The Dwarf Sagittaria is an easy to keep aquarium plant, which thrives in many living conditions and is a widely recommended plant for beginner aquarists.
It originates in many places, primarily in the United States and Columbia, but lately it has also been found as an invasive species in ponds and alongside river basins in the Azores, Great Britain, and Indonesia.
There are many debates whether the plant commonly used by hobbyists is the same as the one found in the wild, but until now there isn’t enough evidence as to classify them as different species.
This plant usually grows up to 12 inches high and can be found living in many water conditions, from brackish seashores to streams or ponds of both salty and fresh water.
It has been noticed to live either fully or partially submersed, sending white flowers to the water surface in good lighting conditions, so it is a highly adaptable plant.
Dwarf Sagittaria has long, narrow, wispy leaves that fill in the middle or background of shallow aquariums, especially in good lighting.
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This hardy plant will tolerate hard water and a high range of pH between 6.5-7.5, but many plants have thrived outside these parameters.
The same happens with water temperature, which should be between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, though this is only a benchmark, as many aquarists have managed to keep Dwarf Sagittaria in outdoor ponds in even lower temperatures.
Lighting should be at least 3 watts per gallon, but the Dwarf Sag will do better in stronger light. Usually, T5 or T8 bulbs are enough, but LED lighting can also be used.
At the beginning, LED lights pose some doubt, as some have not worked well, but with today’s improved technology, they are worth trying again.
Planting your Dwarf Sagittaria
If you want to keep this plant as a short and dense carpet, you can place it in the foreground of the tank and provide low lighting to inhibit growth. Instead, a well cared for Dwarf Sagittaria can be placed in the background of a well-lit aquarium, as strong light will help it grow higher.
The Dwarf Sags are usually placed in the middle sections of most tanks.
Having large distances between plants will make the leaves grow shorter, while planting close together will encourage vertical growth.
Care for your Dwarf Sagittaria
Dwarf Sagittaria need to be planted in a very nutrient-rich substrate, especially containing iron. This plant is very sensitive to iron deficiencies; it will fade and become yellow if it doesn’t get enough iron.
You should always fertilize the water column if the substrate doesn’t hold enough nutrients and add some CO2 to promote height increase. They will still thrive without any CO2 supplements, but growth will be slower and mostly horizontal.
The Dwarf Sag will propagate on its own by growing runners and spreading like a thick carpet on the tank floor. If you want to control its spreading or just plant it where you planned, you can pinch off the outgrown runners and replant them in the right place.
Low light will help faster development of the runners and propagating throughout the tank, while strong light will make them grow vertically.
Runners usually grow in a few weeks after planting the first one and occasional trimming of a few leaves increases the propagation rate and favor the developing of the desirable carpet effect.
This plant can be grown next to other species like Glossostigma Elatinoides or Anubias Nana to recreate a more natural-looking environment. Also, high growing leaves can be used to create vertical accents in low set ups, next to rocks, caves, or pieces of bogwood.
Having such narrow leaves, it may not be a good choice for plant-nipping fish, especially goldfish, which love to nibble at any plant.
Still, dense Sagittaria carpets would provide a good hideout for vulnerable fry or smaller fish in danger of being eaten or harassed by larger fish.
You can use Dwarf Sagittaria in a wide range of aquariums and keep it in many shapes, so experimenting is usually the best option in keeping this plant.
Its adaptability and hardiness allows for changes in the tank and even living in outdoor ponds, although you should still monitor its development to make sure it all goes well and the plant is healthy.