The Amazon Frogbit is an eye-catching green beauty that is especially popular among aquascapers. It is often grown in aquariums as a living ceiling or a natural shield against heat and light.
This plant is hardy and adapts easily to most water conditions. Because of this, it’s one of the plants that novice aquarists can add to their setup with ease.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the origins of the Amazon Frogbit, how to care for it in an aquarium setup, and how to maintain it alongside different kinds of fish. Our experts will take you through the steps of selecting, planting, and propagating this curious plant to beautify your home aquarium.
The Amazonian Frogbit is a floating plant that originated from the freshwater bodies of the South and Central America regions. It grows lushly on the edges of rivers, in canals, steady ponds, and large lakes. Known to the scientific community as Limnobium laevigatum, this plant was originally described as a lake-dweller that had striking similarities to another freshwater plant: the water hyacinth.
Throughout the years, the Amazon Frogbit has become more and more loved in the fishkeeping community. Local fish stores and aquarists sometimes call this plant the Smooth Frogbit, South American spongeplant, or just spongeplant for short.
Today, the Amazon Frogbit is considered to be a weed or invasive species in some areas of Africa and Europe. This is why it is crucial to practice responsible plant propagation and disposal. The Amazon Frogbit, in fact, is known to be a fast spreader.
It is commonly seen in both low-tech aquarium setups that house only a few fish and larger community tanks that have a variety of aquatic fauna and flora.
Amazon Frogbit: Facts and Figures
The Amazon Frogbit has bright green leaves that are smooth on the top surface and bloated on the underside. This is what helps the plant remain upright on the water, even when gentle to moderately rough currents are introduced. The plant’s rounded leaves have no distinct veins or markings on the surface.
The leaves come together in a tight mat or cover as the plant multiplies and spreads across a body of water, be that your small aquarium or a sizable pond. The Amazon Frogbit roots can reach lengths of up to 20 inches in an aquarium, and even longer in the wild. These roots have fine hairs on each strand that float freely underwater.
Mature spongeplants have been noted to grow small white flowers in the wild. It is also possible to witness the growth of these white flowers in a home setting if certain environmental conditions are met. These physical features and its hardy nature make the Amazon Frogbit one of the easiest plants to pair with other aquatic flora for hobbyists who are more focused on aquascaping rather than fishkeeping.
Here’s a summary table of other facts and figures about the Amazon Frogbit that you should know.
|Scientific Name||Limnobium laevigatum|
|Leaf Size||Individual leaves measure about 1 inch in length and ¼ inch in thickness|
|Distinctive Physical Features||Round, small leaves; fine, hairy roots; petite, white flowers that grow and wither shortly|
|Aquarium Position||Aquarium top layer or water surface|
|Care Difficulty||Easy to Moderate; this plant is recommended for beginner aquarists, but still requires commitment in terms of proper pruning and propagation|
Designing the Ideal Spongeplant Tank
Before you purchase your first bunches of Amazon Frogbit plants, you might want to design a tank that will make for a conducive environment for these tiny floaters. Preparing your aquarium before even purchasing spongeplants will help you create an established aquascape in which to add your newest plant.
This preparation phase will also allow you to troubleshoot for any potential setup problems or challenges, and save you from a lot of extra effort and stress down the road. Here’s a quick overview of the tank and water parameters that you’ll need to maintain for your Frogbit aquarium plant to flourish.
|Temperature||Ideally, 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 30 degrees Celsius|
|Light Level||Moderate to High brightness; natural light works best|
|pH Level||6.0 – 7.5|
|Water Hardness||200 to 240 ppm|
|Water Flow||Gentle water flow only|
|Fertilizer/Chemical Additives||Liquid fertilizers and C02 can be used if needed|
|Tank Size||20 gallons; may also be kept in smaller tanks, but it will need more attention in terms of population control|
Aside from setting up your tank with the following parameters, you should also take note of these tried and tested pre-planting tips from our resident experts.
1. Set Up a Quarantine Tank for Your New Amazon Frogbit
You need to have a separate tank in which to temporarily house your Amazon Frogbit. Quarantining your new plants for 48 to 72 hours before introducing them to the main tank will prevent the spread of diseases and pests. This will also give you more time to cycle your main aquarium water properly. After that, it will be safe to establish your spongeplant colony.
