A Complete Guide On How To Grow Dwarf Hairgrass

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Adding plant life into your aquarium is a major requirement for tank life. It intensifies the scene, makes your fish play, and adds nature to your tank conditions. Among various plant types, the Dwarf Hairgrass is very popular and preferred by aquarium owners. How can you grow Dwarf Hairgrass, then?

Dwarf Hairgrass is somewhat easy to grow and take care of. You need to choose a healthy plant in the first place and then grow it in the most suitable ways in your aquarium tank. Having a flexible caring schedule can be really helpful to have them grow healthily and spread quickly, making a carpet-like appearance for the tank.

To know more about growing dwarf Hairgrass and their requirements, continue reading this article.

About Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass is a freshwater plant found widely in many parts of the world. It is found growing abundantly in the edges of slow-moving water like ponds and streams, usually in a marsh and muddy conditions. It can be naturally found growing as a ‘carpet’ in these water conditions.

Dwarf Hairgrass belongs to the Cyperaceae plant family. In the aquarium market, both Eleocharis parvula and Eleocharis acicularis are considered as Dwarf Hairgrass plants. Although they’re referred to as the same, there have both similarities and variations regarding their looks and habitat.

Appearance Of Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass are fast-growing and fast-spreading plants. They have a simple green and grass-like appearance. Dwarf Hairgrass grows shorter than other plants of its family, which is why it has the name ‘dwarf’.

These plants grow to the shape of a blade/needle, rather than a leaf. They are thin in size, making it easier to create a dense area wherever they grow. Plus, they have white roots, usually buried in the substrate below.

Dwarf Hairgrass Purchase: How To Choose

As a popular plant, Dwarf Hairgrass is high in demand in the aquarium markets. They are easily available in the market at an affordable price. Although these plants are readily available, you need to be careful while choosing one for yourself.

Choose A Healthy Plant

Always make sure that you choose a healthy plant. To recognize if it is healthy or not, check for their color. If the plant appears brown or has visible patches in it, then you should better avoid them, as this one is unhealthy. A healthy specimen appears with bright green colored blades and stands upright.

Check The Roots

Another thing to check upon is their roots. The plant with long roots is better, as they will help absorb nutrients properly from the substrate. You can also take a look at Guide to Different Types of Aquarium Substrates.

Choose Between Two Species

If you want to pick one between E. parvula and E. acicularis, then you must know how to distinguish them. Due to their similar appearance, the sellers may display them as the same plants or consider one plant’s name to the other. I have already described the slight variations between these plants in this article above.

SubstrateSource Eleocharis sp. “Dwarf Hairgrass” Live Aquarium Plant – Tissue Culture Cup, is the affordable and best one on amazon.

What Are The Tank Conditions For Your Dwarf Hairgrass?

Dwarf hairgrass is most likely to grow healthy and better if you can recreate the tank conditions similar to their natural habitat. And doing so is pretty easy for beginners as well.

Articles about maintaining the water quality and parameters that you may like:

Water Conditions

Dwarf hairgrass can adjust to multiple temperature levels. So, set the water temperature between 50°F to 83°F (10°C to 28°C). These plants can live in both cool and warm temperatures.

Speaking of hardness and pH level, dwarf hairgrass cannot thrive in extreme hardness and pH water conditions. Therefore, keep the pH level between 6.5 to 7.5 pH, and the hardness level between 2-10 DH. Also, check these levels from time to time to maintain the condition at their normal level.

Tank Setup

Dwarf hairgrass can live on tanks of any size, even in nano tanks. You can learn everything about Nano Planted Aquarium from our Set up Guide.

Still, a tank size of a minimum of 10 gallons is enough for them. Aqueon Standard Glass Rectangle Aquarium 10, Clear would be a good choice considering the price and the quality of the tank!

As these plants are placed at the bottom of the tank, you will need a tank with a shallow height.


These plants are from shallow tropical freshwaters, with a proper abundance of light. The light is highly required for their photosynthesis process and growth as well. It will enrich their green color and keep them healthy and glowing.

So, they need more presence of light in the tank as well. For this, you can use LED lights readily available in the market. Setting the lighting conditions between moderate to high is enough for them. And keep them turned on for at least 8 to 10 hours daily.

