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Which Bolbitis is your favorite?

  • Bolbitis / Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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I'm planning to rescape my 60p with much more slower growing plants than my current setup. I'll be reusing some anubius nana petite, java fern trident, maybe some weeping moss, some cryptocorne lucens, and some monte carlo. I've been eyeing the super popular bolbitis for a while now and wanted to mix it in with the trident.

I haven't seen much information comparing different Bolbitis online. I've heard both the mini variation (Bolbitis Heteroclita Difformis Mini) and the standard version (Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis) can grow to a similar length, but the mini grows slower. But I'm seeing a lot of conflicting information on this. Those two seem to be from Asia and are pretty visually different from Bolbitis Heudelotii from Africa. I'd love to hear any experience people have had with these various versions in co2, potentially in a smaller tank, and if they have a preference and why.
 

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I've avoided bolbitis- many of them sold are not fully aquatic. Even if they are labeled with the proper taxonomy they are not the plant they say they are. I honestly say proceed at your own risk with bolbitis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've gotten ferns from Tropica in the past and haven't had issues with getting the wrong species so far, but I agree, you never know. As far as fully aquatic, it seems like these sorts of bolbitis in general aren't fully aquatic compared to something like vallisneria. They seem like a buce or anubias where in the wild, they grow out of water attached to rocks right on the edge of fast moving streams or on waterfall walls. With new ferns, I tend to just chop off the leaves so they can transition easier into fully submerged growth.

For those that have kept them, any tips for keeping growth more compact? I assume people just remove the largest leaves at the rhizome or split the rhizome into smaller sections like they would with java ferns or anubias?
 

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I avoid it entirely unless they're tissue-cultured. Some (most?) varieties are threatened species and habitat destruction for the aquarium trade is sadly common in some parts of tropical Africa.

Habitat destruction as just as common as with Bucephalandra, though it's less commonly known. Lots of smugglers and illegal importation messes with it in the past few years in both the US and Canada.
 

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I avoid it entirely unless they're tissue-cultured. Some (most?) varieties are threatened species and habitat destruction for the aquarium trade is sadly common in some parts of tropical Africa.

Habitat destruction as just as common as with Bucephalandra, though it's less commonly known. Lots of smugglers and illegal importation messes with it in the past few years in both the US and Canada.
This would explain the incredibly inconsistent labeling completely. Didn't know this.
 

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Can't say much regarding different variations but I've got beach ball sized bunches of Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis from many years ago. Somewhere along the line I was told it was Asian rather than African in spite of being called "African water fern" in the hobby but never researched that. Certainly seems to be a true aquatic as it's thrived submerged for well over a decade. It grows awfully large leafed for a nano -though I think you're in the 30 gallon range with a 60P and so it may not wreck sense of scale in those dimensions.

Here's a clump of mine with 2" white clouds and rainbow shiners for scale:

The giant tangle of bright green is because I put some guppy grass in for fry hiding places and try as I might can never remove it all now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
@Blue Ridge Reef, that looks like quite the hiding spot for fish, and definitely seems happy. Yeah I believe that variety is Asian and Bolbitis Heudelotii is the version originally from Africa.
I avoid it entirely unless they're tissue-cultured. Some (most?) varieties are threatened species and habitat destruction for the aquarium trade is sadly common in some parts of tropical Africa.
Yeah I agree this is a problem which is why I look for it supplied from nurseries like Tropica. I believe they grow all their plants, not just in-vitro, let me know if this is not the case. I typically only buy in-vitro, which seems relatively new for the hobby, and I've noticed, more and more plants are beginning to be introduced into that growing method. I definitely avoid places like ebay or unknown suppliers for the reason you mentioned above, unless it's someone I personally know who has grown it.

(a shot from Tropica's greenhouses).
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Bolbitis difformis? I've seen some great high tech guys who had many top notch tanks set up?..couldn't grow that one. Must be very easy to collect in the wild is the only reason it's even sold.
The Middle one? B.h. difformis? That's different and not easy I read but can be grown as a fern that seems to top out at 8" or less and seems more frilly. I would think Co2 is a must for it.
Now B.heudelotii? I'm far from the last word..no Co2,relying on window light because to light up a 240 gallon would cost me like $1,000 in fixtures,and hundreds of even LED watts. So I combine window with a 35 watt 48" LED and twin 40 watt fluorescent Hagen power grow lights. Growth in 18 months has been slow but steady and not algae free. Bolbitis is not a great plant for a tank with 13 large Rainbow fish,3 Clown Loaches and assorted other peaceful fish..Panda loaches also. I think my growth would be much better and closer to algae free if I had went like you see in all the vids...fish that top out at 2-3". Now I see the light- so to speak.
But I think African water fern is a must. I also know that for those who say it gets too large? Instead of giving up and removing the fern- prune it. Prune off all the large fronds and then tip prune the stems. Its called reductionism and is a common horticultural thing to do. Bonsai being the best example.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the comments everyone! I ended up ordering a small pot of Bolbitis heudelotii, gave it a quarantine bath, and then destroyed it! There were 4 separate rhizomes, and I divided the largest one into two. I kept a small leaf on each one just to help it photosynthesize faster and then tied them to crushed lava pebbles. I would have tied/wedged them into wood, but until I have everything ready to go, I won't be ready to rescape for another 2-3 weeks, so I figured I could acclimate it to my water and co2 in the meantime.

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For those who don't use Co2? I would not try cutting it up into pieces like that. In fact,starting with as large a plant as possible works better. My largest clump started with a long strand. My other fern was a small piece and its still small. Larger plants have the energy to keep growing..small plants need more Co2 and probably more light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I run high light and co2 in the tank so I’m hoping that won’t be a problem. I found my potted Java fern trident struggled when I put the whole plant in. The rhizome collected algae and the leaves were dying off… until I cut everything off, then it sprang back to life and in four months it now looks pretty healthy (image below of rhizome only experiment). So my goal is to do something similar and in the spirit of reduction-ism, try to keep the growth compact since it’s only a 20 gallon. And the rhizome was already 4 separate sections when I removed the rock wool so I only divided it in one place. I realize Java fern trident is a bit less fussy, but I love to experiment.
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Is that VS from street fighter?
Yes it is. I figured someone might notice what I was doing there, haha.
 

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That's a Trident Java fern. They for me are elegant slow growers. NEVER USE Hydrogen Peroxide on them..I killed a nice clump last year and my new replacements have never grown as fast. I also have narrow leaf Java fern doing well.
All Java ferns- but especially the wider leaved original species do much better with potassium added to the water..much more than any other additive including iron. Potassium jump starts them.
 
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