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 (Eleocharis parvula or Eleocharis acicularis), Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides), 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 Micranthemum Monte Carlo tissue culture cups sold by Greenpro on Amazon. 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 photoperiod for this setup is 8 hours. For an in depth article that will teach you more than you need to know about aquarium lighting, 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.
I Have Buy Monto Carlo Plants Seeds I Am Growing It Like Putting Seeds In My Normal River Sand With Air Tight Tank From One Week But I Am Not Getting Any Result So Please Help Me For Growing
Thanks for the great question. River sand by itself is not a good choice for a substrate. River sand is inert and lacks any nutrients. Spread the seeds in a nutrient rich substrate and spray the seeds with water at least one time per day. The goal is to not let the seeds dry out. Seeds also germinate at an optimal rate with temperatures consistently held between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 26 degrees Celsius). Add a heating coil or warm light to the aquarium if needed. You may also want to add a piece of plastic to the top of your aquarium to keep moisture in. Be careful with this though, you do not want to cause mold to grow.
You will also need to add light to the aquarium for at least 8 hours a day for the first 10 days. After 4 or 5 days you should see your seeds start to sprout.
After your first time doing this, you will see how easy it is to grow plants from seeds.
All the best!
About the lightning, how many Watt was it
Hi Lam, thanks for the comment. The light we have is 18 inches and is 25 max watts. The spectrum is 6500K and we run it at 70% full spectrum for 8 hours. You can view the spec sheet for this light here.
Are ferts really necessary for monte carlo? Did you set up a CO2 on your tank?
That’s a good question Patrick.
In our experience, we have only used Seachem Flourish Comprehensive for ferts at Seachem’s recommended dose, except for a very short time that I experimented with EI dosing. We have planted Monte Carlo in several of our setups, and the growth rates and plant size really do depend on the light spectrum, CO2 available, and fertilizers. When we started our 3,8, and 12 gallon hi-tech setups, we used ADA Power Sand under Flourite Sand and the plants took off from the beginning. I also noticed that as our tanks age, the substrate becomes rich with fish waste which the plants really seem to benefit from.
When we have planted this species in low-tech setups, the plants really struggle. They tend to stay thin and not as dense with smaller leaves. These setups are stocked with the same amount of livestock that we have in our hi-tech setups, so the bioload from the animals is relatively the same. I really can’t answer your question from experience, we have never had a setup with Monte Carlo planted in it that didn’t have some sort of fertilizer dosed.
We are injecting CO2 into 3 of our tanks at approximately 30 ppm and our Monte Carlo plants seem to become like an invasive species, sending runners throughout the entire substrate needing to be trimmed weekly. If we could find a way to sell some of the chunks that we remove, we could probably make a little money!
I received a little amount of MC mixed with Crystalwort from a shrimp breeder.
And in my 20 gallon shrimp tank I have a semi-Matten filter with a tiny power filter buried in the foam. A portion of the MC got it’s roots into the foam and now it’s growing faster than the gravel planted MC. It in effect has overgrown nearly the entire lit sides of the foam and has to be trimmed weekly It’s also a bit of a mess, but the shrimp love digging through the wall of MC. The portion at the top that is in the outflow has grown a large 5″ diameter tuft that’s spreading out into the tank. I don’t inject CO2, and I make up my own GH+ shrimp ‘salt’ plus traces for the water changes. I’m also experimenting with it in my semi tropical outdoor stock pond and it’s doing quite well under shade cloth. I know what you mean by selling this plant, I have more than I can reasonably replant in other tanks. All this from a less than hardball sized clump of mixed MC and Crystalwort purchased about 2 months ago.
Hey Lewis, thanks for the comment.
Isn’t it amazing how fast this stuff grows? You seriously have to be overthinking it if you have problems propagating this plant. Even without injecting CO2, it is a pretty versatile plant. We have a semi Iwagami layout in our 3 gallon tank and my wife laid a small plug of Monte Carlo on top of one of the rocks that sticks up out of the water, and the plant actually grew quite well immersed by wicking the water that it could reach. It looked really cool with a little Duckweed growing in it.
I wonder if the Monte Carlo that is growing in your filter foam is getting an excess of nitrogen or some other fert that is causing it to take off like it has. I’m sure the shrimp really dig it!
Thanks for the tip on the pond idea. My wife wants me to dig her a pond in the backyard, and I never considered experimenting with growing aquarium plants in it. I’d like to see what I could get to survive in one.
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