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Re: Growing H. micranthemoides as foreground plants

Hi there,

I like to explain about babytears. In the last 2 years  I have been quite
successful growing them as a foreground plant.
Herewith my experience, YMMV:

Hemianthus is excellent as a carpet under following conditions:
Medium to high light or it will grow vertically only. That makes it hard to
create a full carpet, the plant will grow nice but you can't get it to
spread out unless you plant every square inch of your carpet by hand. This
is quite a challenge since this fine stemmed plant is not so easy to
I found that if my carpet grows under a sword or so it has difficulties
staying down, they start to race towards the light.
With enough light , some of the stems will lay down ( about a week or two
after planting fresh stems )  and start spreading, on some of the
horizontal nodes, new vertical growth will appear shortly. Once horizontal
growth has started it can grow very fast.
I grow my carpet in a 75 G with 280 Watt of T8 fluorescent ( with reflector
) . 390 Watts( you mentioned )looks like a lot of light to me, if your
hemianthus doesn't grow with this amount of light,  it may be starving. (
even when under a sword with 390 W of light ). Fertilise the water column,
your sword gets its food from the substrate, I suspect hemianthus relies
more on water column or convective currents in the gravel (bottom heater )
. In my tank I have no substrate fertilisers and it grows perfectly in the
gravel , but I rely on water column fertilisation. ( so badly that I have
problems growing heavy root feeders, my stems are growing like crazy
though. )

I also found that it need a fine grained substrate to take a firm hold. My
bottom layer is a too coarse gravel ( almost 8 mm size grains ) .In some
spots the coarse gravel is covering the top layer fine gravel ( uprooting
etc... ) and on those spots, it just doesn't grow very well.
To my experience,  hemianthus easily develops roots but they are very
short, a few cm ( an inch or so )  maximum. Therefore one must be careful
when cutting and watch out for large fish that may uproot them so easily,
especially when the carpet is not dense/old enough. Once the carpet is
dense it is quite strong and can handle my 14cm SAE's digging around in it
for food/detritus/algae.
Growing speed: under my conditions it can add an inch in 2 days.

I have to cut the carpet once every 2 weeks . About 2 days after the
cutting I usually see new growing points, lovely fresh green. If the
growing points don't appear in 2 to 3 days , the whole carpet starts
getting brownish and looks ratty. I've had this happening to me a few
times, usually followed by a 0 nitrates and BGA situation. When fertilised
correctly ( especially the nitrates I realised recently ) the stems will
recover even after 10 trimming sessions.
I trim it like a hairdresser, just cut across with sharp scissors and form
your shape. When cutting far too low ( very bottom part of stem with no
leaves anymore ) it may take a week to recover but it will once the new
shoots are there. The carpet will easily start growing against the front
glass, so cut it firmly close to the substrate or remove the first inch
close to the glass, it will be back up there in a week or 2-3 .
Every few months I renew some part of the carpet completely because too
much detritus and dead stems are clogging the growth and the carpet has
difficulties to recover.

 By the way, a thick hemiantus carpet is an excellent fry cover, I had red
phantoms coming out of there in my community tank.

Lastly, It grows emersed on the humid sides of my overflow and forms a
surface cover when it reaches water again.

I uploaded some pictures of hemianthus carpet  :
search in the photo-album of user "dirksan" and you will see the

greetings from Belgium,