For mid-range affordable planted aquarium lights, NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum LED Fish Tank Light for Freshwater Plants (18 to 24 Inch, 15 Watts) is the best.

Similarly, durable aquarium lights for plants would be Plant Spectrum Fluval Bluetooth Freshwater Light LED (36 inches to 48 inches).


Speaking of the substrate, it is better to use soft substrate for these plants. This is because dwarf hairgrass has fine roots, which are thin and prone to damage.

Therefore, you can use sand for their grounding, as its fine grains ease their roots to grow within. You can coat the substrate layer by making it thick by 1.5 inches. Carib Sea SuperNaturals Peace River (20LB) would be a good substrate if you are looking for one.

Dwarf hairgrass prefers a nutrient-enriched substrate. So, you can spread a layer of nutrient-rich aqua soil beneath the sand, or use fertilizers. These plants require proper nutrients to grow, which are not present in the sand substrate solely.


Dwarf hairgrass requires adequate nutrients and CO2 for their healthy growth and spread. For these purposes, there are CO2 injections and fertilizers available to enrich your aquarium plant.

CO2 is necessary as it contributes to fast growth and dense spreading of the plant. It adds more color to them, making them bright and healthy.

For Co2 booster, you can use API Co2 Booster Freshwater Aquarium Plant Treatment 16 oz Bottle which is quite cheap as well as effective.

Dwarf hairgrass can also grow without CO2 injection in the tank. But it will spread at a slower rate in comparison to the CO2 addition. However, in the absence of enough CO2, the tank will have more algae in the tank water. Thus, it is recommended to give adequate CO2 to your plant.

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Sufficient nutrients are also needed for these plants as it enhances their survival and boosts their growth. For this, fertilizers are available in the aquarium market as liquid fertilizers and root tabs. You can maintain a daily routine to provide them with enough nutrients, or your plants might turn out to get scattered.

Seachem Flourish Tabs Growth Supplement – Aquatic Plant Stimulant 40 ct is a great root tab to grow Dwarf Hairgrass.

How To Plant Dwarf Hairgrass

Planting your dwarf hairgrass in the tank can be a bit difficult. But, the result will be beautiful if you do it the proper way. Here are some basic tips to plant the dwarf hairgrass the right way:

  • First of all, remove the plant from its clump and split them into portions. It is ideal to not plant the whole clump together as it may not support healthy growth in them.
  • While doing so, free the roots carefully from one another. Prevent damaging the roots while doing this, as the process might be lengthy as this time.
  • Use a pair of tweezers to plant the separated portions of the plant into the substrate. Gently place the roots enough into the substrate to prevent the above strand from floating.
  • Place each strand of plants about 1to 2 inches away from each other. You need to keep space between them to avoid crowding and allowing them to spread easily afterward.
  • Now you can fertilize the plants essentially with proper nutrients and lightings.
  • You can trim your plants after you have planted them.

Depending on your tank conditions, the dwarf hairgrass will take a while to get comfortable in the substrate below. But once they are fitted well enough, they will start spreading around in the tank.

Now that you have planted them in the tank, make sure to look after them from time to time. Maintain a schedule to fertilize them and balance the tank conditions as well.

You can get more information about maintaining balance in tank conditions from here:

Caring & Maintenance Of Dwarf Hairgrass

In regards to maintenance and caring, dwarf hairgrass is an easy level plant. It does not require so much equipment and expenses for being preserved. After you have successfully planted them, all you have to do is take care of the following things to maintain their healthy growth and survival.


Dwarf hairgrass tend to grow faster in both horizontal and vertical ways, i.e., it can widespread as well as grow longer. However, if it grows more in height, then this can prevent the plant from spreading properly in the substrate.

Therefore, trimming these plants is a must to ensure they are widespread in the tank. You must trim them regularly up to 1 to 2 inches. By doing this, your plant will grow horizontally and will maintain a dense carpet for your aquarium.

Lighting & Nutrients

Appropriate and adequate nutrients are equally essential for the health and growth of dwarf hairgrass. These plants can receive nutrients naturally through the tank’s lighting and also from the provided supplements.

