Of all the emersed plants for an aquarium, Poaceae sp. purple bamboo, or Purple Bamboo, is one of the rarest. This unique species of grass can become quite the focal point of any freshwater tank display.
How does Poaceae sp. Purple Bamboo grow?
You can grow Purple Bamboo submerged inside or outside of water. This makes it a fantastic choice in situations where you want to create a sense of height. It’s because of the extreme verticality that Purple Bamboo provides.
What does Purple Bamboo look like?
For situations where you want a little foliage poking out of the water, Poaceae sp. Purple Bamboo gives a perfect effect with a dash of stunning color. As the plant grows into maturity, its bright green leaves and stems will darken to a near-purple shade or a deep wine color. But this isn’t bright, it’s much muted.
The silvery, delicate leaves will collect air bubbles, called pearling, and will stay there for days. It’s not certain why they develop these oxygen bubbles, but it does related to how it sits between air and water at the same time.
The thin, elegant stems are breathtaking and grow in groups of five, with the width of the stems ranging between over an inch to a little more than three inches (five to eight centimeters).
From where does Purple Bamboo come?
It comes from the lowland plains or mountainous regions of Asia and came in mistaken as a species from the Polygonum, or Knotweed, family. Purple Bamboo is a true grass mostly cultivated in Asia and the USA.
But it’s not a true bamboo tree, where its branches and leaves are much larger. It does look like a smaller version of real bamboo, hence the name, but it is grass. This aquatic plant does best inside and outside of water simultaneously.
How easy is it to care for Purple Bamboo?
Poaceae sp. purple bamboo care is a little difficult for newbie aquarists. Although not a very demanding plant, more experienced hobbyists should attempt it. You don’t need a lot of tank equipment as you would with other mosses, but it does thrive best in an environment with controlled conditions.
How do you care for Purple Bamboo?
If you’re dedicated to having this plant in your aquarium, you must resolve to commit yourself to it. Even though tolerant of temperatures, Purple Bamboo is picky when it comes to light, fertilizer, and Co2 injections. Any dereliction of duty with this last part will cause the plant to die.
Light and fertilizer
It needs good, bright light with Co2 and fertilizer. Low light conditions will suit Purple Bamboo, but its growth will be slow and the dark reddish, purplish color won’t develop. The plant will remain almost green.
Co2 injections with regular use of liquid fertilizer will be essential to its survival. Use a balanced fertilizer with an even NPK ratio. Light and fertilizer will be the most important things to keep an eye on when caring for Purple Bamboo. Without them, leaves will wilt, fall, turn brown and eventually kill the plant.
Pruning ; Trimming
Pruning will be a frequent event so that it grows in plentitude and to keep the height down. This is because of how fast it can grow. If left untrimmed, it will only create a few lateral shoots. But the good side of sparse pruning is that it will keep a stiff, straight appearance. This will not ever become bushy.
Poaceae sp. Purple Bamboo does best when planted around driftwood in shallow water. It also does well when set amid the background in open tanks that’s allowed to emerge above the waterline. But, you can grow this completely submerged as well. If you opt for this, it will soften the straight, upright stature of this plant.
So, you can place this almost anywhere in your tank that will allow for it. Once they’ve become established, you can propagate the plant with ease. Cut it under one of the nodes and it will sprout new roots.
Water and temperatures
Purple Bamboo can tolerate a range of water temperatures. It does best between 60°F and 75°F but winter temperatures that range below -15°F to -20°F won’t hurt the plant. Always use fresh, pollutant-free water; keep it clear of things like ammonia.
Regular water change is a must and should be free of chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur, iron, and fluoride. The pH balance should be between 6 and 7.5.
How do you encourage the plant’s purple color?
If you’re in love with the idea of the hues Purple Bamboo can produce, there are a few things you can do. It’s a little tedious and you’ll have to care for the plant every day, but the results are worth it.
The Trifecta for Coloring
Fertilizer, Co2 injections, and water will play a huge role in this. A bright LED light shining on it consistently will help the plant develop the muted purple tones. Also, don’t disturb the oxygen bubbles that form on the leaves.
You can keep a large LED light shining on its side to try and get the whole plant to turn purpler than it otherwise would. This isn’t guaranteed and many aquatic gardeners report mixed results with this, but it’s worth trying.
Also, make sure the plant sits in both water and air to develop its natural amethyst-like color. You’ll notice that the leaves at the top of the plant will be more purplish than the lower leaves. This is because the color develops as it matures and because these are closes to the light source.
What kind of tank mates are suitable for Purple Bamboo?
Almost any kind of fish will be perfect for Purple Bamboo. Many aquarium hobbyists report lots of success with snails and shrimp because they don’t eat the fresh leaves and keep any algae that develop under control. Some fish may even find the leaves a good place to nest or hide.