Windelov Java Fern
Although often overlooked in the aquarium trade, the windelov java fern is the perfect aquatic plant for beginners and experts. Its unique look and hardiness make it a perfect addition to freshwater aquariums.
The windelov java fern is a variety of java fern, which has the scientific name Leptochilus pteropus. There are other types, but most of them have similar care requirements.
Java ferns are native to the Indonesian island of Java. They grow in aquatic or semi-aquatic locations around the island. Additionally, they are found in Malaysia, Thailand, parts of India, and even China.
Their widespread range has made them hardy plants, and they survive nearly anywhere.
As mentioned beforehand, windelov java ferns can grow both above and below the water. They require lots of moisture in order to survive.
Lastly, windelov java ferns reach a size of 4-7 inches (10-17 cm) in height if kept in an aquarium.
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Java ferns prefer to have a low to moderate amount of light, but can adapt to a high amount.
A minimum of 6 hours of direct light is ideal, but these aquatic plants can easily handle 12 hours.
As a general rule, aim to use lights with a wattage rating that equals 1.5 – 3 watts per gallon of water.
Additionally, most types of lights will be sufficient for this plant. Full spectrum LED lights, old-style aquarium tube lights, and fluorescence all work well.
As far as the temperature color range goes, 5000K – 7000K lighting is ideal.
Temperature and pH Requirements
Unlike most aquarium plants, java ferns can survive in unheated aquariums. They require a minimum of 60°F (16°C) in order to survive.
However, these plants thrive best in heated aquariums between 74°F to 82°F (23°C to 28°C), but they will tolerate slight changes.
Additionally, the windelov java fern requires a pH between 5.5 and 8.0. Although they will tolerate acidic and alkaline waters, they do best in a neutral pH of about 7.0.
Always make sure the pH is within the given range before adding them to an aquarium or they may begin to die off.
Freshwater aquatic plants generally do best in soft water without heavy minerals or a lot of chemicals.
Make sure to always test for water hardness before adding plants. Use conditioners or treatments if needed to soften the water.
Windelov Java Fern CO2 Requirements
Like other plants (both terrestrial and aquatic), Java ferns require carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Fortunately, CO2 is denser than water and naturally absorbs into aquariums.
However, most aquariums don’t absorb enough CO2 to create a healthy environment for aquatic plants. Even though it isn’t needed for ferns, CO2 supplements can help boost growth.
Always be careful when adding carbon dioxide to aquariums with living fish or creatures. Too much C02 blocks out oxygen, which can be deadly.
Tips for Increasing CO2 Levels in Aquariums
There are a few different ways to raise carbon dioxide levels in aquariums, which can help boost aquatic plant growth.
*Note that too much carbon dioxide can be toxic for aquatic animals.
CO2 injection kits or supplements are sold at most pet stores or online. Follow the product’s instructions and add it to aquariums to help boost plant growth.
However, some downsides are that injection kits can be expensive or and can break. For this reason, CO2 supplements might be a better option for beginners. Add supplements whenever fish are fed or after water changes.
Increase Water Surface Area
Increasing the amount of water exposed to the air allows more CO2 dissolve into the water.
Taking off aquarium lids to let more air pass over the water increases CO2 levels. Wide and shallow aquariums are the best option for allowing CO2 to absorb into the water.
Another option is to simply let the windelov java ferns grow up and out of the water. The ferns can pull CO2 directly out of the air and stay healthy as long as they are kept moist.
How to Plant Windelov Java Ferns
As with most aquatic plants, never plant java ferns directly into aquarium substrate. Soil and sandy substrates will cause the roots of aquatic plants to rot.
Instead, attach windelov java ferns to rocks, driftwood, or other decorations. The plant will eventually wrap its roots around the object.
However, aquatic ferns may be directly planted in loose gravel substrates. As long as the gravel is coarse, the plant will not suffocate.
If the ferns are struggling to stay attached to rocks of driftwood, consider using fishing line, aquarium safe glue, or wedge the plant between objects.
This gives the plant enough time to grow enough roots to hold itself in place.
Additionally, java ferns grow best when planted underwater. However, they can grow both partially submerged and above water if kept moist.
Thankfully, windelov java ferns are hardy and grow at nearly any water depth as long as they receive some light.
These ferns are able to grow while floating on the water’s surface. Also, they can be planted multiple feet (a few meters) deep underwater and grow without an issue.
Take care when transferring aquatic plants from growing out of the water to underwater. The change in environment may cause the plants to shed a few leaves, but they’ll grow back in no time with proper care.
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Additional Windelov Java Fern Care Tips
1. Java Ferns prefer to have medium water currents
Aquarium power filters, sponge filters, and air stones all help to create surface disruption of water.
The movement of water helps bring more carbon dioxide to the ferns and reduces algae or fungal growth that could injure the plant.
2. Windelov Java Ferns can grow while floating
Unlike most aquatic plants and ferns, java ferns can grow while floating in the water. Eventually, they might attach to a rock or corner and begin growing from there.
3. Consider using fertilizers
Aquatic plants need nitrates, macronutrients, and other important vitamins and minerals to survive.
Store-purchased capsules and liquid fertilizers can help boost plant growth and development.
If you have fish in your aquarium, make sure to use fish-safe fertilizers. Always make sure to use the correct amounts and follow the instructions listed on the product.
4. Do not grow Windelov Java Ferns in Saltwater
Java ferns are freshwater aquatic/semiaquatic plants. Most plants will not tolerate marine environments or water with high salt content, although some may adapt to brackish water.
Saltwater with high concentrations of salt will kill java ferns. However, they tolerate low levels of salt that can be used to treat infections and improve the health of aquarium animals.
Reproduction and Dying Leaves
Windelov java ferns usually reproduce by cloning themselves. Plantlets will start to form under the leaves of mature plants and detach after a while to form new plants.
They also reproduce by releasing spores, although this is quite in both nature and artificial environments.
Plantlets will grow independently after they separate from their parents and can be cared for in the same way as mature plants.
Windelov java ferns are hardy plants, so leaf loss isn’t very common unless the plant has changed environments or has a nutrient deficiency.
Too much algae can also cause leaves to die off.
If your ferns are losing a lot of leaves, try adding water stabilizers/treatments to create a better environment.
Frequent water changes can help remove excess elements such as nitrogen that can become harmful to plants if it builds up.
For more information on aquatic plants (and plants in general), visit Sun Spot Nursery
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