Carpet plants are used to create a lush green lawn or mat of plants that, as the name suggests, create a carpet look along the bottom of your aquarium. The popularity of these plants has boomed tremendously over the last 5-10 years, especially in aquascaping. So we have put together a list of our top 5 carpeting plants available on our website:
1. Hemianthus Callitrichoides – the smallest aquatic plant in the world that’s currently available to aquarists. Hemianthus Callitrichoides or ‘HC’ for short, is the ultimate carpet plant. It’s tiny tear drop shaped leaves, lush green colour and creeping nature is what makes it so popular for carpeting. Not the easiest plant to care for mind you, certainly if your new to planted aquariums. It requires plenty of light intensity to penetrate down to the bottom of your aquarium, and CO2 that is adequately circulated around the lower parts of your aquarium. If these requirements are not met then HC often suffers. It also requires regular pruning, not only to keep it in shape, but to make sure the carpet does not get too thick. When this happens the underside of the plant usually dies and lifts away from your substrate. Due to the small size of Hemianthus Callitrichoides, it is the perfect plant if you want to create a sense of scale in the aquarium, or make things appear bigger than they actually are. Therefore they are great for smaller aquaria or nano tanks. If the aquarist has a good understanding of how to care for this plant, it certainly is one of the most stunning carpeting plants around.
2. Echinodorus Tenellus – sometimes refereed to as the ‘mini amazon sword’, this plant is part of the sword plant species group and is one of the smallest. It has long grass like leaves . It propagates by runners quite happily under good light and can quickly be used to cover areas of your aquarium. Under high light, growth can be very compact and fast. In my opinion Echinodorus Tenellus is a great plant to begin with if you have never tried carpeting aquarium plants before. It has much lower demands than other carpet plants (such as Hemianthus Callitrichoides and Glossostigma Elantinoides). However, having said this, to create the best carpets use lots of CO2 and fertz. Do not overshadow with taller plants.
3. Sagittaria Subulata – also known as “Dwarf Sagittaria”, this plant is another great beginner carpeting plant. It’s leaf shape is fairly similar to the E.tenellus, in that is has long grass like leaf shapes, usually a bit thicker and a bit longer. Much like the E.tenellus, it propagates through runners. This plant can sometimes, almost randomly, grow quite tall. The best way to keep it short is to trim it regularly. Another great choice for beginners as it has lower demands all round. A nutritious substrate always helps.
4. Staurogyne Rubescens – a stem plant that has a low bushy compact nature, thus making it another great plant for carpeting. It can look similar to some Hygrophila species, however, it will not grow much higher than 5-10cm. To keep it low down, regular pruning it required. To carpet this plant requires a little more expertise. When the stems become to a long upright position, cut these off and replant the cutting. This can be done repeatedly to encourage a carpet. Under higher light, many stems will creep horizontally.
5. Eleocharis Acicularis – very similar to Eleochairs Parvulus. It has a common name of hairgrass. As this suggests, it has fine grass like leaves. When planted in groups it will quickly form a dense group of plants. To encourage fast growth, fire lots of CO2 at it and it will quickly shoot out runners to form a carpet. Under lower light, growth is much slower and creating a thick carpet is much more difficult. Because of its small delicate grass leaves, it is another good carpet plant for creating a sense of scale, and much suited to smaller aquaria. The leaves easily sway under the filter flow, thus creating some movement to your aquarium.
So there we have it, our top 5 aquarium carpet plants. One last tip that applies to all carpeting plants; ensure your aquarium water is being circulated around the lower areas of your aquarium, otherwise your carpet plants may not receive the vital CO2 and nutrients they need to grow.