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Java Fern – Grow and Care Guide

The Java Fern is an ideal plant species for many aquarium types. Whether you are new to planted tanks or just want to fill your tank we recommend going with this plant.

Many aquarists like the simple care requirements of the Java Fern. They also enjoy its basic but elegant look in the water. Really, you will find this Fern plant in many fish tanks around the world!

The Fern plant is particularly popular for its simplicity and low maintenance. But you should be aware of its care requirements. You won’t have a difficult time cultivating the Java Fern. But some basic care is required and should be taken seriously.

Throughout this article, we’ll talk about ways you can best care for a Java Fern.

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General Overview of The Java Fern

Java Fern is native to the Asian continent and comes in a number of varieties. This hardy jungle flora is found in all kinds of water environments and thrives fully submerged or partially submerged in water.

Java Fern tends to grow on smooth surfaces, like rocks and wood. They can also survive in all kinds of habitats from rivers to rainforests, to the side of a waterfall. They enjoy more moderate temperatures around seventy to eighty-four degrees. But this depends on the species of Java you get.

Java Fern is a well-priced tank plant and is easy to get ahold of.

Still, you want to make sure that the plant you get is fully healthy. A rotting plant will not grow well in tanks. And unfortunately, some vendors don’t sell the best quality Ferns. Just check the leaves and condition of the Fern before you place it in your aquarium. You’ll also need to have the right tank size and equipment to grow your plant well and perform proper Java Fern care. But this will be discussed at a later point.

The Structure

Java Fern has the typical features of most aquarium plants, but its plant parts function differently. They are made up of three main components.

You have the leaves of the plant which are usually green in color. They can grow wide and tall depending on the water conditions. Then you have the Rhizome of the plant. This is where different parts of the plant grow. Leaves shoot out of the head of this plant part. And roots usually grow from the lower portion of the Rhizome.

The Rhizome is a crucial part of any plant. It actually takes in vital nutrients for your Fern as well.

The last part of the Java Fern is the roots. With many plants, the roots are the main source of nutrient absorption. But in the Fern, this is not the case. For the most part, this area of the Fern helps keep the plant in place in the water.

Java Fern is not like other flora. They do not need their roots deeply buried; they just need to be attached to a sturdy object. This is due to the conditions of their natural environment. Since they like to grow on rocks and river banks they prefer to be anchored to objects instead of securely rooted.

How Do Java Fern Reproduce

Video: “JAVA FERN propagation | SHOUT OUTS”

Plant reproduction is different for Java as well. Many species of plants like to reproduce with the use of seeds. Java Fern has a completely different process of procreation. They actually copy themselves in the cycle known as vegetative reproduction.

What this means is that the Java grows a replicated version of itself from its own body. When the smaller version of itself gets big enough it detaches and becomes its own plant.

You might worry about over replication in your tank, but Java grows pretty slowly. So they shouldn’t overrun the water, especially if you prune your plant often.

Different Types of Java Fern

As mentioned, Java differs depending on the type you get.

Most Java plants differ in their leaf shape and composition. Some plants will also grow taller than others. If you are looking for thin-leaved Ferns, the Needle Leaf and the Narrow Leaf are two options to look into. These plants sprout interesting looking foliage.

The Needle is the thinnest version of the plant you can get and only grows up to six inches. It also looks different from other Javas with its wrinkly leaves. The Narrow has slightly wider leaves and can grow a foot tall.

If you want thicker Fern leaves, the Trident and the Windelov might be a better option. The Trident is harder to find, and its leaves are heavily forked. This is a faster-growing Java, but it is slightly shorter than the Narrow Leaf.

Windelov, on the other hand, is more curled and has extra branching leaves. It has a unique look but only grows up to eight inches.

Java Fern Grow and Care Guide

Your Java will be less of a hassle to manage than other plants. But all aquatic plants need tending to.

This next section will go over pertinent java fern care tips that will keep your plant alive and thriving.

Tank Size and Preparation

Tank size is important for your Java Fern. These plants can get quite large. A standard Java Fern can grow up to a foot tall and sometimes over this. Some Ferns are smaller of course, but you want to have enough room for your plant and pet.

So in general, never get an aquarium that is under ten gallons when planting a Java. Small tanks will become overcrowded with this plant rather easily. Ferns are not a fast-growing plant but they do get tall!

After you get the correct tank size for your Fern, you’ll need to adjust the water to your plant’s needs.

Java Fern Conditions

Certain conditions are required for Java. These requirements aren’t as strict as other flora. So you should be able to put in many species of fish in with your plant. In general, CO2 is not needed with this plant. But Fertilizer doesn’t hurt your Java.

Really, since this plant is a little slow in growing, it might be best to put some in with your plant.

Temperature is slightly flexible for Java, but you are not going to want to put your plant in cold water. Java can be in waters that are around sixty-two to eighty-four degrees. Some variations of java can handle a range a few degrees off these parameters. But you don’t want to make the water overly cold or hot.

Lighting this plant is a lot easier though. It has low needs for light and you don’t want to put it under high-intensity light actually. You could cause the Fern to wilt with too much illumination.

Ph for Fern is pretty typically around six to seven.

And you can add substrate to your planted tank, but this isn’t a requirement for the species. It will make your tank look better though.

How to Attach Java Fern to Rock or Driftwood

Video: “Anubias and Java Fern super glued to rocks!”

