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Ludwigia repens, a classic aquarium plant, grows along the margins of any freshwater body of water (ditches, rivers, lakes, ponds) in the southern United States, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. In the wild, it is a very polymorphic species in that it readily crosses with other species of its genus. This characteristic makes identification between geographical varieties difficult. L. repens is now one of the most commonly available aquarium plants around the world.
Repens is one of the easiest red plants to grow in the aquarium, being able to grow in even lower light conditions (down to 1.75 watts per gallon with power compacts). It also makes an excellent candidate for moderately lit, non-CO2 aquaria. When lit well, the plant will grow at an angle over the substrate instead of straight up. To encourage red coloration, L. repens should be kept well lit (2.5 watts per gallon or more) with no shading. Lean nitrate levels (~5 ppm), high phosphate levels (~1.5-2 ppm), and heavy iron/micronutrients dosing will help produce intense colors out of this plant. Some hobbyists have noted that 9325K plant bulbs will also enhance red coloration.
To propagate, simply snip off a healthy stem and replant into the substrate. Pruning off the top portions of this plant and leaving the rooted portions in the substrate promotes very bushy growth as the plant should produce a multitude of side shoots. Pruning can also be done by discarding the rooted portions and planting the top portions into the substrate. If allowed to grow on the surface, the plant will also produce many side shoots from each node along the stem.
In aquascaping, this versatile plant can be used in the midground and background positions as a focal point or reddish accent. With intense pruning, the plant can even be used as a foreground plant in large aquaria.
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