How to Propagate a Java Fern - Complete Propagation Guide 2023

Written by Ivy

Jan 28 2023

How to Propagate a Java Fern - Complete Propagation Guide 2023

Because they thrive in low-light, low-oxygen environments like those present in most aquariums, java ferns make excellent aquarium plants. They are simple to grow, so you can quickly incorporate them into your aquascape. They also aid in the purification of the water in your aquarium by consuming excess nitrates.

Quick Steps to propagate a Java fern:

  1. Cut off the plantlet from the main plant with sharp, sterilized scissors.
  2. Next, attach the desired plantlet to pieces of wood or rocks.
  3. To keep it attached, use some thread, fishing line, or thread.
  4. Put the plantlet that is attached at the back of your aquarium.
  5. Bear in mind that, over time, the thread dissolves.
  6. In a few weeks, the rhizomes should start to develop roots that more firmly anchor the plant.

The advantages of java ferns, their care requirements, and suggestions for setting up the perfect environment for java ferns in your own aquarium are all covered in this article.

Java Fern Propagation


It's actually quite simple to spread Java ferns. Your fern can be multiplied in three different ways: through spores, rhizome division, and bulbils. A single frond and a multiple frond (fan) variety of leaves are found on java ferns, respectively. The single-frond variety of java fern is more delicate than its fan counterpart, but it also produces a much higher yield when it comes to java fern propagation.

To ensure that they fit properly inside your pot, you might need to trim off some of the ends. Your ferns should be submerged in water for the entire night before being put back in their regular aquarium once they have had a chance to dry out. (Read More:How to Plant a Java Fern in Aquarium)

Your original fern should start to grow several new leaves in about two weeks. Follow these instructions for each new leaf until you have another 6 to 8 inch section that can grow further on its own.

When propagating java fern from rhizome division: With a pair of tongs or gloves (you don't want to damage any leaves), simply pick up a section of the root and one or two leaves to propagate by rhizome division.

The newly formed rhizome sections should then be easily separated, allowed to sink back into your substrate, and then covered again with aquarium gravel. Although it takes more time than spore propagation, this method yields more.

Best Place to Cut Off the Roots

Whenever a leaf has roots that are attached to the main plant, cut the roots off at that location. Additionally, make sure to only ever use sharp, sterile scissors.

Alternately, you can split the existing rhizome in half and replant it somewhere else. With the right conditions, it will begin to flourish. If you do it incorrectly, you could harm the Java fern that is already there. For this reason, we do not suggest this propagation method to beginners.

Other Tips for Propagating Java Fern

With java ferns in your tank, you can enjoy a wide range of advantages. Through photosynthesis, they offer excellent filtration and great cover for fish frying. They also make wonderful decor pieces!

What is Java Fern?

Java ferns are an aquatic plant species that are very well-liked by hobbyists. These plants free up space in your aquarium for swimming while also offering fish and other aquatic organisms plenty of hiding places.

Within preset parameters (such as, in an aquarium), these plants don't require any specialized substrate or nutrients to survive—simply place them into an established tank where they will continue growing indefinitely. New shoots from mature Java ferns will eventually develop their own roots; these should be separated from the mother plant before being transplanted to a new aquarium setup.


It's typically a great option for more discerning aquarists who don't want to deal with algae because it requires less light than many plants. Additionally, many fish, including catfish and dwarf cichlids, adore java fern.

It expands quickly in most types of water, though those who are unfamiliar with its maintenance may initially notice some leaf browning or death due to a lack of nitrogen (an essential nutrient). The java fern, however, thrives without any maintenance at all once it has been established. (Read More: Java Fern With Brown Spots)


A simple to grow freshwater plant called a java fern helps clean your aquarium and shelters smaller fish. Although it only needs a few small supplements to stay healthy, it doesn't require much maintenance.

Rhizome and leaves are the two main components of the Java Fern, a common green aquarium plant. Rhizomes, which resemble brownish hair and are filaments that hook onto various surfaces, act as an anchor.

The leaves have a leathery feel, a variety of distinct shapes, from thick to spiky, and are very resilient. It can be found in a variety of shades, from light to dark green. Lights are typically brighter when the green is darker.

One method of propagation, which we'll look at in a moment, is that some mature leaves have a few black or brown microscopic round lumps and a few dark veiny lines running through them.

Varieties in the original plant affect the size and shape of the leaves. There are some less well-known aquarium types, but we'll focus on some of the more popular ones.


Types of Java Fern

Narrow Leaf Java Fern

This species is much smaller and has leaves that are even thinner than those of the narrow leaf plant. It could grow as tall as six inches. On the market, true needle leaf Java is a rarity.

Trident Java Fern

One of the most unusual varieties, it has feathery lobed leaves with 2 to 5 lobes running the length of the leaf on each side. Despite growing more quickly and having more forks per leaf, it is smaller than the narrow leaf.

Windelov Java Fern

Unique variety with gorgeously branching leaf tips. Normally, it grows to a height of about 8 inches.

Java Fern Care Tips

Java fern care is easy by taking into consideration the below tips:

Java Fern Aquarium Size

The climbing hygrophila, chain sword, cinnamon fern, and water sprite are examples of additional water ferns. Although they all initially have a somewhat similar appearance—they are typically leafy green plants growing in still or slowly moving waters—each is unique and has slightly different maintenance needs.

