The Glossostigma Elatinoides is one of the most aesthetically-pleasing carpet plants known in the aquascaping community. It is highly sought after by experienced aquarists who want to care for challenging but impressive plants that they can use in the foreground layer of their tank.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the origins of the Glossostigma Elatinoides, its care requirements, and how best to utilize it in a freshwater aquarium.

Stats and Facts

Before we go into a more in-depth discussion about the Glossostigma Elatinoides, you should familiarize yourself with the basic facts and statistics summarized in the table below. This information will help you gauge whether or not you want to commit to growing this plant in your aquarium and whether you have the experience and resources to do so.

Order Lamiales
Family Phrymaceae
Genera Glossostigma
Size One centimeter average leaf size; One inch in terms of height; spreads horizontally to cover the length and width of the aquarium
Ideal Placement Foreground
Color Bright green
Care Level Needed Intensive care needed
Minimum Experience Level Needed Not recommended for beginners; best for experienced aquascapists

Origins of the Glossostigma Elatinoides

The Glossostigma Elatinoides, also fondly called the Glosso, originated in the swamp and marsh areas of New Zealand. The plant has also been found in the same biomes across Australia and Tasmania. It is commonly called mud mat by locals of New Zealand due to its ability to rapidly spread across a particular area.

This creeping plant was not introduced to the aquarium community until Takahashi Amano brought the species to Japan during the 1980s. Amano then proceeded to create breathtaking aquascapes highlighting the beauty of the Glossostigma Elatinoides carpet. Since then, aquascapists have coveted the plant and have used it to create authentic and stunning aquarium masterpieces.


The Glosso is best known for its compact height and bright green, curly leaves. It is beloved because it does not grow tall but remains about an inch high and only spreads horizontally. This makes it an almost perfect carpet plant.

Glossostigma Elatinoides leaves widen the farther they are from the stem. This gives them an outwardly curved appearance, similar to a baby’s small tongue. A mature Glosso’s leaves remain bright green, plump, and look very much like a lush miniature forest that has taken over the aquarium floor.

The Glosso’s good looks are just one reason why many aquarists want to grow this particular aquatic plant in their fish tanks.

Water and Tank Preparations

Now that you know more about the origins and physical features of the Glosso, you will need to learn what water and tank preparations need to be made before you purchase Glossostigma Elatinoides seeds or cuttings. Here is a summary table of the parameters you need to become familiar with when designing a proper tank for your Glosso plants.

Temperature 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
Light Level Medium to High Brightness
pH Level 6.5 – 7.5
Water Hardness 2 to 15 dGH
Substrate Smooth and nutrient-rich substrate necessary
Fertilizer/Chemical Additives CO2 Fertilizers and substrate additives highly recommended
Tank Size 10 gallons minimum

Planting and Propagation Procedures

Once you have prepared a suitable environment for your Glosso, you will undoubtedly want to know how to plant this lush living carpet in your aquarium. Some aquarists prefer planting Glossostigma Elatinoides seeds on the substrate and waiting for the plants to come up on their own.

However, if this is your first time planting this particular aquatic flora, then our experts recommend looking for adult Glosso plants that come in pots. These will be easier to plant in your aquarium and give you a better chance to correctly layout your Mud Mat sections.

Read more information from this section to learn all about the step-by-step process of properly planting and propagating Glossostigma Elatinoides.

– Planting Instructions

Step 1: Select Healthy Potted Glosso Plants

Glossostigma Elatinoides plants are quite demanding and delicate. This is why it is crucial to choose healthy potted Glosso plants from your supplier or local fish store.

Select plants with an even, bright green leaf coloration, strong stems, and clean roots or runners. On the other hand, avoid potted Glosso plants with damaged leaves, weak stems, or runners with gunk in them.

Step 2: Divide the Potted Plants Into Several Segments

Next, divide your purchased Glosso plants carefully. You should have about 10 to 15 segments of Glosso plants after removing the pot and binding material. Use your fingers or plant tweezers to gently tease out each segment of Glosso. Keep in mind that each of your plant segments should have a roughly equal amount of leaves and roots.

