Water Sprite Plant (Ceratopteris Thalictroides)

Water sprite plant

Last updated on September 13th, 2022 at 05:20 pm

Water sprite plant, Ceratopteris thalictroides, are aquatic plants that are native to the tropical parts of Asia and Africa, although they’re also quite popular as houseplants in temperate regions around the world. These plants are considered to be invasive in some areas, so you may want to check if your region considers water sprite plants to be pests before taking any action with them in your own home or garden.

Regardless of where you live, water sprite plants make a great addition to your pond or aquarium, especially if you’re looking for an interesting plant that can survive in low-light conditions and has minimal care requirements.

With their long, thread-like leaves, these plants are often called water spiders in certain parts of the country, and are therefore confused with the true spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). The genus name, Ceratopteris, comes from the Greek word keras which means horn or vessel, and pteris which refers to ferns.

There are plenty of great plant choices out there, especially if you’re looking to increase the diversity and beauty of your home or office’s interior décor. But if you’re searching for an easy-to-grow, versatile option that can thrive in almost any condition, consider the water sprite plant (Ceratopteris thalictroides). It’s also commonly known as the Australian water fern and coontie fern, and it can help bring some much-needed natural beauty into your tank.

Origin and distribution

Water sprite plant

Water sprite plants are native to southern Asia. Like many aquatic plants, they thrive in warm, tropical waters. They can be found in many areas of Asia, including Thailand and Malaysia. They can also be found growing in central Africa and southern Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains. In North America and Europe, water sprite is grown as an ornamental plant rather than for food or medicinal purposes.

Water sprite plant grows best in water that has a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5, with a temperature between 75°F (24°C) and 85°F (29°C). It prefers still water with plenty of nutrients from decomposing leaves and other organic matter. If you’re interested in planting water sprite at home, it does well indoors as long as you provide it with plenty of light.

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Water sprite plant propagation

Water sprite plant

Like most plants, water sprite propagation is pretty simple. Allow a few of your new leaves to develop into their mature size and start to turn yellow, at which point you can begin to separate them from your plant. The easiest way to do that is by using a sharp pair of scissors. Make sure you only take small sections at a time so as not to overburden your plant’s root system.

Once you have removed your leaf segments, submerge them in water for about two weeks before planting in soil. It is also recommended that you dip each segment in rooting hormone before placing it in water. This will increase its chances of survival once planted outside or inside.

Once roots have developed on your cuttings, transplant each piece into its own pot filled with well-draining soil (such as peat moss). Water regularly until established; then enjoy watching your water sprite plant grow!

General care information

Water sprite plant

Water sprite plants belong to the family Pteridaceae. They can be grown as both indoor and outdoor plants. The water sprite plant is an aquatic fern that requires water for its survival. It can be kept in a pot or aquarium, but it must be submerged under water at all times. The scientific name of water sprite plant is Ceratopteris thalictroides.

Due to their aquatic nature, the plants can grow in almost any type of water. The water sprite plant does not need much care and does not require CO2 or fertilizer because it absorbs CO2 from other sources. You may also replant your plant once it has finished growing by dividing its rhizome into smaller pieces and re-planting them in their new container. This will ensure that you have another plant ready to be put into your aquarium as soon as possible.

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Light requirements

Water sprite plants, or Ceratopteris thalictroides, do best in partial shade with plenty of direct sunlight. They grow naturally in a tropical climate, and their mature size is about 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) tall. The ideal environment for these plants is one that provides about three to four hours of light each day. Leaves have been known to fall if more than seven hours of sunlight is provided per day.

Substrate/soil mix

They need to be planted in soil that’s just barely moist (never wet). This can make it tricky to maintain the right level of moisture, and occasionally you may find you have to dump excess water out of your container. A typical soil mix that can be used for these plants is equal parts sand, perlite, and peat moss. If you want, you can top dress with a small amount of aquatic plant fertilizer each week.

You will also need to add an air stone or bubbler system so that your plant receives adequate oxygenation. While there are many different types of bubblers available, an air stone connected to an air pump works well and costs relatively little. You can connect multiple stones together if necessary.


Keeping your water sprite plant healthy is easy. If you live in an area with hard water, you can reduce its effects by using a liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the spring and summer months. It’s also important to regularly remove dead leaves so that new ones have room to grow.


Water sprite plants prefer a temperature between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that houseplants aren’t immune to cold weather, so if your house temperatures drop below 45 degrees, you’ll need to bring your plant inside for warmth.

Frost can be dangerous for indoor plants, especially ones with delicate leaves like water sprite plants. If it does get frosty and your plant is in danger of being damaged, quickly move it to a warm room in your home until it’s safe outside again.

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The water sprite plant prefers wet, warm weather and does well in tropical to temperate climates. In addition to being one of a few plants that can survive underwater, it also prefers high humidity conditions, making it an ideal houseplant for locations with low levels of natural humidity.

The ideal humidity range is between 60 and 80%. If your home falls outside of that range, consider investing in a humidifier or a dehumidifier to keep your plant happy. Keep in mind that although high humidity levels help protect against spider mites and scale insects, too much moisture can lead to root rot.


Even though these plants can live in small pots, it is important to trim them as necessary. To do so, you will need sharp, clean shears and a clear knowledge of what you want to do. When trimming them, remember that they have leaves like other plants and that they do not take well to having their stems broken. If you’re unsure of how to trim your water sprite plant, find someone with experience or study pictures online.


After a year of growth, water sprite plants go dormant in late summer through early fall. The top portion of the stem dies back to just above where leaves come out from it. This can make your plant look like it’s dying or being eaten away, but don’t worry—your water sprite is actually doing its thing and preparing for springtime! What you want to do at that point is cut off everything below where leaves come out and place it in an area that’s dry.

Growth rate

In an aquatic setting, water sprite has a fast growth rate and will often cover the surface of aquariums and other bodies of water within a few weeks or months. It can grow to be as much as 2 feet in height but usually doesn’t reach more than 6 inches. They have extensive leaves with thick stems that support large bunches of tiny greenish-white flowers on stalks above them.

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The water sprite plant is non-toxic to humans and pets. However, it does not contain calcium. Therefore, caution should be taken when using it in aquariums and for houseplants; a more suitable alternative would be an aquatic moss such as a java moss (Vesicularia dubyana).

USDA Hardiness Zones

They are hardy to USDA hardiness zones 8-11. Under ideal conditions, it can thrive outside in any hardiness zone. The plant is also drought-tolerant and does not require much maintenance beyond occasional pruning.

Pests and diseases

There are many pests and diseases that can affect water sprite plants. Among these pests is mealybugs, which look like small white balls covered in a soft powder. Planthoppers can also attack water sprite plants, as well as aphids and spider mites.

Whiteflies sometimes infest aquatic plants like water sprite, too. To prevent your plant from getting infected by pests or diseases, keep it away from direct sunlight for most of the day. The leaves should be kept clean at all times, and you should always use potting soil when you repot your plant—never reuse old soil from an infected plant!

Water sprite vs water wisteria

Water sprite plant

Water wisteria, when grown above water, produces flowers, but Water Sprite is an aquatic fern that does not produce any flowers. While the leaves of Wisteria are narrower, those of Water Sprites are bushy.

Water wisteria can change the structure of its leaves, but Water Sprite cannot. Water Sprite has a central growing point or rhizome, while Wisteria has clearly defined stems and roots.

In conclusion, these plants are a wonderful choice for any water-filled environment. They create a beautiful hue and act as a natural filter for your aquarium.