Microsorum pteropus "Needle Leaf"

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Epiphyte (growing on hardscape), Midground, Nano tanks, Foreground, group
Difficulty: very easy
Growth: slow
See also: Microsorum pteropus "Taiwan" , Microsorum pteropus 'Narrow'
Range and localities: 

Tropical Asia; no reliable information about the exact origin

  • Microsorum pteropus ''True Needle Leaf''
  • Microsorum sp. ''Mini''

Misapplied names: 
  • Microsorum brassii

Habit, plant type:

  • rhizome or creeping stem
  • epiphyte or epilith
  • fern
Botanical name [?]: Microsórum ptéropus (Blume) Copeland

Major group (unranked): Ferns (Monilophytes)
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Microsorum


The vernacular name "needle leaf" obviously is used for (at least) two similar Java fern forms growing to different sizes. However, both forms alike have exceedingly narrow, band-like leaves of a medium to dark green colour with an undulate margin. The midrib is rather thick in comparison with leaf width, and on the underside of the leaf there are dark brown hirsute scales. The distance between the leaves on the rhizome is rather brief, and the roots remain relatively short.

The larger variety is also known under the name M. pteropus "Taiwan" and (erroneously) as "Narrow Leaf" (not identical with M. pteropus "Narrow" from the aquatic plant nursery Tropica). The leaves of adult plants are usually over 5 mm wide and reach a maximum width of around 2 cm and a length of 30 cm.
The smaller variety, also in trade under the name Microsorum spec. "Mini", has leaves of only 3 to 5 mm in width. This form is an overall slower grower than the first one. Over a long time, the leaves of younger plants will stay around 10 cm long, whereas the leaves of older populations can develop up to 30 cm long leaves.
It cannot be ruled out that there are even more Java fern varieties of the needle-leaf type.

To be continued...

References and further reading:
  1. Muth, H. (2013): Narrow-, Needle-, Mini- oder Taiwan-Javafarn: was ist was? - Flowgrow, Aquascaping News (, accessed 18 June 2014)
Light low to high 
Temperature tolerance 4 to 30 °C
Optimum temperature 20 to 28 °C
Carbonate hardness 0 to 12 °dKH
pH value 5 to 7.5 
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 10 to 40 mg/l
Nitrate (NO3-) 10 to 50 mg/l
Phosphate (PO43-) 0.1 to 3 mg/l
Potassium (K+) 5 to 30 mg/l
Iron (Fe) 0.01 to 0.5 mg/l

Growth: slow

Propagation: Proliferating leaves, Proliferating roots, Rhizomteilung, Splitting, cutting off daughter plants

Can grow emersed?: yes

Suited for outdoor cultivation / ponds: no

Winter hardiness: not hardy in Germany

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Wasserpflanzen sind ein fester Bestandteil der meisten Aquarien. Beim Aquascaping, dem Naturaquarium, Biotop-Aquarium oder dem Gesellschaftsaquarium sind Wasserpflanzen nicht nur für die Wasserqualität entscheidend, sondern sorgen auch stets für eine optische Aufwertung des Aquariums.