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I was just looking through the Summer 2001 issue of Dave Gomberg's Planted
Aquaria Magazine and noted Karen Randall's article on aquatic ferns. In it
she mentions Ceratopteris richardii as a species of Water Sprite which has
never made it into the hobby.
This plant is regularly used in both research and education, and there are
even whole web sites devoted to it - "C-Fern A Plant for Teaching and
Research" at [http://cfern.bio.utk.edu/index.html] probably being the main
portal. Apparently, C. richardii has been carried into space aboard the
Space Shuttle to study the effect of gravity on cell growth.
Right now, the only way you can get C. richardii is by obtaining the spores
from a biological supply house (Carolina Biological Supply Company is the
one mentioned). I assume that once you actually have an adult plant it could
be reproduced like other Water Sprites, from the buds which grow on the
fronts and develop into small plants. There is one strain which has been
developed which is salt tolerant and might be of interest to people who like
brackish water aquariums.
Has anyone ever tried to grow ferns from spores? Is it that difficult?