Aquarium owners are familiar with this bright green carpet plant. The dwarf hairgrass is common in a tropical freshwater tank. This versatile plant is a mini aquarium mainstay as fish love to forage in its fronds of grass. It is easy to grow, making it a typical aquarium flora for novice and hobbyists alike.
The dwarf hairgrass is an excellent choice if you want a thick and dense lawn effect. It covers the aquarium substrate completely.
Most aquarists use it as a carpeting plant in aquatic environments. The dwarf hairgrass helps oxygenate your tank. It also cleans the water and provides shelter to bottom-dwelling fish. Because it is effortless to care for, it is a popular plant for aquarium owners.
Here are some things you should know about the dwarf hairgrass before buying them from the store.
Dwarf Hairgrass Appearance
The dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis or Eleocharis parvula) belongs in the family Cyperaceae. It is a fast-growing aquatic plant that grows up to six inches in height.
This plant is grown as a carpet plant in aquariums. It covers the substrate with its vibrant green color and its fronds waving in the current. It has short, bright green, and thread-like leaves, and its thin white roots grow beneath its substrate. Once established, it forms a dense, carpet-like mat inside the aquarium.
There are two common species of dwarf hairgrass. Although they look similar, the Eleocharis acicularis tend to develop a curlier, taller form than the Eleocharis parvula. Fish stores often mislabel these things, so make sure to check the plant before buying.
Although it is easy to grow, you have better chances of success by starting with a healthy specimen. Here are some things you should watch out for when picking your dwarf hairgrass:
- Bright, vibrant green leaves. Avoid plants with brown leaves because this is the first sign of an unhealthy plant. Plants showing brown leaves can’t photosynthesize.
- Long white roots. Damaged plants have short, torn roots that are brownish. The hairgrass will be unable to extract the nutrients they need from the water column and substrate. Take care when taking out the dwarf hairgrass from its packaging. Make sure that you do not damage the roots so that they can grow in the tank.
- Solid and upright leaves. Drooping leaves show that the plant cannot support its weight. Dwarf hairgrass with drooping leaves may have problems acclimating to a new environment.
Dwarf Hairgrass Size and Growth Rate
The dwarf hairgrass plant has a memory in it that “remembers” the shape and length that you choose. If you tend to trim it very short before planting it in the aquarium, it tends to have a slower growth rate. If you prefer putting the plant untrimmed, it is more likely to grow in a wilder, less elegant fashion.
Dwarf hairgrass can grow about an inch or two per month if put under the right conditions. While dwarf hairgrass can grow upwards fast, it is not the quickest rooter. You can expect your dwarf hairgrass to take as long as six to eight weeks to root. Be careful when planting your hairgrass in the substrate layer.
Uses And Placement Of Dwarf Hairgrass
As a carpeting plant, the dwarf hairgrass settles at the bottom of the aquarium. Dwarf hairgrass does more than making your tank look pretty, it has other benefits too. For instance, it oxygenates the water and helps control the nitrate levels in the tank. It also tends to remove pollutants.
Bottom-dwelling fish are especially fond of hairgrass as shelter from their predators.
Dwarf Hairgrass Tank Requirements
Dwarf hairgrass grows in shallow, tropical freshwaters with access to plenty of light. You can usually find this species in sandy or muddy areas along rivers and lakes. You will have to recreate these habitats at home if you want to have dwarf hairgrass in your aquarium.
First, consider the size of your aquarium. Since these plants are small, you can put dwarf hairgrass in tanks as small as ten gallons. The aquarium should have a substrate layer (like sand) to make it easier for the roots to push through. Other things you should consider are the following:
- Water temperature. The dwarf hairgrass can survive in waters from 50 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it more adaptable to different aquarium environments.
- Neutral pH levels. Avoid acidic or alkaline waters as the pH needs to stay neutral at 6.5 to 7.5 levels. Soft to moderately hard water at 2 to 10 KH is also ideal.
