Eleocharis Acicularis in Aquarium: Ultimate Care Guide

Often known as Dwarf hair grass, Eleocharis Acicularis is a popular and easy to grow carpeting plant often used by aquascape enthusiasts. Looking to achieve a thick mat of bright green growth across the bottom of your tank? Eleocharis Acicularis may be exactly what you’re looking for. While this plant is easy to grow, it can be difficult to grow well. Without proper lighting and nutrition it can grow long and thin in patches with a “weedy” appearance. With the proper preparation and care, this species can be a great ground cover plant which can give your planted aquarium a distinctive look. You’ll need to have some specific knowledge and techniques to master this plant. We’ve put together this guide to show you everything needed to achieve the exact look you want from this unique aqascaping plant!

Eleocharis Acicularis Care

Eleocharis Acicularis needs extra lighting, fertilization, and often CO2 injection for best health and appearance. Be prepared to have some patience as this plant takes a while to spread across large sections of substrate. If you’re lacking patience, you can encourage the spread by breaking up and replanting small bunches across a wide area. With suitable nutrient soil, Eleocharis Acicularis grows easily and will eventually spread across substrate, providing your tank a thick green carpet of growth. This species needs lots of light, but extra light can lead to unsightly algae growth. CO2 injection can help keep algae under control and will give a boost to this and other aquarium plants.

Eleocharis Acicularis
Eleocharis Acicularis. Edited. Chris Penny, CC BY 2.0

Are Eleocharis Acicularis easy to grow?

Eleocharis Acicularis is easy to grow, but without extra attention it can grow tall and stringy with a “weedy” look which can be undesirable. Getting thick carpets of growth from this plant is a task best suited to more experienced aquarium hobbyists. Beginners and those who have less experience with high tech tank setups can get good results with patience and a willingness to learn along the way.

Eleocharis Acicularis Lighting Requirement

Eleocharis Acicularis needs medium to bright lighting to grow properly in most aquariums. This is often used as a foreground or carpeting plant, and high light is necessary for thick, short growth. While it will tolerate lower light levels these can lead to taller, stringy growth. For the best and thickest carpet, high intensity lighting is needed. Best growth is achieved with lighting which is designed for growing aquarium plants. Full spectrum LED lights are often used as these include all light wavelengths needed for ideal plant growth. Many also include timers and brightness controls which allow you to customize the best lighting intensity and schedule for your tank.

Eleocharis Acicularis Temperature

Eleocharis Acicularis grows best in water temperatures between 72° and 79° F. It’s able to grow in temperatures outside of this range, but that may result in slow growth and muted color.

Eleocharis Acicularis pH

Eleocharis Acicularis prefers neutral water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Avoid any substrates which include coral or aragonite sand as these will increase water hardness and alkalinity.

Eleocharis Acicularis Growth Rate

Eleocharis Acicularis’s growth rate varies depending on lighting and fertilization. This plant will grow taller faster than it will spread laterally across substrate. If your goal is a thick carpet this can take a while and will need to be helped along by hand planting clumps across the area you intend to cover. Fastest growth can be achieved by growing this plant emersed until it covers the entire intended area. To uses this method, plant bunches of 4 to 6 blades ½ to 1 inch apart. Use plant tweezers and shake soil after planting so it will fill in around the newly planted roots. Fill the tank with enough water to cover substrate while leaving the tops of plants in the open air. This method results in fast growth and can cover an entire area with a solid carpet in a matter of weeks. One downside is that you’ll see some yellowing and dying back when the aquarium is filled with water. This is a natural process that happens when many aquarium plants grow emersed, only to be submerged later. With trimming and some fertilization your Eleocharis Acicularis should recover, leaving you with an attractive green carpet.

How tall does Eleocharis Acicularis grow?

Without trimming, Eleocharis Acicularis can grow up to 12 inches tall. Low lighting can encourage tall, stringy growth. If you are wanting a thick, short carpet you’ll want to provide bright lighting and CO2 injection. Trimming this plant down will keep its height in check and encourage lateral growth.

