How to Grow Water Sprite in a Fish Tank
By Jecinta Muturi @aquariawise
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is an aquatic plant commonly used in aquariums. It is native to tropical regions around the world and is known for its lush, feathery foliage.
Water sprite is a relatively easy plant to care for and can thrive in a variety of water conditions, from soft to hard water and from low to high lighting.
It can be propagated by simply cutting and replanting its stems, and it provides shelter and hiding places for fish and other aquatic creatures, especially while floating.
Overall, water sprite is a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts looking to add some greenery and natural beauty to their underwater habitats.
In this post is everything you need to know about planting and growing water sprite in a tropial freshwater fish tank.
Hope it will be helpful to you!!
How Fast Does Water Sprite Grow
In the wild, water sprite plants can grow to 50 cm (20 inches) tall and spread around 30 cm (12 inches). However, in an aquarium setting, the maximum size of a water sprite plant is typically smaller, usually reaching a height of around 30 cm (12 inches) (as mentioned above)and a width of 15 cm (6 inches) under ideal conditions.
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is an easy fast-growing aquarium plant that can grow up to several inches per week under ideal conditions.
The growth rate of your water sprite will vary depending on factors such as water temperature, lighting, nutrient availability, and carbon dioxide levels, but under ideal conditions, it will grow 1 to 2 inches (5 cm) per week, which means it can potentially grow 5 to 8 inches (20 cm) per month.
Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) often gets to 30 cm (12 inches) in height and 15 cm (6 inches) in width under ideal conditions. However, the size of your tank will impact your plant’s size.
In a small tank, the available space may be limited and restrict the water sprite growth. Additionally, a small tank may have lower lighting levels or limited water circulation, further impacting plant growth.
How Do You Grow Water Sprite Fast
Water sprite is a fast growing aquarium plant under the right conditions. To make it grow optimally, you’ll need to give adequate lighting and nutrients and maintain good water quality in your fish tank.
Here are some tips to help your water sprite grow faster:
— Provide enough light
Water sprite requires moderate to high light levels to grow, so ensure you have enough light for your plant. Ideally, you should aim for around 2-3 watts of light per gallon of water, 8 to 10 hours a day. If you’re using fluorescent bulbs, replace them every 6-12 months to ensure they’re providing enough light.
A PAR value of 30-50 µmol/m²/s is suitable for growing water sprite in an aquarium. However, note that the optimal PAR level may vary depending on your aquarium’s size, depth, and the type of lighting you use.
Full spectrum LED lights are the best choice in the market to grow water sprite in your aquarium aquarium, including water sprite (as of 2023).
— Maintain water quality
Water sprite is a hardy plant, but it still requires clean, well-maintained water to grow well.
You should test your water regularly and keep the pH between 6.5-7.5 and the temperature between 72-82°F, and ensure your water has adequate nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
Use a liquid aquarium fertilizer for your floating water sprite and root tabs for rooted plants.
— Add fertilizer
Water sprite can benefit from regular fertilization with a balanced aquatic plant fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients like iron and magnesium. Follow the instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilization, which can harm the plant.
Seachem Flourish comprehensive supplement is an ideal all around fertilizer choice for your water sprite. It contains most micro and macronutrients essential for plant growth, including potassium, iron, and calcium. Add it to your aquarium once or twice a week, depending on the nutrient concentration in your tank.
Another perfect all-around fertilizer is the Aquarium Co-Op Easy Green All-In-One Fertilizer. This liquid fertilizer contains a balanced blend of essential nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and micronutrients like iron and manganese. It’s also easy to use, as you only need to add it to your aquarium water once a week.
Plant your water sprite in the substrate with easy root tabs to help younger plants to develop and grow faster.
— CO2 injection
Injecting CO2 into your aquarium can help your water sprite grow faster by providing additional carbon for photosynthesis. You can use a CO2 injection system to add CO2 to your tank. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much CO2 will increase algae growth and harm your fish.
— Prune regularly
Pruning your water sprite can help it grow faster and maintain its shape. Trim off any yellow or dying leaves and cut back the plant as needed to keep it from becoming too large and taking over your aquarium.
You can use scissors or tweezers to trim your plant.
