Water Sprite Plant: Care, Compatibility & Maintenance

Everyone wants to have a healthy and aesthetically pleasing aquarium for their aquatic critters.

The key to creating the ideal environment is to plan out your design and keep the proper plants and tank mates together to create a harmonious space to live and a pleasing underwater scene for everyone to enjoy viewing.

Water wisteria

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Water sprite is said to be named after the mythical water sprite fairies that breathe above and below water. Having Water Sprite in your aquarium has many positive attributes.

Continue reading to learn about how water sprite can benefit your tank while also help to create a lush and pleasing environment for all of its inhabitants.

Common Name:Water sprite, Indian Fern, Water Horn Fern, Water Fern, Oriental Fern, Boston Fern
Scientific Name:Ceratopteris Thalictroides
Family:Pteridaceae
Size:12”-24”
Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Light-Bright Green
Origin:Derived from tropical environments all around the globe
Water Conditions:Prefers standing water or low current. Temperature range between 62-82°f. pH 6.5 – 7.5. Prefers softer water with an alkalinity of 3 -8.
Lighting:Moderate-High. Fluorescent lighting is acceptable. Do not use incandescent lighting as it is not beneficial and creates extra heat.
Growth Rate:Fast (evasive) Requires frequent trimming/thinning
Placement:Typically placed in the midground – background and/or used as a floating source of shade and shelter for other aquarium fish and plants.
Supplements:High-quality aquarium fertilizer that includes: calcium, iron, and magnesium
Propagation:Use cuttings from the shoots. Place them in water, they will grow quickly. Water sprite duplicate by using spores located on the underside of the leaves. Water sprite needs to drop its seeds every year in order to come back.   

Appearance

The water sprite is typically a lush, bright green leafy plant. It has a tall central stem that supports many offshoots of leaves.

The stem is a little darker than the leaves but is still a brighter shade of green. There are variations to the leaves that depend mainly on how it is growing or where it is planted.

If floating, the leaves tend to be thicker and more succulent like. When floating they the leaves can also become entangled in their own roots and grow toward the bottom of the aquarium.

When planted in substrate they can look similar to a pine needle or have a stiff frilly appearance to them.

If the water sprite is unhealthy it will be wilted and brown looking and the leaves will fall apart and create a lot of debris in the tank. Continue reading to learn how to keep your water sprite fresh and green looking year-round.

Water Parameters

Water sprite loves an environment where the water is standing or has a very low current. They thrive off of algae and act almost as a natural filter to the water by absorbing the nutrients that the algae need in order to survive.

This is why they like to be in standing water so much because that is an ideal location for algae to grow.

It is important to keep the water sprite away from your filter system’s intake as they are delicate and can break off easily.

They can also clog up the filter intake which will require that you clean it more frequently. The water sprite prefers water temperatures that are in the range of 62-82°, a pH of 6.5-7.5, and softer water levels with an alkalinity level of 3 – 8.

Lighting

Water sprite can survive in just about any lighting; however, they do the best in moderate to high light environments. Water sprite does well with fluorescent lighting.

Regular incandescent bulbs are not effective and create extra heat that you do not need. Keep in mind that your aquarium temperature shouldn’t be too high, so it’s a good idea to use fish tank chiller.

If a water sprite does not receive adequate lighting it will lose its bright green color.

Environments that have a generous amount of light will benefit immensely from having water sprite incorporated due to the fact that water sprite starves algae from the nutrients it needs to plant roots.

This unique feature of the water sprite means you have less scum to clean and maintain in your tank. The water sprite acts like a natural filter for your tank.

Planting

When planting water sprite, it is important that you do not cover the crown of the roots with too much substrate or leave them too exposed. Think of it like The Three Bears; not too much, not too little, just right.

For best results, you want the crown f the roots to be just above the surface of the substrate.

Water sprite can survive as a floating plant or rooted in a substrate because it absorbs its nutrients from the water in through its leaves.

However, when planting in the substrate it can be good to use something like aquarium soil or pellets that provides nutrients to the environment rather than simply using aquarium gravel or sand.

Planting water sprite

Keep in mind that using a nutrient-rich substrate will be an additional cost to maintain your aquatic play land. They also cause there to be a more significant amount of time and effort required to clean and maintain your tank.

