Monte Carlo is an aquatic plant that is relatively new to the fish keeping hobby. The Monte Carlo is also known as the “New Large Pearl Grass”, it is a light green plant with small-rounded leaves and creeping stems.
Monte Carlo is one of the best carpeting plants for aquariums, it stretches sideways and it is best suited for foreground placement in the tank. Care difficulty level and light requirement for this plant is medium, it is a delicate plant that can adapt to various kinds of habitat for growth and survival.
This article will enlighten you on this new aquarium plant; how to cultivate and care for it.
|Monte Carlo – check out the price on Amazon|
Quick Notes about Monte Carlo
|Common Name||Monte Carlo|
|Other Names||New Large Pearl Grass, Bacopita|
|Difficulty||Easy to medium|
|Lighting||Medium to high|
|Optimal pH||5.5 – 7.5|
|Optimal GH||2 – 15|
|Optimal Temperature||20 – 25C (68 – 77F)|
|Placement in Tank
||Mostly foreground / midground
|Height||3 – 6 cm (1 to 2.25 inches)|
|CO2||Not needed – Low|
|Propagation||Splitting, cutting off daughter plants|
Origin of Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo plant is named after a city known as Monte Carlo in Argentina. Years ago, some Japanese found and collected some specimens of the plant on a riverside in Monte Carlo, Misiones Province in North-eastern Argentina.
The plant is called “Bacopita” in South America, “Monte Carlo” and “New Large Pearl Grass” by most hobbyists.
The scientific name of Monte Carlo is Micranthemum tweedei, let’s have a rundown of the classification:
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Clade: Tracheophytes
- Clade: Angiosperms
- Order: Lamiales
- Family: Linderniaceae
- Genus: Micranthemum
- Species: Micranthemum tweedei
Other related species include:
- Micranthemum micranthemoides
- Micranthemum glomeratum
- Micranthemum precororum
- Micranthemum umbrosum
Habitat of Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is one of the favorite plants for carpeting. This plant can be found habiting in riversides, marshes, and banks of streams & rivers in South America.
It is well adapted for life in nano, medium, or large tanks.
Description of Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is a beautiful plant and has the following characteristics:
- Vibrant light green overall color
- Small structure
- Round leaves of 5mm-10mm
- Height of 2-5 cm.
- Long filiform creeping stems
- Small axillary and solitary flowers with very short stalks
- Long & tiny roots
- Stems/ runners that form dense mats or carpets
Water Parameters / Tank Requirements
Monte Carlo will do well if the right water parameters are maintained in the tank. As a passionate hobbyist, you must ensure that lighting, water pH and temperature, fertilization etc. exists in the proper measures in order to promote optimal growth and development.
Monte Carlo is a carpet plant and is known to cover a huge portion of space in the tank easily. Although, Monte Carlo is a good choice for Nano tanks, the minimum tank size to house this species is 5 gallons (20 liters). In this case, more is better, 10 – 20 gallons (40 – 80 liters) will accommodate the plant and other inhabitants properly.
You can read more about “Top 7 Nano Aquarium Plants” here.
Temperature, pH, and Hardness:
Using a good thermometer, ensure that the temperature of 20 – 25C (68 – 77F) is maintained. Maintain a pH of 6.0 – 7.5 in the tank.
Monte Carlo will do just fine with the outlined pH level. You have to measure it regularly to ensure stability which guarantees the safety of the plant.
The plant will appreciate water hardness up to 15 GH. They can tolerate a wide range of hardness levels by the way.
Lighting is an important requirement for the proper growth and survival of this plant. Monte Carlo requires moderate – high lighting, it can thrive under low lighting as well but that is not suitable for this species. For example, you can make use of pretty cheap Finnex Ray models (link to check the price on Amazon) for this purpose.
Read more about it in my article “Advanced Guide to Planted Tank Lighting”.
Monte Carlo thrives better when planted in a fine or small-grained substrate.
Therefore, in order to grow Monte Carlo successfully, you will need a good soil substrate. Caribsea Eco-Complete Aquasoil, Seachem Flourite Black Sand, and Fluvial Stratum are excellent choices and they are rich in essential nutrients.
Read more about it in my article “Top 5 Substrates For Planted Aquariums”.
External fertilization and CO2 dosing in this plant species is not mandatory. However, it will aid the Monte Carlo to grow faster and thicker (more compact).
So, it is advisable that you inject CO2 periodically into the tank water and use liquid fertilizer like Seachem Flourish or any other good fertilizer for planted aquarium.
Important: If you keep shrimp in the tank, 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
Planting Monte Carlo
Planting the Monte Carlo is quite easy. All you have to do is to obtain some potted plants from a trusted pet store or online vendor.
For this purpose, 1-2 pots will be enough for a 5-10 gallons tank.
There are 2 options to consider when obtaining the plant: Monte Carlo grown in the nursery and Monte Carlo Tissue Culture. I prefer tissue culture because it is free from algae and pests you wouldn’t want to introduce into your tank.
Follow these steps to cultivate Monte Carlo (tissue culture) in the tank:
- Remove the plant from the plastic container.
- Rinse the plant in a bowl filled with clean water to get rid of the nutrient gel.
- Split the plant into 8-10 small pieces.
- Using tweezers, collect the split plants one at a time and dip it into the substrate.
- Make sure to insert it deep enough into the substrate to prevent the plantlets from coming out.
For the nursery type:
- Remove the pot.
- Detach the rock wool from the plant.
- Rinse the plant thoroughly to get rid of little rock wool particles that may cling to the roots.
Carry on with steps 3-5 as mentioned earlier on.
Tip: If you notice that the plant is coming out from the substrate after cultivation, what you have to do is to keep on wedging them back into the substrate as deep as possible. After a while, they will stay put in the substrate and start forming roots for anchorage.
