Blyxa aubertii is a beautiful plant that can change the color of its leaves from bright green to red depending on the brightness of the light. Although this plant has long been well-known in the aquatics community, it hasn’t really taken off. Sincere to say, there are a number of causes behind this.
Blyxa aubertii is quite fickle and picky when it comes to water conditions. It can only be used in big aquariums and has poor transplantation and shipping capabilities. It also needs to be handled carefully because its fragile leaves can easily be damaged during aquarium maintenance.
However, if you manage to create the best conditions for its development, Blyxa aubertii will unquestionably become the center of attention in your aquarium. In this article, I will describe everything that is known about this plant, including its needs, maintenance advice, and more.
Quick Notes about Blyxa Aubertii
|Common Name||Blyxa aubertii|
|Other Names||Blyxa, Bamboo plant, Roundfruit blyxa, Ohlot en pil, or Hile de heirba|
|Scientific Name||Blyxa aubertii|
|Tank Size (minimum)||20 gallons (~80 liters)|
|Lighting||Moderate to high|
|Optimal pH||5.5 – 6.8|
|Optimal temperature||72 – 82°F (22 – 28°C)|
|Can Be Grown Emersed
|Size||up to 20 inches (50 cm)|
|Placement in Tank||Background|
|Propagation||Vegetative and by seeds|
- In Malaysia, Blyxa aubertii is eaten raw as a vegetable.
- This plant is also used as raw materials for papermaking.
Etymology of Blyxa Aubertii
The genus was established in 1806 by Francisco Noroña in Louis Marie Aubert Du Petit-Thouars’ work Genera Nova Madagascariensia 4, 1806.
The genus name ‘Blyxa’ has an uncertain etymology, it is presumed that it comes from the Greek words ‘Blyzo’, meaning “Gush forth’ or ‘Blyzein’ meaning ‘to bubble, flow out’ referring to the habitat of some members of the genus.
The species name ‘Aubertii’ is an epithet honoring the aforementioned French biologist who discovered this plant genus.
Taxonomy of Blyxa Aubertii
Blyxa is one of the dominant genus in the family Hydrocharitaceae. A total of 12 species are documented in the world respect. Blyxa is distributed in warmer regions of the Old World and is naturalized in North America and Europe.
- Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
- Clade: Tracheophytes (Vascular plants)
- Clade: Angiosperms (Flowering plants)
- Clade: Monocots (Monocotyledons)
- Order: Alismatales
- Family: Hydrocharitaceae (Frogbit family)
- Genus: Blyxa
- Species: Blyxa aubertii
Distribution of Blyxa Aubertii
Blyxa aubertii is a native of tropical and subtropical regions in Asia, North Australia, and West and Central Africa.
It can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Vietnam, China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang ), Taiwan, Korea and Japan (Ryukyu Islands) as well as Africa and Australia.
Additionally, the species was brought to North America approximately 40 years ago. Initially discovered in Louisiana, Blyxa aubertii is currently being recorded in Mississippi as well.
Note: Despite the fact that Blyxa aubertii can be found in many places of the world, this plant almost never dominates over other plant species.
Habitat of Blyxa Aubertii
Blyxa aubertii grows in the wetland/lowland. It is usually found in slow and very shallow water in encroached mangrove land, paddy fields, and canals.
Description of Blyxa Aubertii
Blyxa aubertii is an annual aquatic plant with leaves forming a rosette on a short, erect rhizome.
Distinguishing characteristics of Blyxa aubertii:
Size: Blyxa aubertii is a huge plant. It can easily grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) in height and approximately 10 inches (25 cm) in width.
Color: The natural color of this plant is light green, but when exposed to intense lighting, it takes on deep reddish/purple shades.
Rosette: The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette.
Leaves: The leaf blade is sessile, linear with an elongated tapering tip, up to 20 inches (50 cm) long and 0.2 – 0.4 inches (0.5-1 cm) wide. The leaves are soft, thin, and brittle. The central vein is distinct, with parallel lateral veins (5- 9) and a pointed tip.