What are The Parameters for Growing Water Sprite
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is not just an easy plant to grow, it’s also a beautiful and versatile aquatic fern that can bring life and color to your aquarium.
With delicate, feathery leaves and rapid growth, water sprite will create a lush, natural-looking environment in your aquatic setup.
It is also an excellent plant for beginners because it can tolerate varying water conditions and lighting levels, making it easy to care for and maintain.
Here are some parameters to consider when growing water sprite:
— Moderate to High Light, 2 to 3 watts per gallon, PAR 30 to 50, 8 to 10 Hours a Day
—’ Temperature 70° to 82 ° F (21°C to 28 °C)
— Slightly acidic to neutral water pH 6.5 to 8
— Nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and Iron (Fe)
— CO2, about 25 ppm, dosing once or twice a week (only in high Tech Tanks)
You can add liquid or substrate fertilizers to the water to provide your water sprite with nutrients depending on whether your water sprite is floating or rooted in the substrate.**
Water Sprite Aquarium Plant Care
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is generally considered an easy plant to grow, especially for beginners. It can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and lighting levels and is known for its fast growth rate.
Water sprite is also relatively low-maintenance and does not require a lot of care, sophisticated lights, CO2 injection or special equipment to thrive.
The plant can thrive in a wide range of lighting conditions, from low to high.
However, it will grow faster and fuller in moderate to high lighting. Water sprite can absorb nutrients from the water column and the substrate, but will benefit from regular fertilization, especially with micronutrients such as iron.
You can start you plant directly in the substrate or left floating in the water. You can plant it in sand or gravel, but will benefit from a nutrient-rich aquasoils and substrate design for planted aquarium, such as. Flourite Black Sand.
Water sprite requires minimal maintenance, but regular pruning is recommended to prevent it from overgrowing and taking over the aquarium. It is also important to remove any dead or decaying leaves to prevent them from polluting the water.
Some fish, like goldfish eat aquarium plants, including water sprite, so remember to protect you sprite plants until they are well developed to withstand nibbles from your fish.
Plant your water sprite with the top of the root system about 1 or 2 inch (2.5 cm) below the substrate surface. Use aquarium plant weights to hold them down, especially if you have diggers, like cichlids and goldfish.
Most fish will eat plants out of hunger, so also provide them with plenty of food to prevent them from grazing on your live plants.
Water Sprite Aquarium Plant Temperature
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from around 68°F (20°C) to 82°F (28°C). However, the optimal temperature range for water sprite is typically between 72°F (22°C) and 78°F (26°C).
Do not expose water sprite or any aquarium plant to temperatures above 86°F (30°C) for an extended period of time as this can lead to stress, damage, and eventually death of the plant.
Additionally, high temperatures can promote the growth of unwanted organisms, such as algae and anerobic bacteria, which can negatively impact the health of your aquarium inhabitants.
Water sprite grown in a fish tank with high water temperature will become wilted and drop. Cold water will slow your plant’s growth and even cause it to die.
Water Sprite Light Requirement
Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) is a relatively undemanding aquatic plant when it comes to light requirements. It can thrive in a wide range of lighting conditions, from low to high light intensity.
However water sprite will thrive best in a moderate to high light intensity of 2-4 watts per gallon (PAR 30 TO 50). This can be achieved using several lighting options, such as fluorescent tubes, and LED lights. Providing 8-10 hours of light everyday is generally sufficient for promoting healthy growth.
The ideal spectrum for water sprite is in the blue and red light range, which promotes healthy photosynthesis and growth.
T5 and T8 fluorescent bulbs are still an option for providing light for aquarium plants, including water sprite, but LED lights are more popular due to their energy efficiency and customizable spectrum options.
The distance between your water sprite and the light source depends on the intensity and the tank size, but in general, the light source should be positioned 6-12 inches above the water surface.
Regularly clean the light fixtures and replace bulbs where necessary to ensure consistent light intensity and spectrum.
Here are some of the best lighting options to choose from for my water sprite planted tank:
1— Fluval 3.0 Plant Spectrum LED: This LED light fixture is designed for growing aquatic plants and comes with a wide range of customizable settings, including a sunrise/sunset mode, cloud cover mode, and a fully adjustable color spectrum. It also features Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to control the light from your phone.
2— Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED: This LED light fixture features a customizable 24/7 mode which allows you to create a gradual sunrise and sunset effect for your plants. It also features a full spectrum of RGB LEDs, allowing you to customize the color output of the light. The fixture is also low profile, making it ideal for aquariums with lower lids.
3— Chihiros A-Series LED: This LED light fixture is designed for planted aquariums and features a full spectrum of LEDs, including blue and red light necessary for plant growth, including water sprite. It also comes with a dimmer, allowing you to adjust the light’s brightness, and energy efficient.
4— Twinstar Light II: This LED light fixture is another great option for growing water sprite quickly. It features a full spectrum of LEDs, including blue and red light, and has a high PAR output, allowing for maximum plant growth. It also energy efficient and features a slim design, making it a great option for smaller aquariums.
5— Nicrew Classic LED Plus: This LED light is a more affordable option and is still a great choice for growing water sprite. It features a full spectrum of LEDs, including blue and red light, necessary for plant growth. The light is also adjustable, allowing you to customize the brightness and color temperature.
6— Current USA Orbit Marine LED: This LED light is designed to simulate natural sunlight and comes with several customizable settings, including a ramp-up and ramp-down and a lunar mode. It also features a full spectrum of RGB LEDs, allowing you to customize the color output of the light.
How to Plant Water Sprite in Aquarium
Planting water sprite in an aquarium is a relatively straightforward process. You will only need a few items to get the plant started. Here are the steps I follow:
1— Choose a suitable location: Water sprite can grow in different lighting conditions but prefers moderate, indirect light, so choose a section in your aquarium that receives ample light and has enough space for the plant to grow.
2— Prepare the plant: Remove any damaged or yellow leaves from the plant, and cut the stems to the desired length using a scissors or tweezers. The old foliage will fall out, and new leaves will develop once the plant is submerged, so removing dying leaves won’t kill your water sprite.
3—Plant your water sprite: Water sprite can be planted either in the substrate or floating. If you want to plant it in the substrate, make a small hole in the sand using your finger or a planting tool. Insert the stem of the water sprite into the hole, and gently press the substrate around the stem to hold it in place. If you want to leave it floating, you can rest it freely on the water surface or anchor one part of the plant on driftwood or aquascapes to keep it from moving with the water current.
4— Depth: Water sprite can be planted at different depths, depending on whether you want it to be rooted in the substrate. If you want your water sprite in the substrate, bury the stem about 1-2 inches deep in the sand. Ensure the roots are covered, but the leaves,crown, and stem are above the surface.
5— Weight it down: Water sprite has tendency to want to float, so you may need to use metallic aquarium plants weight to keep your plants grounded.
6— Spacing: When planting water sprite, give each stem enough space to grow and spread. A general rule of thumb is to place each plantlet at least 2-3 inches apart. This will prevent overcrowding and allow the plant to receive enough light and nutrients.
7— Maintain the plant: Water sprite is a relatively hardy plant that doesn’t require much maintenance. However, it does grow fast, and you may need to prune it occasionally to prevent it from overgrowing and shading out other plants in your aquarium.
8— Provide nutrients: Water sprite will benefit from a nutrient-rich substrate or regular fertilization. You can use liquid fertilizers or root tabs to provide essential nutrients to the plant.
9— Monitor water quality: Like all plants, water sprite can affect water quality in your aquarium. Watch the pH levels and ensure the water temperature remains within safe levels for your plants.
Can (Should) Water Sprite Be Planted (in A Substrate)
Water sprite can be planted in various ways, depending on your aquarium setup and preferences.
It can be planted directly in the substrate or floating on the water surface. If you choose to plant it in the substrate, ensure that the roots are buried securely in the sand or gravel, but the rhizome (the horizontal stem from which the leaves grow) should be left above the substrate.
You can plante water sprite in the substrate at any time, as long as the conditions in your aquarium are suitable for plant growth.
Before planting your water sprite, ensure that the water temperature, pH, and other parameters are within the suitable range for the plant. Water sprite prefers a pH range of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature range of 68-82°F (20-28°C).
Also ensure that your substrate is clean before planting your water sprite. If you are using a new substrate, rinse it thoroughly before adding it to your aquarium to remove any dust or contaminants.
You can plant your water sprite on most sand or gravel substrates, but corse sand or pea gravel are the best. Add some aquasoil with the subtrate to help your plants grow better.
