Java Fern Care, Size, Aquarium, How to Plant & Grow | How to fix Java Fern to Driftwood?

Java Fern has a scientific name “Microsorum pteropus”, & aquarists have been keeping this plant in fish tanks for a long period of time & it is one of the most famous aquatic plants. It can grow either partially or fully immersed in tank water. They are hardy & can grow in almost any conditions.

You can keep Java Fern with many fish & there is no need to maintain ideal water parameters for the plant to grow, & it does not need extra fertilizers because fish waste releases ammonia which breaks down into nitrates, & plants absorb them, & they fertilize plants. Java Fern is very simple to grow in water & they are recommended for beginners.

Java Fern grows very slowly when completely submerged in water which is good news for aquarists because aquatic plants grow faster, then they can cover more space of the tank & can offer little room for the fish to swim. So, aquarists look for plants that grow slowly & their maximum size is small. You can find these qualities in Java Fern because its growth rate is low to medium, & it can grow up to 13.5 inches. If you offer enough carbon dioxide & lighting, then this plant can grow faster.

In today’s post I have described the complete aquarium plant guide for Java Fern.





Care Level


Growth Rate

Low to Medium

Max. Size

13.5 inches

Min. Aquarium Size

10 Gallons

Ideal Water Parameters

Temp: 68 to 82 Degree Fahrenheit

pH: 6.0 to 8

Water Hardness: Soft – Medium - Hard

Tank Lights

Low to Medium

Placement in Aquarium

Medium to Background


Java Fern Origin:

Java Fern is named after the Indonesian Island of Java, & you can find this plant in Thailand, Malaysia, Northeast India & certain areas of China. The size of the plant leaf, & its appearance is different based on the location.


Java Fern Plant Appearance:

Java Fern is a leafy plant with green leaves, & it has 2 parts: step (also known as rhizome) & leaves. The stem of the plant is scientifically named “rhizome”. It can help in the growth of the plant roots, & you can use it to attach java fern to driftwood & other objects of the aquarium. It grows longer & thin, & seems like hair. Rhizome helps the plant fix itself to different surfaces of the fish tank.

Java Fern Care, Size, Aquarium, How to Plant & Grow
Java Fern Care, Size, Aquarium, How to Plant & Grow

Java Fern has beautiful green leaves that capture the attention of people. Color of Java Fern is based on the lighting & aquarium conditions. If it is exposed to high lighting, the leaves will turn dark green.

Java Fern has sword shaped leaves. The color of the leaves is green. They have different appearance based on how they are reproduced. The leaves of the plant turn dark green when exposed to excessive light.

Java Fern is also known as Leptochilus pteropus. They are available in multiple types & their names vary based on the look of the leaf such as needle leaf, narrow leaf, windelov, & trident. They all seem beautiful in aquariums & have similar requirements.


Java Fern Plant Propagation:

It is very simple to propagate Java Fern in an aquarium. Just add it to the fish tank & it will start growing on its own. This plant can be seen floating on water, or you can submerge it by fixing it to aquarium objects that allows the roots of the plant to hold onto. It is possible to bury the plant roots in substrate or attach it to driftwood, structure or any other object. I think that using super glue is good for attaching Java Fern to structures. Drop super glue on the driftwood, & hold the plant against it for about 30 sec so that glue can fill the gaps & firmly fix the plant. Then allow the plant to air dry for about 3 min. It is time to place Java Fern in the aquarium & monitor its growth. Make sure you do not bury Java Fern rhizome which allows roots & leaves of the plant to grow out of it. Burying the rhizome will rot it. Gravels are not required for Java Fern & you can keep it in bare bottom aquariums.

Java Fern can get nutrients using its leaves & rhizome, & if you want to use it as a natural aquarium filter, then expose its roots & rhizome so that it can filter dirty water & remove pollutants.


How to fix Java Fern Plant to Driftwood:

You can easily fix this plant to driftwood but it needs a little work & patience. Many hobbyists use string to tie Java Fern to objects which can help fix plants to stuff but I recommend using super glue which is a faster & easier way of keeping Java Fern in place.

Step 1: Buy Driftwood & Java Fern:

Purchase the plant & driftwood from the fish store. Check out this video if you want to know how to clean driftwood before using it for a fish tank. If you follow every step correctly then you can clean the driftwood that can offer a gorgeous appearance to your fish tank.

How to clean driftwood

Step 2: Use brush or scrubber to clean Driftwood:

How to wash Driftwood?
How to wash Driftwood?

Make sure you gently wash driftwood with clean water to remove all the dirt & debris. Use a tooth brush or scrubber for better cleaning of the debris. Then it is time to prepare a container by filling it with clean water, & sterilize the driftwood & wipe out more impurities.

Step 3: Boil Driftwood to remove tannins & debris:

Boil Driftwood to remove tannins & debris
Boil Driftwood to remove tannins & debris

Clean the driftwood by boiling it in a container filled with water. Make sure you remove all tannins which release from driftwood. Remove water with tannins & add fresh water. Do this multiple times until no more tannins are released & driftwood is ready for aquarium use. Otherwise, driftwood will release tannins in aquarium water, & its color resembles dipping a tea bag in water.

Driftwood is bigger than pot
Driftwood is bigger than pot

If you want to wipe out leaching from wood then I recommend boiling it. I have boiled a large driftwood & I couldn’t fit a pot to fit the driftwood completely inside it. So, I have completed this step by boiling a few sections of the wood & then have boiled other sections of the wood to clean it fully.

Boiling driftwood will fill your pot water with tannins. It may take multiple retries before driftwood is ready for tank use. I also noticed that thicker parts of driftwood release more tannins, so I recommend boiling that part for a longer period of time to fully clean driftwood.

Step 4: Hydrate Java Fern if placed outside for a while:

Hydrate Java Fern if placed outside for a while
Hydrate Java Fern if placed outside for a while

If you have placed your Java fern outside aquarium water for a while, then I recommend spraying water on the plant to keep it hydrated. This way the roots of the plant will absorb moisture.

Step 5: Use Glue for fixing Java Fern to Driftwood:

Avoid using glue on roots
Avoid using glue on roots

Look for a large Java Fern & fix it to driftwood by spreading the super glue on the surface & holding java fern against glue. Then attach little java fern plants in the gaps for spreading a thick layer of java fern on driftwood. I have myself used Non drip gel for fixing plants to driftwood. Glue rhizome of Java fern to driftwood & avoid using glue on roots of the plant. Roots of Java Fern are used for absorbing nutrients from water.

Step 6: Or use elastic thread to tie Java Fern to driftwood:

Tie Java Fern to Driftwood using elastic thread
Tie Java Fern to Driftwood using elastic thread

Another way for fixing java fern to driftwood is using elastic thread which is not dangerous for Java Fern. When elastic thread is submerged in water, it becomes invisible. If you can't fix using super glue or there is not enough surface for fixing Java Fern to structure then you can use elastic thread to tie the plant to structure.

Step 7: Gently place Java Fern in Aquarium:

Putting Java Fern in an aquarium needs gentleness. If you do things the wrong way then your plant might detach from the driftwood & float on the water. So slowly submerge your plant & driftwood in the water & avoid disturbance.

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