Marsilea crenata (Dwarf waterclover. Dwarf four leaf clover)
One of the easiest carpeting plants suitable for low-tech aquariums and beginners. Grows into a dense, tall lawn and spreads across the substrate via runner-like structures. Does not require high light or CO2. Can be grown under the shade of taller plants. Really cool, fairly new plant to the hobby.
Please note: Marsilea produces an enormous amount of carotenoids which are orange which combine with chlorophyll in young leaves, making them a brown color. These leaves will turn dark green as they mature and should NOT be mistaken for dead or dying. This is well documented and unique to the Masilea genus.
Type: Aquatic fern
Size: Rarely taller than 3cm, leaves usually smaller than 0.5cm
Native Range: South and Southeast Asia
Position and Usage: Carpet to Foreground
Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
Lighting: 1/5 – 4/5
Water Conditions: 5-25°C, 5 – 8 pH (very adaptable and tolerant of higher temperatures)
CO2: Not required but will speed up growth and enhance density
Propagation: Sprawls along the substrate via runners. Clumps can be separated and planted elsewhere. Ferns will occasionally produces spore bodies that sometimes open in the aquarium for sexual reproduction.
Special requirements: Very few. Iron rich substrate is appreciated but not required.
Emersed Use: Suitable for paludariums, vivariums and Wabi Kusa. Can be grown emersed, partially emersed or in a humid terrarium. When grown emersed, leaves will take on a distinctive clover-like appearance.
Curiosities: Eaten as a food in certain culinary traditions in Thailand. Commonly found in rice paddies where it is shaded by taller plants. Young leaves are initially a brown color before turning green as they mature.
Marsilea crenata, also known as dwarf four leaf waterclover, is an aquatic fern native to Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent where it is frequently found in rice paddies. M. crenata is by far the least demanding aquarium carpeting plant in terms of light and CO2 and acclimates to a wide range of water parameters including temperature, pH and hardness (dH). It is a great alternative to classic carpeting plants like Glosso, Hemianthus and Micranthemum species which require more light and CO2. Marsilea will live and grow in an aquarium with low lighting and no CO2 injection.
Marsilea is a short plant which sprawls along the substrate via a rhizome anchored with roots. The rhizome produces many, dense stalks bearing a single leaf producing a dense, tall carpet. When emersed or floating, the leaves resemble a four leaf clover (hence the nickname), submerged in the aquarium the leaves become a small teardrop shape and the plant resembles a taller, thicker Glossostigma elatinoides in coloration and form. It can also be used alongside shorter carpeting plants such as Hemianthus and Micranthemum to create a layered look in the foreground.
Normally, M. crenata, like most ferns is grows slowly or moderately in the aquarium - good lighting, nutrients and optional CO2 addition (or Excel) can speed up its growth dramatically. It tolerates a variety of conditions and can thrive in a wide temperature range. Marsilea is rich in carotenoids which, depending on the growth conditions can produce brown to reddish leaves which are perfectly healthy and will turn green again in time.
Like virtually all of our plants, ABCplants' Marsilea crenata is cultured using a technique which allows it to rapidly acclimate to your aquarium with very little transition time which is preferable to most plants which are grown emersed that require up to a month to adapt to being submerged. Our cultures will start growing very quickly after being planted and do not usually lose leaves or melt.
Alternatively, you can also grow our Marsilea cultures in a paludarium as they adapt quickly to either submerged emersed modes. Like the vast majority of aquarium plants, Marsilea is often found at the edges of water where it appears partially on land and partially in submerged with different shaped leaves accordingly - making it a particularly striking and natural looking addition to a paludarium or Wabi Kusa set-up.