Elatine hydropiper

Eight-stamen waterwort

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Nano tanks, Foreground, ground cover
Difficulty: difficult
Growth: medium
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Availability [?]: 
  • frequently available commercially

Common names: 
  • Eight-stamen waterwort

Habit, plant type:

  • rhizome or creeping stem
Botanical name [?]: Elatíne hydrópiper L.

Major group (unranked): Seed plants: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Elatinaceae
Genus: Elatine


Elatine hydropiper was brought into trade by Anbias plant company in 2010. Presumably the aquarium population of this plant was originally collected in Italy (Adams 2010). Whether it is really E. hydropiper should be verified by means of flowering and fruiting plants. Elatine hydropiper is widely distributed in Europe up to northern Scandinavia as well as in Siberia and Northern China. In Italy it only grows in the north-west. This species grows in and on ponds, rivers and marshes. The area of distribution reaches very far north, which makes it rather astonishing that the aquarium population of E. hydropiper grows so well in tropical tanks.
In the south of Italy and in other regions of the Mediterranean, two more species that look very much like E. hydropiper: Elatine macropoda, which is mentioned in old aquarium literature, and E. gussonei, which has been cultivated successfully in aquaria recently.

E. hydropiper has soon spread among aquascapers as highly suitable ground cover, as the plant looks like a miniature version of Glossostigma elatinoides. Whereas G. elatinoides can grow almost invasively under favourable conditions, E. hydropiper only grows moderately fast and is thus far easier to handle. This lawn-like fresh green plant with its tiny leaves is ideal for nano tanks and small aquaria, but a large carpet of E. hydropiper is also stunning in the foreground of large tanks.

- To be continued -

References and further reading:
  1. Adams, Jake (2010): Elatine hydropiper is a carpeting foreground plant with the smallest leaves. (http://www.aquascaperz.com/2010/06/04/elatine-hydropiper-is-a-carpeting-foreground-plant-with-the-smallest-leaves/, accessed 11 July 2013)
  2. Mifsud, Stephan (2006): Introducing Elatine gussonei. (Expanded version of an article in The Aquatic Gardener v.17, No. 4) (http://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/elatine.html, accessed 11 July 2013)
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