Care Guide: Water Sprite

Water sprite is a very rapid growing aquatic plant, also known as other names such as Ceratopteris thalictroides, Oriental water fern, water horn fern, and Indian water fern. Belonging to the family Acanthaceae, it is native to tropic waterways around the world. Nowadays this plant can be found in most pet stores for under $10.

Care Requirements

Care Level : very easy

Light : low to high

Temperature : 72 – 86

pH : 6.5 – 7.5

Growing Habits 

Water Sprite is a good beginners plant, well known as a fast growing, self propagating plant. It can grow under low lights, but it will grow at a much slower pace, whereas medium to high will allow it to grow much faster and fill in as a healthier instance. Though it will always remain a lighter  green color, it does not require added supplements or Co2 but can tolerate it. There is also no need for trimming of any kind, and the stems grow from one main root ball that should not be completely planted in any type of substrate. At least an inch, where the roots begin, should be left out of the substrate, otherwise the plant may begin to grow slower or even die; it can even be left to float and grow on the surface as well. If this method is used the leaves and stems will remain shorter than the planted version, though the roots will continue to grow till they reach substrate.  All new leaves will emerge from the base of the plant, they will be coiled up like most land ferns grow. The leaves can reach up to 20 inches long, making this plant best for taller tanks. However, when planted inside shorter or smaller tanks, its leaves have a tendency to grow out of the water which does not seem to affect the plant in any way other than self propagation.


Water sprite will propagate on its own with no help needed from you. With all its nutritional and environmental needs met, you may find yourself over run with little baby water sprites. Similar to the java fern, mature and decaying leaves will begin to sprout new life. Within a few weeks tiny little leaves will grow into larger separate plants. It is best to let immature plants float on the surface and grow until they are big enough to be planted.


Water sprite is a very versatile beginners plant. It’s easy to care for and can also provide shelter for young and small fish. Ram cichlids like to spawn with this in their tank because it provides good coverage of breeding rocks. Some bettas even like to sleep in the floating versions.This plant is ideal for filling in spaces in aquascapes quickly, but it won’t just sit there looking pretty as water sprite will also absorb extra nutrients from the water column and your substrate. If you like plants to grow out of the water of your tank this may also be a good plant for you.


Keep in mind this can be a delicate plant and can be easily damaged during shipping or even handling in your own tank.  Be advised some fish, such as goldfish, may find this plant to be a tasty snack, yet in most cases it can grow fast enough to make up for all that snacking. But, if you have lots of snails this plant will quickly disappear. We highly advise you plant this plant in sand or dirt, as it will not grow well in gravel tanks.




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