Dwarf Hairgrass Vs. Mini Dwarf Hairgrass – Co2, Substrate & Lights

In freshwater environments, there are many plants that can give aquariums a realistic appearance while providing a cozy atmosphere for fish.  Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula) and Mini Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis) are two types that can create this ambiance by providing a beautiful carpet.

The main difference between these two Hairgrasses is size and speed of growth.  As indicated by the name, Mini Dwarf Hairgrass will be shorter than Dwarf Hairgrass, also known as Spike Rush.  Besides that, the propagation and care of either type are about the same.  They’re finicky to start and need constant attention.

How easy is it to grow Dwarf Hairgrass?

No type of Dwarf Hairgrass is “easy” to grow, but Dwarf Hairgrass is easier than Mini Dwarf Hairgrass. This makes it more suitable for beginners.  You have to have a certain amount of commitment to it if you want it to grow right and well.  Regular maintenance will have to become a part of your usual routine.

How do you trim it?

Because the Dwarf Hairgrass you add to a tank isn’t used to the conditions, you’re going to have to trim it often at first.  This will get rid of any yellow and brown discoloration that appears at the top of each blade.  It will help the roots to strengthen into the substrate.  After a time, it will turn into a lush, green blanket that will require little attention.

Trim when it reaches about two inches high and cut it back about one and a half inches.  This encourages horizontal spread and will force the plant to grow faster.  Also not that it’s wise to prevent algae spores from attaching to the plant by keeping a light current on it.

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Nano Planted tank

How tall does Dwarf Hairgrass get?

With regular and proper trimming, Dwarf Hairgrass can reach as high as six inches.  But, without the trimming, it will only get to four inches tall or less.

Will Dwarf Hairgrass grow well without Co2?

Co2 is not a requirement to have a lush, green carpet of Dwarf Hairgrass.  But it does make growth faster and more efficient.  It also allows for recovery from the browning that first occurs after it begins to root.

But note that when you do use Co2 at a rate of around 30 ppm (or one to three bubbles per second), the Hairgrass will grow denser, lusher, greener, and faster.  Without Co2, it will take a lot longer for the Hairgrass to root and establish in the tank.

If you opt out of using Co2, then you’re going to have to compensate with a nutrient-rich, well-balanced fertilizer and substrate.  Plus you have to ensure it gets plenty of light for proper photosynthesis.

What kind of substrate will Dwarf Hairgrass grow on?

Growing Dwarf Hairgrass in a sand-only substrate is advisable, but you can grow it in gravel as well.  Ensure the substrate provides nutrients to the Hairgrass too.  Fertilizer in combination with the substrate should offer all the nutrition.

How does it do on sand?

To enrich the sand, get some root tabs and spread them throughout the tank.  Make sure the layer of sand is, at the very least, two inches deep before you plant the Hairgrass.  Keep in mind that Dwarf Hairgrass loves an iron-rich environment.

Will it grow on gravel?

For more coarse substrates, like gravel, Dwarf Hairgrass will take to it, but there are some things to think about before using this.  First, the plant will have a more difficult time forming a full-covering carpet because of the various nooks and crannies creating an uneven surface.  Root tabs will be a must to help with this.

Planting the Hairgrass, in and of itself, will be difficult as well.  You will have to use plant tweezers in order to hope for any measure of success.  This is because the blades will escape the gravel more easily than you want it to.

What’s more, if you have bottom feeders who love to uproot plants, you’ll have to cover the Hairgrass with some sort of protective netting.

How much light does Dwarf Hairgrass need?

Medium to full light is absolutely necessary for Dwarf Hairgrass to thrive.  This is because of the depth at which the Hairgrass sits in the tank.  The deeper the tank, the more difficult it is for light to reach it.  An LED aquarium light is great at providing Dwarf Hairgrass all the light it needs. 

Remember, it’s not about watts per gallon, it’s about how much light reaches the bottom of the tank.

How long does it take Dwarf Hairgrass to root?

If using Co2, Dwarf Hairgrass can grow in about a month or so.  But without an injection of Co2, it can take a few months.  Other things that can affect the speed of the plant’s growth are lack of light, poor nutrition, and aquatic life that disturbs or nibble on it. 

Also, if there isn’t a current billowing through the tank, it will cause the Dwarf Hairgrass to root at a much slower rate.

Will Dwarf Hairgrass grow on driftwood and will it spread?

Yes, it will grow on driftwood, but make sure to boil or soak it in water before you put it in your tank.  It will take on a life of its own and cover every inch of free space in your aquarium; this includes any substrate, driftwood, arches, and other decorations.

When should Mini Dwarf Hairgrass be in a tank?

You should only use Mini Dwarf Hairgrass when keeping a very small tank, like a shrimp bowl.  Alternatively, this type is good when keeping particulate creatures, like invertebrates or nano fish.  It’s much more difficult and slow to grow with many new aquarists reporting how difficult it is to survive in a large aquarium.

Does Mini Dwarf Hairgrass spread?

Yes, Mini Dwarf Hairgrass spreads throughout the tank, but there are a few issues with it in larger tanks.  That’s why it’s advisable to start with Dwarf Hairgrass until you feel comfortable growing it and understand its cultural requirements and behavior.