Star Grass (Heteranthera zosterifolia)
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Star Grass (Heteranthera zosterifolia)


Information

Common Name: Star Grass
Proper Name: Heteranthera zosterifolia
Category: Stem Plants
Temperature: 19 - 28 C
PH: 5.0 - 7.0
Lighting: Medium
Growth Rate: Fast
Difficulty: Easy
Origin: Brazil
Position in Aquascape: Background,Mid-Ground
Description  
Planted Tank Guru
 
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Extremely fragile leaf plant. It can live in non planted tank environment, but does better in 20 ppm of CO2, and 3watt/gal. The twirl of the leave growth marks it unique. In the larger view, it looks like Bamboo leaves. They make excellent middle ground plant with medium growth speed. They have very soft leaves which may be easily bent and ate by some fish. The lower leaves grow black or rot when it is low in light. Zhima Heteranthera is fragile only insomuch as its' stems are very thin and easily broken - in all other respects, it is very robust. I only have two 11-watt screw-in flourescent bulbs over my tank, and my Heteranthera literally tripled in size just two weeks after planting - and that was before I started adding CO2 to my tank! This is a great plant for beginners, but plan on pruning at least twice a week (from which it will quickly rebound). sMakes excellent cover for small, slow hunters like Betta species or juvenile Ctenopoma acutirostre (see my comments on that latter specie. Mark F.
 
Algae Grower
 
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Like elodea and Rotala rotundifolia, it is a stem plant with narrow, lanceolate leaves, but its leaves are longer and are lighter green. Its many leafed crowns further distinguish it from elodea and Rotala rotundifolia. It looks especially star-like when individual stems are planted at different heights. Stargrass requires a pH of 6.0-7.5, a carbonate hardness of 3-15 degrees, and bright light in order to grow well. Stargrass is very versatile in that it can be used as a foreground, mid-ground and background plant. The reason for this is that it can be trimmed and shaped just like a hedge. When used in the foreground it should be trimmed to about an inch or so; side shoots will develop below the cutting point and soon you will have a rich, green carpet. In mid-ground stargrass can be used to butt up against other plants, concealing the bottoms of those stem plants with scant leaves. Left to its own devices, it will grow about 20 in. tall, making it suitable for the back and sides.
 
Newbie
 
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In my comments after Zhima's (both in the first block), I forgot to second Zhima's comment about how some fish like to eat this species - this is especially true of omnivorous & herbivorous South American characins. I initially had some glo-light tetras in the same tank as my star grass, and they made a feast of it ... it would have been okay if they had nibbled off the tops (it would have saved me a lot of pruning time!), but they went for the mid-level leaves, which left the plants looking ragged and forlorn. The star grass quickly recovered, though, after the tetras were moved to another tank. So, while this is an easy, fast-growing plant, which provides great cover for some fish, you do need to be careful about which fish species you keep it with, or it could end up being used as a salad bar!
 
Vic
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
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One of my all time favorite aquarium plants. This plant is relatively undemanding in terms of nutrients, but requires an ample amount of light. I have kept some in a low light tank with a rich substrate and some added fertilizers, but the majority died. However, when I placed it in my medium light 5 gallon, it showed a drastic improvement. This plant is very versatile in an aquascape. It can be used in the foreground, midground, or the background. The one major drawback with this plant is its extremely fragile stems. They break with the slightest touch, so you have to be careful when planting it.
 
Wannabe Guru
 
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I would like to oppose the previous content. These do very well and grow relatively quickly in my low tech nearly no fertilization shrimp tank. They also grow at an extreme rate in my high tech community tank, at least two inches per week. Very undemanding and hearty plant.
 
Planted Tank Guru
 
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Grows like mad in my high tech. I might actually get rid of it since it grows that fast...probably about an inch a day. Very fragile plant that can't be around a ton of water flow as it might break its leaves. Great starter plant. I keep mine in high co2, daily ferts and tons of light.
 
Algae Grower
 
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I've had much difficulty growing this in hard water. Make sure you use softeners if your water is naturally hard. This is a beautiful plant when grown under bright lights with the stems closely planted together.
 
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
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A excellent carpet plant for low light. This is however, brittle.
 
Algae Grower
 
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I thought I was going to love this one, but I just got rid of it. It grew extremely fast, requiring at least bi-weekly trimming. What made this worse it that it had roots coming out of the stem all the way to the top (I had roots over 6 inches long). It just gave the tank a very messy look and required a ton of upkeep. Conditions were medium lighting on a 29 gallon, co2, and ei dosing.

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