Bolbitis heudelotii Prothallium

Bolbitis Gametophyte

Bolbitis heudelotii Prothallium

Bolbitis Gametophyte

  • Also known as Bolbitis Gametophyte
  • Exceptional aquarium plant
  • Resembling a liverwort
  • Very slow growth
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This small, liverwort-like plant has been known as "Bolbitis gametophyte" for over 10 years, but is still a hobby plant and rarity. It is the prothallium (gametophyte) of the Congo fern or African river fern, Bolbitis heudelotii. Like the "wave moss", the prothallium of the Java fern (Microsorum pteropus), it is reminiscent of the "Suesswassertang" (Lomariopsis cf. lineata gametophyte). However, it is smaller, more rigid and grows much more slowly than the latter.
The ribbon-shaped thallus is about 2 to 5 mm wide, irregularly branched, strongly wavy, medium to dark green and transparent. The underside has a pelt of light yellow-brown rhizoids, hair-shaped adhesive organs. Often young plants (sporophytes) of Bolbitis heudelotii develop on the prothallium at some point.

The Bolbitis gametophyte thrives best as a perching plant on stone or moss pads. The very slow-growing, somewhat brittle thalli more or less attach themselves to the substrate if you spread them out on it and tie them up stably. Moderate lighting, complete macro- and micronutrient supply via the water column and CO2 addition are recommended. Propagation is easy by cutting off sections and re-tying them.
As already mentioned, young plants (the sporophyte stage) of the African river fern can develop on the prothallium. These also attach themselves to the substrate with their roots.

The prothallium of Bolbitis heudelotii is a curiosity among aquatic plants that wants to be seen up close. With its small size and slow growth, it fits well into small or nano aquariums. The occasional sporophytes grow slowly and thus form an attractive group of small congo fern plantlets over a longer period of time.

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