Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ grows slower and denser than its more robust counterpart Riccia fluitans. The origins of Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ is unknown, but first made its appearance in Takashi Amano’s Nature Aquariums in early 2000s. When Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ was first introduced to the hobby some aquatic plant specialists argued the dwarf version was simply Riccia fluitans grown in lower lighting, limited carbon dioxide and nutrients. However, hobbyists noticed that the dwarf version would grow in the same compact and slow grow rate in both high light and low light aquariums. From then on, it was clear that Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ was a plant species of its own.
Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ unlike Riccia fluitans grows more compactly, slower, and is coarser to the touch. Due the plant’s dense growth, Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ will occasionally sink on its own, but in most instances this naturally floating plant will need to be anchored to rocks or driftwood using thread, netting, or fishing line.
Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ grows best when there is ample carbon dioxide and light available. Therefore floating this plant near the surface will yield the fastest growth rate. When submerging this plant be sure to provide it with direct light and dissolved carbon dioxide.
Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ is not as high maintenance as Riccia fluitans, however it will require monthly trimmings to shape each mound or carpet, and to keep the lower regions of the plant accessible to light.
Aquascapers submerge Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ by securing it around rocks using thin hairnets or sewing thread. Wedged tightly between the rock and the hairnet/thread, the fine Riccia branches will grow in between the cracks, and form an interlaced bushy Riccia mound. Remember, Riccia has a tendency to grow to the shape of the item it is attached to. For a flat foreground appearance, attached Riccia to a thin slate rock or heavy wire mesh. For a more hilly effect, use various sized round rocks.
Trimming or thinning out Riccia is essential so that the lower portions of the plant will still see light and remain secured underneath the mesh. For trimming maintenance, it is best to turn off the filter first, and then trim with scissors. Net all floating bits before turning the filter back on.
Riccia sp. ‘Dwarf’ looks stunning as the sole carpeting plant in a planted aquarium, or it can be easily paired with other foreground species such as Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC), or Eleocharis parvula (dwarf hairgrass) to complete an Iwagumi style layout, or as an accent plant in nano aquariums.
Photo Credit: George Farmer, Sebas