Eleocharis fluctuans was known for a long time under the name Egleria fluctuans. is an elegant stem plant that floats on the water surface. It has reddish-brown stems and hairlike, delicate olive green leaves that grow in tufts on the stem nodes. Its appearance resembles that of Najas, however, this plant truly belongs to the sedge family (Cyperaceae). This uncommon grasslike plant from the South-American tropics (Brazil and Venezuela). It has only been infrequently imported, and in small numbers, and it is very rare in the hobby. It is best obtained from other hobbyists, as it is probably not availabe in trade at all.
Whereas other aquarium plants that float under the water surface are usually very easy to care for, E. fluctuans is highly demanding, comparable to Tonina fluviatilis, and species of the genera Syngonanthus and Eriocaulon: intensive light, a continuous supply of nutrients and CO2, soft, acidic water with a carbonate hardness of 3 and below as well as a pH of 6.5 or less. If the water is too hard or too alkaline the plant turns black and stops growing altogether.
Even though Eleocharis fluctuans forms clumps floating on the water surface in nature, however, it can also be planted in the substrate and develops a root system there. For propagation, the upper part of the stem is cut off (like you would do with other stem plants) and re-planted. The remaining part of the stem develops lateral shoots, which gives the plant an overall bushier look. As we know from Najas species, the stems of E. fluctuans are very brittle, so be careful when trimming.
This special plant offers itself for a "wild" natural aquarium layout, a style for which Eleocharis vivipara is also highly suitable. A nice but almost chaotic background of E. fluctuans, combined with a well-combed lawnlike planting in the foreground can become an outstanding aquascape rich in contrast.
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