There are a few options available when it comes to picking the right carpeting plant for your aquarium. Some types of plants are too sensitive, some are too tall and some might not match your water parameters. In this article, we will explain why Dwarf Hairgrass might be the right plant for you.
If you want to create a green lawn inside your aquarium that is not just beautiful but also helps your tank with oxygenation, removing toxins, and a shelter for fish fry then Dwarf Hairgrass is the way to go.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about this small kind of Hairgrass, so you can plant and care for it successfully.
The Dwarf Hairgrass is scientifically known as Eleocharis parvula and belongs to the Cyperaceae family. This species of aquatic plant is widespread across the globe and can be found in shallow brackish and freshwater water bodies where it can get plenty of light. Dwarf Hairgrass can grow in and out of water
Most aquarists use Dwarf Hairgrass as a carpeting plant for almost any size aquarium. This plant grows very fast which makes it an ideal choice to create a dense lush green lawn-looking carpet in your aquarium.
Dwarf Hairgrass needs a good light source and good substrate to thrive, but with CO2 it will grow even faster and develop better coloration. In general, It’s an easy plant that anyone can keep with the right tank setup.
This aquatic grass plant will grow short and thin grass-like leaves, which is why it’s called “hair-Grass”. The term “dwarf ” is given to this plant because it’s one of the smallest grass-type aquarium plants and only grows to 4-6 inches.
Dwarf Hairgrass develops a complex root structure that will form a mat under the substrate. Roots are white and very thin that will not grow too long.
Leaves will grow densely which makes them an ideal carpet species to cover the bottom of the tank. The plant will also grow a brown bud that is meant to turn into seeds if the plant grows out of water.
Depending on the region the plant is coming from, it can develop slightly taller or shorter leaves. Since it’s not a very tall plant, it will not sway much in the water. However, the taller types of Hairgrass plants will dance with the water flow in the tank.
Dwarf Hairgrass is not a tall plant that only grows to about 4-6 inches. This makes it a great front and mid aquarium plant. Depending on the scape, in smaller nano tanks you might be able to place it in the background as well.
To have bright colors and healthy leaves, you will need to provide them with a strong source of light. Make sure nothing is blocking light to your hair grass as it might slowly die off.
Dwarf Hairgrass Care
This is a relatively easy plant to grow. They are well-known for their ability to grow in aquarium conditions as long as they get enough light. They require a good planted tank substrate, occasional water changes, and a strong light to thrive.
This is a relatively fast-growing species of aquatic plant, which will need regular maintenance and pruning especially when you grow them as a carpeting plant. They love strong lighting which means if the tank is not properly balanced you might see some algae growth.
Regular water changes will control nitrate levels and create a healthier environment for your plant. Algae-eating fish like bristlenose pleco and Oto cats are great fish choices to keep your plants algae-free.
As mentioned, under the right conditions, this plant will grow very fast. The lighting and nutrition in the substrate have a direct impact on the growth rate of the plant.
Dwarf Hairgrass will grow best in an aquarium with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 and temperatures between 50-85 °F, but they grow best at 78 °F. We highly recommend CO2 as this plant will grow healthier and greener; however, it can also survive without CO2.
Planting Dwarf Hairgrass
Hairgrass plants are root feeder plants so they need a good mineral-rich substrate. This plant will develop a complex root structure so a softer substrate is ideal.
The softer the substrate the better the plant can grow and propagate. In nature, these plants are found in soil and slightly sandy shores. Sand is the closest aquarium substrate to what these plants grow in the wild; however, sand does not have any nutrition and Dwarf Hairgrass needs a nutrition rich substrate. So a true planted tank substrate is required for this plant.
When you first buy this plant, it will come in clumps. You can easily break the plant from the root leaving a few leaves with some of the roots and place each new plant in different spots in the tank. Hairgrass will soon start to develop new roots and once it is fully established, it will start to shoot new runners and new plants will grow. (more below in the propagation section)
In an aquarium environment, Dwarf Hairgrass propagates by shooting runners. This makes the propagation process super easy.
Once a plant establishes a good root system and has all the nutrients it needs, it will start shooting runners above and below the substrate. These runners will go in any available direction and will soon develop small leaves and root structures and become fully independent plants.
In the wild, it will also propagate by spreading seeds when water levels are low and the plant is out of water.
Maintenance: Pruning, Trimming, yellow leaves & Algae
In general, Maintaining Dwarf Hairgrass is very easy, but it needs regular trimming to ensure proper growth. Trimming stimulates the plant to propagate and create new leaves and light and water flow can reach the bottom of the plant where new leaves emerge.
Trim the leaves using sharp-angled scissors and use a net to scoop out all the trimmings so that they don’t clog the filter. Trimmed leaves will not float to the surface of the water which makes it hard to clean them off. This is probably the only con this plant has.
After a couple of months, depending on the type of substrate you use, you will need to supplement your tank with root tabs to ensure your plants are getting enough nutrition.
Hair algae love to grow on Dwarf Hairgrass leaves! Which can cause the plants to look ugly and not get enough light. To avoid algae growth on leaves, try reducing the time your aquarium light is on. Doing frequent water changes and trimming will also help to remove and prevent algae growth.
You can also add algae-eating fish and invertebrates to control algae.
Dwarf Hairgrass is a great plant for any community tank that houses different types of plants and fish. It is an ideal plant for most South American fish and most will not disturb it.
However, this might not be an ideal plant for African Cichlid tanks. Most African Cichlids love to dig in the substrate and might uproot your plant. African cichlid tanks also need higher pH and Hairgrass does not do well in higher pH.
Avoid large fish like Oscars and other predatory fish that are known to disturb plants.
Most plants can live in harmony with Dwarf Hairgrass; however, keep in mind that root-feeding plants and plants that produce large leaves might not be ideal tank mates.
Root feeding plants might lose the fight over nutrition to your hairgrass as it develops dense roots and sucks all the nutrition out. Plants with large leaves will block the light to reach hair grass and as a result, they might kill your dwarf hair grass.
Shrimps and snails are great to have in your tank as they will constantly scavenge for food and will eat any uneaten food that might drop to the bottom of the tank and in between plants. They will also eat algae and keep your plant free of algae.
Dwarf Hairgrass’s tough leaves and dense root structure will help it to tolerate most small nippy fish.
Buying Dwarf Hairgrass Plant
When looking to buy your first Dwarf Hairgrass, pay close attention to its leaves and roots. Pick plants that do not have yellow leaves and roots that are white and fresh looking. A few yellow leaves are normal, it’s not something to worry about.
There are different types of Dwarf Hairgrass plants that might be available in pet stores. Usually, the taller the plant’s leaves are the harder the plant is.
Is Dwarf Hairgrass Suitable for your Aquarium?
This plant is great for most setups that have a good substrate. Many freshwater tanks already fulfill the necessary criteria. As long as your water parameters are within the suitable range and you have plenty of light and a soft substrate, your Dwarf Hairgrass will easily thrive.
This is a small plant and will only grow up to 6 inches max, which makes it an ideal plant for any size aquarium. As long as your tank has a good substrate with a good light your plant will have no issues growing.
One of the great aspects of this plant is the fact that it easily grows and propagates. You can start with just a few plants and in no time you will have a carpet of Dwarf Hairgrass.
Dwarf Hairgrass is an easy carpeting plant that does not need anything special. It’s hardy and relatively low-maintenance so both beginners and experts can create dramatic looks in their tanks.
We hope you use the information in this article to create unique scapes in your tank.