Fresh aquatic plants make an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium, adding vibrant color, providing hiding places for shy fish species, helping to oxygenate the water, and soaking up nitrates.
There is a vast selection of plant species you can choose to grow in your fish tank, provided that the water conditions are suitable. Some plants need high lighting levels and additional supplementation, making them unsuitable for beginners. However, Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis is a relatively hardy plant that’s quite easy to grow.
Keep reading to learn how to care for Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis and determine whether this beautiful foreground freshwater plant would be a good choice for your fish tank.
Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis Origins and Background
Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis is better known as the Brazilian Micro Sword, but it has several other common names, including Copragrass, Carpet Grass, and Micro Sword Grass.
These traditional plants are often seen used as carpeting plants, making a vibrant green splash in the foreground of a freshwater fish tank. These fragile plants grow to only 3 inches in height, making them perfect for use in a small tank.
In its wild habitat, Brazilian Micro Sword is a lush plant that grows submerged and emersed in the shallow and slow-flowing waters of streams and along riverbanks throughout the plant’s native South America, specifically Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. You can also find the plant growing in wetlands, swamps, and along the banks of ditches.
When planted densely in the aquarium, the Lilaeopsis resembles a carpet of wild grass and looks gorgeous when grown as a foreground plant. For that reason, the Brazilian Micro Sword is a trendy choice with aquascapers.
Features and Growth Habit
Lilaeopsis is a slow-to-moderate growing plant, so it can take some time, generally, a few months, for the plant to establish a full carpet effect in your fish tank, especially if you have a large setup. That said, you can reduce that time by using multiple plants and replanting cuttings.
You can influence how the plant grows by adjusting the amount of light your aquarium receives. If the light is bright and intense, the plant will spread out and grow like a carpet. Under low-to-moderate light, the plant will grow taller instead of spreading out. So, you can determine how the plant will grow simply by adjusting the amount of light it receives.
As the plant only grows to around 3 inches in height, it can provide the perfect habitat for invertebrates, small fish species, vulnerable fry, and eggs.
The plant helps keep the fish tank water clean and won’t harm any aquarium residents. Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis can be planted in paludariums and aquariums and indoors and outdoors, given the right climate conditions for proper growth.
What Does Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis Look Like?
When the Brazilian Micro Sword plant has established itself in a carpet across your aquarium floor, it will resemble a thick, shiny grass lawn. The plant’s leaves are narrow at the base, growing more expansive at the center, and flat, not round or oval in shape. The plants are light green, growing from a rhizome which also produces shoots and thin, white roots.
These small plants grow to between 1 and 3 inches in height, depending on the amount of light they receive.
Like all wild plants and fish, the best way to ensure that your livestock flourishes is by providing habitat and tank conditions that closely replicate the plant’s wild habitat.
As Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis takes most of its nutrition from the soil, I recommend that you use a nutrient-rich substrate for this plant. You can also use nutrient tabs to supplement the plant and promote proper growth.
If you live in an area where the climate is suitable, you might like to grow Lilaeopsis in a pond in your backyard. In that case, the plant will most likely be emergent. That means that the plant’s roots remain underwater while the stems grow above the waterline.
On the other hand, if you decide to grow the plants in your fish tank, they will grow completely underwater with no leaves above the waterline.
One of the great things about the Lilaeopsis plant is that you can grow it in a tank of pretty much any size, provided that there’s enough light.
So, you can use these beautiful carpet plants in micro tanks or a larger size tank, depending on what’s most suitable for your fish. There isn’t really a minimum tank size for this plant, which is great news for nano tank enthusiasts looking for a small plant.
Lilaeopsis needs direct, bright light if it is to thrive. If the light levels are insufficient, the plant won’t grow. So, be very careful that you don’t plant your Brazilian Micro Sword plants where taller plants will cut out the light. Generally, that means that floating plants are not a good fit in a tank where you want to create a carpet of Lilaeopsis.
For that reason, most hobbyists find that the Brazilian Micro Sword plant does best in a smaller, shallow tank where it will get intense, strong light.
