The Monte Carlo plant is an extremely popular carpeting plant that does well in moderately-lit, freshwater, tropical fish tanks.
This plant is beginner-friendly and has a very fast growth rate, quickly spreading across the bottom of the tank to create a beautiful, brilliant green carpet.
You can also grow the Monte Carlo plant as an epiphyte. Epiphytes can be grown on hardscape features, such as lava rock and driftwood, to create an eye-catching display.
Read this guide to learn how to care for the Monte Carlo plant and bring a touch of natural beauty to your aquascape.
The Monte Carlo plant has the scientific name, Micranthemum tweediei.
The plant comes from Argentina in South America, where it grows in dense carpets in sunlit shallow freshwater bodies, including bogs, lakes, and streams.
These plants are amphibious and, in the wild environment, grow on saturated areas of ground, emersed, or submerged.
The Monte Carlo plant is a vibrant, light-colored, low-growing plant that typically grows across the substrate as a carpeting plant.
Although the plants spread laterally pretty quickly, they only get to around 2 inches in height.
Monte Carlo leaves are small and rounded, and the plants have tiny roots. The plant is often mistaken for the other very popular carpeting plant, Dwarf Baby Tears.
Monte Carlo Plant Care Guide
In this part of our guide, we explain everything you need to know about caring for the beautiful Monte Carlo plant.
Monte Carlo can be grown as a foreground or carpeting plant and also in the midground. You can also grow the plant as an epiphyte on pieces of hardscape, including driftwood, ornaments, and rocks.
The plant roots grab onto cracks and holes in the hardscape, or you can fix them onto things using superglue or nylon thread.
You can grow Monte Carlo plants within any kind of substrate.
However, because the plant’s roots are very small and fine, we recommend using sand or fine gravel that will hold the roots and prevent the plants from becoming dislodged from the substrate.
Generally, very coarse gravel doesn’t work as well as a substrate for Monte Carlo plants.
Monte Carlo needs high to medium light levels to thrive and maintain its compact, dense form. If the plants don’t receive enough light, they tend to grow spindly and tall.
Of course, if you intend to grow your Monte Carlo plants on rocks and pieces of wood that are closer to the light source in your aquarium, you’ll get away with lower lighting levels.
What Are Suitable Tank Mates for Monte Carlo Plants?
This plant is a good choice for a community or single-species fish tank, especially with small schooling fish as tank mates.
You can keep most tropical freshwater fish species with the Monte Carlo plant, as long as they share similar water parameters and light requirements.
Some good fish species that you can include in a tank with Micranthemum Monte Carlo are:
You can also keep shrimp and some species of freshwater snails, as long as they are not known to be plant-eaters.
Fish Species to Avoid
The main challenge when growing Monte Carlo plants as a carpet is to keep them in place when first planted.
Unfortunately, bottom-dwelling fish, such as Kuhli Loaches and Corydoras Catfish, tend to rummage around in the substrate and dislodge the new plants. However, once the plants are established, you can introduce bottom-dwellers relatively safely if you want to.
Other fish species to avoid are goldfish, African Cichlids, Buenos Aires Tetras, and Silver Dollars. All these fish can be very destructive and will rip up and damage your plants.
Feeding Your Monte Carlo Plants
Monte Carlo plants take nutrients from the water column and the substrate. For this reason, you can use a fertile growing medium and a liquid fertilizer to keep your plants healthy.
If you decide to grow your plants in a gravel or sand substrate, the plants will benefit from the addition of root tabs to your aquarium. For Monte Carlo plants that are growing on hardscape, liquid fertilizer will encourage more robust, prolific growth.
If you have high light conditions and you include CO2 as a fertilizer, Micranthemum Monte Carlo benefits from regular supplementation, ideally weekly.
However, if you have moderate lighting and a good number of fish living in the tank, you can get away with supplementing your plants every couple of weeks or so.
What About CO2?
Generally, the levels of background CO2 in the aquarium are not enough for Monte Carlo to get what it needs for optimal growth. For this reason, CO2 injections can be beneficial. Ideally, you want CO2 levels of around 30ppm in the tank.
Use a drop checker and bubble counter to fine-tune the levels of CO2 in your tank, and check them regularly to make sure that levels are safe for your fish and correct for your plants.
As Monte Carlo grows very quickly, you will need to thin out the plant occasionally to prevent overgrowth. You can also trim away dead or straggly growth to keep the plant in a nice, dense, compact carpet. Use aquascaping scissors for trimming and aquascaping tweezers to thin out the plants.
Because of its dense, low-growing habit, Monte Carlo tends to trap fish waste and other organic debris between its leaves.
Although this provides excellent nutrition for the plant, an ammonia spike and overall poor water quality can result if you don’t remove the waste. By removing the organic waste, you can keep ammonia levels low and make sure the aquarium environment remains healthy for your fish.
You’ll need to use an aquarium vacuum to remove organic matter from around the plant roots, taking care not to disturb them.