Another way to plant and grow Monte Carlo is to use the Dry Start Method (read more about it).
Tips on How to Grow a Perfect Carpet
Lighting: When the Monte Carlo plant is not receiving enough light, it tends to grow taller towards the light source. Hence, they might not grow as thick and bushy as desired. To combat this, you have to make it a priority to provide enough light to the tank, increasing the lighting will make the plant greener and more dense.
Substrate: Having a good nutrient-rich substrate helps a lot in ensuring that the Monte Carlo forms a good carpet structure. Some recommended soil substrate (links to check the price on Amazon) for the Monte Carlo species are ADA Amazonia aqua soil, Carib Sea Eco-Complete, Seachem Fluorite.
Trimming: Trimming is essential in maintaining carpeting plants. This entails cutting off shoots of the plant when it is overgrowing in the tank and replanting or disposing them outrightly as the case may be. Trimming helps the Monte Carlo plant to develop new side shoots or runners and makes the carpet more compact.
Time: Give the plants time to grow and form a compact carpet. In summary, be patient!
Read more in my article “10 Tips For Rooted Aquarium Plants”.
Maintenance of Monte Carlo
The Monte Carlo plant takes about 4-8 weeks to fully form compact mats or carpets when planted in the substrate.
This plant grows fast when provided with high lighting in addition to adequate Co2 supply, and will require trimming regularly (every 2 weeks or adjusted according to the growth patterns).
The first trim is usually very tedious and time-consuming, you will have to deal with dense carpets growing all over the tank.
For this exercise, trimming scissors is needed to easily trim the plants from the top part down to a few centimeters above the ground.
Trimming of aquatic plants is best performed with specialized scissors for pruning, these scissors are characterized by their sharp curved edges and long handles. The sharp edges cut without squashing the cells near the cut surface thus lessening damage to the plants during trimming and the long handles enable the hobbyist to reach into the intricate part of the layout.
After trimming the top surface of the plant, detached parts will float to the top of the tank.
Then, the next step is to sieve out detached parts for proper disposal. It is necessary that you do this to avoid dirt and excess ammonia in the tank.
Trimming is very important for carpeting plants because as they grow higher and thicker, it will be difficult for light to reach the base of the plant. When light is lacking at the base, it makes the plants to rot, change to brown color, and die off in some cases.
Note: If you notice any dead or unhealthy plants in the tank, remove it from the substrate immediately. Do this gently to avoid damaging the others.
Difficulties and Problems associated with Monte Carlo
Melting: High nitrites level causes the Monte Carlo to melt during the early stages after planting. When this happens, you should change the tank water in order to tackle it.
Brown coloration: This occurs when light doesn’t get to the base of the plant due to its thickness. The stems start changing to brown color and dies off after some time. To combat this, you have to trim the plants from time to time so that light can penetrate from top to the base uniformly.
Yellow coloration and slow growth: Monte Carlo plant can start losing the coloration when the thickness of the carpet is more than 4 – 5 cm (1.5 – 2 inches). The stems of the plant can turn yellow due to the lack of nutrition and light.
However, once you cut off the top layer and leave 2 – 3 cm high (~1 inch), it will become green and start growing again. Therefore, it is better to maintain the height at a level of 3 – 4 cm (1 – 1.5 inches).
Attachment: The plant may show signs of difficulty in attaching firmly to the substrate, and may pop out from the soil at intervals. All you have to do is to wedge them back in the substrate whenever it occurs, deep enough that they will stay put and form roots.
Ensure that the top part of the plant stays above the soil while the rest of its body is inserted deep into the soil. In addition, do not forget to trim it from time to time. Do not allow the plant to grow uncontrollably and get too thick.
You can also read “How to Spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Aquatic Plants”.
Monte Carlo And Tankmates
Monte Carlo can be cultivated together with Rotala Indica, Water Wisteria, Italian Val, and AR Mini. These are stem plants and are easy to grow.
Monte Carlo will do well when paired with shrimp and fish that are not aggressive. Examples are Clown loach, Mollies, Neon tetras, Cardinal tetras, Rasbora hets.
Buying Monte Carlo
This plant may be new to the hobby yet it has gained fame in recent times. Monte Carlo is readily available in aquarium stores for as low as $10 – $15 for a pot.
If you prefer the tissue culture type like us, you can obtain one for your aquarium tank and follow the steps outlined above to plant and care for it.
Make sure you go for the healthy ones with the absence of spots and rips in the leaves. That should be made a priority if you are really keen on its healthy growth and longevity.
Quarantine Monte Carlo
Do not forget to quarantine any new plants before putting them into your tank!
- They can have parasites, pests like snails, or even predators (dragonfly, damsefly nymphs, etc.).
- They can be treated with chemicals (pesticide) to remove parasites, snails, etc. However, these chemicals are extremely poisonous to fish, shrimp, and other invertebrates.
To find out more, read my articles:
How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank.
How to Quarantine and Disinfect Aquarium Plants.
Pesticides in Shrimp Tanks. Plants Quarantine.
Most hobbyists shy away from planting carpeting plants because they feel it would be difficult to cultivate and maintain. Not to worry, the Monte Carlo is a prolific carpeting plant that you will love to have in your aquarium.
This plant has many good attributes which makes it one of the favorites. Monte Carlo plant is easy to care for, it has a delicate and attractive appearance, provides cover for fry and shrimp, and can adapt to various tank conditions, unlike some plants.
- Top 8 Carpeting Plants for Planted Tanks
- Top 7 Floating Plants for Beginners
- 10 Tips For Rooted Aquarium Plants
|Monte Carlo – check out the price on Amazon|