The Guppy Grass is one of the less remarkable plants in the fishkeeping hobby when it comes to physical appearance. However, what it lacks in aesthetics, it certainly makes up for in function and low-maintenance requirements. The Guppy grass’ reputation for keeping tank water clean is the main reason why some aquarists consider this plant to be vital in most aquarium setups.
In this comprehensive guide, our experts will let you in on their top tips and experience-based recommendations so that you can grow and propagate this essential aquarium plant at home.
A Brief Background on the Guppy Grass
If you are into the fishkeeping hobby, then you are probably familiar with some of the more popular plants that aquarists use for a variety of reasons. You might already know the commonly recommended beginner-friendly plants like the Anubias, Amazon Sword, and the Java Fern. These plants are usually prized for their water-oxygenating qualities and their physical features. Most of these plants are also vertical growers and upright plants.
However, this might be your first time to encounter aquarium plants that are grouped under the freshwater aquarium grasses category. Unlike the aforementioned plants, aquarium grasses are quite plain in appearance. Although they are typically classified as vertical growers, they also spread out horizontally if given enough space.
The Guppy grass is an excellent representative of the aquarium grasses group. It does not have many distinctive features, and it does not grow in a single direction. Instead, the Guppy grass looks like your average garden grass, except that it thrives underwater instead of above the ground.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to care for and grow this plant in your home setups, let’s get to know more about the facts and figures of the Guppy Grass.
|Scientific Name||Najas guadalupensis|
|Dimensions||Up to 35 inches in height; 24 to 36 inches in length|
|Aquarium Position||Background or foreground (as a carpet plant)|
|Care Difficulty||Easy; recommended for beginners|
This amazing plant originated in the region of North America. Today, however, the Guppy grass can be found in the other regions of the Americas, from Canada to Mexico, and even as far as Asia.
This aquatic plant can be observed in its various natural habitats that include fast-moving streams and stagnant, brackish pond water. It is one of the plants that can be easily purchased at your local fish store. The Guppy grass is also called Najas grass by most hobbyists.
Planting and Propagating Guppy Grass
There are two main ways to establish Guppy grass in your fish tank: planting in the substrate or free-floating. In this section, we’ll go over both methods, as well as their respective pros and cons.
– Planting in Substrate
If you want to have complete control over the position of Guppy grass in your tank or if you are designing a planted Guppy tank, then you might want to plant it in a fine gravel substrate.
The proceeding is quite simple: clear the immediate area where you want to plant the Najas grass and dig a hole that is one to two inches deep. Prop the Guppy grass stem upright, and cover the hole to allow its roots to develop. This is the method you want to use if you aim for a Guppy grass carpet.
The problem with this method is that it renders Guppy grass quite vulnerable and prone to leaf shedding.
– The Free-Float Method
On the other hand, if you do not mind your Guppy grass growing in whichever direction it pleases, you can try to establish it in your tank using the free-float method.
All you have to do is leave a few stems of Guppy grass floating on the surface of your aquarium, with the roots pointing downwards. If you notice that your Najas grass is melting, do not panic. Wait and observe for a few days, as the plant might just be adjusting to its new home.
When left floating, Guppy grass develops leaves that are fuller and rounder in appearance. If the disadvantage of being unable to control the plant’s position in the tank frustrates you, you might want to try using plant weights to keep your Guppy grass stems in a particular area of the aquarium only.
Propagating Guppy Grass
Aside from knowing how to plant your Guppy grass, you also need to be familiar with how you can propagate this amazing aquatic flora. Here are some straightforward tips from our experts to help you multiply your Najas grass with ease.
1. Choose a Healthy Mother Plant
Select a Guppy grass stem that has several leaves. The leaves should be evenly colored and without any sign of nutrient deficiency or physical damage.
2. Use Plant Shears or Scissors
Use the proper tools to obtain cuttings from your chosen Guppy grass. Invest in quality plant shears or scissors, and use them to cut off young stems that have already developed a lot of leaves.
3. Grow the New Shoots in a Separate Tank
You might want to consider growing the new Guppy grass cuttings in a separate tank. This provides you a couple of benefits. First, you will be effectively decreasing the space that your Guppy grass takes up in the home aquarium. Second, you will be able to monitor the health and growth of your Najas grass cuttings, thereby making it easier to spot and treat potential problems.
Finally, you will be able to decide where to put the new Guppy grass when they are long enough to plant in a larger aquarium.
Guppy Grass Care
In this section, we’ll focus on what you need to prepare before planting Guppy grass in your fish tank, and how to keep this plant healthy. You will also find other tips that our experts have found useful to remember when it comes to caring for this fundamental aquarium plant.
To give you a headstart, here’s a handy reference table you can use when you prepare the water parameters in your aquarium for your Guppy grass.
|Temperature||68 to 86 °F; 20 to 27 °C|
|Light Level||Low to High Brightness|
|pH Level||6.0 – 8.0|
|Water Hardness||2 to 20 dGH|
|Substrate||Aquarium gravel; more suitable as a floating or weighted plant|
|Fertilizer/Chemical Additives||Liquid fertilizers should be used only when necessary or to treat nutrient deficiencies|
|Tank Size||10 to 20 gallons|
– Preparing Your Guppy Grass’ Home
Now that you have a good idea of the ideal environment in which to grow your Guppy grass, you need to apply those parameters and prepare a conducive environment for your new aquarium plant.