Step 3: Prepare the Plant Segments

Do not plant the Glossostigma Elatinoides segments immediately after you separate them. This is a common mistake that even the most experienced aquascapists make. Instead, place the segments on paper towels and mist them gently. This should keep them moist for a few hours while you observe them for any stray insects, visible parasites, or any overlooked sign of damage or sickness.

Taking the extra time to prepare your Glosso segments instead of immediately planting them in your tank substrate will drastically reduce the chance of you introducing weak or sickly plants in the environment. This will translate to a healthier and lusher Mud Mat population later on.

Step 4: Use Tweezers To Plant the Segments in Substrate

Once you have satisfactorily prepared the plant segments, you may move on to planting them in the substrate. Glossostigma Elatinoides grow best when they are planted in a chessboard or checkerboard fashion. This means leaving around one or two inches of space between each plant segment and placing the segments in alternating squares of substrate that they can occupy.

Using a chessboard pattern to guide where you should and should not plant your Glosso segments will take up a lot of time, but it will be worth all the effort once you see your Mud Mat flourish and cover the entire floor of your aquarium. You should also take care to bury the lower portion of each Glosso segment under the substrate. Well-planted Glosso segments are those that have only their leaves showing. This will prevent the newly planted Glossostigma Elatinoides from floating to the top of your aquarium or from being washed away by water current or fish movements.

– Propagation Guidelines

If you already have Glosso plants in your aquarium, and you want to propagate them instead of buying new adult plants from your local supplier, then this section is for you.

Step 1: Select a Healthy Mother Plant

Take your time in selecting a healthy mother or parent Glossostigma Elatinoides plant. Examine each potential mother plant for leaf rot, leaf melting, parasites, or other signs of damage. Growing Glossostigma Elatinoides cuttings from a weak mother plant is extremely difficult, and in most cases, only results in a lot of wasted resources and a very frustrated aquarist.

Step 2: Remove Cuttings From the Mother Plant

Look for small trailing stems on the lower part of your mother Glosso. Mark out each cutting you intend to remove from the mother plant. Remember that each of these cuttings should have at least two or three leaves of their own, as well as healthy runners. Cuttings without either leaves or runners will be less likely to flourish in their own area of the aquarium.

Use plant tweezers or a small pair of shears when cutting the daughter segments from the mother plant. Cut on a bias or a diagonal; do not cut the trailing stem in a straight line as this will make it difficult for new leaves to sprout from that area. In addition, take care not to remove too many daughter segments from the mother plant as this will make it difficult for that part of the Mud Mat to receive and process the necessary nutrients for tissue repair and plant growth.

Step 3: Plant the Cuttings or Save Them for Later Use

Once you have collected enough cuttings from the mother plant, you may plant them in a chessboard pattern or place them in a dry environment and occasionally mist them for later use. Be sure that each planted Glosso cutting has its runners or roots well-buried in the substrate to prevent displacement or accidental uprooting.

Glossostigma Elatinoides Care

You need to pay attention to other care aspects when it comes to cultivating Glosso in a home aquarium setup. This particular plant demands a lot of time and care, which is why it is best handled by experienced aquascapists who are familiar with the types of fertilizers, substrate conditioners, and other such substances that can be used for plant maintenance in general. Below are some practical care tips from our resident experts.

– Use High-Quality CO2 Fertilizers and Substrate Additives

Providing proper care for Glossostigma Elatinoides necessitates the use of CO2 injections and substrate fertilizers. Without CO2 and fertilizer support, your Glosso plants will grow in a ragged vertical direction instead of the intended horizontal direction, or they might die altogether. That said, it is crucial to use only the highest quality of CO2 injections and substrate fertilizers for your Glosso to flourish.

In the same vein, you need to be careful about how often you use CO2 injections and how much fertilizers you introduce in your aquarium. These substances are notoriously high in copper and other minerals which can be toxic to small shrimp and sensitive species of fish.

– Set and Adhere To a Trimming Schedule

Glossostigma Elatinoides has a fast growth rate. Once the plant reaches maturity, it will send out runners in every direction to propagate itself naturally. This could result in your Mud Mat overcrowding your aquarium. This is not good for either the plant or its tank mates if any. As such, it is necessary for you to set and adhere to plant maintenance or trimming schedules.