Flowers: Blyxa aubertii is a flowering plant. The flowers are bisexual (self-pollination), usually with a long pedicel. They are solitary. Each flower has three sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. The petals are white or reddish.
Interesting fact: In Blyxa aubertii, flowers and fruits can be produced below the surface of the water and above the water surface. Seeds are produced by self-pollination both in emerged and submerged flowers. This pattern of sexual reproduction also is considered to be amphicarpy.
Note: Even in aquariums Blyxa aubertii regularly has the flowers once it reaches the surface. However, they rarely open.
Subspecies of Blyxa aubertii
Blyxa aubertii is a collective term for two varieties:
- Blyxa aubertii var. echinosperma
- Blyxa aubertii var. aubertii.
The difference is in seeds.
In the case of var. aubertii, the seeds are 1.25-1.8 mm in length, exhibiting a smooth or slightly ridged surface. They are sparsely covered with small prickles and do not possess a tail.
On the other hand, var. echinosperma features seeds measuring 1.5-2.0 mm in length (without a tail), characterized by ridges and prickles. The ends of these seeds may have tails up to 5 mm in length, either on one or both ends.
Currently, in the markets, you can also find other varieties, such as Blyxa aubertii “Novoguineensis” (red version) and Blyxa aubertii “Kimberley”.
It is important to note that they are not officially recognized subspecies and are only used as trade names.
Difference Between Blyxa Aubertii and Blyxa Japonica
- Unlike Blyxa aubertii, Blyxa japonica does not form a rosette but rather develops a beautiful stem that can be densely covered with leaves.
- Blyxa aubertii grows significantly larger.
- Blyxa japonica is brighter green and can turn slightly reddish, whereas Blyxa aubertii can turn red.
- The leaves of Blyxa aubertii are very thin and delicate compared to Blyxa japonica.
Tank Requirements and Water Parameters
Due to its significant size, Blyxa aubertii can only be suited in larger (high, especially) aquariums starting from 20 gallons (80 liters).
However, even in such an aquarium, over time, this plant may become so large (since it produces a huge number of leaves) that you will have no choice but to trim and divide it.
Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:
Temperature: The temperature should be maintained between 72 – 82°F (22 – 28°F). This plant does not tolerate cold water or temperature fluctuations.
pH: This plant prefers water pH in the range of 5.5 – 6.8. Basically, a slightly acidic pH is found to be more suitable. It was noticed that alkaline water negatively affects its root system. Thus, be sure to monitor the pH level regularly with an accurate pH testing kit.
Hardness: Blyxa Aubertii is quite a demanding plant when it comes to hardness as well. It often stops growing in hard water. Ideally, the hardness of your water should be <5 GH and <3 KH.
Blyxa aubertii thrives in moderate to high lighting conditions. If using lower levels this plant will not grow and most probably start to rot. This plant is not for low-tech tanks.
Moderate lighting promotes healthy growth and helps maintain the vibrant green coloration of the leaves.
However, when exposed to intense and direct lighting, the plant’s leaves will gradually develop a reddish or orange hue within a few days, without undergoing any leaf changes.
Blyxa aubertii prefers stationary water. In its natural habitat, this plant is found in stagnant or slow-flowing rivers and streams.
Contrary to popular recommendations of using fine gravel as the substrate for this plant, the reality is slightly different. In its natural habitat, Blyxa aubertii is often found in clayey soil.
Therefore, a two-layered substrate with a thin, nutrient-rich layer acting as the base and fine gravel or coarse sand acting as the top layer will be a better choice.
Note: It has been observed on multiple occasions that the roots of this plant dissolve quite rapidly in only nutrient-rich mineral soil.
This plant absorbs most nutrients from the water column. Compared it its size, the plant has a very weak root system.
