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Hemianthus Callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ – an article about the most popular aquatic plant!

http://www.thegreenmachineonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/048B1.jpgHemianthus Callitrichoides is commonly known as Cuba, named after it’s country of origin. It is a popular plant in the aquascaping world because of its ability to achieve the lush green carpet effect that it has become known for.

Cuba is one of the smallest aquarium plants in the world, with leaves that are only around a millimetre in size. It grows up to three centimetres tall and spreads up to 10 centimetres horizontally. The small sized leaves make it a perfect plant for nano aquariums or for any layout in which a great sense of scale is desired: the small leaves create a vast sense of space within the aquarium, particularly if small fish and shrimp are used.

Tributary Aquascape Photo

Cuba is often considered difficult to grow, but with the right combination of light, CO2 and good quality fertilisers, Cuba is a manageable plant that will allow you to achieve fantastic results.  Cuba requires quite high levels of all of these components to thrive.

Because of the way it grows, Cuba is a perfect carpeting plant – which is another reason for its popularity: it allows for the successful achievement of one of the Holy Grails of aquascaping: a beautiful, thick, lush green carpet of plants spreading across the foreground and pearling rapidly as it photosynthesises. It is also very useful when creating a traditional Iwagumi layout: that is a layout that uses stones as the only hardscape and the focal point of the layout – for more information on Iwagumi’s read out article ‘The origins of Iwagumi’.

As a result, Cuba is most commonly used as a carpeting plant. In Nature’s Chaos, however, James Findley used Cuba to achieve a very different effect: he pushed the plant firmly into the driftwood so that it was securely positioned. As you can see, the Cuba grew beautifully and created a stunning ‘hanging gardens of Babylon’ appearance within the layout. (see below).

During planting…

Nature's Chaos Aquascape by James Findley

Once grown in… (the light clump at the top middle of the large piece of wood)

Nature's Chaos Aquascape by James Findley

When planting Cuba as a carpeting plant it is important to separate the plant into small portions that are approximately 1cm large as this will allow the plant to develop better. Fill the aquarium with an inch or two of water and then gently push the portions into the substrate with a slight shaking motion with some good quality aquascaping pinsettes. When planting them, put them in repeating patterns, like the number five on a dice. This will ensure that the plant will grow quickly and evenly across the area you want it to be in. You can observe this in the following image (during planting)…

Five Stones Aquascape - Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba'

Once grown in…

Five Stones Aquascape by James Findley

Aqua Soil Powder is the perfect substrate for Cuba because it has a smaller grain size which makes it easier to plant the portions into and also allows the roots to grow more quickly and easily within the substrate. Aqua Soil powder is also useful where a sense of scale is desired, as the smaller granules add to the effect, and can create a more aesthetically pleasing look, particularly if it is used in the foreground.

When maintaining Cuba, it is advisable to trim with scissors when it starts to look a little bit too long (wave scissors are perfect for Cuba and Glossostigma). Keep it trimmed to encourage dense growth as this will maintain a healthy, rich, bright carpet as can be seen in the foreground of Five Stones aquascape below…

Five Stones Aquascape by James Findley

Buy Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ »

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For more information, read our articles and watch our videos;
Working with Carpeting Plants and Grasses
The Making of Nature’s Chaos

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