Of all the plants you can keep with your fish, the Green Foxtail aquarium plant has GOT to be a winner. Removes nitrates? Check. Low-maintenance? Check. Almost impossible to kill? Checkity-check-check!
And that’s not all…
Keep reading to learn more about the little-known advantages of this awesome plant!
Description & Identification
This plant – native to Central and South American – goes by a few different names:
- Myriophyllum pinnatum
- Myrio Green
- Myrio Foxtail
- Cutleaf Watermilfoil
- Green Foxtail
In appearance, it’s a light green color that starts out a bit darker shade but gets to be super bright green once it gets established. The soft leaves are very fine and delicate, with a feathery texture.
As far as placement in the aquarium goes, it is usually used as a background plant (though it can work in the mid-ground too). Because of its dense growth, it can create a beautiful thick background wall – also useful for hiding tank equipment as well as gorgeous to look at.
Here it is in a tank of Bristol Shubunkins:
(It’s one of the few plants that can survive goldfish!)
In the right conditions, it can grow 1 inch every 2 weeks—sometimes even more. So it doesn’t take long to get established. Get this:
It can grow up to 2 feet tall! Propagating this plant couldn’t be easier…
… Simply snap the stems off, strip an inch off the bottom of the stem, and plant into the substrate. There are some fishkeepers who find that algae eaters are destructive to this plant. Of course, due to its fast growth rate, this might not be a big deal.
This plant can even grow partially out of the water. And if it does…It can actually produce a flower!
Where to Buy it
I’ve found the best place to find this plant is actually online, as it’s not the easiest to find. You can get it on Amazon here for an affordable price. Be sure that when your plant is shipped that it won’t get below 20 degrees F (without a heat pack) or above 100 degrees F so your plant doesn’t arrive in sorry shape.
And of course, be sure you quarantine it before adding it to your aquarium. This prevents disease and possible snails.
Caring for Green Foxtail: What You Need to Know
This is a great beginner aquarium plant. You’re pretty much off the hook, as it is really not demanding at all. It does not require strong lighting, CO2 injection, or fertilizers. That said: Like all plants, it will benefit from these.
Green Foxtail is not a picky plant. It can be left floating or planted in soil or substrate. This plant REALLY likes dirt. And when you use dirt, you don’t have to add fertilizers (yay!). The thing is, dirted tanks can be a huge pain.
But there’s a workaround:
You can use containers filled with dirt and capped with gravel. Clay pots can work, but they can take up a good bit of space and can be a pain to clean around as waste accumulates underneath them. Plus, they can look… not the greatest.
These unobtrusive glass plant cups can be fixed to the sides of the aquarium. In my opinion – the perfect solution. So whether your tank has a substrate of gravel, sand or bare-bottom…
…You’re good to go.
Say you want to leave it floating. Without planting the roots in dirt, liquid nutrient dosing weekly would probably be a good idea for the plant to perform at its best. If you plant it in the gravel or sand directly (if you have it), and you can add root tabs near where they are planted. The roots can grow a bit higher up on the stem. These can be trimmed back or hidden behind wood or rocks if you find them unsightly.
It does just fine in moderate light conditions. And if you DO have strong lighting, unlike some plants (especially Hornwort) that suffer from greater light intensity, Myrio Green isn’t phased. Talk about easygoing!
In low light, it will grow much slower. So for optimal growth, a good quality full-spectrum aquarium light is recommended.
Temperature & Water Conditions
As far as temperature goes, it does best in a temperature range from 72 degrees F–82 degrees F. If you want to keep your aquarium colder than that, Hornwort would be a similar and more cold-tolerant option. Myrio Foxtail prefers a pH range of 6.5–7.5.
6 Wonderful Advantages of Myrio Green
1. Nitrate Buster
As aquarium keepers, we know that nitrates in large amounts aren’t good for our fish. We usually have to resort to more water changes to keep them down. But I’ve got a secret for you:
The biggest problem with this plant is literally that it grows so much! I mean, in the right conditions this stuff just TAKES OFF. That’s part of why it has such incredible nitrate-absorbing powers: rapid growth. Myrio Green is a nitrate vacuum. If you are sick and tired of struggling with those annoying high nitrates, you need to get some of this for your tank.
2. Algae Inhibitor
If you’re like me, that ugly brown algae (or some other kind of algae) is your nemesis. Myriophyllum pinnatum sucks up nutrients algae feed on, robbing it of its critical food source and literally starving it out. Victory!
3. No Shedding
Let me put this right out there: Green Foxtail is NOT Hornwort. It’s easy to make this mistake because they look pretty similar to the pictures you see online. But the plants are actually quite different, especially in person.
Myrio Green is much more “fluffy” and full than the spikier-looking Hornwort. The best part? No shedding! Hornwort will drop needles like a dying Christmas tree, making a huge mess all over the bottom of the tank. This can go on for quite a while too. Not so with this plant.
4. Breeding & Fry Tanks
The thin leaves provide the PERFECT hiding place for baby fry and eggs from spawning mates—a fish breeder’s best friend. It even supplies microparticles as a food source for the newly hatched fry! Goldfish especially make use of it during spawning, with the males pushing the females into the soft plants to expel the eggs.
A great replacement for unsightly homemade spawning mops. Rumor has it that shrimp love to use it as shelter.
5. Water Oxygenator
It’s a fact that a fast-growing plant produces more oxygen than a slow-growing one (source). That means Green Foxtail really helps to oxygenate the water.
I know what you’re thinking: “What’s so great about that?” This might not seem like earth-shattering news to us who have modern technology like air pumps and filters. But having high-oxygen-producing plants is a good safety cushion in case of a power outage. It can also allow for heavier stocking.
Related Post: How to Set Up a Planted Goldfish Tank
6. Hardy & Resilient
This plant makes a great aquarium plant for those who are just starting out with live plants. There are precious few plants that goldfish won’t make a meal out of, but Myrio Green is not one of them!
Best of all: It doesn’t ask for much.
Now that you’ve read this post, I think you’ll agree with me that this aquarium plant is quite amazing.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever kept this plant in your tank? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Featured Image Credit: Jerry Lin, Shutterstock