Java cannot be planted without some kind of planning. While some plants can be buried in a substrate, Java has more specific planting requirements. In fact, it’s probably better not to put them in a substrate at all. Since the rhizome is taking in nutrients it needs to be visible within the water. When this vital plant part is not visible your plant will die.

To avoid this entirely, we recommend attaching your plant to something instead of planting it. You can use all kinds of objects to do this.

But driftwood and rocks are a more popular option. These are good surfaces for your roots to settle on and grow. If you can find a more porous object this is better. That way the roots can settle in a lot better. You don’t want your anchoring object to be overly smooth though. The roots of the Java need some texture to sink into. Large lava-like rocks or a big piece of wood will be your best option.

But you should not just sink your plant into these items though. You will need something to attach them. Really, they aren’t going to root right away and this process will help. A wire is one choice but you can also use some string or thread. Simple tie down the Ferns roots with one of these items or use glue for aquarium plants like in the video above.

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It can take a bit of time for your plant to settle, but after a few weeks, you can remove the thread or whatever you have used to tie your plant. Java Fern can be floated as well, but your flora won’t grow to its maximum potential with this method of growth.

In terms of placement, putting the Fern in the center is preferred so it has space to grow. Again, this is a pretty big plant. You can also put it towards the rear portion of your aquarium as well though. Your plant will require some time to really begin growing in the water. But be patient and it will grow large and full in your tank.

How to Grow Java Fern

Again, patience is the key to this plant. Feed it plenty of fertilizer and make sure to place it in your aquarium properly. If your Java is not growing, you might have buried your plant wrong. So check up on this and refer to the previous sections for information on proper planting methods.

Many factors affect the growth of Java, but you will want to adjust your tank to get the growth you want. If you are looking to cultivate a smaller Java, trim your plants often. New Javas will grow on your plant and you’ll want to remove them as they grow. If you are interested in growing a very large plant, don’t trim the Java as much. And let Java growths develop to their maturity.

If you do decide to use fertilizer, do not get one made for a substrate. Your plant is not going to suck up nutrients from their roots.

They will need a liquid fertilizer to properly benefit from this product. CO2 is not a must for this plant but it won’t kill your plant and could make it grow faster. You can also add oxygen to your tank as this is helpful for plant growth.

In addition, make sure you have a tank filter. Dirty water is the surest way to kill your Java plant.

Potential Issues With Your Java Fern Plant

Sometimes plants need time to adjust to a tank and its water conditions. Java is no exception to this. In fact, you might notice some irregularities with your plant during its first few weeks in your tank. Java Fern melt could occur in your aquarium. You might see your plant turning yellow and soft. The leaves of your plant will fall off too but do not worry. Your plant will return to a healthy shade of green and regrow its foliage.

This is actually a pretty common occurrence for Java in a new aquarium. Their old leaves are not able to handle their environment. The switch in conditions causes the melt usually. They go from outside of water to in water which can stress the plant out. It will look like it is rotting but it will sprout new leaves in no time.

Java melt does not always happen. But if you do not have fertilizer in your tank you are more likely to run into this condition. So try using fertilizer as you put your plant in the tank. You can also speed up the Java melt cycle. Just prune any dying leaves. This way newer Fern leaves can grow in their place.

Something else you might notice on Javas is dark spots under the leaves. If your plant is wilting prune these parts off. But if the spots are aligned in rows though there is no need to worry. This just means that your Java is getting ready to reproduce itself. If there are a lot of dots this means that your plant will propagate a lot.

Tank Inhabitants and Your Plant

Luckily, Java Fern fits in with a lot of fish species and aquatic pets. You won’t have trouble putting this plant in with most tank critters. Just make sure that your plant and your pet can enjoy the same water conditions.

Java is pretty flexible, so for the most part, this should not be an issue. But some amount of research can help with this matter. A quick google search will tell you what climate and ph are appropriate for your pet. So simply see if the parameters match up with your Fern.

Some tank owners also worry that their pets will eat up plants. Larger fish or fish with a big appetite can have a tendency to eat up plants. However, even if your fish or pet eat plants, your Fern won’t suffer.

As you know, Java does not grow back as easily as other species. But most fish won’t touch the leaves of this plant. They don’t like the taste of the plant, or the texture of it. Java leaves are thicker and harder to chew than most leaves.

Tank inhabitants might not eat your plant but they could knock them over.

So it’s best to make sure that the roots of your plant are well tied down. This way if your pet bumps into it it’s strong enough to stay upright. Once the Java is established this won’t be an issue though.

How to Know if Java Fern is Right For Your Tank

Most tanks will do well with a Java Fern specimen. But if you are worried about your tank and its suitability for your plant this final section will go over this topic. Really, one of the most important components of a successful Java tank is tank size. So make sure your tank is big enough for this plant species.

We talked about it before but you are definitely going to need at least ten gallons to fit this plant. So don’t make the mistake of getting a pico or other small tank. In addition, make sure that your aquarium is a freshwater one.

Java Fern is a freshwater plant so it shouldn’t be placed in a saltwater tank.

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Overall, Java Ferns are a great plant choice for all sorts of tanks. You really should not run into planting issues with most aquarium setups. People new to tanks and plants might have trouble at first. But if you follow the java fern care tips in this plant guide your Java should thrive in your planted tank.

These are fairly easy plants that are well suited to any experience level. So don’t worry about getting this plant if you are a beginner. Stick to the basics. Keep your tank clean, trim it occasionally, and look at the leaves of your Fern. Add fertilizer in as well to avoid complications and grow your plant faster. And in no time you can get your Java large enough to fill up space in your aquarium!

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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