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Eriocaulon cinereum, one of approx. 400 Eriocaulon species, is - amongst others -native to the rice paddies of South-East Asia, where it grows emersed on very wet ground. It is also very widely spread in Africa, Asia and Australia, a highly variable species, and has also been introduced into the south of the USA and northern Italy. It has proven its value as an aquarium plant in the last years.
Even though it is quite often found in Eastern Asia, E. cinereum is only rarely exported to the USA and to Europe.
This small Eriocaulon species needs a nutrient-rich substrate, as it uses mainly its large root system for nutrient absorption. The roots may reach the triple length of the leaves in this species. Its other requirements are typical for most aquarium plants of moderate difficulty: lighting intensity should be high, CO2 fertilization is a must, and the plant should be supplied with nutrients (including nitrate, phosphate, potassium and trace elements) by the addition of a liquid fertilizer to the water. When CO2 supply is good, the center of the leaf rosette assumes a golden hue.
This aquarium plant stays rather small and grows slowly even under good conditions. Its maximal height is approximately 8 cm. Around once a month, E. cinereum can be unearthed for propagation. Cut the part where parent and daughter plant are connected with a sharp tool like a razor blade or a pair of scissors, and pull the plants apart carefully.
Due to its small size, E. cinereum is ideal as a foreground plant. In Eastern Asia it is often used in the foreground of so-called Tonina tanks, where it looks like tiny green sea urchins. With its unique appearance it is suitable for accentuating practically any layout.