of the month
Common Names: Threestamen waterwort, longstem waterwort, mudwort Division: Magnoliophyta Class: Magnoliopsida Order: Theales Family: Elatinaceae Native Distribution: United States and Canada Aquarium Placement: Foreground Requirements: CO2, high light, heavy iron supplementation, and macrofertilizer
photograph by the author
Description: Elatine triandra is a delightful foreground
plant. Its small stem width of ½ to 1 inch, rich bright green
color, and ease of growth make it a beautiful choice in any
size aquarium. The somewhat elongated and rosette-like
leaves at the stem’s end make it a unique foreground plant.
In nature this plant grows along the edges of waterways and,
more specifically, in the mud flats of tidal rivers and marshes.
Its natural habitat is in the cooler regions, and it reseeds itself
for each growing season, making it an annual plant. Relatively
rare and hard to find, it can be obtained from fellow hobbyists. It
does not ship well and is not generally available commercially.
Use in Aquascaping: E. triandra is a nutrient hog; high
light, rich macrofertilizer, heavy iron supplementation, and
CO2 are essential. If these are not supplied, the plant will
melt and disappear. Even when a rich, nutritious substrate
is provided, additional fertilizer must be dosed into the
Growing quickly, E. triandra will run along the substrate
and fill all available space. It will grow over itself if not
trimmed, eventually shading the under-layer, causing the
whole mass to detach from the substrate. Many aquarists
find that the time and work to maintain it is just too
much. Others, enjoying its beauty, just continue to
replant the lifted lawn, letting it regrow the foreground.
Propagation: Propagation is easy. The trimmings can be
shallowly planted or gently weighed down so it touches the
substrate where roots will form and take hold. The plant is
also known to spread by seed propagation in the submerged
Notes: E. triandra is just one of 10 Elatine species, and out
of those only three are kept by aquarists: E. americana, E.
minima, and E. triandra. It is important to know which species
you are getting before purchase because all three have some
unique care requirements. Another important point is that
it will take a good deal of effort to obtain any of the three
species, since they are unavailable commercially and can only
be obtained from other hobbyists.