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Heteranthera z. aka "Stargrass"
This plant grows both horizontally and vertically, but I'll bet there's more
light in your newer tank, right? More light seems to encourage the typical
horizontal or substrate spread, IME. H. zosterifolia can make a nice looking
plant grouping, but like many hedges outside, it will tend to produce a shape
with a hollow, leafless center full of debris eventually. When pruned to
reveal this - it isn't a pretty picture and I haven't found a good solution
for this as yet.
Careful trimming to the closest node when shaping, along with the selective
use of complete, substrate level amputation here and there to thin clumps,
has produced the nicest looking groups for me. I had a really impressive
mountain of it once, but drastic, poorly thought out and executed pruning
while in a fit of creative stupidity one night put an end to it. Like most
men with a bad haircut, I ended up buzzing it.
Hetera z. often has long, white roots it sends down into the substrate as it
grows taller and these tend to anchor and further pull the plant into a more
horizontal growth pattern. Come to think of it, I've never seen this plant
growing straight up like Limno., Cabomba or even Hygro. Anyway, these roots
can be annoying.
"Stargrass" also has a tendency to get black tips, perhaps because it is a
tender plant and easily bruised or maybe because I keep Flagfish with mine.
There again this could be some chemical deficiency, as others have proposed -
but I suspect a mechanical cause as mine look too much like tissue trauma
when examined under magnification.
Emerged, it will produce an abundance of pale violet flowers that scatter
seed everywhere. I have some outside and little Hetera z. sprouts spring up
everywhere - along with glosso, Hemianthus micranthemoides, Alternanthera and
Hygro. sp. to name a few.
I don't want to get all preachy or make anyone gag, but we probably all need
to be really careful with the plants we now have at least some measure of
control over - since I'll bet several of the newer, less widely known and
distributed species (like Eusteralis) could easily escape domestication and
become established in several areas of the country.
When that happens, we can be sure that restrictive legislation we have far
less control over, as in California, will be proposed - perhaps enacted, and
this will do none of us much good. I say this as much to myself as anyone,
for I am as guilty or innocent as the next person of cultivating these things.
I hate to even bring this up, since this is how rumors get started, but...