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Plantlets on Java fern

>Recently, a number of the Java ferns in my 15-gallon tank have begun
>producing plantlets on the undersides of the leaves. While I am glad to have
>a source of a few extra plants, I don't really need as many as are growing
>at present, and the developing roots are not attractive (to my eye, at
>least). I have two questions: (1) Do certain water conditions stimulate the
>development of plantlets, or is this simply what mature Java fern leaves do?

In small numbers, they "just happen".  If a stand of Java fern suddenly
produces LOTS of plantlets, it is often a sign that the parent plant is
under stress, and is trying to reproduce before it dies.  Unfortunately,
there are so many potential causes of stress, it's hard to pinpoint the
problem without knowing what's going on in the tank.

>(2) Is it possible to remove the plantlets without destroying the parent
>leaf? Thanks for any insights you might be able to give.

Yes, they can be removed, although there may be a slight amount of damage
to the leaf tip.  However, if the plantlets are being produced because of
environmental stress, the leaf is probably on the way out anyway.