CO2 and Fertilization:
CO2: It is extremely difficult to grow Blyxa aubertii without CO2. Personally, I do not think that it can be optional. Using a pressurized CO2 system is a must if you want this plant to remain healthy and develop densely.
Fertilization: Just like with CO2, regular addition of micro and macro fertilizers is necessary to keep Blyxa aubertii flourishing in a tank. Iron (0.05—0.2 mg/L) is also crucial, especially when exposed to intense lighting, as it helps the plant develop a reddish hue.
Note: If you keep shrimp in the tank with Blyxa aubertii , I would highly recommend reading my articles:
CO2 in a Planted Tank Guide
CO2 in a Shrimp Tank
How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp
Shrimp Safe Plant Fertilizers
The point is that a high level of CO2 and Copper (most fertilizers contain copper) is extremely dangerous to the shrimp.
Care and Maintenance of Blyxa Aubertii
This plant is definitely not for beginners.
Under optimal conditions, Blyxa aubertii will exhibit moderate growth. It may take a few months before it will be ready for propagation.
Do not allow the plant to reach the surface. You may get a big tangled mass.
Start trimming it when there are 4-6 (10-15 cm) inches to the surface of the water. You can safely shorten it by half. Do not worry, it will grow back rather quickly.
It is also recommended to remove the flower stalks. To be precise, you need to pull them out. The main reason behind this is that these flowers serve no purpose and significantly weaken the plant.
Note: Presumably, because the plant perceives that it has fulfilled its primary role in the propagation of its species (as an annual plant) and subsequently perishes. So, by removing the flower stalks, the plant ‘transforms’ from being annual to ‘becoming’ perennial.
As the plant grows, it often becomes loosely attached to the substrate and may require some readjustment. Some people use this situation to propagate the plant.
Planting Blyxa Aubertii
In aquascaping, Blyxa aubertii can be only used as a background plant due to its larger size. However, if you manage to achieve a reddish coloration, it can easily serve as a focal point.
It is better to plant this plant with a minimum of 8 inches (20 cm) between each one and to make sure that no other plants will shade it while it is growing.
You simply need to plant it deeply enough in the substrate to keep it from floating up; there is no special method or trick involved in the planting process itself.
If your plant has few or almost no roots, causing it to constantly float, and you are not inclined to go through the hassle of anchoring it, some aquarists suggest allowing the plant to float until it develops roots before planting it.
Note: I cannot personally provide any advice on this matter as I have not had success with this method, although perhaps someone else may have better luck.
Propagation of Blyxa Aubertii
Blyxa aubertii propagates in much the same way as Blyxa japonica:
- By seeds. Its flowers will pollinate themselves and produce viable seeds placed in water.
- Vegetative (Cuttings). In aquariums, this is the main method of propagation. Blyxa aubertii will propagate like a rosette from the base. New stems will begin to branch off of the base of the main plant, it will sort of spread out slowly on its own and the plant will become even bushier.
We need to take out the plant and split it off with scissors. If the new plant does not have roots, you can leave it floating until they develop.
Important: Do not forget to inspect it carefully for decaying particles or just bad leaves
Problems Associated with Growing Blyxa Aubertii
Yellow leaves: Unfortunately, Blyxa aubertii is a finicky plant. There are many reasons why this plant can turn yellow or even melt all of a sudden.
- Low lighting.
- Not enough CO2.
- Not enough (nitrogen and Fe) or too much fertilization. This plant is very sensitive to Excel dosing – does not like it.
- Stable water parameters. Sudden changes can cause it to melt.
Root rot: The roots of the plant degrade and rot in alkaline water (>pH 7.0).
Solution: Maintain your water parameters stable.
Slow growth: Besides lighting, CO2, and fertilization, Blyxa aubertii prefers soft to medium water. I have also noticed that it starts to float up, and the roots are not growing well when the water hardness (GH) is at >5.
