Java Fern Care Guide, How To Grow, Propagation, Problems

Microsorum pteropus or better known as java fern is one of the plants most often used in aquascapes. Java fern is one of the most frequently used plants due to its ease of maintenance, so it is often the choice of beginners.

In this article, I will share information about how to plant, how to care for, and how to reproduce java fern.

Java Fern Size Aquarium

Family Polypodiaceae
Maintenance Easy
Growth Rate Slow
Lighting Low – Medium
Placement Middle/Back
Maximum Height 35 CM

Where does java fern come from?

Java fern is a plant native to Southeast Asia. Java fern belongs to the Polypodiaceae family and the genus Microsorum. The genus has more than 50 species.

The species that is probably the most popular among the genus Microsorum is Microsorum pteropus , also known as java fern. Java ferns usually grow on rocks or around trees in waterways such as rivers or waterfalls.

In the wild, java fern can grow fully in water or only partially. In essence, java fern live in places exposed to water or damp.

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The type of java fern that is in great demand

Java fern currently has quite a lot of types in addition to the most common types. The most common type has the characteristics of leaves that are quite wide at the bottom and taper or taper at the top.

This type can also have a maximum height of up to about 35 cm, so it can be used by various sizes of aquariums.

Java fern windelov

Maybe of the many types of java fern, windelov is one that is quite strange. Java fern usually only has one leaf that is towering. However, Java fern windelov has small branches at each end of the leaf. On one leaf there is more than one branch, so this branch looks like a finger there are many.

Java fern windelov also does not grow tall like ordinary java fern, usually java fern windelov has a smaller size than ordinary java fern. The maximum height is only about 20 cm.

Java fern narrow leaf

This type of java fern is not too much different from the usual type of java fern. The only difference lies in the size of the leaves. Java fern narrow leaf has a leaf size that is smaller than the usual java fern.

I mean the smaller is the width of the leaves, the common java fern generally has a leaf width of about 15-20 cm. Java fern narrow leaf has a leaf width of about 10 – 20 cm.

 needle leaf

Java fern needle leaf has a smaller leaf width when compared to narrow leaf. Therefore the name needle when translated into Indonesian means needle.

Because the leaves of this type of java fern do look like a collection of long needles. This type of Java fern can grow to a height of about 15 cm.

Java fern trident

This type of java fern is in accordance with the name trident. Trident can be interpreted as a spear that has 3 branches. Similar to the meaning of the word trident, java fern trident has 3 branched leaves like spears.

How to grow java fern

Maybe for beginners there is one mistake that is always made when planting java fern. Maybe the reason is that when we hear the word plant, we automatically think we have to plant it in the ground.

However, this does not apply to java fern plants. Java fern is an epiphytic plant ( epiphytes ) which means that this plant does not need soil to live or take nutrients.

This type of plant is usually best suited if attached to stone or wood. Java fern has 3 parts, namely leaves, rhizomes, and roots. The rhizome part should not be planted underground or rot will occur, while the root part can be underground.

Java ferns generally take nutrients directly from the water using their roots, because they usually grow by sticking to plants or other objects. So, if you want to plant java fern, you should stick it on stone or wood in the aquascape.

The way to attach it can be with the help of a fishing line by tying the rhizome part on stone or wood. In addition to the rope, you can also use super glue which is safe for the aquarium.

This type of glue is usually G glue, or glue that contains a cyanoacrylate adhesive . So just drop a few drops on the stone or wood and then paste the rhizomes on the glue. Or if you really don’t want to bother, you can put the java fern or tuck it in between stones or wood, the point is so that the java fern doesn’t come off when changing water or moving other things.

How to care for java fern

Actually java fern does not require special care in order to live and grow, the important thing is that there is sufficient lighting. Because java fern can grow quite tall, maybe for a too small aquarium java fern can grow through the aquarium.

So maybe you should use an aquarium that is not too small so that the java fern leaves do not grow past the aquarium. For business lighting, you should use lights that are not too bright.

If the lights used are too bright, it may even damage the java fern leaves themselves instead of growing faster. Java fern in its natural habitat does not get much light because it grows among other plants.

So, if the java fern suddenly gets a lot of light, the leaves will turn brown and eventually become transparent. At least the power of the lamp is between 1.5 – 2 watts for each gallon (3.7 liters) of water.

In addition to lights, other plants usually require nutrients and CO2. Of course, this can also be said to apply to java fern, because basically if there are additional nutrients and CO2 any plant will be able to grow faster.

However, java fern can grow even without additional CO2 and nutrients, but its growth looks slow. It is possible to add nutrients to speed up growth, but the nutrients that must be given are in liquid form.

If you use basic fertilizer or nutrients that are in the soil, it will not be very useful for java fern because this plant takes nutrients directly from the water. The nutrients needed by java fern will be taken through the leaves.

The thing that makes java fern suitable for beginners is that there is almost no need for maintenance such as regular cutting. Indeed, this depends on individual tastes, but because the growth of java fern is relatively slow, cutting is almost rarely or never needed.

How to multiply java fern

I think this java fern has a unique way of multiplying itself. When I first had java fern, I witnessed a very strange thing happen.

Basically to reproduce java fern there are 2 ways.

  1. Just like the Anubias plant that has rhizomes, to reproduce java fern just cut the rhizomes. Make sure there are some leaves on the rhizome for photosynthesis to grow.
  2. The second way is the natural way. Java fern can reproduce itself by growing new plants through its leaves. You will see a blackened part of the java fern leaf which indicates that there will be a “mini java fern” growing on the leaf. If you really want to plant the mini java fern elsewhere, just cut it from the leaf where it grows. It’s best to wait until the seedlings are quite large and have leaves before cutting them and moving them to a new place.

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Problems that arise often


The problem that often arises is usually algae. Because java fern is a plant that has a relatively slow growth rate so it is very vulnerable to algae attack.

There are various types of algae that can attack, from hair algae to black beard algae . Algae that are shaped like strands of hair can be easily removed by pulling on the algae.

But, apart from that, the core problem must also be addressed so that algae do not reappear. Usually algae appear because there is an imbalance between nutrients, light, and CO2 if they use CO2.

So it’s best to do a water change of up to 50% and start looking for what the problem is. Not changing the water for a long time can also be a problem. So make sure that water changes are carried out regularly too.

Java fern blackened

There are several possibilities if the java fern is blackened. The first possibility is that the black mark is a “mini java fern” that will grow from the java fern leaf. If indeed the black mark does not become a mini java fern, another possibility is that the java fern is deficient in nitrogen.

Another possibility could be because the lights used are too bright, making the Java fern “hot” so that it becomes scorched or burned. If nitrogen deficiency is the cause, all you have to do is add liquid fertilizer.

If burning is the cause then try using a lower wattage lamp .

Difference between kadaka and java fern

Kadaka and java fern indeed at first glance look similar or the same. However, the most visible difference is where he lives. Kadaka do not live in water, but on land and are usually grown using plate ferns. While java fern grows in water completely or partially.

In addition to differences in living habitats, in terms of names and families are also different. Kadaka has the Latin name Asplenium scolopendrium , which is part of the Aspleniaceae family . While java fern comes from the family Polypodiaceae .

Although the two are still closely related because they are still in the same class and order, namely Polypodiopsida and Polypodiales . So kadaka and java fern are still close relatives, just different places to live.