Salvinia Natans (Floating Fern)

Type:Floating Plant
Origin:Africa, Asia, South America, and Central Europe
Growth Rate:Fast
Light Demand:Medium to High
CO2 Demand:Low

Salvinia natans is also known as “floating fern”, “floating water moss”, “floating moss”, “Marsilea natans” or “water butterfly wings” is an aquatic plant species belonging to the Salviniaceae family. The plant has widespread around the world. Asia, Africa, Central Europe, and South America are natural habitats. Areas such as freshwater ponds, water gardens, humid and warm environments are suitable for these plants to live.

Salvinia natans has light to dark tones of green leaves during the summer and autumn periods. These leaves are not completely submerged, but their roots are always in the water. It can reach 2.5 cm in length and a little more than 3 cm in width.


The ideal water pH balance for this plant is between 6,0-7,5 and the suitable water hardness is between 4-20 dGH. Water temperatures between 12-30°C are proper for the plant to grow healthy. In its natural habitat, this plant likes environments where it can receive direct sunlight. Therefore, although direct exposure to sunlight is the best option, strong LED lighting and full-spectrum lighting is functional in aquariums. Generally, this plant grows fast and healthy in environments where water parameters, temperature and light are suitable. But still, minimal nutrient addition will be beneficial. Carbon dioxide addition (5-40 mg/l) and other fertilizations such as nitrates, phosphates, potassium, or iron can be used to support healthy growth.


There are two critical points to be noted while caring for the plant. First and foremost, this plant can show a high tolerance to temperature and sunlight, but cold environments can cause severe damage to the plant. Thus, paying attention to keep the plant away from the cold as much as possible is vital. The second important point is that it is sensitive in moving from one point to another. For example, a plant taken from its natural habitat or bought from a shop may react negatively to transportation. In this case, the transportation period must be as short as possible. Then, the plant must be located in its place in the aquarium immediately. Some parts may turn brown during transportation or later during the transition period in its new tank. But it will return to its original color in a few days.

Salvinia natans is not suitable for living in high flow waters, so stable or slow-flowing waters are the best fit for it. Humidity levels are another significant issue for the plant. If the humidity level in the air is too low, the plant may dry out under direct exposure to high-intensity lighting.
This plant is easy to propagate and can cover the water surface quickly under suitable conditions. It will sprout using its spores under proper propagation conditions. This rapid propagation can cause some problems in the aquarium. Although fish like the wide leaves of this plant as a shelter, these wide leaves prevent light from reaching the bottom of the water. This is a dangerous situation for other plants that live underwater in the aquarium and need light. In that case, taking some part of the plant from the aquarium will help other plants to receive more light.

In conclusion, this plant, which is intriguing with its green appearance over the water surface, different leaf types and roots underwater, is widely preferred by aquarists with its easy care and high tolerance to high lightning.

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