Introduction to Bolbitis Heudelotii

Bolbitis heudelotii is a wonderful aquatic plant among the aquarium enthusiasts. It is also referred to as African water fern, African fern, Bolbitis, Bolbitis water fern, Creeping fern or Congo fern. It is distributed in the tropical regions of Africa. It has become more popular in the aquarium hobby due to its uniquely textured foliage and growth form. In the wild it is found as an epiphyte in fast flowing streams, lakes or rivers over sandy or rocky bottoms. In their habitat they are found to attach to rocks or wood by the threadlike rootlets extending from its rhizomes.  It grows in submerged condition with very clean and slightly acidic waters.  Its bright to dark green leaves make an attractive feature to your aquarium.

Bolbitis Heudelotii’s Overview

Bolbitis heudelotii or African water fern is a popular aquatic plant. It can grow with low to high light under fully submersed condition. It is often used as a mid-ground specimen plant in tropical freshwater aquarium. It has dark green, semi-translucent with attractive and decorative shape pinnate leaves with 15–40 cm long and 15–25 cm broad. The transparent and dark green leaves make this plant a beautiful addition to almost any aquarium layout.  The leaves are arranged alternately towards each other. This plant has a widely creeping rhizome up to 10 mm in diameter which produces leaves and roots. Rhizome scales are very dark brown in color and lanceolate in shape. These plants help to create a natural look for your tank and purify tank water by absorbing nitrate nutrients. It also provides natural shelter for your fish and shrimp. It looks especially nice when it is used as a dark background plant. It grows on a rock or piece of wood, which helps anchor the plant to the floor of the tank. This plant makes beautiful and more attractive features to the aquarium when it is planted in the middle of the aquarium between pale green and red plants. It can propagate easily in aquarium condition with proper care.

Scientific name: Bolbitis heudelotii

Common name: African water fern, African fern, creeping fern, Congo fern, Bolbitis, Bolbitis water fern etc.

Origin: Africa

Placement: Background, Mid-ground and Foreground

Propagation: By cutting

Height: 15-40 cm

Width: 15–25 cm

Water pH: 5.0-7.0

Water Hardness: 4-12 dGH

Temperature: 68-82.4 0F(20-28 0C)

Lighting: Low

Growth: Slow

Care level: Easy


African water fern (Bolbitis heudelotii) was first described in 1934 by Alston. It belongs to the family Dryopteridaceae under order Polypodiales of class Filicopsida. The species ‘heudelotii’ was named after Jean-Pierre Heudelot, a French explorer who collected plants in Guinea and Senegal from 1828 to 1837. This species has several synonyms such as Acrostichum heudelotii (Bory) Hook, Acrostichum heudelotii var. major Hook, Acrostichum heudelotii var. minor Hook, Anapausia heudelotii (Bory) Presl, Bolbitis felixii Tard, Bolbitis heudelotii var. angustifolia Tard. -Blot, Gymnopteris heudelotii Bory ex Fée etc.

Housing and care

Bolbitis heudelotii is easy to care for and makes it a great choice for beginners. This plant can make an ideal focus point in an aquarium with multiple specimens in the background position of the aquarium. It provides additional shelter for tank inhabitants. It is a slow grower plant that needs every 1 to 2 months to form a new leaf and in the aquarium, it develops best if it is attached to rocks or driftwood. It requires temperatures of 68-82.4 0F(20-28 0C), moderately acidic  to neutral water with a pH range of 5.0-7.0 and hardness range of 4-12 dGH. It also appreciates clean, well-aerated water or decent amount of water movement in the aquarium. It tolerates a wide range of light levels.  For optimum growth, the light intensity should be ranged from 2-3 watt per gallon using full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.   In lower lighting conditions, the leaves grow slowly and become a dark green but in higher light and carbon dioxide conditions, the leaves develop into a translucent vibrant green color. It needs regular mineral supplements at the rate of 1-2 gm per 100 liters of water. On the high iron content water, the leaves turn more brownish. Nutrient-rich substrate, vitamin supplementation, and mild CO2 injection greatly increase its growth rate. Keep the plant looking its best by removing dried fronds at the base of the rhizome. For proper maintenance, the leaves can be pruned by cutting the frond at the base of the rhizome which keeps the plant in check with the appropriate shape. This plant is also great for African cichlid environments.

Bolbitis heudelotii for Sale & Availability

Bolbitis water fern is commonly used as greenery in tank situations. With good care, it makes an ideal plant for any hobbyist. It is available via most online retailers and fellow hobbyists and is also occasionally seen in local pet shops. But most sellers have little idea how to grow or show this good looking fern. If you want to purchase this marvelous aquatic plant for your aquarium online from home with the best prices, look below where to purchase it at today!


Propagation is easily done by cutting the rhizome using a sharp, clean blade. The rhizome pieces should at least have three leaves. During planting, special care should be taken of the rhizome and the roots. The rhizome should not be buried beneath the substrate, as it rots and die off. Instead, make sure the rhizome is on top of the substrate so that the rhizome visible to the eye. The rhizome should be affixed to wood or rock using cotton thread or fishing line. Under optimum tank condition, after a few days the new cutting produce roots and anchors it to the substrate itself and begins growing. The new plants obtained from propagation make excellent, bright green accent plants. The new plant should be placed in the desired location of the aquarium.

We sell Bolbitis Heudelotii

Aquatic Magazine is proud to announce we are selling Bolbitis Heudelotii in our shop. Check out down below to buy some for your planted tank today!