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bolbitis "baby leaf" question

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I got this plant from my LFS (didn't know what it was) and the LFS said "it is a carpeting plant for the foreground". Being the naive fool that I am, I believed the seller and when I got home cust the lovely strong rhizomes into smaller (1.5-2 cm) cutlets and planted the rhizomes into the substrate.

The tank is a dirt tank, no filtration or circulation.

After about a week, I noticed that many of the leaves had yellowed out and most had fallen. I thought it was a natural process of the "acclimation" to the new environment (such is the case with cryptos).

However I was curious if this was so, so I set out to do a more refined search (I had attempted to do a search on the species initially but wihout a name to go with, carpet plant with rhizomes didn't turn anything useful and I had given up) using the phrases "rhizome, parsley like leaves" and I came to the conclusion that what I had was a bolbitis plant, specifically one called "baby leaf".

I immediately went to the tank to raise the rhizomes from the substrate but alas, almost all had rotted away. I have some of the leaves still green but as with most rhizome plants, I doubt the leaves will grow new rhizomes.

I do however have 2 rhizomes, one partially rotted and one still good. My questions are:
1. What would be the best way to save them? Should I cut off the rotted part of the semi rotted rhizome or let it be?

2. I also read that they like to be in a current: would being in a dirt tank with no movement save that caused by the swimmerets of my shrimp be a contributing factor to their demise, i.e. should I removed them and move them to a more current containing tank?

3. I read that these grow very slowly when submerged: should I grow them emersed? What would be a proper set up for a faster growing bolbitis taking into account their requirements (current, light, etc).

4. Would they grow terestially (roots in dirt, rhizome above dirt, plant grown like other terestial plants)?

Since I do not have any more rhizomes left and my LFS has no intention of buying more of these plants (they did not sell well apparently), I have no way of getting additional stock of these plants and hence my usual "trial and error" method of testing my theories is not a viable solution... Therefore, I would appreciate the experience of other forum users with this plant and suggestions on how to propagate this plant in a suitable manner.
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A picture would definitely help in helping you find a ID.
However, you can search up Bolbitis Cuspidata, I have a large amount of them and they look like what you describe.
If so, this particular species can be grown very quickly emersed - to be honest, almost all ferns can be easily grown emersed. I have java fern, trident fern, needle leaf fern, Bolbitis Heudelotii, and Bolbitis Cuspidata all growing in the same emersed tank. They grow super clean and super compact, I can try to snap some pics soon. If you have the room, keep them emersed in soil/inert substrate - it really doesn't matter, just keep them very very moist/humid.

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Thank you for the ID. It wasn't the one but it helped me find the correct one (one of the web pages that was displaying the plant also displayed another genus of Bolbitis); mine is Bolbitis difformis. Would this grow well emersed? Personally, I think think that if several forms of Bolbitis grows well emersed, there shouldn't be any reason why this one doesn't.
No problem, I've attached a pic for you to see the ones I have in one of my tanks. You can see the trident ferns on the pots beside them as well - all ferns do well emersed.

I can't seem to find differences between "cuspidata" and "difformis", sometimes they're used together, sometimes not..

They do very well emersed, looks pretty that way too. I have them growing beside some large Anubias and they seem to grow perfectly fine in the shade. Just keep it moist and you'll be fine - substrate isn't very important either, I have some in soil and some in fluorite - both looking equally pretty. They grow very very dense though, the pic attached doesn't show the full mass of the plant, each rhizome has tons of leaves under their large leaves.


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185 Posts
Thank you! I can see that they do excellently well emersed. May I ask a few questions about the setup you used?

From what I see, you used a glass aquarium; I intend to use a transparent PP storage box, I don't think it will be an issue?

Inside there are pots of different plants with soil or florite substrate; I don't know if I can find fluorite, I'll stick with organic plant torf; not sure if it will be sufficient but seems to be good enough for the plants in my balcony?

You also seem to have water at the bottom of the setup; is the water level upto the rhizomes of the bolbitis or below?

The bolbitis; you seem to have potted them. The rhizomes are obviously above the substrate but how did you get them to root to the substrate? Don't they rot when the roots are below the substrate too?

The emersed setup is covered I take it? High humidity? Does this create problems like fungus or rotting plants (still water usually causes rot ime).

Sorry for all the questions... new to this whole emersed thing...
I'll try to answer the best I can, if I miss anything - just re-ask! :tongue:

I use a glass aquarium because I had a 65g laying around, so I figured why not, but I do have 2 regular plastic totes growing some plants as well - however, they aren't filled with water. The plastic totes are just very humid using a air pump and reservoir, whereas the glass aquarium uses a air stone and a programmed mister.