When you trim your Glosso plants, be sure just to remove the stems and leaves that exceed the standard one inch of height. Remove dead leaves and weak stems as well. This will encourage the plant to grow horizontally instead of vertically and provide enough opportunity for new shoots to grow and replace old ones. Some aquarists prefer trimming Glosso plants twice or thrice every month, depending on their visible growth and condition in the tank.

– Clean, Test, and Cycle Tank Water Regularly

Aside from trimming any Glosso overgrowths and keeping a close eye on your Mud Mat’s overall condition, you need to perform minor water changes regularly. This will help prevent the buildup of waste and toxic substances, and it will also ensure that your tank is free of as much algal blooms as possible. In turn, less algae and toxins will make it easier for you to maintain the water parameters needed by Glosso plants to thrive.

– Limit Your Plant’s Exposure To Harsh or Bright Light

Glosso plants are sensitive to light. They grow rapidly in all directions if exposed to bright light for extended periods of time. However, constantly exposing your Mud Mats to strong lighting can make them suffer from leaf melting or leaf rot. It can also encourage algal overgrowths in your tank.

That said, to effectively control the growth of your Glosso plants, and to prevent a sudden surge in the tank algae population, be sure to expose your Mud Mats to moderate lighting and only for fixed amounts of time daily. You can do this easily by investing in LED aquarium light systems with a timer and intensity function.

Common Glosso Health Problems

The Glossostigma Elatinoides is not completely immune to common plant diseases. If anything, they are more sensitive to water parameter fluctuations and the presence of toxic substances or parasitic organisms. Below is a list of the most common Glossostigma health problems, how to identify them, and how to treat them accordingly.

– Leaf Melting

Leaf melting occurs when your Glosso plant’s leaves begin falling off or breaking off from the main stem. This will negatively impact both the health and appearance of your Mud Mat. Leaf melting is thought to be the result of plants being shocked after an environmental transition or transfer.

Observe your Glosso plant and provide it with more nutrients or fertilizers to support its adaptation to its new environment. This is the most natural way to deal with leaf melting since this condition is pretty common and usually resolves itself given enough time.

– Leaf Rot

Leaf rot is the technical term used to refer to old leaves that turn into debris underneath new shoots. If leaf rot is left unchecked, it could lead to increased waste buildup and the suffocation of young Glosso plants. Leaf rot is caused mostly by owner negligence. This means it can be easily prevented by trimming your Mud Mat frequently and cleaning up any debris you see.

– Awkward Leg Growth

Awkward leg growth or leggy growth is primarily caused by too much light exposure. Your Glosso will experience growth spurts in various areas of the aquarium. However, there will be more trailing stems or leggy growths instead of leaf clusters. This common Glosso problem is usually harmless as it only subtracts from the aesthetic quality of your Mud Mat. You can easily prevent or treat this problem by regulating the amount of light your Glosso plant is exposed to on a daily basis.

– Leaf Discoloration

If your Glossostigma Elatinoides’ leaves suddenly turn yellow or brown, it is probably suffering from a nutrient deficiency. For example, yellowing Glosso leaves are usually good indicators of an iron deficiency.

That said, the easiest way to treat this problem in your Glosso plants is to supplement their environment with CO2 injections and substrate fertilizers that have high concentrations of minerals such as iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and other trace elements. Again, be very careful when pumping your tank and substrate with these fertilizers, as a drastic increase in minerals might prove harmful to the other inhabitants of your aquarium.


The Glossostigma Elatinoides makes for a lush aquarium carpet that most aquarists aspire to have. However, as you now know, it is no walk in the park to care for this sensitive plant. Here are the key points of our discussion on how to care for your Glosso plant properly:

  • The Glossostigma Elatinoides is a creeping plant native to the swamp and marsh areas of New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania.
  • It has beautiful, tongue-shaped leaves that grow horizontally; this makes for a lush, thick carpet flooring that beautifies most freshwater aquarium setups.
  • The Glosso plant is demanding and sensitive aquatic flora that needs consistent water and environment parameters.
  • You can plant and propagate this plant in your home aquarium if you are equipped with the proper knowledge and skills.
  • This plant needs special care supplements such as CO2 injections and substrate fertilizers; these can be used to ward off common plant diseases.

Now that you have this dearth of knowledge on the Mud Mat, you can try your hand at growing this magnificent carpet plant in your own fish tank.

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