Bolbitis Heudelotii Care Sheet

Bolbitis heudelotii, also known as the African water fern, is a highly sought-after aquatic plant among aquarium enthusiasts. Its uniquely textured foliage and growth form have made it increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby. In this care sheet, we will discuss everything you need to know to successfully grow and maintain Bolbitis heudelotii in your aquarium.


Originating from the tropical regions of Africa, Bolbitis heudelotii can be found growing as an epiphyte in fast-flowing streams, lakes, or rivers. Its bright to dark green leaves create an attractive feature in your aquarium and contribute to its natural appearance. Additionally, it helps purify tank water by absorbing nitrate nutrients and provides shelter for fish and shrimp.

Plant Characteristics

  • Scientific name: Bolbitis heudelotii
  • Common names: African water fern, African fern, creeping fern, Congo fern, Bolbitis, Bolbitis water fern
  • 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

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History and Taxonomy

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, including 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, and others.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for Bolbitis heudelotii is relatively easy, making it a great choice for beginners. This plant can serve as an ideal focal point in an aquarium with multiple specimens in the background position. It provides additional shelter for tank inhabitants and is a slow grower, requiring 1 to 2 months to form a new leaf.

In the aquarium, Bolbitis heudelotii develops best when 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 a decent amount of water movement. It tolerates a wide range of light levels, and for optimum growth, the light intensity should range from 2-3 watts per gallon using full-spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs.

Regular mineral supplements, nutrient-rich substrate, vitamin supplementation, and mild CO2 injection greatly