There are many benefits to keeping living plants in your fish tank, although many beginner fish keepers think that growing plants is either a hassle or simply too difficult. However, the plant we feature in this guide is very easy to care for, making it ideal for a beginner tank.
We’re talking about Bacopa caroliniana, a plant that is very tolerant of water conditions and fits well into most freshwater aquarium setups.
Keep reading to learn everything you need about caring for this beautiful, vibrant aquatic plant, including how to propagate it.
Bacopa Caroliniana Overview
|Bacopa Caroliniana Info|
|Scientific name||Bacopa caroliniana|
|Common names||Lemon Bacopa, Blue Hyssop, Water Hyssop, Giant Red Bacopa|
|Lighting||Medium to High|
|Height||Up to 16 inches|
|Color||Green or reddish leaves and blue flowers in the right conditions|
|Minimum tank size||10 gallons|
|Water temperature||68 to 82 degrees F|
|Water parameters||pH between 6.0 and 8.0, dGH 2 to 15|
Bacopa caroliniana is native to the United States, especially in the southern regions where the climate is warmer. However, naturalist populations of the plant can be seen elsewhere, even in distant lands such as South Korea.
The plant belongs to the Plantaginaceae family and is sometimes called Water Hyssop, Lemon Bacopa, Blue Hyssop, or Giant Red Bacopa.
Bacopa caroliniana is actually a flowering herb whose aromatic leaves smell like lemon when crushed. The plant grows close to water, and a waxy coating on its leaves helps it to survive in wet environments.
This is quite a tall plant, sometimes growing to around 16 inches high, so it makes an ideal background plant when placed at the back of your aquarium.
Bacopa caroliniana is also a very useful plant for hiding filter boxes and other equipment that would otherwise spoil the look of your tank.
Bacopa caroliniana has recently been scientifically engineered to produce bioluminescence by introducing gold nanoparticles to its leaves. The result is that the chlorophyll emits a reddish glow. The idea is that these special plants might eventually be suitable for use as eco-friendly streetlamps.
Bacopa caroliniana is found in warm regions across many states, including Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.
The plant grows in freshwater bodies, such as marshes, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. The species can grow fully submerged if there’s enough light, but it’s most commonly seen growing around the shore or in shallow water.
Why Grow Bacopa Caroliniana in Your Aquarium?
Growing aquatic plants in your fish tank is an excellent way to promote the health of your fish’s environment.
- Plants remove harmful pollutants from the water, including nitrates that would otherwise poison your fish.
- As plants photosynthesize, they release oxygen into the water and take up carbon dioxide, meaning that your fish can enjoy a well-oxygenated environment.
- Fish, shrimp, and snails enjoy the shelter that leafy plants provide. Tall plants, such as Bacopa caroliniana, offer fish protection from other livestock and too much light up the water column, helping reduce harmful stress levels.
- Bacopa caroliniana is a very aesthetically pleasing plant that adds color and form to any tank. It gently sways in the water flow and fills up empty spaces in the habitat.
So, from both an aesthetic and practical perspective, Bacopa caroliniana is an excellent addition to all fish tanks.
You can buy Bacopa caroliniana relatively cheaply in most fish stores for around $5 or less for a few stems.
If you have a large setup, you could save cash by buying and propagating the plant, although it can be quite slow to grow.
Is Bacopa Caroliniana a Hardy Species?
Bacopa caroliniana is a very hardy plant that you can grow in a wide range of different conditions.
The plant can be grown in soil and sand, as well as free-floating on the water surface to provide shade and shelter for your fish. Although you can grow Bacopa caroliniana in brackish water conditions, it grows best in a freshwater environment.
This is a great beginner plant, as it will tolerate small environmental changes and rookie errors, provided they are remedied promptly. In addition, you can grow more plants relatively easily from this easy-to-propagate plant.
What Does Bacopa Caroliniana Look Like?
The Bacopa caroliniana plant is a brightly colored species that can add a real pop of color to a drab aquarium.
This is a flowering plant species, although the flowers generally appear more readily when growing above water. However, if your Bacopa caroliniana does flower in your aquarium, the blooms are blue with roughly five petals.
The plant’s color depends on the amount of light in the environment. Under bright light, the plant is reddish-brown in color, hence one of its common names, Giant Red Bacopa. However, the plant’s leaves are bright green under lower light conditions.
The leaves are oval-shaped and around an inch long, growing in pairs on opposing sides of the stem. The leaves are thick with a waxy coating that enables the plant to live underwater and gives the upper surface of the leaf a glossy look.
However, the underside of the leaves are not as shiny, thanks to the presence of small hairs. When grown under bright lights, the leaves grow together in tightly packed clusters, creating a bushy appearance.
When fully grown, the Bacopa caroliniana plants can reach around 16 inches. If that’s too tall for your tank, simply control the plant’s height by trimming the top.
Bacopa Caroliniana Plant Care Requirements
In this part of our guide, we tell you how to grow the beautiful Bacopa caroliniana plant successfully.
Lemon Bacopa caroliniana can be a good plant for any size tank. However, the plant will quickly outgrow a small tank, so you’ll need to spend more time trimming the stems and leaves.
However, with that in mind, we recommend using this plant in a tank of 10 gallons or more. In larger setups, the green plant will quickly grow to reach the water surface, which will continue to thrive above the waterline.
Bacopa caroliniana is a tall plant best placed at the back of your fish tank. The plant is also useful for hiding unsightly equipment, such as filter boxes.
