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Madagascar Lace Plant Rehab

How I brought a Magagascar lace plant back to life.

By Stephen G. Noble |

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Supplement to “The Aquabotanist” by Stephen G. Noble, Aquarium Fish International magazine, October 2011, Vol. 23, No. 10.

Madagascar lace plant
The Madagascar lace plant. Photo by Stephen G. Noble.

The Madagascar lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) is what I consider to be the most elegant of aquatic plants. This monocot’s distinctive leaves consist of parallel veins separated by a skeletal-like structure. One common name for describing this plant’s leaf openings is the German word fenster, meaning “window.” It has a reputation for being difficult to grow, but with a little care, this plant can become a spectacular showpiece.

I thought it might be interesting to relay a recent personal experience I had with A. madagascariensis. While visiting a local pet shop, I spotted one rooted in a dimly lit aquarium containing about 15 very small cichlid fish that had successfully pecked many holes through the plant’s delicate leaves. I purchased some aquarium supplies, and the shop tossed in the battered plant for free. I decided to experiment with this plant and set up an unused 10-gallon aquarium with an inert black sand substrate. In the middle of the aquarium, I mounded the sand to a depth of about 2.5 inches, rooted the plant and inserted one nutritional root tablet near the fibrous roots. The aquarium has no lid, filtration or fish, and is heated to about 73 degrees Fahrenheit. A single 20-watt T8 fluorescent (2800 Kelvin) bulb and bright, indirect light from a nearby window illuminate the aquarium. Within a week, the battered brown leaves became flaccid, and I clipped them off with scissors. I thought that without leaves, the plant was “a goner,” but to my surprise, a tiny green leaf emerged from the bulb about five days following the pruning. At the two-week mark, I needed to replace evaporated water, but I decided to drain the aquarium to the 5-gallon mark and then refilled the aquarium with treated tap water. Following the water change, I added liquid fertilizer that contained nitrogen and iron. Two days later, another leaf appeared. Leaves have developed at about two-week intervals, and the plant has developed into a beautiful aquatic display.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the October 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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Reader Comments

Miter    Tulas, OK

10/20/2013 8:02:52 AM

Thanks! I was looking for information and foumd my plant wasnt dead. Why was this so hard to find? Catn you put plant stuff in an area we can find? Anyway thanks!

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