Dwarf hairgrass should be kept in places where they receive enough lights. Lights are a natural source that they use for photosynthesis, growth, and living. So, make sure you do not place them in shaded areas in the tank.

Besides, these plants also require adequate nutrients and CO2. For this, there are many products available in the aquarium market, such as liquid fertilizers, root tabs, and CO2 injections. These supplements can be used to give your plants enough nutrients that they need for their growth.

Algae Prevention

You must learn to keep a balance in the CO2 level, lightings, and nitrate levels in the tank, or else the grass could be swarming with hair algae. To prevent this, you must maintain normal lighting, more CO2, and less nitrate level in the tank.

Also read: Algae In Fish Tank: Type, Cause And Control

Dwarf Hairgrass Propagation

Dwarf hairgrass tend to propagate faster in comparison to other plants. But, the propagation process is quite different from that of others.

In the case of dwarf hairgrass, you cannot cut and replant a stem to get a new plant. Instead, their propagation takes place by runners. As the plant grows, the runners form and branch off from the root area, which causes them to develop their own plant from their roots.

As a matter of fact, this process is an advantage, as you do not have to put effort to contribute to the propagation process directly. All you need to do is to ensure their exponential growth by providing them with adequate lights and essential nutrients, with proper tank conditions. The result will be a rich and natural looking carpet.

Issues With Growing Dwarf Hairgrass

As a beginner, you might face difficulty in maintaining and preserving a proper tank environment for dwarf hairgrass. Or even while cultivating these plants, you may not be able to plant them properly in the substrate. Due to similar reasons as these, the following issues can arise soon after you begin to grow the dwarf hairgrass:

Slow Growth

Dwarf hairgrass does not show any sign of growth or spread for some time after you have planted them. In major cases, they do not show any kind of growth activity, which makes them look as they were before.

In this case, you need not worry so much. This is a common behavior among this plant, as they are generating and establishing their root system during this period. Therefore, have some patience and give them some more time. Once they are propagating on the substrate, they will start growing rapidly.

Algae Infestation

Algae invasion is a major issue occurring in these plants. Especially, hair algae are found infesting in these grasses. The main reason for this is due to an imbalance in the CO2 level, nitrate level, and lighting condition in the tank.

The solution to the algae problem is keeping balance in the tank’s environmental factors. You should have sufficient CO2 and lighting, with less level of nitrate to maintain a suitable atmosphere for the plants. Also, keep the tank water clean by changing it from time to time. This will decrease or eliminate the algae problem in your plants.

Also read: How To Get Rid Of Algae In Fish Tank Naturally?

Color Degrading

In some cases, you may notice your plants getting out of their natural color. Their leaves can turn brown or have yellow patches occurring in them. This discoloration is usually caused by insufficient nutrients given to the plants.

Hence, you must provide these plants with the necessary and adequate amount of nutrients. Nutrients and supplements rich in iron and macronutrients are the best food for the dwarf hairgrass. Provide them with the right dosage and they will grow greener and healthier.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Distinguish Between E. Parvula And E. Acicularis?

E. parvula can grow up to 4 inches in length, and E. acicularis grows slightly taller, up to 10 inches. E. parvula grows in a curly shape, whereas E. acicularis tends to grow straight, as it is thinner than the other one.

What Are The Benefits Of Dwarf Hairgrass In Your Aquarium Tank?

Its bright appearance intensifies the atmosphere in the tank, adding a beautiful look within and also attracting fishes to play around it. It can act as a shelter for bottom-dwelling fishes as well, providing them safety from the water current above.

Besides, these plants help in the oxygenation of your tank water. It assists in removing pollutants and excess nutrients, removes gas pockets in the substrate, and balance the nitrate level in the tank too.

Also read: How To Maintain The Oxygen Level In Aquarium?


In conclusion, dwarf hairgrass is an easy level plant to maintain and grow. It won’t be much of a problem for beginners. You need to ensure that the tank environment is suitable and the plants are receiving enough nutrients for their long-term survival.

Dwarf hairgrass can give a vivid carpet look to your tank, and adding a natural sense to it. Furthermore, it also balances the oxygenation level in your tank, which is beneficial for itself. Thus, adding this plant will be a great and fruitful collection to your tank.

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