The Guppy grass is an extremely forgiving plant. Even if you don’t meet all of the parameters stated above, your Guppy grass will still manage to grow and possibly even thrive in your aquarium. While the Najas grass is more commonly seen in freshwater aquascapes, it will also fare well in brackish fish tanks. Here are some more tips on how to prepare your aquarium for receiving a new bush of Guppy grass.
Control the Amount of Light
Guppy grass is notorious for growing so fast that it only takes a few weeks for this plant to overrun a small fish tank. That said, you should make sure that your aquarium is in an area where you can easily control the light.
There are two reasons for this. First, excess amounts of light can encourage your Guppy grass to grow at a faster rate. This will lead to problems in overcrowding later on. Second, keeping a freshwater tank in an area that is constantly exposed to bright light is an open invitation for algae to bloom. This will not only make it difficult for your Guppy grass to efficiently filter toxins from the tank water, but it could also lead to health problems among your fish population.
Enrich the Water With Fertilizers
Najas grass typically fares well without the aid of fertilizers. However, if your Guppy grass is a new addition to your tank, and you do not have any experience caring for this type of flora, you might want to make use of liquid fertilizers on a weekly or monthly basis.
This will ensure that your Guppy grass gets the nutrients it needs to establish itself in its new environment. In addition, occasionally using liquid fertilizers will prevent nutrient deficiencies in your Najas grass as it continues to grow and expand in your aquarium.
Keep Rowdy Fish Away
As its name suggests, the Guppy grass is one of the best plants for Guppies. It is not, however, an ideal plant to include in an aquarium with rowdy or aggressive fish. Guppy grass leaves are quite delicate, and they can tear away from the main stem easily if they are roughed up by boisterous fish moving through the water.
In addition, some types of fish like cichlids and goldfish love snacking on Najas grass. This prevents the plant from reaching its full maturity and is often a reason why Guppy grass dies or fails to adapt to a tank at all.
Provide Ample Space for Growth
As you now know, Najas grass grows at a fast rate. While many aquarists are diligent at trimming overgrowths and controlling tank light levels, they may still overlook one factor in caring for their Guppy grass: space.
Again, Guppy grass is so hardy that it can adjust to the bare minimum of aquarium space. However, if you want it to thrive, and you plan to propagate it for future uses, then consider planting it in an aquarium that has a capacity of at least 20 gallons. This will encourage even growth in your Guppy grass.
Providing ample space also means that the leaves of your Najas grass won’t overcrowd the tank or suffer any growth stunting. Another benefit of providing the largest possible aquarium in which to house your Guppy grass is that it will be easier for you to identify and prune any shoots that might be showing signs of damage or nutrient deficiencies. More space makes for a happier plant and a more confident hobbyist.
– The Best Companions for Guppy Grass
Almost all freshwater fish can be raised in a Guppy grass tank. However, not all kinds of fish will simply use Guppy plants for shelter, shade, or as a breeding ground. Some fish will happily eat the delicate leaves of the Najas grass, while others can destroy its break-off shoots and leaves because of their rough movements. This is where careful tank planning comes into play.
If you want to use Guppy grass as a supplemental food source for the fish in your aquarium, or if you don’t mind having to regularly clean plant debris from your tank, then you can house this plant with any fish you have in mind.
On the other hand, if you want to keep Guppy grass to keep your tank free from algae and toxins, or if you plan to grow it for aesthetic purposes, then you might want to be more selective when it comes to its tank mates. Here are our experts’ top-recommended fishy companions for your Najas grass.
Guppies are a no-brainer fish to partner with your Najas grass. This is because Guppies are peaceful fish that do not usually feed on live plants. Furthermore, these fish will love the presence of Najas grass in the tank because of the additional shade it provides. The leaves of the Najas grass are perfect for Guppies to hide behind whenever they feel threatened.
Mollies also make good fish companions in a Guppy grass tank. These fish are docile and will appreciate the soft leaves of the Guppy grass that they can use for both shelter and breeding purposes.
Mollies are livebearers. The female Molly will give birth to live fish fry or fingerlings instead of laying her eggs in a rock cave or plant surface. As such, Molly’s fry will benefit largely from having Guppy grass in their tank as their initial shelter, which can provide some form of protection. The excellent column feeding capabilities of the Guppy grass also mean that the Molly fry will be more likely to survive because of the clean aquarium water.
Guppies and Mollies are not the only perfect partners for Guppy grass. Shrimp also love spending their time within the natural barriers of the Najas grass and feeding on tank particles from the safety of the plant’s leaf network. Some of the best species of shrimp that you can pair with Guppy grass are the Amano Shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp, and the Ghost Shrimp.
By now, you should have a solid understanding of the Najas grass and why it is such a useful plant to have in an aquarium, especially if you are a beginner aquarist. Here is a rundown of the key points we covered in this article:
- The Guppy Grass is a freshwater plant that originated from North America.
- Aquarists favor this plant because it is hardy and requires minimal maintenance.
- This aquarium flora is known for its significant contributions to oxygenating tank water and keeping the environment free of toxins.
- The Guppy Grass can be planted in the substrate, but it is usually better off if left floating.
- This plant can be paired with most fish but does remarkably well with peaceful creatures like Guppies, Mollies, and shrimp.
With these pointers, you should be knowledgeable enough to grow your Guppy grass at home.
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