The Lilaeopsis plant does best in soft to moderately hard water that’s slightly alkaline. pH levels should be between 5.0 and 7.5.
This is a tropical plant species that needs warm water to grow and thrive, ideally in the temperature range of 72°F to 85°F.
How To Grow Brazilian Micro Sword Plants
Now that you’ve set up your fish tank correctly to accommodate the Brazilian Micro Sword plant, you’ll need to know how to plant your specimens correctly.
Before you plant the plants, you need to trim the fine, white roots with a razor blade. That ensures that the plant roots will become established more quickly. Brazilian Micro Sword plants can be a little fragile, so be gentle and make sure that you bury the roots completely in the substrate.
Growing A Carpet
Most hobbyists like to grow Lilaeopsis as a carpet aquarium plant, and two ways of planting will achieve that effect.
Planting In A Single Area
The first planting option for Lilaeopsis is to put all the plants in a single area. Leave space between each plant so that they have plenty of room to spread and grow right across the whole aquarium floor.
Although that method works well, it can mean that the plants take longer to create that carpet effect that you want.
Plant a Chessboard
This method of planting involves planting the individual Lilaeopsis stems in diagonal rows, similar to a chessboard.
Plant each stem around ? inch apart. Now, you need to be patient, as it will take a few months for the plants to cover the entire tank floor.
Whichever method of planting you decide to use, you need to ensure that your plants have access to direct light. There must be no shade across the plants, or they simply won’t thrive and grow.
Lilaeopsis Care and Propagation
As the plants begin to grow and spread, regularly check to ensure that no plant runners are spreading across neighboring plants.
You’ll need to trim the plants regularly to keep growth and spread in check. Those clippings can be replanted in the aquarium substrate or used in other tanks. Remember that you must quarantine any plants, substrate, or livestock in a separate tank for at least two weeks before adding it to a new aquarium.
Check the plants every week as part of your plant care and tank cleaning regimen. If you find any brown or damaged leaves or stems, snip them off with a pair of sharp scissors and remove them from the tank.
Carpet Grass takes most of its nutritional requirements from the substrate rather than the water column. We recommend using tablet fertilizer, as you can target them closer to the roots of the plants. However, you might also need to supplement the plants with fertilizer tablets or liquid.
Generally, an aquarium containing fish and other creatures has plenty of nitrates to support any living plants growing there. You can also boost the plants’ growth by using CO2 injections or infusions and adding potassium, nitrate, and phosphate to the water. However, if you have fish and other livestock living in the environment, be wary of adding nitrates.
Algae can be a problem for many aquarium plants, especially for those slow-growing species that need intense lighting.
You’ll need to clean the algae that accumulate on the plant leaves so that you’re not depriving the plant of the nutrients it needs. Alternatively, you might want to consider adding a few algae-eating fish or invertebrates to your setup.
Tank Mates For Lilaeopsis
Unless you keep large cichlids, Jack Dempseys, or other fish species that tend to dig, you should be able to keep Lilaeopsis safely in your tank. Those fish species will uproot the plants and damage their delicate roots, quickly killing the plants.
Basically, any fish that share the same water conditions as Lilaeopsis can make good tank mates for this plant. Invertebrates enjoy foraging for scraps of food across the carpet of leaves, and snails that don’t destroy plants can also make an exciting addition to the aquarium.
If you plan on covering the entire floor of the tank with a carpet of these plants, bottom-dwelling fish species might not be a good choice, as they might disturb the plants.
Is The Brazilian Micro Sword Plant Suitable For Your Fish Tank?
So, is Lilaeopsis a good fit for your aquarium?
Well, if you have a tropical freshwater aquarium that contains fish species that don’t dig, these plants might make a good choice for you. You can use Lilaeopsis to create a vibrant, light green carpet across the floor of your fish tank. Alternatively, you might want to grow the plants in a small clump in the foreground of the tank.
This versatile plant can provide the perfect habitat for newly hatched fry and fish eggs and protect invertebrates and small fish species. The short-stemmed carpet-like plant is perfect for small and larger tanks, and it’s an excellent beginner plant.