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OVT 02-04-2012 02:07 AM

Water Sprite - a Practical Guide with pictures

I have been 'defending' this plant on several threads already, but here I go again. This plant has so many uses, provides so many benefits, grows in so many conditions that I recommend anyone to give it a try.

Evolution-wise, Water sprite resides between ferns and Rosette plants: it does not have a rhizome per say, but it's leaves 'un-furl' in a fern-like way.

  1. This light, lime-green fine leaved plant will add a light spot to your all-green tank. Great backdrop for colored plants.
  2. Tank cycling: Water Sprite will slurp anything and everything you throw at it
  3. One of the best O2 producer in planted aquaria
  4. Hiding places for fry
  5. Renewable food source for goldfish and cichlids
  6. Lights too bright? Will provide finely filtered light
  7. Algae: will help to balance nutrients in the water column
One way to view and treat Water Sprite would be as a perennial plant. Eventually, water sprite will reach the surface, regardless of the height of your tank. Moreover, some of the stems will decide to grow emersed. As Water Sprite ages, the new stems become progressively thicker and top-heavy. When the stems start reaching ~1/4" in diameter, it's time to replant, unless it's in a pond :)
  • Temp: Low 60s (goldfish, unheated tanks) to high 80s (discus)
  • Light: from low to very high
  • H2O: lean to supper enriched, soft 2GH to hard 20GH
  • Can be grown imersed and emersed or both
How to Plant:
Water Sprite can be grown planted and/or floating
Either just let it float freely or (best) pull the roots over the spay bar and between the spray bar and tank's side. Floating, Water Sprite develops an extensive root system consisting of thicker roots with finer sub-roots that look very attractive, provide shelter for fry and home for micro-organisms. Individual root can make it all the way down to the substrate.
  1. Lay roots horizontally on substrate
  2. Put a stone/driftwood on the roots 1/2" to 1" away from the rhizome
  3. Let go off the plant to check that it stays in place
  4. Gently push roots into substrate or add substrate over the roots up to the retaining stone/driftwood
How to Trim:
Do NOT top the stems or remove 'leaves' from a stem: the stem will start rotting.
You have to remove the whole stem by cutting/pinching the stem right above the roots. In larger plants, some of the roots will come away with the removed stem: it's ok.

How to Propagate:
Water Sprite is a consistent self-propagating plant of impressive yield. The plant propagates via plantets (baby plants) attached to stems. The best way to 'find' new baby plants is to look for the darker areas of the mother plant. More likely then not, those areas will contain roots of new plants. The leaves (not stems) of the new baby plants and those of the parent stalk surrounding the new root system will start to decay and turn brown. The picture above has a circle around the root system of one of the new baby plants. It is not unusual to have multiple baby plants growing on a single stem of a mature mother plant. It is also not unusual to have baby plants with their own baby plants (grand-baby plants? :))
How to Separate Baby Plants:
  1. Remove the entire stem with baby plants from the mother plant
  2. Cut the parent's stem away from the baby plant just under the baby plant's root system:

  3. Remove all leaves (not stems) that are growing directly from the root system:

    Now you have a new plant! (That has it's own baby :))

You get the Water Sprite you deserve: trim it, replant it - and you have a plant (or a 100) forever to enjoy.
Ignore it, and it will turn into a monster that will overtake your tank.

Every time I sell plants, most likely then not, a Water Sprite is included, either paid for or not.

[2nd Revision]

Seattle_Aquarist 02-04-2012 02:31 PM

+1 for a great "beginners plant" (although I still keep two species) and thread; thanks OVT!

FishFarmer 02-04-2012 06:14 PM

It's one of my favorite plants. So easy to keep happy, and a very fast grower. Does require a good bit of maintenance though, or else it will literally take over an entire tank (however big the tank is).

Trojan 03-16-2012 09:12 PM

I just picked up a small water sprite plant today. Thank you for the informative post. :icon_smil

h2oaggie 03-16-2012 09:37 PM

Nice guide

I especially enjoyed the MS Paint work :wink:

rezco 03-16-2012 09:46 PM

Nice job OVT. Its good to get this level of detail from fellow aquarists. Plant guides generally do not go into enough detail for me.

BBradbury 03-16-2012 09:50 PM

Water sprite
Hello O...

I grew Water sprite for several years in my "Livebearer" tanks. The plant does grow in low light conditions if it's floated. However, it isn't long lived in those conditions. I've found Water wisteria and Pennywort to be more resilient and tolerant of different water conditions than Water sprite.

Water sprite is a beautiful plant, but Water wisteria is just as nice as is Pennywort, but these are better suited to low light, low tech conditions.

Just an opinion from a water keeper who has had some experience with Water sprite.


mrbprint 03-16-2012 09:52 PM

Mine has been growing like a carpet across the bottom about 2 inches high. It used to grow tall in another tank. It is quite shaded due to all the Najas and Hornwort in the upper reaches of the tank. It may not be the same stuff. When I got it it was called some kind of a Oak Leaf something and is not as fine leafed as what you show.

ucantimagine 03-16-2012 09:58 PM

lol @ the free form writing.
Well now I want some!

plantbrain 03-16-2012 09:59 PM

Thanks, it's a good all around plant for many reasons, hard to kill.

reddhawkk 03-17-2012 01:37 AM

OVT thanks for the tutorial. Watersprite is a great plant and the first one I ever had luck growing when I first got into aquariums.

thesis 03-17-2012 02:19 AM

I love water sprite. It's a good back corner plant, and awesome for sucking up excess nutrients and preventing algae growth.

In my boyfriend's tank, it used to grow like crazy, needing to be trimmed down every three or four days. (I would trim it down by pinching off one of the baby plants grown halfway up the stem and tossing out that baby plant.) One day, he got fed up by how big and bushy it was and took out most of the plant, only leaving in only a tiny little bush of water sprite. That was the day his algae problems started and the water sprite's had a hard time making a come back since then.

rainbuilder 03-17-2012 02:40 AM

This is an awesome plant. I got some unexpectedly and didn't know where I would put it but I found a place and now it looks great.

kurosuto 03-17-2012 02:57 AM

this is awesome. I was wondering how to trim mine as its taking over the corner...poor bonsai sp.

OVT 03-17-2012 12:26 PM

Few things beat being useful to others.
Thank you.

---> :bounce: Happy OVT

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