Eleocharis Acicularis CO2 Requirement

While Eleocharis Acicularis doesn’t need additional CO2 to grow, it does need lots of light and some fertilization. Extra light and nutrients will lead to algae growth which can be suppressed with added CO2. Hobbyists who are growing a thick carpet of this species with high lighting will usually need CO2 injection, both to encourage bright colors and decrease algae growth.

Aquarium Substrate for Eleocharis Acicularis

The best growing medium for Eleocharis Acicularis is a nutrient rich substrate such as ADA Aquasoil. Bad substrate choices are coarse gravel and anything which contains coral or aragonite sand. This species can grow on fine sand but this will require added fertilization. If you like the look of a sandy tank bottom it’s possible to put down a layer of aquarium growing soil and top this with sand. This will give you a sandy surface but allows roots to pull in nutrients from the soil. If you choose to use only sand, without a layer of nutrient growing soil be prepared to add liquid fertilizer to achieve good growth. A balanced liquid fertilizer is the best choice but you may need to supplement with additional iron. Eleocharis Acicularis needs iron for healthy growth, and this nutrient is lacking in many aquariums, especially those which don’t use nutrient rich substrates.

Eleocharis Acicularis Propagation

Eleocharis Acicularis is easy to propagate and can be spread by planting clumps of 4 to 5 blades in desired growing locations. After planting a clump, settle soil around the roots to reduce empty spaces and give the plants something hold onto. New plantings should be given lots of light and a dose of balanced liquid fertilizer to encourage new growth. This plant loves iron, and adding some of this nutrient is recommended and can help new plantings become established quicker.

Do Eleocharis Acicularis spread?

Eleocharis Acicularis is often spread with the help of manual replanting. Eleocharis Acicularis can spread out laterally on its own, but this can take a while and hand planting is recommended for the impatient. When grown emersed, this plant spreads fast across substrate. But when switching from emersed to submerged growth, some foliage can yellow and die back temporarily.

Can you grow Eleocharis Acicularis emeresed?

Eleocharis Acicularis can grows well when emersed. In fact, emersed growing is preferred by some hobbyists when trying to establish a thick carpet in an aquarium. Because the tops of the plants are exposed to air they can grow and spread across substrate much faster than when fully submerged. Keep in mind that when Eleocharis Acicularis is submerged after growing emersed, some foliage will yellow and die back. This is normal and the plant will recover with some time and trimming.

Where can I find Eleocharis Acicularis for sale?

Eleocharis Acicularis is a popular aquarium plant available from most local fish stores and online suppliers. Expect to pay less than $10 USD per bunch. Tissue cultures of this plant are available at a slightly increased cost. Buying plants as tissue cultures is a great way to make sure your plants are sterile and won’t introduce any diseases or pests into your aquarium. Plants from tissue cultures take longer to become successfully established and need greater care when planting.

What are Eleocharis Acicularis “Mini”?

Eleocharis Acicularis “Mini” is a unique cultivar of Eleocharis Acicularis which has much shorter and thinner growth. This variety is preferred by hobbyists looking for a very dense and low-growing carpeting plant. Because it’s the same species it has identical care requirements, but it needs more careful handling. The root systems of the “Mini” cultivar are much finer and need delicate planting in sand or soil capable of holding their roots firmly. This plant can also be bought growing on coco fiber mats topped with coated metal mesh. This allows easy positioning and gives the roots a firm base until they’re growing in their new environment.

Eleocharis Parvula vs Eleocharis Aciculari

Eleocharis Parvula is also known as “Japanese Dwarf Hair Grass” and grows much shorter than Eleocharis Acicularis, but retains the same grass-like look. Parvula is reported to be easier to grow than Acicularis. E. Parvula has been found to be E. Pusilla, but it was marketed under the former name for many years and that name stuck. When buying this plant be aware that it can be available under either name depending on the seller.