Aquarium Plants

Java fern

  • Scientific name:  Microsorum pteropus
  • Common name: Java fern
  • Temperature :  Between 18ºC and 30ºC
  • pH: Between 5.0 and 8.0
  • Difficulty level: Easy to care
  • Growth, height: Up to 35 cms.


The Java fern (Microsorum pteropus) , is as its name indicates, a fern of the Microsorum family .

This fern is marketed with several different types of leaves,
narrow leaf, needle leaf, Windelov leaf, spear leaf, and trident.

We can find Java ferns in a large number of aquariums, for reasons that are quite simple, such as that they
are very simple plants to grow, they grow without the need to pay much attention, and their growth is not excessive, so we should not worry that end up invading the aquarium.

Its growth is in height,
it is not uncommon to see plants that measure up to 35 centimeters high, For this reason, it is usually used at the bottom of the aquarium, to provide a green screen, which adds naturalness to the whole.


The Java fern can be divided into three distinct parts, its leaves, its roots and its rhizome.

The most striking thing about this plant are
its leaves, of an intense light green color , although it is possible to find specimens of darker tones. The color of some leaves takes on a certain brown color when the plant is in the reproductive phase, although it also happens that some leaves may show brown spots, caused by necrosis, when they age.

In these cases, it is best to remove those leaves that spoil the plant, since it recovers easily and will soon return to new leaves, which can grow taller and more vigorously than the previous ones.

The most common shape of the leaves is elongated, wide (up to 5 centimeters)and flat, with a very evident midrib. They are spear-shaped, which is why they are said to have lanceolate leaves.

The Java fern
has a rhizome from which the leaves sprout. This rhizome is composed of false roots that act as anchor of the plant to the substrate, and of real roots.

Apparently they are the same, except that
the real roots have trichomes, a hairiness that runs through the roots, while the false ones, whose sole mission is to fix the plant, do not have this hairiness.
The roots do not have the mission of transporting the nutrients to the leaves , as happens in most plants, their only mission is to serve as a support for the plant, which absorbs its nutrients through the leaves.

The size of a specimen ranges from 8 centimeters wide to 50 centimeters, with a height that can reach 35 centimeters.

Distribution and habitat

The fact of Java can be found on the island of the same name, as well as in Malaysia, Thailand and certain regions of China.

This wide geographic distribution is what provides different types of leaves, size and shape.

In its natural state, its roots are attached to rocks and it can grow totally or partially submerged.

It is not a plant that takes well to bury its roots, its rhizome must grow attached to a trunk or the surface of some rocks, but if we plant it, we must ensure that it is only partially.

Interestingly, when we are facing an aquarium with a high density of fish, the growth of Microsorum pteropus is more exuberant, due to the amount of nutrients from the fish waste.

Some aquarists often use
fertilizers with traces of iron, to prevent their leaves from turning yellow.

As a curiosity and an example of the hardness of this plant, it
grows without adding CO2 .


Another reason for the success of the Java fern is how easy it is to reproduce. With just one fern, you can have plants for years, making it very, very inexpensive in the end.

In nature it could reproduce by spores transported by the air, remember that it can live as a plant partially covered with water.
But this option is very rare in nature itself, and in the aquarium it is unfeasible.

The most common way is
dividing the creeping rhizome , which grows wide and from which new leaves sprout as it grows.

Another way, that is used less, but that is feasible, is
obtaining small plants from the pruning of the leaves. It would consist of cutting the upper part of the leaf, and sowing it in the substrate.

Buy Java Fern


The ease with which the Java fern grows makes it a suitable plant for any beginning aquarist.

Perhaps the only precaution to take into account is not to cover the rhizome completely, and although it seems weird (for those starting out), it is best to tie it to a stone or log and hope it sticks with its false roots.

As it is a large plant, with good vertical growth, it
is recommended to put it at the bottom of the aquarium.

Java fern photos

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