Are you looking for some nice freshwater aquarium plants, floating plants that will make a nice bed on a portion of the water’s surface? If so, you might have looked into getting either dwarf water lettuce, frogbit, or both.
Yes, both are fairly easy to care for floating aquarium plants, but which one is better for you? Today, we are here to do a comparison—a dwarf water lettuce versus frogbit comparison—just so you have all of the details regarding both plants, their appearance, care, propagation, and more.
At a Glance
Dwarf Water Lettuce
Dwarf water lettuce is a great plant to have if you like or need floating aquarium plants that look nice and will provide your fish with some cover from above. This aquarium plant features moderate care difficulty, so it’s not the easiest or the hardest aquarium plant to care for. Most people should be able to care for it just fine without any issues.
Dwarf water lettuce is often thought to come from Africa, as it is often also referred to as Nile Cabbage. With that being said, there is no clear consensus as to exactly where in Africa this plant originates.
After it was discovered, it quickly spread around the globe, both in the wild and in home aquariums. It has quickly become one of the more popular aquarium plants due to its limited need for care and maintenance, plus because of its neat appearance.
Appearance, Size & Growth, & Placement
Speaking of appearance, dwarf water lettuce does indeed look a lot like lettuce, kind of like a mix between a lettuce plant and a lily pad. This plant features large, broad, and rounded leaves, and yes, it does really look like a large lily pad, and it has lots of large green leaves that grow outwards and upwards.
Dwarf water lettuce, although it has the word dwarf in the name, can actually grow quite large, up to 10 inches or over 25 centimeters in diameter. This plant grows at a moderate rate, and yes, it can be trimmed if needed. In other words, you can remove leaves from it once it starts to get too large.
Due to its fairly large size, it is a plant that is recommended for larger tanks, or if you have a smaller tank, you will need to properly trim and maintain it. Do keep in mind that this is a floating plant, so, in terms of placement, the only viable option is to have it floating on the surface of the water.
This is another reason why it is best used for fairly large tanks, as it floats and gets quite large, so it will end up eating up surface area and blocking out a lot of light, at least if you have too many or let it get too large.
Roots & Planting
Ok, so dwarf water lettuce is a floating plant, so of course, it does not matter what kind of substrate you have because it’s not a rooted plant. You just have to keep it floating on the surface of the water, and the long stringy roots will hang down from the bottom of the plant.
These small and stringy roots actually make for ideal hiding places for fish fry and other very small fish. Do keep in mind that because this is a floating plant, you will need to supply the water column with various nutrients in order to keep it alive and healthy.
Care & Water Conditions
In terms of care and water conditions, dwarf water lettuce is not all that difficult to care for. Yes, it does need a fair amount of light, but not a ridiculous amount. An average aquarium light should suffice to keep it alive.
In terms of water conditions, dwarf water lettuce requires the water temperature to be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It also needs a pH level between 6.5 and 7.2, and the water should be soft to moderately hard. Other than that, in terms of dwarf water lettuce care, there’s not much else to know.
When it comes to propagating dwarf water lettuce, this will usually happen all on its own, which is actually one of the reasons why it needs to be kept under control. This plant can actually propagate both sexually and asexually, although sexual reproduction in home aquariums is super rare.
Asexual reproduction is common in home aquariums, and you will often notice small daughter plants floating beside the large mother plant. This causes dwarf water lettuce to form fairly dense mats along the water’s surface and therefore needs to be properly maintained so that it doesn’t block out too much light from the water and fish below.
In terms of floating aquarium plants, and yes, frogbit is a floating aquarium plant, it is one of the ones that is very easy to care for. One of the reasons why so many aquarium enthusiasts love frogbit is due to the fact that it is very easy to care for in more or less every single regard.
It’s a great floating aquarium plant for beginners, for smaller and larger aquariums, and for all kinds of fish that like to get some cover from above.
Frogbit is often referred to as Amazon frogbit, and yes, this is because it can be found nearly everywhere in the Amazon rainforest. Frogbit has its origins in both Central America and South America and can be found in many places where water currents are very low or nearly non-existent.
Frogbit is however considered to be an invasive species in North America, as it easily takes over many waterways and areas where there is still water, such as marshes, swamps, and bends leading off of rivers, even at the edges of lakes.
One of the reasons why it has spread so quickly around South and North America is due to its high level of popularity in the aquarium trade.
Appearance, Size & Growth, & Placement
When it comes to the appearance of frogbit, it’s a very simple yet beautiful floating plant. It features very round and green leaves, a really dark leafy green. These leaves are often no more than 1 inch in diameter, although they can get a bit larger.
This plant looks kind of like a mix of clovers, water lettuce, and lily pads. Yes, it is a floating plant, and when frogbit is young, the leaves usually lie flat on the water, and they tend to spread outwards.
As frogbit matures and gets older, it will most often develop leaves that stand upright, or at least partially upright, as they gain some structure and the ability to grow vertically as well as horizontally. So, when frogbit matures, it looks like a smaller and more rounded version of the dwarf water lettuce which we looked at above.
Frogbit can get quite large, with a single plant reaching a total of 20 inches or over 50 cm in diameter. Keep in mind that here we are talking about the whole plant with many leaves, not just a single leaf. Frogbit does grow at a decent pace, and if left untended, it can easily overtake the total surface of any aquarium.
So, when it comes to placement, it’s not a rooted plant, so it can only be placed on the surface of the water. You do need to remember to control the offshoots, and new leaves which grow, or else frogbit will quickly cover the surface of your fish tank, which can then cause some problems.
Roots & Planting
Once again, this is a floating plant, so in terms of planting, there are absolutely no requirements. In fact, with frogbit, the top of leaves should never get wet, and if they stay wet for a prolonged period of time, they will rot and dry.
Frogbit does feature small roots that come out of the bottom of the plant, which is how it feeds, and it does make for a good hiding spot for very small fish and fish fry.
Just keep in mind that because frogbit is not planted, you do need to add the proper nutrients into the water column in order to keep it happy and healthy.
Care & Water Conditions
What is, of course, nice about frogbit is that it is indeed very simple to care for. The only hard part is knowing when and how much to trim it back so it doesn’t cover the entire surface of your aquarium.
Other than that, frogbit is super simple to care for, which is why it is a big-time fan favorite among freshwater aquarium owners. Lighting is not much of an issue, especially because it is a floating plant, so it should usually always be close to aquarium lights, and it doesn’t require all that much light anyway.
In terms of water temperature, anywhere between 64 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit is fine. Frogbit requires soft to moderately hard water with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Once again, just remember to be careful when performing water changes in the aquarium, as the tops of the leaves should never get wet.
Frogbit will easily propagate on its own, either through sexual reproduction or through plant stem fragmentation.
Either way, it does grow pretty quickly, so remember to keep it under control in order to prevent it from covering the entire surface of your aquarium.
Alright, so as you can see, when it comes to dwarf water lettuce vs frogbit, both of these plants are fairly similar. Both are floating freshwater aquarium plants that do not require substrate, help provide cover for fish, and are fairly easy to care for.
If the difficulty of care is your main concern, you probably want to go with frogbit, although it does grow a bit faster than the water lettuce, so it does require more maintenance in terms of trimming.
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