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Moss key or Fontinalis (Fontinalis antipyretica)

Fontinalis (Fontinalis antipyretica) or, as it is called, Moss key Spring plant aquarium plant (Fontinalaceae).

Moss key – very spectacular and beautiful plant growing on almost all continents of the globe, except Australia. Although Fontinalis and it is not an aquatic plant, very often water bodies with clear slow-flowing or stagnant water — streams, rivers, lakes, key marshes, etc. — become its habitat due to its incredible ability to adapt to changes in growing conditions.

At first glance, such a common and often found plant in our strip can be easily maintained in aquariums, However, because of his rather capricious and fastidious disposition, only experienced aquarists, who, thanks to their extensive experience and practical skills, get amazingly beautiful and noble fontinalis bushes, are decided on this step. Quite often, this plant on the territory of our country is found in local water bodies and is easily transplanted into domestic aquariums, since the appearance of the moss is key and original and rather attractive. Dark green dense thickets of moss key are not only an excellent decoration of the underwater garden, but also a great haven for fry, as well as a favorite place for spawning many aquarium fish

Moss key grows in large groups, forming magnificent openwork thickets, gracefully decorating aquarium. Its ascending and strongly branched stems under optimal conditions of maintenance can grow from 50 to 60 cm.

On round or faceted stems Fontinalis small oval leaves, 1 cm long and 0.6 cm wide, are pointedly thick to the top. Depending on the growing conditions, the size and shape of the leaf blade can change, as well as the color of the entire plant, varying from brown to juicy green. The lower part of the stem forms small root-like outgrowths – rhizoids.

Through them the nutrients the plant needs. Also with the help of rhizoids plant attached to solid objects – stones, bark, hard, rough substrate, etc.

Since the plant is devoid of roots, it does not need a substrate – Fontinalis It feels great, both floating freely in the water column, and being fixed by rhizoids to any object. In order for the plant to stick, it is enough to press it against a rough or porous surface and not to bother for 2-3 months.

Moss key became a victim of stereotypes and myths that he is only a “cold-water” plant, does not tolerate temperature increases and must necessarily die off in the winter period of time. Unfortunately, this deep misconception, most likely, occurred due to the fact that the plant has the name “moss key, Which is associated with cold spring water. Another likely reason for the appearance of these legends may be due to the fact that Fontinalis grows in areas with a temperate climate, where all plants with the onset of the winter period shed their green foliage or, like annuals, die off.

Since winter moss key slows growth, changes color and goes into a resting phase, unknowing aquarists may decide that in winter the gorgeous emerald plant stems die off. Today, many sites and forums are full of information about some specially derived “warm-water” types of fontinalis. And instead of going to explore nearby water bodies or the coastal zone where it usually lives moss key, Aquarists are enthusiastically busy searching for the mythical “warm-water” fountaininis.

And what is most interesting is that they find it and, unfortunately, they pay a lot of money for acquiring a plant common to our latitudes, which is found practically in any water body.

Moss key has a seasonality of growth – and this is the main reason for all the failures that aquarists endure when growing this plant in aquariums. In the summer period, it is possible to keep the fontinalis at a high temperature of water, which can vary in the range from 24 ° C to 28 ° C. However, in winter, the plant needs a period of rest, so the water temperature must be reduced to 10 ° C – 12 ° C, since the key winter temperature that is usual for moss is between 0 ° C and -24 ° C.

If a moss key leave for the winter in an unheated aquarium, where the water will be at room temperature, the plant will not survive – it will survive the winter and die next autumn. therefore Fontinalis for the winter, it is recommended to replant to another tank and, in order to create conditions close to natural ones, put it in a room where the air temperature will be below 10 ° C. Moss key it is not picky about the acidity and hardness of water, however, the plant grows better in soft water aquariums, which has a neutral or slightly acidic reaction.

In addition to seasonality of growth, one of the main conditions for the successful cultivation of moss key in aquarium conditions is the purity of the aquarium water. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention not only to the quality of water filtration, but also to the proper selection aquarium fish.

Ideal for an aquarium where it grows Fontinalis, it could be considered haracin, toothed or small live-bearing fish. The presence of large, and even more digging soil aquarium fish is detrimental to key moss.

In addition, the aquarium, which contains moss key, It is necessary once a week to make the substitution of 1/5 of the water. Aquarium lighting should not be very bright and diffuse, since with an excess of light on the trunk and leaves of the moss key lower algae can settle, which usually leads to the death of the plant.

From direct light rays Fontinalis must be covered by placing it in the shade of tall or floating on the surface of plants, and the duration of daylight hours is desirable to limit 10 – 12 hours.

Moss key propagated vegetatively by dividing the “maternal” bush. In order not to damage the tender rhizoids of the plant, it is recommended near a large bush. Fontinalis, who is firmly seated on the substrate, place a few stones and wait a while for the moss to grow, taking up free space.

Thus, young stuck plant shoots form on the stones, and the “mother” moss bush is easily divided into parts.

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