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April 2006 Plant-of-the-Month: Limnophilia sessiliflora

By: Jeff Rebiffe, Spencer Rozell, Andrew Roberts
Common Name: Asian ambulia
Latin Name: Limnophilia sessiliflora
Original article by Jeff Rebiffe (Water Hound) and Spencer Rozell, The Fishmonger the official newsletter of the VAHC, March 2006 Vol. 6, Issue 3.
Photos: Courtesy of Jeff Rebiffe (Water Hound)
Limnophilia sessiliflora at a glance
Range: South-east Asia
Height: 15-40 cm (6-16")
Width: 4-7 cm (1.5-3")
Light: Medium to very high
Placement: Foreground to background
Growth: Fast
Demands: Moderate
The April Plant-of-the-Month, Limnophilia sessiliflora, is a species that will give you a beautiful feathery leaf shape and is excellent for a livebearer or fry tank. The small fish will find plenty of hiding spaces in the fine cut foliage. Similar looking to Cabomba caroliniana, you'll find that Limnophilia sessiliflora is much easier to grow and isn't as messy as it won't shed it's leaves like the Cabomba does.
Commonly known as "Ambulia" or "Dwarf Ambulia," Limnophilia sessiliflora originates from Asia, primarily SrI Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and Japan. The plant will handle almost all water conditions, tolerating pH from 5.5 to 8.0, soft to hard water, low to very high light. In low light the plant will become somewhat leggy, but has done well for me in a 20 gallon with a single 15 watt bulb.
If allowed to grow upwards out of the water so the top couple of inches are emersed, the leaves become stiffer and much thicker, but retain a similar shape. In rare occasions, the emersed plant will flower. Under good conditions, the submerged growth tips blush a beautiful reddish colour.
In the wild, this plant can reach lengths of 12 feet or more. In an aquarium, it can grow very quickly and easily reach the top of the tank, so a mid to background placement is important. Propagation is very easy. Limnophilia sessiliflora will send runners and will spread across the bottom. As well, like most stem plants, you can simply pinch or cut off a side shoot or terminal bud and plant in the substrate. The location where you cut will generally sprout two new shoots. The plant definitely looks best when planted in large groups with each stem planted about 1" apart. Prune the plants so they terrace upwards from the midground of your tank towards the background. The growth tips (terminal buds) look beautiful when viewed from above.
Additional Notes
by Andrew Roberts (PPulcher)
This is a wonderful plant that can be used to hide equipment like heaters and filter intakes if you have good lighting. In my experience, it is an absolute nutrient hog, and you'll have to watch your macro-nutrients very carefully. The plant grows so fast, that I have removed it from my own tanks, as it readily takes over. Limnophilia sessiliflora has an interesting habit. When the plant has received enough light for the day, the whorls of leaves tend to close up and "go to sleep". You can use this to help fine tune the photoperiod in your tank.
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