Can Water Sprite Grow Emersed
Water sprite is an amphibious plant that can grow emersed or submerged. Emersed growth of water sprite offers beautiful aesthetics, with part of the plant growing outside the tank (above the water line).
Water sprite grown emersed will develop different leaves than when grown submerged. Emersed leaves are typically smaller, more compact, and have shapes different from the feathery, delicate leaves of submerged plants.
Please note that humidity is very crucial when growing your water sprite emersed to keep your plant’s leaves with brown edges. Too much light could also burn the leaves and cause them to change color.
So, to ensure your emersed water sprite remain healthy, trim the emersed leaves and keep the water line high to ensure the foliage gets enough moisture and the light are not too much for your plant.
Can Water Sprite Grow Floating
Water Sprite is a versatile floating aquarium plant that can also grow rooted in a substrate (submerged). When grown floating, the plant will typically produce longer and thinner leaves compared to when it is grown submerged.
To float your water sprite plant, gently lay it on the water, with the stems and leaves partially above the waterline. You can anchor the plant using a small weight or piece of fishing line tied to your plant base to prevent it from drifting away if you have a strong current or water movement.
Floating water sprite is best when you need a cover or shade over your fish tank. It also provides hiding spots for your skittish fish, and the dangling roots add a pleasant look to your fish tank.
You will not need to fertilize your floating water sprite because it’ll take nutrients from the water column, which also helps clean your tank and maintain the appropriate water quality.
However, remember water sprite is a fast-growing plant and can take over your fish tank while floating. The shade may also starve other plants of light, so it helps to treat your plant regularly.
Continue to care for them by maintaining good water quality, providing proper lighting, and adding fertilizer as needed.
How to Propagate Water Sprite
Water sprite is relatively easy to propagate by separating the plant into individual sections and planting them in the substrate. Do not cut the main stems, just the sprouting buds on ends of older leaves or the top of the plants.
Float the buds or cuttings in the water until they develop roots, then replant in the substrate or leave them floating. Alternatively, you can tie them to rocks or driftwood until they establish their roots.
Proper lighting, nutrient-rich water, and a suitable temperature are essential for the growth and development of the new plants.
Under the right conditions, the little water sprite plant will develop roots within a few days and show new growth within a week or two.
Continue caring for your water sprite plants by maintaining good water quality, proper lighting, and adding fertilizer as needed.
How to Trim Water Sprite
Trimming your water sprite,and other aquarium plants is necessary to keep it healthy and maintain its appearance considering the plant grows quite rapidly. Look for any stems or leaves that have grown too long, browning or yellowing, or blocking light from reaching other plants, and only trim the top part.
Avoid trimming main stems because that will kill your plant.
You can use scissors, tweezers or hold the top between your thumb and index finger and twist to remove part your do not need from your water sprite plant.
Start at the base of the stem and work your way up if you want to remove foliage along the plant. Be careful not to cut off too much at once, as this can shock the plant.
Once you’ve finished trimming, remove the cut parts from the water or leave them floating if you want them to establish into new individual plants.
Where to Buy Your Water Sprite Plants
You can purchase water sprite and other aquarium plants from a variety of sources, including local pet stores, aquarium shops, and online retailers. Here are some places I love (Try them):
1— Aquarium Coop
Aquarium Co-Op is an online retailer that specializes in aquarium supplies and aquatic plants. They offer a wide variety of products, including fish food, aquarium filters, aquarium heaters, and aquatic plants like water sprite.
Buy your water sprite from Aquarium Coop
eBay is a popular online marketplace where you can find a wide variety of products, including aquarium supplies and aquatic plants like water sprite. eBay offers a platform for individuals and businesses to buy and sell items, so you will find different sellers offering water sprite plants, which is good because you will have several .
Buy your Water sprite from eBay
3— Aquatic Arts
Aquatic Arts is another online retailer (like Aquarium Coop) that specializes in aquatic plants, fish, and invertebrates. They offer a wide variety of products, including water sprite plants, which are available in various sizes.
Buy your water sprite from Aquatic Art
4— Modern Aquarium
My other go to store for aquarium plants. Check out there listing of water sprite plants.
Buy your water sprite from Modern Aquarium