When you plant Bacopa caroliniana, you need to add plant weights, as this plant tends to float away if not secured. In addition, this plant grows best when situated somewhere it won’t be in competition with other plants.
The plant doesn’t have any specific substrate requirements. So, you can grow it in gravel or sand, whichever best suits your livestock and other plants.
Bacopa caroliniana grows very well in most lighting conditions and doesn’t require intense lighting. You just need to ensure that the plant has enough light to photosynthesize and isn’t blocked by floating plants or tank equipment.
Bacopa caroliniana is tolerant of many different tank conditions but prefers a water temperature between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, although it can grow in cooler water. However, cool water slows down the plant’s growth.
The tank pH should be between 6.0 and 8.0. This plant can grow in soft and hard water but prefers conditions between 2 and 15 GH.
What Are Suitable Tank Mates for Bacopa Caroliniana?
Bacopa caroliniana’s hardy nature means you can keep it with almost any tank mates. Although it’s unclear why, most fish species don’t attempt to eat the plant, perhaps because of its tough, waxy leaves or strong lemony scent.
However, even if your fish start nibbling on the plant, that’s not a problem since this is a fast-growing species that will quickly recover.
To be sure that your Bacopa caroliniana plants will be left alone by your fish, we recommend that you choose fish species that are not known for being plant eaters.
Suitable fish species could include:
Tank Mates To Avoid
There are a few creatures that are unsuitable as tank mates for Bacopa caroliniana.
Crayfish and crabs are known to destroy plants and can wreak havoc in a planted tank. Also, goldfish and large cichlids are notorious diggers and will uproot your plants.
Feeding Bacopa Caroliniana
Bacopa caroliniana is an extremely hardy plant species that adapts well to most aquarium setups and thrives with little intervention.
Basically, provided that the tank water is warm, has a high dissolved oxygen concentration, is well-lit, and contains plenty of nutrients, the plants need nothing else to thrive.
Your livestock will provide plenty of nutrients for the plants as biowaste, so you won’t need to supplement them with fertilizer or CO2 injections.
The Bacopa caroliniana plant is fast-growing, so you need to trim the stems occasionally to prevent overgrowth.
Be careful when disposing of the plant’s trimmings. Bacopa caroliniana can become invasive if it gets into your local waterways. If you don’t use the cuttings for propagation, add them to your compost heap, bury them, or dissolve them in bleach.
How To Propagate Bacopa Caroliniana
Propagation is the term used to describe how a plant multiplies from one “parent” plant.
Bacopa caroliniana is a very easy plant to propagate in the aquarium. This is useful because you can buy a small amount and multiply it yourself, provided you don’t mind waiting for the plants to grow.
Bacopa caroliniana propagates by sending out side shoots or runners that eventually grow to form new plants. You can accelerate the process by snipping off the side shoots once they have begun to send out roots and planting them where you want them in your tank.
Alternatively, if the side shoots don’t produce roots, you can try floating the cutting in the water instead. The shoot will carry on growing as it floats, eventually developing roots so that you can then plant it.
Cuttings from the top of the stem can be planted similarly. However, don’t plant a cutting or side shoot that doesn’t have roots, as it will probably rot in the substrate.
Health and Disease
Although Bacopa caroliniana is a hardy plant, it is still susceptible to a few common plant disease issues.
Signs of Health
When the plant is healthy, it should grow fairly quickly and put out plenty of shiny, waxy-coated green or red leaves.
Signs of Ill Health
If the plant is not thriving, you’ll notice the following signs:
- Leaves turning brown or yellow
- Plant stems lack leaves and appears sparse
- Algae growing on the leaves and stems, suffocating the plant
If the plant appears straggly and doesn’t put out many leaves, it probably needs more light, and you might need to upgrade your lighting system. Yellow or brown leaves usually indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough nutrition or carbon dioxide.
Too much algal growth in the aquarium can be a problem, as the algae cover the plants and retards growth. Algae tend to proliferate if your tank receives too much light. So, simply reducing the duration of light in the aquarium can solve the problem.
Often, aquatic plants “melt” when first planted. Usually, the plants will recover and begin to regrow once they have become established and acclimated to their new environment.
Snails can be an unwanted import to your tank on new plants. The easiest way to avoid bringing pests into your plant setup is to buy the plants as tissue cultures if possible. It’s also better not to buy plants displayed in large tanks with other plants and fish.
However, you can ensure that your plants are not infested with snails and other pests that could harm your livestock. Wash the plants thoroughly before adding them to the tank, and remove any dead leaves so they don’t decompose in the tank and pollute the water.
Check each plant for snails, and pick off any that you find. You can also eradicate pests by dousing your plants in a mild solution of 20 parts water to 1 part bleach. You only need to dip your plants in the solution for a couple of minutes and be sure to rinse the plants thoroughly in clean water afterward to ensure that any traces of bleach are removed before putting the plants into your tank.
Is Bacopa Caroliniana a Good Choice For Your Fish Tank?
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Bacopa caroliniana. If you did, please share the article before you go!
This very hardy plant is super easy to grow and is perfect for a beginner tank or even a paludarium. Lemon Bacopa is suitable for nano tanks or larger setups, although maintenance is more time-consuming in a smaller aquarium.
To maintain the plant, you must trim the stems when the plant grows too tall. If you have a large tank, you don’t need to trim the plant that often, making it a low-maintenance option.
Did you choose Bacopa caroliniana for your fish tank? What tank mates do you have? Tell us about your aquascape in the comments box below.