Utricularia graminifolia growing the mystifying bladderwort plantUtricularia graminifolia is a popular aquarium plant with grass-like leaves. It is carnivorous and uses its vesicles to trap and extracts nutrients from small crustaceans.

Although the Utricularia graminifolia is sought-after for its unique appearance, it could grow rapidly or melt off in a new setup, read this article to learn valuable tips on successfully growing and maintaining the Utricularia graminifolia! Let’s get started.

What is Utricularia Graminifolia?

A Utricularia Graminifolia is a unique plant for aquariums, having leaves that look like grass. It grows both as an emersed and submersed plant. These lush carpet-like plants are great to be foreground and mid-ground for your tank plants.


Difficulty Moderately difficult
Type Carpeting plant
Size The UG Leaves are between 0.039 0.079 inches in width and 0.394 inches in length
Position and Usage Foreground and mid-ground placement


Growth Rate Moderate to fast
Lighting Intense lighting (1watt to 1litre)
Water Temperature 18-25C
pH 5.0 to 6.5
dKH Soft
Co2 Recommended but not necessary
Propagation Cutting, separating and replanting clumps

Classification Table

Kingdom Plantae
Calade Tracheophytes
Calade Angiosperms
Calade Asterids
Calade Eudicots
Order Lamiales
Family Lentibulariaceae
Genus Utricularia
Species U. graminifolia

Utricularia Graminifolia Care

The Utricularia graminifolia care is not difficult to learn. At this plant’s healthiest state, the UG will flower. Underwater, the Utricularia graminifolia flower is white, while it appears purple or violet growing above water level.

The Utricularia graminifolia flower bears a close resemblance to orchids and tiny snapdragon blooms. They are an indication that the UG plant is really comfortable in that setup. Hence, below are some easy maintenance routines to follow to ensure your plant thrives.

– Tank Size

The aquarium size you keep the Utricularia graminifolia in doesn’t have to be tall. This is because, as carpet grass, the UG would grow horizontally and is trimmed regularly. Hence, they would do fine in a small tank.

Nonetheless, the Utricularia graminifolia spreads rapidly under the right conditions, so a 10-15 gallon tank is adequate.

– Water Parameter

In its natural habitat, the Utricularia graminifolia thrives in soft water. Yet, this hardy plant would survive slightly higher kH. Still, maintain its water hardness between four to five degrees.

In addition, set the water temperature range to an average of 18 to 25 C. Utricularia graminifolia can also grow in warm temperatures. But, its runners form looser clusters than in cold temperatures.

– pH

For the Utricularia graminifolia to truly flourish, its water pH should range between 5.0 to 6.5. Also, if you notice a rise in the pH levels, add in driftwood to drop it to an ideal level.

– Nutrient

Fertilize the water column using macro and microelements to speed up the UG growth rate.

– Co2 Injections

With or without Co2, Utricularia graminifolia would grow just fine, Co2 aids the plants to grow more rapidly and be healthier. Additionally, on the addition of Co2 injections, the aquarium’s pH levels would drop to 6.5, causing the water to be more acidic.

– Lighting

Intense lighting of one watt to one liter is appropriate. It gives the plant a beautiful light-green hue and causes it to grow horizontally.

– Location

Due to the Utricularia Graminifolia plant being versatile, you can plant it in different locations. You may let it float or opt for a dry start by planting it first on dry ground. Following this, transplant it into an aquarium as it matures.

– Substrate

The Utricularia graminifolia plant prefers a nutrient-infused substrate that is slightly acidic and not too thick to anchor. So, a gravel and sand soil bed is adequate. Together with the notion of how it would grow over any low hardscape in a tank without appropriate substrate.

– Pruning

You should trim your Utricularia graminifolia plant every two to four weeks. That way, its lawn effect is more pronounced. Moreover, if you allow the plant to overgrow, the plant’s base would turn yellow and begin to rot.

– Overview

The Utricularia Graminifolia is a meat-eating plant known as bladderwort. It produces trapping devices called bladder, pods, or vesicles and ingest small animals and micro-organisms.


Utricularia graminifolia originates from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia( China, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Burma, and Sri Lanka). The plant was first discovered in 1804 by Martin Vahl. But, was launched into the freshwater aquarium community in 2005.

Additionally, the Utricularia graminifolia is a perennial plant from the Lentibulariaceae family. It belongs to the Utricularia and Bivalvaria genus and subgenus, respectively. The plant’s name “graminifolia”, refers to its close similarity to grass leaves. While “Utricularia” refers to the tiny vesicles on the plant’s leaves.


Utricularia Graminifolia is a light green small aquarium plant that looks a lot like grass. It has a lot of leaves that are connected by a runner. Along these runners have tiny traps or vesicles.

In addition, its leaves are about 0.039 to 0.079 inches wide and 0.394 inches in length. They sometimes appear yellowish-green and contrast nicely if planted near darker green plants.