Also, you’ll need to maintain your filter system for your fish and other livestock by carrying out weekly partial water changes and cleaning the filter media once a month or so.
The Monte Carlo plant is a tropical freshwater plant that needs a water temperature of between 68° and 77°. However, the plants are not fussy when it comes to pH levels and water hardness.
You’ll need an efficient filtration system to provide clean water and a healthy environment for your fish and plants, too.
Since this plant has very fine roots that can easily be loosened from the substrate, you’ll need to avoid using a system that generates a strong flow, as it might disturb the plants.
That said, you do need some degree of flow to circulate the nutrients that the plant needs around the tank and to prevent particles of waste from settling on the plants’ leaves.
How to Propagate Micranthemum tweediei
The easiest way to propagate the plant is by division. Choose sections that have healthy leaves and roots, and simply replant them in your tank.
All you need to do to create a carpet effect in your aquarium is to break up a patch of Monte Carlo into small sections of around half an inch or so across, each carrying its own roots.
Plant the plantlets in a grid pattern at a distance of about an inch or so apart. At first, this will look gappy. However, if fed properly and kept in optimal water conditions, the plants will quickly spread to fill in the gaps and create a gorgeous, bright green lawn effect.
To discourage the plants from lifting out of the substrate, plant them a little deeper than they would ordinarily grow. Use a fine pair of tweezers or pincettes for the job, and push each plant down into the substrate at an angle of around 45°.
If you have a setup with a fairly powerful filtration system and a strong flow, you might want to consider keeping the plants in their pots to keep them anchored until the root systems are established. This way, the plants spread out more slowly but there’s less chance that they will become dislodged.
Health and Disease
Although Monte Carlo is a pretty hardy, healthy plant species, it can still be vulnerable to some diseases.
Signs of Health
A healthy Monte Carlo plant grows and spreads very quickly in your fish tank. If conditions are good, the aquarium plant remains compact and low, putting out short stems and small, vibrant green leaves.
Signs of Ill Health
If your plants are not thriving, there are a few signs to watch out for, including:
- Plants and leaves turning brown or yellow
- Plant stems growing thin and tall
- Overgrowth of algae, suffocating the plant’s growth
If your plants are growing very tall and straggly, that’s a sign that they need more light. You might need to upgrade your aquarium lighting system to provide this.
Yellow or brown leaves generally indicate that the plants are not receiving enough nutrition or might be lacking in carbon dioxide.
Sometimes, an overgrowth of algae in the aquarium can cause problems, covering the plants’ leaves and retarding growth. If you find that you have excessive amounts of algae growing in your tank, you might need to alter the amount of fertilizer that you’re using and reduce the duration of light you give your plants.
Finally, it’s not uncommon for an aquatic plant to “melt” back when first planted in your tank. Generally, the plants will recover and start to grow once they have settled and acclimated to their new environment.
There are a few unwanted pests that can affect your aquatic plants, including snails.
You can avoid this issue by purchasing your Monte Carlo as tissue culture plants rather than as potted plants. In particular, you should avoid buying specimens that are kept in a large tank with fish and other plants.
However, you can take precautions to make sure that your plants are not infested with snails and other pests that might harm your fish by washing the plants properly before you add them to your aquarium. You should also remove any dead or yellow leaves so that they don’t drop off and rot in the tank.
Have a good look over each plant and pick off any unwanted snails if you can spot any. It’s also a good idea to dip the plants in a very mild bleach solution (20 parts water to 1 part bleach) to kill off any unwanted critters and parasites.
Be careful not to make the bleach solution too strong or you risk damaging your plants. Your dip time should be less than two minutes, and you must rinse the plants thoroughly afterward to get rid of any traces of bleach!
Monte Carlo is a very common plant that’s seen in most fish stores. You can also buy these plants online.
We recommend that you buy tissue culture plants rather than potted plants, as this ensures you get pest-free specimens, and these plants have a much longer shelf life than the potted variety.
Monte Carlo plants generally cost around $5 to $8 per pot. Each pot contains several plants that you can split and plant in a grid pattern across the substrate of your aquarium.
Is Monte Carlo a Good Choice for Your Aquarium?
Micranthemum tweediei is a beautiful carpeting aquarium plant that’s relatively easy to grow in a tropical fish tank.
This aquatic carpeting plant doesn’t have any particular requirements when it comes to water hardness or pH. That said, Monte Carlo needs quite high light levels to thrive unless grown on pieces of wood or rocks that are close to the water surface and your aquarium light source.
For optimal growth, feed the plants with liquid fertilizer or fertilizer tabs. You most likely don’t need to include CO2 supplementation in your setup, especially if your aquarium has a large stock of fish and other livestock.
The plant can be grown as a carpet plant or used as a midground plant in a small tank.
Monte Carlo lives happily alongside most tropical fish species except those that are destructive or confirmed diggers that might disturb or uproot the plant’s thin roots.