- Aquarium lighting. Photosynthesis is still necessary for plant growth, even in aquariums. Place your aquarium in brightly-lit areas. This will ensure that your plants will grow vibrant and healthy.
How To Plant The Dwarf Hairgrass In Your Aquarium
Planting dwarf hairgrass is easy as long as you follow proper care instructions. You can grow hairgrass in sand or gravel with no problem. However, keep in mind that it is not the best plant to grow on driftwood because of its root system. Here is a step-by-step guide for growing dwarf hairgrass in your aquarium:
- Plant the hairgrass in small patches of four to six blades of grass. Larger patches will slow down the speed of the spread. Use thin patches to keep the roots from competing with each other. By using this technique, the hairgrass can cover more areas faster.
- Trim the roots. This will help guide the plant to recover its roots. It will also be beneficial for the spread of the grass.
- Use a pair of plant tweezers when picking up the patches. This is mandatory for any grass in an aquarium as your fingers may lack finesse in handling the plant.
- Place the patches about an inch apart from each other. This will give the grass enough space to stimulate its runners without overcrowding. When pushing the plant into the substrate, hold the tweezers at a 45-degree angle and apply a slight push.
- Pull out the tweezers by shaking them. By doing this, you can avoid uprooting the fragile blades of the dwarf hairgrass.
How To Care For Dwarf Hairgrass
Carpet-like dwarf hairgrass needs four things. These are moderate to high lighting, fertilizer, enough carbon dioxide, and regular trimming.
- Lighting. Because the dwarf hairgrass is a carpeting type of plant, it settles into the tank’s bottom. This makes it more difficult for light to penetrate through. Thus, you will need a Photosynthetic Usable Radiation (PUR) type of lighting. Today, LEDs are great at providing this kind of lighting for your water plants.
- Fertilizers. Use good aquarium fertilizer that provides the main macronutrients for your dwarf hairgrass. These macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you prefer liquid fertilizer, it is also okay to use for hairgrass, so don’t hesitate to use them.
- Carbon dioxide. Algae growth may be possible in tanks. This is common when there are high lighting and nutrient-rich fertilizers. A good supply of carbon dioxide can suppress said algae growth. You may also want to install a CO2 regulator for your aquarium.
- Trimming. In the carpeting phase of your dwarf hairgrass, you will want to trim it. A length of 1.5 inches can encourage a horizontal spread.
Common Issues With Dwarf Hairgrass
Dwarf hairgrass may be easy to care for, but it is not without issues. Here are some common problems with growing dwarf hairgrass in your aquarium:
- Melting. This happens when there are dying parts of the plant that begin to rot in the aquarium. Pluck out the plant’s dying parts before they start to rot. New aquatic growth that is more acclimated should grow back in its place.
- Not spreading. Carpet plants tend to spread themselves as they grow. If this is not happening, you may have to check if you planted your dwarf hairgrass correctly. Check the lighting levels, fertilizers, or substrate.
- Algae. Having algae in your aquarium means that you have an unbalanced ecosystem. Check out the light and nutrient levels of your tank. If you don’t check algae regularly, it could choke the plants in your aquarium. You can try using algaecides or liquid carbon dioxide to solve this problem.
Is Dwarf Hairgrass Right For You?
Dwarf hairgrass is easy to grow, making it an excellent plant for beginner aquarium owners. This plant is versatile, and it makes the fish tank look pretty good.
Caring for hairgrass is easy once it’s rooted in your aquarium. Trim the plant if the strands are becoming too long. Some aquarium owners let hairgrass grow longer in the back of the tank. Mid-level fish can have somewhere to hide without obscuring the view of the aquarium.
Some aquarium owners want more complex carpeting for their tanks. The dwarf hairgrass works excellent when planted in tandem with other carpeting plants. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your aquarium’s ecosystem!
Dwarf hairgrass is an easy-to-grow carpeting type of plant. It grows into a vibrant green for the smaller aquariums, it is suitable for small tanks, and it is tolerant of different water and tank conditions. It is easy to maintain, making it a good choice for beginner aquarium owners and keepers.