Glossostigma elatinoides
Glossostigma elatinoides


Background History

Glossostigma elatinoides originates from the waterways of New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.  It is a highly desired foreground plant for any type of planted aquarium layout, but its true popularity lies in Japanese Nature Style Aquariums.  Glossostigma elatinoides was first introduced to the hobby by Japanese Aquascaper Takashi Amano in the early 1980s.  Amano showcased this plant in his Iwagumi and Nature Style Aquariums, where the flat and compact growth of the Glossostigma elatinoides enraptured aquascapers. At that time, this plant was the smallest foreground species available for planted aquariums.

For the next two decades, aquascapers sought out this plant through local fish stores, list servers, and later online forums. By the mid-2000s, Glossostigma elatinoides became widely available, and aquascaped in a number of replica Nature Aquarium layouts, and even found its way into Dutch influenced aquascapes. 

To this day, Glossostigma elatinoides remains one of the most popular foreground plants for the planted aquarium.

Growth Characteristics

Glossostigma elatinoides is a fast growing plant that can reach a high of one inch (2-3 cm) or lower when given large amounts of light and carbon dioxide.  Although it is a relatively easy plant to grow, in order for it to grow low and compact, light must penetrate to the bottom of the aquarium or else Glossostigma elatinoides will grow vertically instead of horizontally.   When provided with an abundance of direct light, carbon dioxide and soft water (not necessarily required) this plant will grow at a rapid pace.

Glossostigma elatinoides will require bi-weekly trimming and maintenance to keep the foreground looking at its best.  The rapid growth of this plant will cause branches of horizontally growing Glossostigma elatinoides to grow on top of one another.  This will eventually block out light to the lower regions causing the plant to detach from the substrate.

To propagate Glossostigma elatinoides, cut the runners or separate the individual two-leaf plantlets from the main chain and replant.  Within one to two weeks time, Glossostigma elatinoides will re-grow and fill the foreground.  

Aquascaping Application

Glossostigma elatinoides is most commonly used in foreground areas of a planted aquarium.  Some aquascapers will use Glossostigma elatinoides as the sole species in an Iwagumi style layout, or they may combine the plant with other small foreground species like Riccia fluitians, dwarf hairgrass, or Echinodorus tenellus.

Glossostigma elatinoides is best planted by cutting long runners into individual 2-3 plantlet chains.  Plant these smaller chains approximately one inch (2-3 cm) apart.  Within two weeks these plantlets will sent out runner shoots, and spread across the substrate to form the glosso carpet.  If this plant begins to grow upwards, trim the vertically growing stems and increase lighting and carbon dioxide. 

An alternative to this plant is Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC), which is slower growing and less prone to grow vertically.

Plant Profile
Scientific Name: Glossostigma elatinoides
Common Name: Glossostigma elatinoides
Difficulty: Easy
CO2 Requirements: Moderate
Lighting Requirements: High
Plant Arrangement: Foreground
Growth Rate: Fast
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Althernanthera
Origin: Australia
Plant Type: Stem
Water Hardness: Soft (GH = 4-8 dH)