2. Have Fertilizers, CO2 Injectables, and Plant Scissors on Hand
You should also have a planting kit that is complete and easily accessible. The kit should ideally contain liquid fertilizers that provide high amounts of iron, copper, and other nutrients, as well as plant tools such as proper scissors or shears for pruning.
While the Amazon Frogbit does not usually require any fertilizer or CO2 injectables, it is always wise to err on the side of caution and have these things ready in case your plants need help adjusting to their new environment.
3. Invest in High-Quality Led Lights for Better Light Exposure and Duration Control
Finally, if you have the budget for a complete Amazon Frogbit aquascape, you will want to invest in high-quality LED lights that have a built-in timer and temperature control.
This will help you provide a consistent amount of light for your Amazon Frogbit plants even if your aquarium is positioned in a shady or dim area in your house.
This kind of light is also useful for controlling the duration of your plant’s exposure to light without raising the water temperature too much for the other fauna and flora you might have.
Choosing Healthy Amazon Frogbit Plants
Once you have everything ready, you can focus on choosing the healthiest Amazon Frogbit plants for your aquarium. Read on to find out more about what separates healthy Spongeplants from subpar and sickly plants.
– Bright Green, Flawless Leaves
The first thing you should inspect when it comes to your potential Amazon Frogbit is its leaves. As mentioned in a previous section, this plant’s leaves are bright green and round.
Spongeplants with dark green leaves have usually been kept in low-light areas for too long. Choose plants that have an even, bright green coloration across all of their leaves. The leaves should also be free of tears, holes, and dirt.
– Established Root Structures
Next, take a look at the root structures underneath the leaves. Be sure that they are not too tangled, and that the fine hairy structures that protrude from each root are creamy white.
Avoid spongeplants with roots that are brown, dried, or without much fuzzy hair. Keep in mind that an established, healthy root system is vital to the Amazon Frogbit’s survival and future propagation.
Planting Your Amazon Frogbit
You’ve done your background research, prepared your tank, and spent enough time looking at different Spongeplant samples to find the best ones for your aquarium. Now comes the exciting part: adding the Amazon Frogbit to your fish tank.
Having a Frogbit in aquarium is definitely an upgrade in the aesthetics of freshwater tanks. Aside from providing a natural green tint to your aquarium water, this plant will also serve as a living canopy for your other plants and fish.
In this section, we’ll provide you a step-by-step guide on establishing your Amazon Frogbit colony in your very own aquarium.
Step 1: Rinse and Dry
After taking your Amazon Frogbit plants from the quarantine tank, give the roots and undersides of the leaves a final rinse. Lay each of the spongeplants on a towel or layers of tissue paper to draw out any excess moisture.
Step 2: Settle Your Spongeplant Leaves on the Water Surface
Using your hands or plant tweezers, gently grasp your Amazon Frogbit plants by their roots, and float them on the surface of your tank group by group.
Observe the newly settled plants for a few minutes to ensure that none of them turn on their side or become submerged in the water. It is imperative at this stage that you keep the Spongeplant’s leaves relatively dry.
Step 3: Use Plant Tweezers To Draw Out the Roots
Finally, use your plant tweezers to straighten out the roots under the water surface. This will help in stabilizing your Amazon Frogbit plants. Gently pull on the roots to disentangle them from each other. Leave them dangling and pointing towards the substrate.
After these simple three steps, you can opt to leave your colony of Amazon Frogbit plants to acclimate to their new environment. But if you are willing to walk the extra mile, this would also be a great time to add a little amount of liquid fertilizer and additional CO2 to the water.
This is not required but is often recommended for beginner aquarists who have never established floating plants in their fish tanks before.
Amazon Frogbit Care
In this section, you’ll learn some practical care tips that you can use to help your Amazon Frogbit grow without compromising the health of your other aquarium inhabitants.