In the glass aquarium, it's strictly fluorite. You don't have to use fluorite, I had 4-5 bags laying around, so again I figured why not.. Lol. You could find other inert substrates to use, most clay based substrates are good. You can also use soil - which I do in my plastic totes, but I don't like keeping the soils submerged in water.. Things get messy and start rotting. Regular gravel/soil is sufficient as well, just fertilize the water or add root fertilizers - but for ferns, you'll be fine with water changes.

The pots they're in are roughly 4-5" tall and the water level is at 2". I don't like high levels of water, it grows BGA and there's no need for it.

The rhizomes are above the water and substrate, but the roots grow into the medium, just like any other plant, that is the purpose of the roots after all. Roots will not rot when it's in the substrate, the rhizome can.

All my emersed setups are covered, high humidity can cause problems, I had a filter in this tank originally and it seemed to keep the humidity way too high, i noticed some fungal growth in dark spots - so I removed it, now the humidity is noticeably lower - all fungal growth has not returned. I have small holes in my cover for some exchange, especially because I use air pumps in my tanks, without the holes the cover rises like a balloon. These plants are used to boggy conditions so you won't get rot from them, but soils and other organic matters can break down - usually not a big deal, just smells or looks gross - hence why I use inert substrates.

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"The plastic totes are just very humid using a air pump and reservoir, whereas the glass aquarium uses a air stone and a programmed mister." You have to realize I am a total noob with emersed setups. I am having a hard time imagining where you use the air pump and reservoir. I tried searching the forum for similar emersed setups but I guess I used the wrong searh parameters and didn't get anything useful. Could you please elaborate on how this system works? Also, no water? how is it emersed? everything in pots and a lot of humidity?

"You can also use soil - which I do in my plastic totes, but I don't like keeping the soils submerged in water.." so basically: add a layer of soil on the bottom and plant inside or use pots and add the soil in there like with the glass aquarium picture you sent?

Ok let me just give an idea for my setup thatI got from yours and you can confirm whether it could work 8based on your experience from your setup).

Pots, soil substrate inside the pots (possibly capped of with an inert substrate like ADA Aquaclay; yes/no?). My almost extinct bolbitis on top, rhizome above the substrate (soil or inert depending on previous). Pots in plastic tank.

Ok so here is where I get confused: In the above setup, should I have water in the bottom or not? From what I understand you fill it halfway upto the pots. If I do the same, do I need the airstone or airpump? What is the reservoir and where does it come into play?

Would it work if I don't add any water (except like I was watering the ferns like terrestial plants) and kept the tank humid (spraying using a hand held mist sprey)?

Finally, would adding soil then capping with inert substrate (just like in a dirt tank) then adding water until water comes to the level of the cap substrate be enough?
The reservoirs are just containers of water with an air line leading into it - it's that simple, I can take some pics when I can. I use large deli containers and create moss covers. The pots of plants will therefore not need to be submerged in water, I just water the plants by mist when I remember - the airline in the reservoir keeps everything humid and fresh.

The picture I sent you has no soil whatsoever - just fluorite. You can use strictly soil, mixed, or non - it's preference and plant based. For example, I hate soil based because of the smell and how messy it is, but Cryptocorynes and other root feeders do very well in soil.

The layout can be as simple as that:
-Plant rhizome above everything
-substrate (aquasoil, soil, inert, hydroton, mixed, doesn't really matter)
-Dependent on substrate the water level can vary (higher for inerts and aquasoil, but less or none for organic soils.

I think you're taking this much more complicated than it really is lol :hihi:, the setup can be done in so many ways successfully.

The water level can vary, I listed above which substrate would benefit from what levels of water.

I described the reservoir - any container holding water.

The air pump and air stone is optional, I like it, adds some fresh air and keeps the water a little more oxygenated.

You can go waterless and water normally, but it'll be less forgiving, you forget to water for a week and things might dry up. Like I said, you're way over thinking this.

I'll tell you what you can do if you are only planning to do the fern.

Option 1:
-Get a tote or a aquarium and create a cover.
-Get some pots - ceramics or plastic.
-Get sand or regular gravel.
-Fill pots with the substrate.
-Fill water halfway up the pot - fertilize if you want.
-Place plant rhizome on top.
-Water/change water once in awhile.

Option 2:
-Get a tote or a aquarium and create a cover.
-Get some pots - ceramics or plastic.
-Get some soil.
-Fill pots with substrate.
-Fill water 10% up the pots.
-Place rhizome on top.
-Water/change water once in awhile.
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