Tank Requirements

Your java fern will start to suffer and eventually die if your tank is too cold. Attaching an aquarium heater to an adjustable heat controller with a thermometer built in is an effective way to raise the water's temperature. These devices let you raise water temperatures without worrying about your aquatic animals when they are set at a temperature higher than what your fish need.

Additional java fern plant clippings are required so that new roots can sprout from them. Once you have mastered caring for one specimen, you can use this to propagate even more java fern plants.

Java Fern Light Requirements

Tank Mates

The ideal tank mates for java fern are smaller fish like bettas, guppies, and neon tetras. They shouldn't harm your plant because they aren't fin nippers or plant eaters. These fish will consume leftover food as a source of energy rather than allowing bacteria to convert it to harmful nitrates, which will lower the ammonia levels in your aquarium.

If you do decide to keep other fish species with your java fern, make sure that their long-term care requirements (such as temperature or pH) are similar to those of the java fern; otherwise, there is a chance that one type of fish may outcompete another and possibly exterminate it. Fish that require very different maintenance from java ferns include cichlids and catfish.

Nevertheless, before committing fully to a community tank with a variety of animals, you can always try mixing smaller numbers of each type of animal to observe how they get along. Making biotopes in your aquarium with dividers is another way to keep various animal species segregated.

The concept behind biotope tanks is that each zone has its own configuration, allowing any animals placed in each to remain more naturally adapted to its specific environment or environments.

You can add various wildlife species in this way without having to worry about complete chaos erupting! Additionally, the distinct visual differences between each section add depth and three-dimensional interest.

Common Problems

Other common fish ailments, such as browning, can also happen if there is too much light, but an aquatic veterinarian is best qualified to treat these. Keep an eye on the health and general wellbeing of your plants to prevent unwelcome growths or bacterial infestations on their leaves. Change 25% of the water in your tank as soon as you notice any discoloration.

In order to stop additional damage from happening, think about changing (if possible) some aspects of the lighting conditions.


How to Plant Java Fern

Take your Java fern rhizome and submerge it in water for about 20 seconds before planting. It will swell up as a result, making it simpler to insert into your substrate. While some people just drop their plants into their substrate without any preparation, I advise wiping off any extra dirt with a paper towel first.

Additionally, they prefer having their roots planted in an aquatic plant nutrient solution as opposed to loose gravel without one. If you want, you can occasionally fertilize your java fern by adding fresh fertilizer every few months.

There is no need to worry about overfeeding java ferns because they are typically not picky eaters and tend not to absorb many extra nutrients from fertilizers anyway, unless they are extremely high-quality ones, meant specifically for aquatic plants instead of typical houseplant foods used on other types of aquarium vegetation.

Additional java fern varieties come in three different varieties. While they are all similar in some ways and can all survive in most types of water, they are all also all very easy to care for. Their natural habitat, which is growing on tree trunks and branches rather than floating at or close to the surface of bodies of water, is one thing they do have in common. After describing each type, we'll offer some advice on how to take care of them.

1. Christmas Java Fern

Due to its appearance, which frequently resembles a clump of pine needles adhered to a branch, this is by far one of the most popular and widely used types. They have either short or long fur, and both types are equally simple to care for because they need many of the same things.

It's important to remember that while long-furred ones can reach lengths of up to six feet, short-furred ones can only reach lengths of up to 24 inches! Just watch out that whatever you choose doesn't end up tangling with your fish or other plants, and remember that if you give it the proper care, it will grow over time!

2. Broadleaf Java Fern

Their name comes from their leaves, which are about twice as wide as a typical one. If they're content in their environment and you're taking good care of them, these can grow to be about eight inches long and occasionally form colonies.

3. Midget Or Pygmy Java Fern

They have tiny pin-like leaves that are too small for fish to eat, making them smaller than all other varieties at about two inches when fully grown. These are more frequently used in aquariums with shrimp or fry (baby fish), as larger versions will hardly be visible in those aquariums.

You can put these plants anywhere because there is very little chance that they will grow tall enough to touch your light fixture. These three varieties are some of the most adaptable and simple-to-care-for plants on our list even though they originate from various geographical locations and climatic zones.

They usually thrive even when only occasionally fed, and they don't require daily maintenance, but they still need to be cleaned like any other plant.

Is Java Fern Good for Your Aquarium?

Java ferns are used to give fish more cover and to make places for baby fish to hide. By consuming the nitrates in the aquarium water, they also contribute to the maintenance of water quality. Even for beginners, java ferns (Microsorum pteropus), which are underappreciated, are comparatively simple to care for. In fact, based on my experience, there's no need to fertilize them or replace their gravel.


Rhizomes should be split into the desired sizes and attached to a surface using something that will bind them together in order to propagate the plant by rhizome. Following this, it begins to grow slowly.

Making plantlets is another way to propagate an organism. The Java fern uses this technique to create tiny plantlets, each of which has a few tiny leaves and a tiny root system.

Now that they have been separated from the parent plant, these plantlets can be tied to hardscaping materials like driftwood. They'll start out growing as separate plants.