– Keep the Leaves Dry
One of the key tips that have been proven to help Amazon Frogbit plants remain healthy is to keep the top part of their leaves as dry as possible. Collected moisture on top of spongeplants’ leaves is a recipe for disaster. This will make the leaves heavy. If the extra moisture does not dry in time, it will push the leaves under the surface of the water, effectively drowning them.
Be sure to keep the leafy tops of your Amazon Frogbit plants dry at all times. Exercise extra caution whenever you need to perform water changes, and use tissue paper to dab excess moisture on the leaves if necessary.
– Practice Proper Pruning and Propagation
Another crucial part of caring for your Amazon Frogbit colony is to practice proper pruning and propagation techniques. Read the following steps listed below to learn how to trim the foliage of your spongeplant as well as how to encourage this plant to multiply.
It is important to prune the overgrowths of your Amazon Frogbit for the following reasons:
- This keeps the plant healthy and teaches it to spread only in a particular direction. This way, the plant will only grow until it fills a specific area of your aquarium.
- Pruning the overgrowths of your spongeplant also prevents the colony from draining your aquarium of too much of its nutrients. Thus, you can rest assured that the fish and other plants in your tank are neither starved nor suffocated by this single species.
To prune your Amazon Frogbit, simply take a pair of plant scissors and look for the parts of your plant that have excess daughter leaves. Leaves that overlap each other should be immediately taken out of the aquarium. Likewise, leaves that are brown, yellow, or dried up should also be pruned.
Using your plant scissors, cut as close to the stem or base of the plant as possible. Diagonal cuts made are better for the plant, as this is less likely to form stem scabs. Also, they encourage future growth later on.
If you want to propagate your Amazon Frogbit faster, you don’t need to worry. The propagation method for this plant is straightforward even for novice aquarists.
Step 1: Identify a Healthy “Mother” Plant
Look for a lush part of your Amazon Frogbit colony and select a mother or parent plant from that area. The parent plant should have no pests, nor a history of nutrient deficiencies.
Step 2: Look For the Stolons
These are stem extensions that connect the mother plant to its daughter plants. The daughter plants will have smaller, younger leaves, and probably only a few roots.
Step 3: Use Plant Scissors
Cut off the daughter plant from the mother plant. Be sure that the daughter plant has at least three or more leaves, and that it already has the beginnings of a root structure.
You can then replant the daughter Amazon Frogbit clusters in further areas of the same aquarium or new containers for future use.
Tank Mates: Plants and Creatures
Now, there is the issue of whether or not the Amazon Frogbit can be paired with other plants and aquatic creatures. Some fish keepers think that it is perfectly fine to use this plant in a community setup with different kinds of fish and various plants as well.
On the other hand, some aquascapists believe that the Amazon Frogbit is best used in paludariums only. There is some truth to that: this plant is quite notorious for sucking a lot of nutrients out of the water. This makes it difficult for sensitive fishes to thrive in an aquarium that is dominated by the Spongeplant.
Our experts’ take on this matter is simple: you can pair the Amazon Frogbit with other live plants and fish, provided that you take the time to prune it back regularly and provide nutritional supplements for the other aquarium inhabitants.
The Smooth Frogbit is best paired with live plants that thrive under low-light conditions. Aquarium plants like the Anubias, Java Moss, and Dwarf Sagittaria would make good neighbors for your Amazon Frogbit. As for fish, you could potentially house Bettas, Tetras, and Clownfish with this floating plant.
The Amazon Frogbit is an amazing addition to any freshwater tank looking for a refreshed aesthetic and natural, relaxing vibe. Here’s a rundown of the most important aspects of this plant that we covered in our discussion:
- The Amazon Frogbit originated from the South and Central American regions.
- It is a photophilic floating plant that can quickly spread across water surfaces, whether in the wild or an aquarium.
- Invest enough time and effort into preparing the ideal tank conditions, as well as in choosing healthy Amazon Frogbit plants.
- Prune and propagate your Amazon Frogbit plants regularly, using proper plant-specific tools.
- You can house your Amazon Frogbit in a community tank, provided that you are committed to keeping its nutrient-hungry population well-fed and satisfied with supplements.
Go ahead and try your hand at caring for the amazing Amazon Frogbit, and watch your aquarium setup come to life!
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