Glossostigma elatinoides is a very low-growing lawnlike aquarium plant with creeping runners and spatula-like leaves that grows emersed to totally submersed in bogs and flood areas as well as on river banks and lakeshores in its native habitats in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. Takashi Amano became aware of the hitherto rather unknown plant in 1980. He imported it to Japan via the aquatic plant nursery Dennerle and created the first Nature Aquaria layouts with low-growing carpets of Glossostigma. Meanwhile, Glossostigma elatinoides has become one of the most popular foreground plants in all the world.
It is possible to confound Glossostigma elatinoides with small submersed waterclovers (Marsilea). However, the creeping runners of Glossstigma have opposing leaves (2 leaves per node), those of Marsilea are alternate (1 leaf per node). Moreover, Glossostigma leaves posses a distinct midrib, whereas the veins of Marsilea are fan-shaped, comparable to the leaves of a Ginkgo tree.
There is another Glosso species, closely related to G. elatinoides, Glossostigma diandrum. Its flowers have two stamina, those of G. elatinoides have four.
G. elatinoides is relatively easy to cultivate given that it has enough light and CO2. Light intensity should be at least 0.5 watts per litre. Under sufficient light, Glosso forms runners quickly, covering the entire ground after a relatively short time. Under insufficient light, however, it tends to grow out long. For good growth it needs sufficient nitrate (5 mg/l or above), phosphate (0.5 mg/l or above) and sufficient iron as well as micronutrients. Nitrate deficiency leads to yellowish leaves, and the older leaves are shed before time, phosphate deficiency results in a significant growth reduction, and the plant assumes a distinct dark green hue. Iron deficiency leads to transparent spots on the leaves.
If you buy Glossostigma elatinoides in trade you will probably get the emersed form. When planting, make groups of three to four stems, and wait for submersed growth, which sets in after about two weeks. Then you can cut off the new, submersed leaves and replant them into the substrate. Make sure to bury them in the ground entirely, and just free the leaf tips from the substrate. If you follow this method, given that there is sufficient light, CO2 and nutrients, you will get complete ground coverage after a few weeks.
Its low growth makes G. elatinoides an ideal foreground plant. It forms dense plant carpets, which are especially attractive in Nature Aquaria.
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