• Azolla pinnata - Azolla

    Azolla pinnata

    Common: Ferny azolla
    Scientific: Azolla pinnata
    AKA: Red Azolla, Feathered mosquitofern, water velvet

    Difficulty: Easy
    Light requirements: Low to high
    Type: Fern
    Temperature: -4c 44c
    pH: 5.0 7.5
    Country of Origin: Australia, Africa, Asia.
    CO2: Not required
    Substrate: Not applicable.
    Filtration/Circulation: Prefers slow flow, as it is broken up by fast flow.
    Position in tank: floating plant, for aquarium or pond use. eg:

    Propagation: either through breaking pieces off, or spores releasing.
    Ferts: Thrives in high fertilised areas, can create its own nitrogen. Water column feeders.

    It is used primarily as a pond plant, although it could be used as an aquarium plant - I have never heard of it used successfully in this application.

    This plant is a floating fern, with many overlapping leaves which create a plant to about 2-3cm max with angular corners and roots hanging into the water. It can be green, green-blue, brown or red-ish, depending on the light it is getting. The leaves have tiny hairs, so that it floats, even if pushed underwater.

    They have a symbiotic relationship with a cyanobacteria, which lives in the leaves, and allows the plant to create its own nitrogen from the atmosphere, allowing it to live in low nitrogen environments. It is used commercially overseas to enrich soils, by growing it on damp soils, then tilling it into the soil to increase the nitrogen content before planting.

    It is also used to soak up excessive nutrients, as it is very fast growing, which could be an application for ponds and possibly aquariums, although it would decrease light if not removed.

    Azolla is a bush food, and eaten raw has a crunchy, nutty flavour. It can be used in stir-fries or as a substitute for water chestnuts in cooking. There are recipes on the internet for its use.

    This is a good plant for beginners.

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    1. DiscusEden's Avatar
      DiscusEden -

      Photo thanks to Dave Wilson, Aquagreen


      Azolla pinnata

      General information: Azolla is a free floating fully aquatic fern that can be any colour from pale lime green to grey green through to reddish purple or brown in full sun. It grows over fertile water bodies very quickly. Some believe it to be an invasive weed mistaking it with foreign imports. It is useful for shading new ponds but is difficult to remove if not wanted.

      Cultivation notes: It is more common on more fertile floodplain locations thus responds to fertiliser and water that has an alkalinity and hardness each over 50 ppm.

      Distribution: There are two species in Australia but only A.pinnata in the NT. More common in still waters on floodplain billabongs.

      Reference: Cowie, Short & Osterkamp Madsen ( 2000 ) "Floodplain Flora, a flora of the floodplain of the Northern Territory, Australia"

      Article thanks to and with permission of Dave Wilson, Aquagreen
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