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Mermaid Weed

Posted by Jennifer Escobar on

Mermaid Weed

This beautiful plant with a beautiful name is mostly treated as one of the most alluring freshwater aquarium plants by hobbyists due to its lifelike coloration and sophisticated looks. Other names of mermaid weed are Saw-Tooth Hygro, Marsh Mermaid Weed. The scientific name of the plant is Proserpinaca palustris. It belongs to the genus Proserpinaca in the family Haloragaceae. As a freshwater aquarium plant, it is the finest one and can make your aquarium a piece of art. It is also one of the less demanding plants so beginners can have it and enjoy it in their tanks. It came into the limelight for the first time in the 1950s when it was featured in a publication and then it was imported from Cuba by Tropica (a Danish company that sells plants) became famous as a fitting aquarium plant.

Origin and Habitat

Mermaid weed is indigenous to the wetlands of the South Eastern region and Eastern seaboard of the United States. You can also discover some varieties of this plant in the Caribbean, in some parts of South and Central America. This plant is found thriving near freshwater springs, ponds, pools, lakes streams, swamps, along river banks, and muddy shores. It grows as an emergent or submerged plant. It takes up almost all of the nutrient from the water where it grows and makes the water look like clean and clear.

Appearance of the plant

This plant has somewhat of extraordinary beauty with light green and red to coppery colors. In the wild, its leaves appear to be saw-toothed but, in the aquarium, they grow to be tall and needle-like. The saw-toothed edges are not razor sharp but keep the predators away in their natural habitat. Due to this serration, it resembles the Rosemary plant when expanding above the water surface. The leaves consist of distinct leaflets having lobes. One leaf is produced on one node on the stem. When grown in ample lighting it appears to show copper coloration. The plant can grow to 4-16 inches in length and 2-6 inches in diameter and when it develops it will start producing seeds. It also produces symmetrical flowers with 3 sepals and petals and it might produce dry fruit sometimes.

Tank conditions

An aquarium with a capacity of 4 liters is needed with plenty of nutrients in the water for its healthy growth. For substrate fine gravel is needed. The pH value of the water in the tank should be between 5 to 7.5 and the temperature should be from 10° to 28° Celsius. Lighting should be from intermediate to intense which can be done by using 0.5 watts per liter. Carbon dioxide is recommended by various hobbyists. Using 20-30 mg of carbon dioxide per liter can speed up the process of growth. PO4 should be from 1.5-2 mg per liter and NO3 should be in the range of 5-10 mg per liter water. Both NO3 and PO4 are a great source of attaining bright orange to intense red color. Iron is also used for getting vibrant colors. If the mermaid weed is not properly cared for it can shed its leaves and become dull and lifeless.

How to care for and maintain

Proserpinaca Palustris is a low maintenance plant and easy to cultivate. The growth process of mermaid weed is slow and it also doesn't grow very tall. In the tank, the serrated leaves grow into needle-like leaves. Fertilizers and carbon dioxide boost the growth potential of the weed. With both carbon dioxide and lighting the coloration will vary from orange to red which gives a great vibe in the tank. Also, protect the aquarium environment from building up too many nitrates because they can hinder its growth process and also change the coloration to fading green or light orange hue. These hues are not pleasant to look at in the aquarium. The plant will look best in the middle of the tank. To get vibrant colors around other parts of your tank you can cut the top of the stem and replant anywhere else in the aquarium. You can keep the plant in a bushy look by keeping them in a substrate. There the plant will produce a lot of lateral stems which could be used for propagation.

Propagation and growth

The new plant regrows from lateral shoot cuttings which can be planted in the substrate where you want to grow them. You can simply scatter the cutting on the substrate and they will grow by themselves into a new independent plant. 

Reasons to have in your aquarium

With eye-catching and arresting colors mermaid weed has become the favorite among hobbyists. It is an excellent plant to have in small aquariums because it doesn’t grow quickly and does not get huge. It can create a variety of hues in the water from pink to golden it can leave the people awe-struck. It will make a great background for a Dutch theme aquarium. Mermaid weed is known to be a great addition to purify water in the tank because of its habit of taking up all the nutrients. This can also lead to the elimination of algae. It also provides a great cover for the roaming fish from the light intensity. 


You can have any fish you want with mermaid weed in the tank because honestly not many fish are keen to eat it so they leave the plant alone. You won’t have to worry about your plant being destroyed.

Mermaid weed is an excellent aquarium plant. It is cherished among aquarium owners because of its short height and slow growth rate.

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