I was gazing at one of our scapes today, and couldn’t help admiring the lush green carpet that has spread so beautifully over the surface of the substrate. The textures and shapes Micranthemum Monte Carlo can hold when sculpted to your imagination can create just about any scene you can dream of. Continue reading to see how we easily grow, care for, and propagate this beautiful species of carpeting plant.
Choosing Micranthemum Monte Carlo
When contemplating the layout for our 8 gallon, we kicked around a few ideas on the look we wanted in a ground covering plant. As you can see in this photo, we were going for a “tree in a meadow” look. We considered using Java Moss, dwarf hair grass, dwarf baby tears or dwarf water clover (Marsilea Minuta). We also decided to use only tissue culture plants in this layout to avoid introducing nasty algaes or unwanted critters. After vast amounts of online research and scanning Amazon for varieties available as tissue culture plants, we decided to plant Micranthemum Monte Carlo.
Don’t get me wrong, the decision to use this plant was not solely based on what was available on Amazon. We would be willing make the five hour drive to L.A. for the perfect aquarium plant. The decision was also based on hours of aquascaping videos on YouTube. We saw several instances of folks using Micranthemum Monte Carlo as ground cover. Seeing how it could grow in scapes and it’s potential to be sculpted to perfection was intriguing. The idea of creating a lawn that we could shape was very interesting.
Because our first aquascape was such an utter failure, I had doubts that we could grow this plant. My wife was quite sure it would grow just fine. Because of my determination to learn, I researched lighting, CO2, and nutrients to gain the confidence that I needed to plant and propagate this species. Now I am pleased that we decided to plant this beautiful specimen. It has been a great addition to a really cool layout!
In planning to use this carpeting plant, I didn’t realize how fast it would grow. In the videos we watched we were told several times that it was a fast grower and that we would see a field of green in no time. Me, being my impatient self, wanted an instant lawn. My wife reminded me several times that we would not need a lot of plants to create the effect we wanted. But you know how that goes… Who reads or listens to instructions anyways? I purchased two tissue culture cups. There are LOTS of tiny little plants in those cups.
Well, she was right…
One cup would have been plenty. We ended up using one and a partial cup on a substrate bed that is approximately 10 x 20 inches. We planted the plugs just like in the videos we were addicted to, and I kept my fingers crossed in hope that we’d be sculpting our lush green lawn to the shapes that we imagined. The recommended method for planting most ground cover plants is to place them a few centimeters apart in groups of five with four plants, or plugs in a square shape and one in the middle. Also, Monte Carlo and other small plants are much easier to plant in a fine sand-like substrate. You might have some difficulty planting this type of plant in a course, chunky substrate. The finer particles are able to settle around the tiny roots and stems of this plant and hold them down.
Monte Carlo grows very quickly. It spread and filled all the gaps around the plugs in no time at all. As you can see in the photos, the Monte Carlo in the front right corner filled in its area while the other plants in the tank were barely starting to grow. It can become quite dense. We occasionally have to cut it back away from the front edge of the aquarium.
One of the the cool things about this plant is the way it travels over your aquarium. It spreads by sending out runners that creep along the substrate like a vine. You can practically see its movement on a daily basis. It climbs over rocks, covering all the neat little sticks and pebbles that you lay here and there for that littered forest floor look, and before you know it, completely takes over an area.
Monte Carlo is one of the easiest ground cover plants to grow. It grows well in medium to high lighting. We are using a Current Satellite Plus Pro set on full spectrum at 70%. Our light is mounted about 18 inches from the substrate. The photo period for this setup is 8 hours.
If you are currently shopping for a light, I recently read a post written by Anne Thynne that features a list of light comparisons that you can read here. It’s not a scientific article that teaches you granular details about PUR, PAS, and PAR, but is a handy guide to overall comparisons to some of the best lights on the market. For an in depth article that will teach you more than you need to know, visit this article written on the Aquarium Answers blog. I warn you though, it’s very in depth and a little overwhelming to the novice hobbyist.
It doesn’t require a lot of fertilizers. We planted our Monte Carlo plants in Flourite Black Sand with ADA Power Sand Special S under the Flourite. Our fert dosing consists of 1 ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive at each water change. We are injecting CO2 at 30 ppm.
I have also discovered that you don’t always have to sculpt it completely smooth like the lawn in front of your house. You know, the one that requires daily maintenance to keep that smooth, green, golf course-like appearance? In one area of our 8-gallon aquarium we let the Monte Carlo get a little wild and crazy (not unlike my front yard). But for me that replicates a piece of nature left untamed and natural. I think it looks beautiful creeping around the base of the tree and through the front of the crypts. It reminds me of when I was a kid, playing in the fields and meadows around our house.
This photo shows the scape after about a month without trimming. It’s obviously time for some sculpting. It has been about a year and half since we set this up, and the Micranthemum Monte Carlo has spread throughout the tank.
This plant’s versatility is vast when it comes to ideas and themes. If you are searching for a fast growing carpeting plant that is easy to grow and fun to plant and watch transform your aquascape, the Micranthemum Monte Carlo aquarium plant just may be the right choice.