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Aromatica limnophilia P004 (Rec Retail $7.50)

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The extremely polymorphic (variable) species Limnophila aromatica can be found growing in swampy or boggy soil in its native region of Southeastern Asia. It is a relative newcomer to the aquarium hobby, as it has only recently been imported. The form featured here was originally described as L. hippuridoides (not "L. hippuroides"). In some older literature, it may be labeled erroneously as Gratiola officinalis. This species is gradually becoming more commonly available, and can presently be purchased through a few online aquatic plant retailers. It can also be obtained easily though hobbyists who maintain it.

Light is the most important aspect of successful culture with L. aromatica, though its nutrient and carbon needs should not be underestimated. CO2 supplementation is all but necessary, as is frequent fertilization with nitrate, phosphate, and micro-nutrients. Iron is especially important for good coloration and growth. A rich substrate will accelerate growth, as this species often develops a substantial root system. Nitrate limitation or phosphate excess usually produces the most pleasing colors. Like Ludwigia glandulosa, however, growth is often slower than the hobbyist would like, even under good conditions. Emersed culture is possible and is easy, and can be accomplished on a wet substrate of loam or an equally rich medium. Plants that reach the top of the aquarium will often begin to form emersed foliage. In Vietnam, the leaves of this species are used as a spice and are also infused with water to make an aromatic herbal tea.

The 'topping' method is the easiest and most productive way to propagate this species, though seed culture on wet loam is not impossible. The hobbyist should be careful to plant the individual shoots so that they do not shade one another. The continual topping of stems in the substrate will render the shoots of this plant bushier, as multiple growth tips will develop from the originating stem.

With its amazing coloration, L. aromatica is most effective in the aquascape as a focal point. It shows up particularly well against a dark background or against species with small, bright, light green leaves. Against a backdrop of Vallisneria spp., this species is extremely effective and appealing, especially if it is well maintained.