Novice aquarists often think of the Pogostemon Aquarium Plant as a capricious, demanding, and difficult plant to care for. To maintain its active growth and attractiveness, you need to monitor the parameters of the aquatic environment and illumination, take care of mineral feeding, and regular supply of carbon dioxide. But, if you use the advice of experienced growers, there will be no problems with growing a pogostemon.
Pogostemon Aquarium Plant Habitat and Origin
A variety called the octopus (Pogostemon octopus) is common in aquatic biotopes in Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Australia, and Oceania. In European pet stores, the plant appeared about 10 years ago. Since then, the octopus has become a popular aquarium species used to decorate the background of the underwater landscape.
In appearance, the octopus shoots resemble fluffy branches of conifers: erect stems are densely covered with long (up to 9 cm) and narrow (up to 0.6 cm) leaves, collected in whorls. The underwater currents set the leaves in motion, which causes them to move and become like the tentacles of an octopus. Because of this similarity, the plant got the name octopus, which is translated from Latin as “octopus”.
The aquarium plant is able to change the color, size and density of green leaves at any deviations in illumination, temperature and chemical composition of the aquatic environment. So, intense light will lead to the appearance of a red-brown tint on the shoots, and a lack of nitrogen will slow down the growth of the pogostemon.
Pogostemon Aquarium Plant Closest relatives or alternative
The most common relatives of the octopus are:
- Australian. Shoots of young specimens have a pink tint, but as they mature, they become grassy green.
- Kimberly. The stems and leaves are pinkish brown.
- Stellatus (star-shaped). Capricious and difficult to care for. It can die with small deviations in hardness or acidity from the norm.
- Helferi. Forms numerous basal rosettes with beautiful corrugated leaves.
- Sri Lanka. The lower part of the leaves is colored purple-pink.
- Erectus. The most unpretentious of all pogostemons.
- Jatabeanus. Retains decorative effect under different parameters of illumination and water environment.
When placing several varieties of pogostemon in one tank, the size of the plants at maturity should be taken into account and placed so that tall species do not cover undersized ones. For example, the octopus should be placed near the back wall of the aquarium, and the helper should be placed in the middle ground.
Types of Pogostemon Aquarium Plant
According to different taxonomy, the genus Pogostemon includes from 90 to 96 species, but only 6 of them can be seen in aquariums.
Long shoots of erectus look spectacular in the background of a home pond. Whorls consist of 8 leaves up to 4 cm long and 1 cm wide.
In 1-3 months, several young branches can turn into dense thickets. Adult specimens reach 40 cm in length and 15 cm in width.
To prevent the plants from growing uncontrollably and filling up most of the aquarium, they need to be pruned and thinned periodically.
Under favorable conditions, octopus stems can grow up to 60 cm in height and 25 cm in width. Thin, densely leafy shoots, planted along the back of the aquarium, do not cast thick shadows and do not interfere with the development of the rest of the underwater flora.
The plant has a compact size and a beautiful shape of leaf plates. The leaves are collected in dense whorls, similar to green fountains. The height of the helferi does not exceed 10 cm, and the diameter of the bush is 5-10 cm. The main color of the leaf plates is juicy green, but there are also more rare varieties with a two-color color. The pearl of any collection can be Pogostemon Helferi Red, which has a red tint on its young leaves.
A distinctive feature of the Kimberly pogostemon is the presence of notches along the edges of the leaf plates. Lush bushes 25-40 cm high will look good in the center of a composition of different plants or near the sidewalls of the aquarium.
Eusteralis stellata is the second name of the stellate pogostemon. It grows relatively quickly and can reach the surface of the water in a few months, so it will look better in tanks with a volume of 200 liters or more. The dense whorls of a plant consist of 8-11 narrow (up to 5 mm) and long (up to 6 cm) leaves.
The homeland of the plant is considered to be rice fields and irrigation canals in Korea, China and other countries of East Asia. Jatabeanus is capable of blooming at home. During flowering, a spike-shaped inflorescence appears above the water surface, consisting of many small lilac buds.
conditions for keeping pogostemon in aquarium and care
All members of the genus Pogostemon differ in their botanical description but require the same conditions of detention. They develop better in reservoirs with established biological equilibrium. It is not recommended to plant young bushes in a freshly started aquarium – the plants either will not survive, or they will hurt and wither.
To make the green thickets of the pogostemon look attractive, you need to control the chemical composition of the aquarium water and its temperature.
The main indicators of the aquatic environment, at which the plant can grow and reproduce violently:
|Temperature||+ 22 … + 28 ° С|
|Hardness (dH)||6-12 ° W|
A prerequisite for growing an octopus or other related species is a weekly water change of at least 25-30% of the total volume of the aquarium.
The powerful, developed root system of the pogostemon requires reliable support, so the soil layer should be at least 5-6 cm.
It is better to use a silted substrate, from which the plant will receive the necessary nutrients. Coarse river sand, fine gravel, or quartz are also suitable as a substrate.
When placed in an infertile substrate, the plant must be regularly fed with liquid fertilizers.
For active growth, an uninterrupted supply of CO₂ is required at the rate of 5-10 to 10-20 mg per 1 liter.
With a lack of light – low light or short daylight hours – the leaves of the plant turn pale, stretch, become thinner and look unattractive. To maintain the decorativeness of the pogostemon, fluorescent lamps of the LB brand must work at least 10-12 hours daily. The optimal power of the lamps is 0.5-1 W / l.
FILTRATION AND AERATION
The underwater “octopus” is demanding the purity of the water. In a cloudy aquarium, numerous leaves quickly become covered with a dirty coating. This spoils the appearance of the plant, slows down its development and metabolic processes in cells.
A powerful filter will help to avoid such problems. Its use is advisable for 2 reasons: the device will purify the water and create underwater currents that will set in motion the green “tentacles”.
Propagation of Pogostemon Aquarium Plant
All varieties of pogostemon are propagated in a vegetative way – the simplest of all. For rooting, side shoots or apical cuttings cut from tall specimens are used.
Planting in the ground is done as follows:
- Using a knife, cut off a lateral shoot or a top with a length of at least 10 cm.
- A hole is made in the ground and a seedling is placed there.
- Sprinkle the depression with a substrate, lightly pressing it down with your hands.
After about a month, the seedling adapts and takes root. If you plan to plant several octopuses, kimberly, or helferi cuttings in the aquarium, then a separate recess is made for each specimen.
The described method is suitable for rejuvenating old specimens that have dropped the lower leaves and have lost their decorative effect. Cutting off the tops of the pogostemon also helps to stimulate the growth of lateral shoots.
Propagation of Pogostemon Aquarium Plant Compatible fishes
Representatives of the genus Pogostemon differ from other hydrophytes with soft and juicy greens, which often become a food source for snails and herbivorous fish. So that the plant does not lose its attractiveness and pleases with fluffy greenery, it is recommended to plant it in aquariums with predatory fish species.
The neighborhood with shrimps will also be useful: these crustaceans will become a kind of cleaners for the pogostemon bushes, removing organic debris and algae from thin sheets.