Growth Rate

Some members of the freshwater aquarium community believe the Utricularia Graminifolia to be a weed. This is because the plant grows so fast and spreads across an entire aquarium bed in a short time. Its leaves tend to grow in an elongated pattern of more than one inch under inadequate lighting. However, under intense light, the leaves would not exceed one inch.

How To Plant Utricularia Graminifolia?

Utricularia graminifolia planting is easier when you follow specific procedures. Here are some pointers to consider before planting the Utricularia graminifolia.

When you purchase the Utricularia graminifolia, it may come in a small pot, mineral/stone wool, or ceramic coil disks. They usually consist of a few leaves and runners, but not to worry as they would grow and spread under the right conditions. You see, even a blade of the Utricularia graminifolia leaf can survive and grow without roots!

To plant the Utricularia graminifolia, cut it into small pieces and place them two inches apart. Make sure the plants are deep enough in their substrate but still visible on top. They would begin to propagate after a few months. Also, leave some mineral wool or ceramic disc to help the plants anchor on the substrate.

– The Dry Start Method

In this method, the UG is planted in a humid terrestrial environment. This allows the plant to shoot runners and form a healthy carpet. The plant will begin to grow in clumps on top of itself. Then, after some weeks, water is introduced into the aquarium, and the plant continues to grow as a submersed plant.

– Possible Problems Associated With the Dry Start Method

Melting and floating are problems that may happen during the dry start method. Here is what typically happens:

If the tank has not been previously cycled, ammonia may leach into the Utricularia graminifolia carpet. This would shock the plant and cause it to melt. Melting usually begins from under and may not be visible on top of the carpet. So, as the base rots, the plant would detach from the substrate and float.

Please note that the Utricularia graminifolia is a rootless plant, and it prefers floating. But its runners still try to make up for roots and grip the substrates. Nonetheless, if you notice on time, you could remedy the problem by trimming off the melted parts. Even though the dry start method seems easy, it may not be the best for a long-term carpet setup.

– How to Successfully Plant the Utricularia Graminifolia Using the Dry Start Method

The best way to plant the Utricularia graminifolia is by using peat moss as a substrate. It is natural and allows the Utricularia graminifolia to grow properly.

– Why Is My Utricularia Graminifolia Plant Melting After Planting It

Melting is the plant’s way of adjusting to its new environment. It will eliminate the old leaves and struggle to develop tougher ones. However, ammonia spikes in the freshly cycled tank are a trigger. Below are tips to increase survival rates of Utricularia graminifolia after planting

  • Plant Utricularia graminifolia in an already cycled tank of about two to four weeks
  • The tank should be stable and biological mature
  • Add in fertilizers as it improves Utricularia graminifolia propagation rates

– A Common Myth Around How To Stop Utricularia Graminifolia From Melting After Replanting

Many myths surround the Utricularia graminifolia’s high propensity to melt in new setups. However, most are untrue and would cause more harm than good. Here are two popular myths.

  • The Utricularia graminifolia need low nutrient-based water to grow
  • The Utricularia graminifolia would only thrive in soft water

Both myths are not entirely true. Indeed, the Utricularia graminifolia grows in soft water in the wild. However, they also do well in moderately hard water.

Likewise, dosing the plant with fertilizers would not kill it. This is because the plant’s carnivorous nature gives it a competitive edge over nutrient ingestion. This plant is hardy, and once acclimatized, it would grow with either minimal or extra external input.


  • Utricularia graminifolia should be handled with care because it is very fragile
  • Take special care not to break the runners as it can significantly affect the plants acclimatizing rate
  • Plant the Utricularia graminifolia in small clumps to get the floating effect
  • Uprooting and replanting the Utricularia graminifolia causes so much damage to its delicate runners
  • Add in Co2 injections to achieve a dense carpet look
  • The Utricularia graminifolia plant takes a while to settle into a new environment
  • Utricularia graminifolia emersedwould require more acclimatizing duration than submerged plants
  • Put Emersed aquatic plants in a stable tank because they are prone to algae attack
  • A freshly planted Utricularia graminifolia would not require intense lighting until after two months of growth.
  • Utricularia graminifolia uses its bladder to absorb nutrients from the aquarium


Since the plant is connected and delicate, cutting half a leaf is dangerous. The remaining damaged half attached to the plant is prone to algae infestation. Hence, you should first dip the scissors into the substrate and cut the runners. Next, remove the connected leaves and runners without leaving behind any organic material to rot on the substrate.

When trimming Utricularia graminifolia, you have two primary choices to make:

– Trim Frequently

With this method, you need to trim a lot off to regrow the carpet plant. Cut off as many runners until you could see the substrate and focus on the dense areas. However, be sure to leave enough space for new roots.