Solution: Check your water hardness. Keep it soft.
Fragile: Blyxa aubertii has fragile leaves. It is very easy to break them during maintenance.
Solution: Just be extra careful when handling this plant.
Palatable: Some snails and fish species may find the thin leaves of this plant to be delicious.
Solution: Do your research beforehand.
Relocation: The plant may melt after relocation or propagation by splitting even within the same tank. Too unpredictable.
Solution: Do not have any. It seems like pure luck.
Annual: In nature, Blyxa aubertii is considered annual.
Solution: In this case, we are working against nature. Thus, it requires regular propagation, otherwise, it degenerates and disappears.
‘Flowering shock’: In many cases, plant died right after flowering. As I have mentioned before, this is probably because its life cycle is considered complete.
Some aquarists also reported that their Blyxa aubertii blossom when got shocked (by applying too much ‘Flourish Excel’).
Solution: Do not let it flower. Do not use Excel with this species.
Drops leaves: Another interesting thing that can happen to the plant is that it can shed some leaves without any apparent reason.
Solution: Actually, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific cause for this behavior, but it has been noted in this species. Perhaps it is something that we simply have to accept and come to terms with.
- How to Spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Aquatic Plants
- Everything about Nitrates in Planted Tanks
- Phosphates in Freshwater Tanks
Benefits of Blyxa Aubertii
Aquascape: Blyxa aubertii can be an excellent decorative addition to your tank.
Oxygenation (pearls): Helps to generate oxygen in the tank water. Blyxa aubertii has a distinct feature which is the production of small pearls or bubbles of oxygen that stays on top of the plant, this adds a very lively aspect to the plant.
Hiding place for fish, fry, and shrimp: Blyxa aubertii serves as great cover and shade for inverts, small frogs, and fish.
Foraging place: Acts as a buffet of biofilm, which is an ideal first food for newly hatched fry and shrimplets.
Blyxa Aubertii and Compatible Tankmates
Blyxa aubertii can be a little bit fussy when it comes to ideal tankmates because of its delicate, fragile, and palatable character.
The plant is best kept with small, peaceful community fish that will not damage the plant. For example, Neon tetras, Clown Killifish, White Mountain Minnows, Zebra Danio, Cherry Barb, Sunburst Platy, Mollies, Otocinclus, Pygmy Cory, etc.
Considering the fact that Blyxa aubertii prefers slightly acidic water. Thus, you should consider species that prefer the same water parameters, for example, Crystal red shrimp, Blue bolt shrimp, Caridina cf. babaulti, etc.
Once again, ornamental snails should not be kept in a tank with low PH for a long time. It will negatively affect their shell. However, if your pH is close to 7.0, it is possible to keep almost any snail or dwarf shrimp you like. Examples, Japanese trapdoor snails, Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Black Devil Snails, Asolene spixi, Rabbit Snails, etc.).
Avoid or Be Careful
Avoid fish species that may disturb the substrate near the plant or find Blyxa aubertii too palatable, e.g. Silver dollars, Bueno Aires tetras, Koi fish, Goldfish, Oscars, Rainbow, Jack Dempsey, Clown loaches, African Cichlids. These species can really cause problems in the planted tanks.
Blyxa aubertii and most types of crayfish or freshwater crabs are not a good combination as well. These animals will cut, eat, and uproot everything in the tank. So, keep it in mind and do your research beforehand.
Blyxa aubertii is a beautiful, but rather challenging plant to maintain, primarily due to its high requirements and its large size. This plant prefers soft, acidic water and is quite demanding in terms of the availability of CO2 and nutrients.
So, if you are an experienced aquarist and are curious to try this plant, it can be an interesting choice for aquascaping. However, in all other cases, especially for beginners, I would not recommend this plant.
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- Zhao, Fei. “Comparison between non-wood fiber paper and Finnish traditional wood-fiber paper by mechanical properties.” (2017).