Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Location: West Africa
Stem width: 12-20cm
Growth Rate: Fast
Ammannia gracilis, first introduced into the hobby by aquarist P.J. Bussink who brought it with him from Liberia, is a prostate marsh plant found throughout West Africa. Because of its beauty and relatively less troublesome growing requirements, Ammania gracilis is the most popular aquarium plant of its genus. Although uncommon in stores, it should not be too hard to obtain through a local club or through trading.
Ammannia gracilis is a moderately demanding plant which will not show its full potential unless its requirements are met. Lighting should be moderate to intense (2-3wpg or more);CO2 injection should be stable at 25-30ppm. This stem plant prefers mildly acidic, moderately soft water (KH 4-6, GH 6-8), although it is quite adaptable to more extreme water conditions. Macronutrients such as nitrate (5-20ppm) and phosphate (1-2ppm) should be high for best results. Iron and micronutrient dosing, in lieu with macronutrients, should be correspondingly high as well. If there is not enough iron in the water column, the foliage of this plant will became pale. Rich conditions will promote larger stems with less intense red coloration (if nitrate is high enough, growth may even become very green). Lower nitrate levels combined with high phosphate and micronutrient levels will promote the most intense colors in A. gracilis.
This large, colorful stem plant, when under good growing conditions, grows rapidly upwards toward the water's surface. Pruning should be done by topping and replanting the more robust top portions. Propagation should be done by removing side shoots from the main stem plant with a pair of scissors.
Ammannia gracilis, due to its eventually large size, is most suited to the midground to background of aquariums larger than 20g (76L) where it can add a brilliant splash of color to any layout. It is most commonly used by Dutch aquarists, who often use it for contrast to the typically green streets.