The next section will go into more detail regarding nutrient-rich substrates. Which substrate you choose will also depend on what other types of aquarium plants you plan on using in your tank.

Some plants absorb their nutrients through the roots and may require a more nutrient-rich substrate than the water sprite.

Substrate

If you feel like you are treading water while trying to decide which substrate to use in your tank, you are not alone. Choosing the right substrate for your situation is essential and can be a difficult decision to make.

There are things to consider before setting up your tank. The best place to start when planning is at the bottom and build your way to the surface. The first thing to consider is whether or not you want or need a nutrient-rich substrate.

How do you know if you NEED a nutrient-rich substrate?

In the case of the water sprite, it is not necessary to have a substrate that is rich in nutrients, because as mentioned earlier, it gains its nutrients through its leaves.

The need for a nutrient-rich substrate depends on which types of plants you plan on having in your tank.

If you do decide that you are going to need such a substrate there are many options of nutrient-rich aquarium soil and pellets from supply stores available.

What do I use if I’m not concerned about nutrients in a substrate?

If you prefer low maintenance it is best to choose a nutrient-free substrate such as aquarium sand or gravel. Keep in mind that certain fish are bottom feeders and can become choked on gravel that is not small enough.

If you plan on having those types of fish, be sure to use the correct size gravel.

When planting water sprite in a substrate be sure that you don’t burry the roots too deep and use a substrate that is breathable.

Fertilizing

When you have a well-balanced tank with the right variety of plants and fish, you most likely won’t need to add fertilizer for your water sprite.

In the case when you notice that your water sprite and/or other aquarium plants are looking a little drab there are water additives that you can purchase to revive the nutrients to their proper levels.

Be sure that whichever water supplement additive you use includes the following in the list of nutrients: calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Another thing to check is that your fish and other tank mates are not eating the leaves or pulling the roots up before adding fertilizer. See the tank mates section for more information on this issue.

Maintenance

Water sprite plants are fairly easy to maintain. The main thing to consider is that they are an invasive species and will need regular trimming.

Their leaves are fragile and can break easily so you will have to clean the loose debris from the tank occasionally.

Keep the water sprite located in an area with no or very low current with plenty of light and let Mother Nature do the rest.

Propagation

Fortunately having a green thumb is not required when caring for the water sprite. Water sprite is extremely easy to care for and replicate.

If you find that you are wanting to expand your greenery, simply take a clipping of the stem and leaf or the roots and place them in water.

Within a few days, you will see new growth. Water sprite grows so quickly you can have a lush home for your tank mates to enjoy in no time.

Tank Mates and Compatibility

This is actually may be the first step when planning your aquarium layout. Before choosing your substrate or any other thing for your tank you need to decide who will be living there.

It is good to choose hardy species that get along well with others. Pick fish that ‘work’ for you. Some fish and other aquatic critters are beneficial to your tank; they will eat algae and other naughty entities that may enter your water system.

Some fish and other aquatic creatures can cause damage to the water sprite by eating the leaves and pulling up the roots. Be sure to keep an eye on the condition of your plants and make necessary changes if they are not looking too healthy.

Water sprite makes a great place to hatch and raise their young. The bushy green leaves act as camouflage and a safe haven for them from any predators that may be lurking around looking for a quick bite to eat.

Some of the ideal tank mates for water sprite are those who like to use the leaves as shelter, food, and for raising and hatching their young.

They include:

  • Amano Shrimp
  • Clarias
  • Guppies
  • Killifish
  • Platies
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
  • Tetras

The following mates are okay to have in your tank with water sprite; however, it is imperative that you provide an alternate adequate food for them or they will most likely destroy your plants.

They include:

  • Cichlids
  • Goldfish
  • Snails

Conclusion

If you are looking for an easy and low-maintenance aquarium plant to compliment your aquatic masterpiece; the water sprite is definitely the way to go.

Whether you choose to float or plant the water sprite it will always add a great splash of green to any scene along with providing multiple benefits to the ecosystem of your aquarium.

Consider the tips in this guide and you will have lush greenery that your tank mates will adore.