Dwarf Baby Tears, also known as Hemianthus callitrichoides, is a small bright green aquarium plant with a slow growth rate. After settling down in the substrate, Dwarf Baby Tears will have a smooth, carpet-like appearance. Eventually, it blooms small white flowers if kept in proper conditions. The substrate covered with Dwarf Baby Tears is an excellent place for laying eggs.
Another option would be planting the Dwarf Baby Tears on driftwood or rocks, but most aquarists would plant them in the foreground, alone or along with other foreground contrasting plants. Breeding is very easy and can be done either by replanting cuttings from other plants or by leaving roots branched off and expanding through the substrate. Always remember to constantly trim the Hemianthus callitrichoides in order to achieve a uniform lawn appearance.
Anchoring to driftwood
Hemianthus callitrichoides can easily be attached to driftwood by tying small patches to the driftwood and letting it spread by itself. Adding sand with substrate in the holes and cracks of the driftwood also works, as Dwarf Baby Tears will have a place to extend their small roots. Also, it has been successfully kept in place with hairnets.
Another popular method is to use small mosses to cover the base of the Hemianthus in order to help keep it in place. The rhizoids from the moss anchor to the substrate and help keep the DBT in place while giving the DBT a nourishing substrate to thrive in. It also helps create a thicker cover, although properly trimmed Dwarf Baby Tears would form a dense carpet by itself.
Most aquarists prefer to tie the Dwarf Baby Tears on the piece of driftwood, but it is healthier for the plant to be left to strike roots in a rich substrate placed on the wood surface. At the beginning, just place patches of DBT on the driftwood and keep in place with rocks until it clings to the wood.
If not tied or kept in place with rocks or moss, the Dwarf Baby Tears simply floats below water surface, a very common problem many inexperienced aquarists have to face. Note the Dwarf Baby Tears grow very slowly on driftwood and it is very important the piece of wood does not become overcrowded, otherwise the Hemianthus will have no place to root and most probably die.
The Hemianthus callitrichoides needs good lighting and a lot of CO2. Pressurized CO2 or tablets will do quite fine, as long as they are kept near the Dwarf Baby Tears. The substrate has to be very rich in minerals and nutrients, especially iron. Rich fertilizers have to be added frequently to maintain its rich color and help it “pearl,” as its flowers are also called.
Lighting has to be around 2 watts or more per gallon for fluorescent light sources, or similar power for LED or other sources. This light level will keep the Dwarf Baby Tears growing close to the substrate. If less light is available, the plant will grow upwards, as in its natural environment it tends to live closely below water level.
Always remember to trim it very thoroughly since it tends to “kill itself,” meaning stems would overgrow neighboring ones and not allow them to grow any further. Trimming has to be done with very good scissors to keep the plant in place and help it spread across the substrate or driftwood appropriately.
The Dwarf Baby Tears is a beautiful and increasingly popular aquarium plant, very easy to find nowadays, unlike when it was first discovered and documented in 2003. It is easy to grow, once ideal living conditions are met, and it forms a thick carpet on the aquarium foreground. It has also been grown on driftwood and porous rocks for a specialized look and even used to create tree-like formations by aquascapists.
Imagination is the final frontier when planning your aquarium, so see what works best for you and what you like most. If you plan on breeding your spawning fish, remember that the Dwarf Baby Tears provides a safe place for them to lay eggs and for young fry to hide from bigger fish.