Author: Bryce Millar, MD
Common Names: Bamboo plant
Native Distribution: Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Papua New Guinea
Aquarium Placement: Midground, best if planted in groups
Requirements: CO2 addition recommended
Blyxa japonica is a beautiful species that has gained widespread popularity in the hobby over the past five or ten years. Originally described in 1889, it can be found over a wide region of tropical Asia. This plant is an obligate aquatic, preferring slow-moving, shallow streams. The term Blyxa is derived from a Greek root meaning “to gush forth or sprout out.” At first glance, this plant looks like a typical rosette. Closer inspection reveals that its long, slender leaves arise from an internal structure of short stems.
Like many of the newer plants in the aquascaping scene, it is moderately demanding. B.japonica can be maintained without CO2 supplementation, but it often appears leggy, and individual plants can be quite thin and unattractive. When conditions are not to its liking, it will often shed older leaves at their attachment to the stem. Moderate light levels are usually sufficient, provided that CO2, macronutrients, and micronutrients are available. This plant can tolerate a small degree of shading and will take on a dark green coloration in these conditions. Under intense lighting, the individual leaves will take on a reddish hue, and the plant will be more compact in appearance.
This plant is well suited for nature-style aquariums such as those popularized by Takashi Amano. It works well to soften the margins of hardscape materials and is well suited to act as a transition between shorter foreground species and taller, traditional stem plants. Its simple but graceful appearance enhances almost any style of aquascape.
B. japonica is well behaved in the planted aquarium. Growth is modest, and it does not send out a profusion of runners like many other grassy species. Every few months, individual plants can be uprooted and gently separated at the connection points of the stem structure. It is helpful to leave at least a few roots on each plantlet, since new cuttings will tend to float up when lighter substrate materials are employed. In shallow setups, small white flowers will form on the end of short stalks.