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Utricularia graminifolia is a perennial carnivorous plant that belongs to the genus Utricularia. The name ‘Utricularia’ refers to the bladder traps whereas the species name ‘graminifolia’ refers to its grass-like leaves. In its natural habitat, this plant is found in shady areas of wetlands, swamps, peatland, and the coasts of streams. It is originated from south-east Asian countries. It is a semi-aquatic plant that can grow both submerse and immerse.
This plant grows in mineral deficient areas, so it has developed tiny bladder traps along its rhizome to trap insects, micro-organisms, and other tiny creatures. These bladder traps are air bubble-like organs and have hairy triggers along their openings. When an organism contacts the hair, it activates the trap and is pulled into the trap along with water. Afterward, the enzymes are released into the bladder to digest the trapped organism and provide to plant the required nitrogen and phosphorous.
It grows into a green lawn-like carpet and is a popular plant in aquascaping. This plant is a foreground plant used in planted aquariums. Growing and maintaining this plant is rather difficult, and is not recommended for beginner aquarists. Utricularia graminifolia is relatively fragile and should not be kept together with species of fish or snails that burrow regularly.
Utricularia graminifolia is very sensitive to the temperature, pH, and hardness of the water. The water must be soft and slightly acidic to keep this plant healthy. It can live within a pH range of 6 to 7,5. But, a pH value between 6,8 to 7 is more suitable for keeping this plant. The water hardness must be between 7 and 10 dKH for the best. Water temperatures above 21°C are ideal for this plant. Although CO2 injection is not essential, CO2 will boost the growth and leaf thickness of the plant.
The aquarium substrate must be fertile and rich in iron, phosphorous, nitrogen, and manganese to support good root development. Also, it will enable the plant to reach the nutrients properly. Commercially available liquid plant fertilizers are also suitable to prevent iron and manganese deficiencies in this plant.
Utricularia graminifolia is very sensitive to change in environmental conditions while it is growing. So, all water parameters should be carefully monitored and adjusted for proper growth. This plant is a spermatophyte, i.e. it bears seeds. It develops violet flowers in immerse form. Commercially, it is propagated using vegetative propagation by dividing the rhizome.
Utricularia Graminifolia propagates through runners which spread horizontally in the substrate. These runners have grass-like leaves, roots, and bladder traps. Utricularia Graminifolia should not be grown with other fast-growing plants to ensure adequate nutrition and lighting.
It can be grown in both immersed and submerged states. However, shifting to a submerged environment after being grown in the immersed state is a little challenging and requires CO2 injection during the adaptation period. It takes time for the plant to acclimatize with the aquarium conditions before developing roots. During this period, it will not require too many nutrients and in case fertilization is excessive algae may take over in the tank.
It is mostly in sale with plastic containers where it is usually placed on either stone wool or coir discs in immersed form. It should be divided into small patches and planted in a checkerboard pattern in the aquarium. Between each patch, there must be a distance of about 5-6 cm from each other. For the initial 6-8 weeks, it should receive relatively medium-light with CO2 injection. Once the patches merge and form a uniform carpet, brighter lighting conditions can be used with higher CO2 injection and fertilizer support.
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