Ceratopteris thalictroides (commonly known as Water Sprite, Indian Fern, Oriental waterfern and water hornfern) is a very fast growing fern and is usually cultivated free-floating on the water surface, like all other Ceratopteris species. Labyrinth fish (e.g. Betta splendens) gladly accept it for building their bubble nests, and it provides fish fry with great places to hide.
When planted in the substrate, it grows even better as a submerged plant. C. thalictroides forms large, fine-leaved, light green bushes within a short time, and as it requires a lot of space, it is best cultivated in large tanks as solitary plant. Its requirements are not difficult to meet; medium light intensities and CO2 concentrations of under 20 mg/l are sufficient, however, the fern will grow better under intensive light, with additional CO2 and nutrient-rich water.
It is an amphibic fern found in many tropical regions of the world in shallow waters and on muddy ground, amongst others in rice paddies. In some tropical regions of Asia, the emersed leaves of this species are used as vegetable. In nature, this plant is said to be an annual plant, however, it can be cultivated over several years without problems. The species contains many local forms, and in the aquarium hobby, varieties with more coarsely or finely pinnate submersed leaves are common.
It forms plantlets in the grooves between the lobes of older leaves, like other Ceratopteris species, however, in lower numbers. In order to further the development of these plantlets, it is recommended to sever the older leaves from the plant and let them float on the surface.
This plant is grown locally (Malta) by one of our partner aquarium plant keepers/breeders.