Riccia fluitans is a versatile liverwort used in planted aquariums since the 1970s. Popularized by the Japanese Aquascaper, Takashi Amano, Riccia fluitans has become a fan favorite of Nature Style Aquarium Aquascapers. The plant is composed of several tiny plants that can be nestled together to form a beautiful foreground carpet, or even a midground transitional plant.
Riccia fluitans can be found worldwide and is widely available in specialized aquatic plant stores, and through hobbyist’s forums. It occurs naturally in the wild as a floating plant in slow-flowing streams and ponds. Fish fry often take refuge within the network of interconnected moss-like strands.
Although Riccia fluitans is a naturally floating plant, following Amano’s lead, aquascapers from all over the world have netted and submerged the Riccia fluitans branches to grown them out into beautiful lush foregrounds and rock mounds. This liverwort is considered easy to grow, as long as there is ample light and carbon dioxide.
Riccia fluitans is a high maintenance plant due to its rapid growth and no root structure. When left floating close to the light source it can easily double in size within five days time. When submerged, the growth rate is slightly slower, but still requires weekly trimming to shape it into a nice manageable mound, or foreground. If left to overgrow, pieces of Riccia fluitans do have a tendency to break away from the main mass, and wind up in other plants or around a filter’s intake.
Aquascapers submerge Riccia fluitans 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 looks stunning as the sole 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.
For those who may grow tired of maintaining Riccia masses, there is a dwarf variety of Riccia Fluitans which contains smaller branches, and has a slower growth rate. The aquascaping possibilities with Riccia fluitans are limitless.