The disadvantage of this method is the carpet plant would look scanty after trimming. In addition, amateur aquarists would be reluctant to cut a perfectly grown carpet. Additionally, you have to trim the plant quite frequently.

– Trim Only When Needed

This technique requires you to cut the carpet plant when you notice it has gotten too dense. Nevertheless, this puts the roots of the plant at risk. The old growth would begin to rot, which may cause the plant to float.

In addition, the entire plant may become unhealthy. This is because of the choking clusters of over-grown Utricularia graminifolia and possible algae infestation. Furthermore, the trim would likely involve replanting some new growth, after which the plant would need time to recover. The downside of this method is the plant could be significantly shocked and begin to melt.

Common Issues

1. Yellow Leaves and Rot

The leaves of the Utricularia Graminifolia plant would turn yellow and rot when:

  • It doesn’t get enough light
  • When you do not trim often

When you observe this, immediately try to reverse the process by trimming and adjusting the aquarium lights to prevent melting. The plant may take a while to recover, so do not panic.

Utricularia graminifolia2. Foliage Loss and Stunted Growth

The Utricularia Graminifolia can tolerate colder temperatures and incorrect kh and pH levels. However, when subjected to wrong parameters for too long, the plant may suffer from foliage loss and stunted growth. So, closely monitor and strive to meet their tank requirements.

3. Algae Infestation

The Utricularia Graminifolia is susceptible to algae infection if:

  • Their tank is not stabilized before planting
  • If an emersed plant is replanted as a submerged plant


Does the Utricularia Graminifolia Need Substrate to Grow?

The Utricularia graminifolia plant can survive with or without being planted. The plant would literally float around the aquarium like a dense mat and keep growing! Not to forget that, you can grow them as epiphytes or tie them to a hardscape.

Is Utricularia Graminifolia a Beginner-friendly Plant?

No, it is not. Considering the Utricularia graminifolia reputation for taking a while to stabilize and dying off easily, it is not very amateur friendly. However, poor aquarium practices may be the issue in most cases.

For instance, if a tissue cultured Utricularia graminifolia is planted in a new unstable tank containing aqua soil, it would likely not survive. Hence, if you equip yourself with the proper Utricularia graminifolia maintenance routine, it will grow well.

Can You Plant Utricularia Graminifolia in Shrimp Tanks?

No, we do not recommend planting Utricularia Graminifolia in a shrimp tank. This is because it is a carnivorous plant that can consume baby shrimp.

It traps them and secretes enzymes that help it digest the shrimps. Then converts it to nitrogen and phosphorus to aid its growth! So, the tank will eventually become stagnated and will contain only adult shrimps which would someday die.

Can Fish Survive in a Utricularia Graminifolia Tank

Yes, they can. Even the tiniest fish species would skillfully avoid the Utricularia Graminifolia plant.

In addition to fish eggs are most likely to be eaten by bigger fish than the Utricularia graminifolia. This is because eggs are too big to be trapped by the plants’ vesicles, nor to forget that the plant can digest nutrients from micro-organisms.

Utricularia Graminifolia Plant Digest Nutrients From Micro-Organisms

The Utricularia Graminifolia bladders use negative pressure to draw prey towards its hollow. You see, the micro-organisms first come in contact with the sensitive trap’s hairs. Then, these hairs act as a lever that forges an impact force to bend the flexible trap. Its watertight seal breaks open in a split second and suck the micro-organism into its tarp.

Here are some organisms and algae the Utricularia Graminifolia plant can digest:

  • Rhizopods
  • Rotifers
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Bacillariophyta
  • Cladoceran
  • Euglenophyta
  • Chlorophyta
  • Nematodes
  • Copepods

How Can I Use the Utricularia Graminifolia To Decorate My Tank

Below are two aquascape ideas.

1. First Aquascape Design

Plant the Utricularia Graminifolia with plants with different green hues. You can try plants like Aponogeton bolvinianus, Anubias Petite, A. madagascariensis, and Vasicularia Ferrei. Then, throw in some hues of red by adding the Hygrophila pinnatifida plant

2. Second Aquascape Design

Utricularia Graminifolia will look great with Helanthium Vesuvius and Vallisneria Americana. The carpet and long leaves also mix well with the bushy Pogostemon Erectus. Then, finally, the reds from Hygrophila Araguaia perfect the finished aquascape look.


The Utricularia Graminifolia plants are indeed unusual yet, quite beneficial and ideal for most aquarium setups. Here are reasons why you need the Utricularia Graminifolia plant in your tank:

  • These bladderwort plants are intriguing to watch, especially when they trap and digest insects or micro-organisms
  • Their lush carpets are great foreground and mid-ground plants
  • Their light green leaves and white or purple flowers add beauty to an aquarium.
  • They can survive either as emersed or submersed plants

Knowing how to care for them the right way is crucial, you need to be patient as you nurture these plants thoroughly. Then, you will be rewarded by them rapidly spreading across your tank!

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