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Re: Water Sprite

Bob --

What it sounds like you have is two different plants that have been growing
under different conditions prior to your purchase -- assuming they are the
same species, give them six months in an aquarium and they'll both be floating
and virtually identical.

There are currently four recognized species of "Water Sprite," Ceratopteris
spp.  The most commonly available are Ceratopteris thalictroides and C.
cornuta.  C. cornuta is the most commonly available; it's mislabeled as C.
thalictroides in the Rataj book (pages 120 and 123) -- TFH Publications even
extended the error by omitting the middle "t."  Ceratopteris thalictroides
looks like curly Italian parsley (if you squint); it's mislabed in the Rataj
book (page 127) under an old name, "C. siliquosa."  

Of the other two species, C. pteroides is occasionally found in the hobby,
usually at club auctions.  The fronds of C. pteroides are wide and splayed
out, hardly divided at all, and usually grow larger than a man's hand.
Ceratopteris richardii is somewhat similar in appearance to C. cornuta, but
it's an annual species and very difficult to maintain in an artificial
situation.  C. richardii has, though, been (successfully?) introduced to
southern Louisiana.
Like Riccia, which has a similar life cycle, Ceratopteris species grow in
areas of fluctuating water levels.  During dry periods they take root in the
substrate -- this is when they develop sori and sexually propagate -- but when
inundated with water the old plants usually die, releasing the plantlets on
the fronds to float away with the current.   Remember this as you try to keep
those plants rooted in the gravel! ;-)

Dean Sliger