it every time you change the water in the tank.



Should Water Sprites Be Floated or Planted?



There are two ways to add a Water Sprite plant to your tank, and that is by either planting them or floating them in the water. The plant itself does not really seem to have a preference, meaning it won’t matter to the health of the plant whether you float or plant it, and this will instead become a question of what you prefer and what will best benefit the space you have to offer it.

A floating plant is very easy to install, as all you really need to do is to drop it into the water. The Water Sprite will stay on the surface, and after only a few days, you will begin to notice its roots growing
and expanding.



When leaving the Water Sprint floating, you are basically giving it permission to grow, move and expand anyway it likes, and you have very little control of how it will look in terms of placement. When you plant it, you do get that control, and you can decide what part of your tank you want it to grow in, and where you think it will look best. 

Some prefer this, while others prefer to have it floating on the surface, as this provides shades for other plants, and it also makes the tank come alive in a whole different way. A floating Water Sprint is likely to grow larger than a planted Water Sprint, due to being closer to the light source.



Substrate vs. Aquarium Gravel



Are you planning to plant your Water Sprite? Great, now let’s have a look at what to plant it in. Many plant experts recommend using a plant substrate rich in nutrients rather than to use aquarium gravel, as this will give your Water Sprite a chance to soak up all it needs in order to thrive. 

When dealing with live aquarium plants (such as the Water Sprite aquarium plants) opposed to artificial plastic plants – a nutrient-rich substrate is the better option.


Ceratopteris thalictroides




The Planting Process



Make sure you have 2-3 inches of substrate ready at the bottom of your tank, which is where you will be planting your Water Sprite. Choose its location carefully, to avoid having to re-plant or move it later on. The Water Sprite needs space to grow as its roots expand, so you will want to calculate and make sure it has some extra space, especially if you have bought it small.



The process of planting your Water Sprite is no different than planting any other plant; you make a hole in your chosen location, and you should ensure the whole is big enough to fit all the roots. Put your plant in there and gently cover up the roots and possibly a small part of the base of the stem, so that the Water Sprint does not tip over. 

The roots should be completely covered with a substrate (gravel or sand) and they should not be exposed. If there is direct water flow anywhere in your tank – try to keep the Water Sprint away from it.



Where to Position the Plant



This is a mid-to-background plant, and this is not because they couldn’t do well growing in the foreground, and it is more a question of their leafy presentation possibly obscuring the in-depth view of your tank. When planted in the background, the one thing you need to take into consideration is the power filter water intakes. 

Don’t place the plant too close to these as a leaf could easily get stuck, either damaging your Water Sprint or potentially even clogging the filter, which could quickly become problematic. An option is to add a pre-filter to prevent this from happening if you prefer to have the Water Sprint planted in the background.



If you would rather incorporate the Water Sprite as a midground plant – that works very well too, and here the main thing to consider is for it to have enough space to grow and expand, as they do tend to grow significantly once properly planted.



What Else to Put in the Tank?



So, now that you have the tank, you’ve added the Water Sprite and you are pretty happy with the outcome – what’s next? It is time to figure out what else to put in the tank, and what tank mates are suitable for a Water Sprite plant. 

The one animal to be a little wary of is the snail, as some types of snails might resort to eating it, which would be an issue for obvious reasons. This can sometimes be prevented by making sure your snails are always properly fed, to simply reduce the need for them feeding off your new leafy plant.



Goldfish is another species to be a little cautious with for the same reasons, along with Cichlids that could potentially end up devouring the entire plant. Instead, consider getting fish that will enjoy the shade the water sprite aquarium plants provide, or fish that prefer to hide or lay eggs in a more sheltered environment. 

Examples of great species to add to your tank when you have Water Sprite lace leaf plants are Killifish, Platies, Class Catfish (Clarias), Guppies, Tetras and more, as these are more likely to live in perfect harmony with your Water Sprite.



Caring for a Water Sprite Plant



Not everyone wants to spend a lot of time caring for what is in their fish tank, and the good news is that the Water Sprite care is surprisingly simple. It pretty much takes care of itself once you plant it or leave it to float, but you do need to pay attention to how large it grows, as it could sometimes start taking up a little too much space. 

If this happens, you can trim the secondary stems (remove these afterward, to make sure they don’t start rooting and spreading), but you should never cut into the main stem as this could do serious harm to a Water Sprite, and eventually lead to it dying. Learning how to trim Water Sprite plants is not hard, and you will get the hang of it quickly.



Level of Difficulty



Buying, planting and caring for a Water Sprite aquarium plant is easy, so this is considered an easy level plant to have in your fish tank. It is a great beginner’s plant for anyone who is new to having a fish tank or to care for an aquarium, and it will start you off just right with a plant that pretty much takes care of itself. 

As long as you check on your Water Sprites plant regularly, such as when you change the water in the tank, and remove any parts that are looking a little brown or decomposing, you will quickly notice how easy it is to care for.



Benefits of a Shade Providing Plant



Shade in an aquarium has a number of known benefits, and one of them is to keep the algae levels at a bay, which should always be a priority when you have a fish tank. By adding this kind of a plant, Water Sprite, and especially if you let it float – you will be providing natural shade for everything that lives in your tank, as well as for the water itself, which can become key when trying to keep algae levels under control.



Shade is also preferred by many fish, and especially the species known to be a little shy and almost “private,” because many fish species enjoy hiding away from time to time. By providing shade, your tank will become a more pleasant place for its inhabitants, allowing both animals and plants to thrive.  



How Lighting Affects Growth



The amount of light a Water Sprite receives will have a direct impact on how much it grows, and how fast, and the more light it receives the faster and bigger it will grow. This knowledge can be useful both to figure out what to expect, but also if you would like to have a little more control of Water Sprite propagation and growth.

 If it isn’t getting quite as big as you would have wanted – add more light or expose it to light for longer periods of time. Naturally, a floating Water Sprite receives more light as it is closer to the surface and closer to a light source, and this is why most plants grow larger when floating, compared to those that are planted.



It can be tempting to let your Water Sprite grow freely at a fast pace, but remember not to let it take up too much space, as a very large Water Sprite could possibly start stealing nutrition away from other living things in the tank, and in a case like this, you might want to either reduce its size or add additional nutrients such as the appropriate fertilizer.






When it comes to propagating Water Sprite plants are quite fascinating! Little plantlets will start growing on their own on the stems, and eventually – when they are ready – they will gently break off and separate themselves from the main plant. If you are not interested in having your Water Sprite plant turn into many little Watersprite plants, these plantlets will need to be removed.



Who Should Get a Water Sprite Plant?



The Water Sprite is one of those plants that you don’t have to think twice before getting, and it is one that most tank- and/or aquarium owners can benefit from adding their plant collection. Not only does it provide shade, but it also looks great with its many green leaves, and it is so easy to care for that it pretty much cares for itself, provided the tank is properly conditioned in terms of water temperature and PH 


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