Aponogeton Ulvaceus are beautiful bulb plants that come from Madagascar. With light green translucent leaves twirled delicately, they make for interesting additions to large tanks, and could even act as a solitary centerpiece because of its ability to grow more than 40 leaves, up to around 1ft in length each!
It also takes quite a bit of space, as a single root can easily grow up to a feet and a half in wideness. This plant is relatively hardy and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions, so for beginners looking for a simple yet elegant plant to put in their large fish tanks, this care guide will not only help you care for one, but it’ll also help you decide on whether or not the aponogeton ulvaceus, or any other bulb plant is a good fit for your tank.
The Ideal Aquarium Conditions for Bulb Plants
Generally, plants thrive in tanks with a pH of 6.5-7.5, with the exception of aponogeton capuroni, nuphar japonica, etc. In terms of temperature, bulb plants are tropical species, which means that they enjoy temperatures ranging from 22-28°C. Some are able to tolerate cooler temperatures, but assuming that you’ll be keeping bulb plants with tropical fish, you should stick with the recommended range.
Is the Aponogeton Ulvaceus a Good Choice for Beginners?
Plants that are a good fit for beginners should meet the following criteria:
Must tolerate low light conditions
A lot of tanks, especially ones with built-in canopy lights, often have inadequate lighting for plants that require strong lighting. Low intensity lights hit two birds with one stone: reduction of algal bloom, and lower wattage.
Must be able to thrive without carbon dioxide supplementation
Beginner plants must be able to thrive in what’s called a “low-tech planted tank,” which basically refers to tanks that don’t have elaborate carbon dioxide dosing equipments for accelerated plant growth.
That being said, the aponogeton ulvaceus meets both requirements, but with a caveat: they can and will grow rapidly, quite possibly reaching 1ft in a month! This can happen even without added fertilizers, as they come preloaded with nutrients. You only need to plant them deep into the aquarium substrate for them to grow properly. In heavily stocked tanks, their growth can be much more rapid (assuming that the fish don’t nibble away their leaves) due to the added fish waste.
Do I Need to Prune Bulbs?
Bulb plants can grow unwieldy and can make smaller tanks feel quite cramped. Fortunately, you can prune them to your liking by cutting the stems as close to the bulb as possible. By doing so, you ensure that there will be minimal rotting.
What Does Resting a Plant Mean?
For beginners or even intermediate tank owners, resting a plant may seem strange, but a lot of aquarists do this because bulb plants, during the dry season, have their bulbs out of the water and their leaves exposed to air. This kills the leaves, but prepares the plant for the rainy season. Obviously, in home aquariums, the season remains virtually the same throughout the year. The leaves of your bulbs won’t die, which, while it might sound like a good thing, also entails that you need to feed your plants as the nutrients stored in the bulb get depleted.
To rest your bulb, remove it from the tank and remove all the leaves and roots. Place it in a bag of damp sand and leave it in a cool, dry, and dark place for around two months. This is best done during the winter. After this, you can safely replant it.
Low Light, Low Maintenance
As mentioned before, less lighting is usually better for beginners, as higher lighting also means having to prune your bulb more often, while also requiring additional feedings as a consequence of rapid growth. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can get away with having ridiculously low wattage LEDs, as this will fuel algae growth as well. 10w LED floodlights are the minimum recommended lights for 10 Gallon tanks. You can get away with as little as 6 hours of light with this setup.
LED floodlights with 6,700k color temperatures are cheap alternatives to dedicated aquarium lights. A lot of aquarists have had great success with them, so if you don’t have the budget for quality aquarium lights, you can get away with an LED floodlight. Combine this with off-the-shelf NPK and quality liquid carbon products, and you can grow even the most demanding plants!
If you want an even simpler setup, you can also use T5s bulb, though I wouldn’t recommend it, as T5s have to be replaced often as their intensity quickly diminishes. You would also need to add nutrients more often.
Lower lighting allows for minor lapses in aquarium husbandry, which means that you won’t get into trouble by skipping one or two water changes. In high tech planted tanks, this can cause a sudden burst of algae.
Picking the Right Substrate
Substrates are some of the most ignored aspects of fishkeeping. For fish, they’re simply places for fish to scour and play in. For plants, however, substrates are both their home and their source of food. Especially for bulb plants with depleted nutrients, substrates with added nutrients help reduce the need to consistently dose liquid fertilizers.
If you don’t want to change your current substrate, you could still purchase fertilizer tablets or capsules that you can place near the roots of your plants. These slow release fertilizers will often last you several months before needing to be replenished.
This is a perfect choice for aquarists who already have an established tank, as replacing the whole substrate could wreak havoc on the biological filtration of the system, which, while not necessarily harmful for the plants, could be quite fatal for the fish.
Dosing Liquid Carbon
If you plan on housing an aponogeton ulvaceus in a nano tank, you may need to dose a liquid carbon additive. This is especially true for nano tanks that are lightly stocked. As an added bonus, liquid carbon not only helps fuel plant growth, but it also kills various kinds of algae. If you have plants sensitive to glutaraldehyde, however, you may need to skip this additive. If you’re looking for rapid growth for your bulbs, however, liquid carbon is a perfect, low cost substitute for CO2 injections.
The aponogeton ulvaceus is an elegant, fast-growing plant perfect for beginners and experts alike. If you want a plant that will thrive even without elaborate setups while providing additional nutrient export and shelter for fish, then the aponogeton ulvaceus is a perfect fit.