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Hydrophila polysperma ‘Sunset’, or ‘Rosanervig’ (red-vein) as it was named by the Danish aquatic plant nursery Tropica, was originally cultivated in the mid 1980’s. One note of interest about this plant is the white coloration the leaf veins often exhibit. This is not a sign of a deficiency but rather it is believed to be caused by a virus that blocks the production of chlorophyll in the surrounding tissue. This virus, fortunately, is specific to this particular species and poses absolutely no threat to anything else in the aquarium. This beautiful variation of the steadfast H. polysperma, a native of Asia, has become a common but popular addition to the planted aquarium hobby.
This undemanding yet interesting stem plant is one of the easiest colored red plants to grow. Its ability to handle virtually any temperature (18-28C), pH (5-8), or hardness in the typical planted aquarium makes it suitable for many applications. While CO2 and high light are not requirements for this cultivar to grow, they are essential in bringing out the nice red to pink color for which this plant is famous. Iron is another factor in intense colorationï¿½without enough Fe in the water column, this plant will become pale or, in extreme deficiencies, even white.
This plant, like many of the faster growing stem plants, can develop a tendency for horizontal growth and creep along the substrate. This is often caused by higher light levels and a plant’s natural tendency to ‘take over’ as much space as it can before it changes to producing more vertical growth. Ways to avoid this are to crowd the plant or to increase phosphate (PO4) levels. Propagating and pruning this plant is very simple. Simply top and replant. This species produces many side shoots when pruned like a hedge, creating an attractive, manicured bush.
H. polysperma ‘Sunset’ has great potential as a red stem plant. Its interesting leaf texture and color make it a great addition to the mid- or background. The leaf size, up to 2 inches, is not overly large, making it suitable for all but the smallest aquaria.