Dwarf sagittaria – Sagittaria subulata: Aquarium Background Plants

Dwarf sagittaria Sagittaria subulata

The Dwarf sagittaria is also known as:

  • Sagittaria subulata pusilla
  • Awl-leaf arrowhead
  • Narrow-leaved arrowhead

The Dwarf sagittaria is not a true background plant but has been used successfully as a background aquarium plant.

Due to its height, it’s always good to plant its use in the aquarium with care.

In the overview below, you will find more on how the Dwarf sagittaria is colored, how the leaves of this plant are shaped, what requirements it has in the aquarium and how you can use it to design the aquarium.

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): Quick facts

Popular names: Sagittaria subulata pusilla, Sagittaria subulata, Awl-leaf arrowhead, Narrow-leaved arrowhead, Dwarf sagittaria

Synonyms:  Alisma subulatum L., Sagittaria pusilla Nuttall

Mistaken names: Sagittaria teres, Sagittaria terres

Full botanical name:  Sagittária subuláta (L.) Buchenau

Difficulty: very easy

Use: background, middle ground

Aquascaping: creates grass-like lawns

Growth: fast

pH: value 5 – 9

Temperature tolerance: 4 – 30 ° C

Carbonate hardness: 2 – 30 ° dKH

Total water hardness: 0 – 30 ° dGH

Propagation: runners

Can grow immersed? Yes

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): Habitat

The Sagittaria subulata occurs in the eastern USA and South America in both fresh and brackish water and forms extensive meadow-like populations, especially in estuaries.

The Dwarf subulata is sometimes mistakenly identified as the “Sagittaria teres” or “S. terres”. It should however be noted that the true Sagittaria teres is a completely different species.

Dwarf sagittaria
Dwarf sagittaria

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): Leaf shape and Color

The Dwarf sagittaria consists of several elongated leaves that converge a little at the top, but do not form a pointed end.

Because of this leaf shape, the Sagittaria subulata is somewhat reminiscent of broad-leaved grass.

Sometimes the plant can also develop flowers and floating leaves which makes the plant look very lively.

The color of the leaves is:

  • An intense green under good conditions
  • Reddish at the leaf tip if there is a high supply of light in the aquarium

The length of the leaves depends on the following:

  • The conditions in the aquarium
  • The way in which the individual plants are planted

With good care, the floating arrowhead can grow to over half a meter high, but the width of the plant remains rather delicate at around 15 centimeters.

The growth of the floating arrowhead can be described as quite fast – this is especially true if the plant in the aquarium is supplied with sufficient nutrients and CO2.

If the light supply in the aquarium is not too high, this can also favor the elongated growth towards the water surface. Too little light will certainly damage the flood arrow weed.

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): Cultivation

The floating arrowhead is not particularly difficult to cultivate in the aquarium.

However, if you are aiming for a high growth of the plant, you should take the above-mentioned supply of nutrients seriously.

If you want to avoid reddish coloration, but want to strengthen the growth of the plant, choose a medium lighting intensity.

If the leaves do not change color to red, but to yellow, there is in all probability a deficiency in the flood arrow weed, which the aquarist should pursue.

Dwarf Sagittaria | Beginner Guide

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): Planting tips

As a background plant you should plant the Dwarf sagittaria in groups in the aquarium leaving only a little space between the individual plants.

The dense planting of flood arrowhead means that the individual leaves compete with one another in terms of the supply of light. The plant can react to this fact with a higher growth – and precisely such growth should be desired if the background in the aquarium has to be greened.

The Sagittaria subulata is also good when it is placed a little more generously in the foreground or middle distance.

With such a use, a dense green carpet that does not take on too high dimensions can sometimes be produced.

Aquarium inhabitants will appreciate the Dwarf sagittaria irrespective of where in the aquarium it is planted because it is dense and offers the inhabitants sufficient hiding places, which can be particularly useful in community tanks.

Dwarf sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata): In the aquarium

The Dwarf subulata is very easy to cultivate, needs only moderate light and tolerates very hard, alkaline water.

It thrives well in aquariums without the addition of CO2, if this also promotes the growth of this species.

The following nutrients are needed in the substrate in order to achieve the best growth rates:

  • Nitrate
  • Phosphate
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Trace elements

This plant is particularly susceptible to iron deficiency, which manifests itself in yellow leaves. With intense lighting, the leaf tips turn reddish in color.

If the plants are placed close together, the leaves, which are about half a centimeter wide, can be up to 60 cm long.

If the planting is less dense, the height can be limited to 5-10 cm. S. subulata is a fast-growing plant that reproduces through runners, with which it forms a dense carpet in a short time.

Sometimes long stems with inflorescences grow to the surface of the water, producing small white flowers. In contrast to other Sagittaria species, the inflorescences do not grow upright out of the water, but flood on the surface.

Under very favorable conditions, the plant also sprouts long-stalked floating leaves with an elliptical blade. Plants cultivated in Emers are usually only a few centimeters high, have spread rosettes of leaves and often spatula to spoon-shaped leaves.

There are several forms of the Dwarf subulata such as the Sagittaria natans which forms many inflorescences and red-brown spotted floating leaves in the shallower zones of a garden pond. It develops small tubers at the ends of the runners with which it hibernates. In the aquarium the Sagittaria natans forms brown-green to red-brown colored underwater leaves for a particularly long time when there is a lot of light.

Because of its relatively low growth height, the Dwarf subulata can also be used in the foreground and middle ground of the aquarium.

It can also be accented with other plant species such as Anubias barteri var. Nana and Glossostigma elatinoides for contrast and a more natural appearance. If you allow this arrowhead to grow up to 60 cm high, you can use it in the aquarium background to create vertical structures.

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