How To Plant Java Fern In Gravel?[Step By Step Guide]

Planting Java Fern is hugely popular among the aquarists especially with the beginners because they are very hardy and require only a little care. I noticed in my last article about the Java ferns that so many people were asking the same question – “Can I grow Java Fern in gravel? “

Since I’ve planted my java fern in gravel for a while now, I decided to share how I was successfully able to grow the java ferns in gravel. Well, planting it in gravel is a pretty simple process. It’s a great way to make the aquarium look more attractive without having to take care of it regularly. 

Though planting java fern needs to be done following some steps. But with time, java ferns attach themselves and then you won’t even have to worry about them getting pulled by aggressive fishes or even by tank filters. 

So if you are looking for an amazing plant that is very easy to take care of, you can consider planting java fern in gravel by following this article.

So, let’s get started–

3 Simple Steps To Plant Java Fern In Gravel

If you are trying to set up a new aquarium or container and want to plant the beautiful java fern in the gravel then here’s what you need first–

  1. Java Fern plant of your choice
  2. Gravel substrate
  3. Aquarium or any container
  4. Aquarium-safe glue or some thread 
  5. Small safe plant weights (This one is optional)

Steps To Plant Java Ferns In Gravel

Step– 1. Prepare The Aquarium & Java Fern

  • First, clean the aquarium or the container very well and make sure there is no debris. 
  • After that, clean the gravel with water because it can have dust and impurities in it. Make sure to get aquarium safe gravel from the store because some types of gravel can release harmful chemicals which can even kill the java fern.
  • Then decide where you want to place your java fern inside the aquarium. 
  • Since the gravel doesn’t contain any nutrients you can put a thin layer of aquarium safe soil beneath the gravel to help the java fern to boost its growth with necessary nutrients.

Step– 2. Plant It In Gravel

  • Take the java fern and trim if there are any brown or damaged leaves. Use sharp and clean scissors and be very careful while cutting because we don’t want to damage the rhizome of the java fern. 
  • You can attach the java fern to any driftwood, aquarium rock, or any other hardscape or decoration pieces and then place that thing in gravel. 
  • To attach it with rock and other decorations, you have to use aquarium safe glue or you can tie the plant and wrap it around the rock using cotton thread to help the plant to anchor in one place. 
  • But remember to wrap gently so that any part of the java fern doesn’t get harmed.
  • You don’t have to worry about it much because as time goes by, the Java fern will attach itself to the substrate.
  • Now, take some gravel near the front and middle of your aquarium where they are attractively seen from your room. 
  • Then place the java fern on top of the gravel where you have decided to grow it. Make sure the rhizome is partially buried and mostly exposed to water. 
  • Avoid burying it completely under the gravel because it can kill the entire plant. 
  • Because if the rhizome is pressed inside the gravel it will rot and won’t be able to function and the java fern will die very quickly. 
  • This is why java ferns cannot be planted under the substrate like most of the other aquarium plants. 
  • But if you want to plant it solo, you can use an aquarium safe plant weight to keep it anchored in one place. 
  • When the rhizome has anchored itself you can arrange the leaves so that they don’t block the rhizome. 

Step– 3. Do Regular  Maintenance

  • Normally java ferns don’t need much maintenance. However, they require to be kept under low to medium light intensity in the aquarium. 
  • Regular water changes will improve its health and growth as well.
  • The best thing is they thrive under various water conditions so you don’t have to work so hard on it. 

Learn More About Java Fern Problems-

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I Leave Java Fern Floating?

Yes, you can leave Java Fern floating in your tank if you wish to make it look aesthetic. In this case, you have to make sure the water flow isn’t very strong to push away the ferns. Don’t forget to trim away the dead portions of the plant to help the floating. But if it’s not healthily surviving it’s best to attach it to the gravel or any other suitable substrate.

Can Java Fern Grow Out of Water?

Yes, they can grow out of water but this is difficult to maintain. Because they will need a shaded and humid environment around any water body and a lot of time to adjust to that condition. Besides, you have to make sure the roots of the java fern are planted in mud or decaying leaves. 

Does Java Fern Need CO2?

They don’t need CO2 that much. Besides, if they are grown in high levels of CO2  it can be rather harmful for them. Though the normal CO2 level of the tank is pretty okay for them. But they don’t need any extra CO2 to be added to the tank.


When planting Java fern in gravel, it’s important to follow the method that I described above to get the best results in your aquarium. Leave the rhizome above the gravel and provide low to medium light in the tank. 

Avoid burying the rhizome under the substrate at any cost. Make sure to add some liquid fertilizer so that the floating java ferns can get their required nutrients from the water.

Remember that java ferns are pretty slow growing ones and they take a lot of time to establish themselves in the new environment. But they are very hardy too. So, don’t worry about them and be patient. Once it adjusts with your tank it will become an inseparable addition to your aquarium. 

Howard Parker

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