How to grow “HC Cuba”

How to grow “HC Cuba”

Photo from 2houraquarist

Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC) ‘Cuba’ is one of the smallest ground creepers available in the hobby. It is popular as a carpet as its small size makes for a very fine carpet and contrasts well with even other small leaved plants. HC Cuba is notorious for being one of the harder carpeting plants to grow well in the planted aquarium. It is often called dwarf baby tears in the hobby, but this can easily lead to mix-ups as “baby tears” can refer to a couple of other plants as well.

A similar plant that is far easier to grow is Micranthemum Monte carlo, with the difference being insignificant at a distance especially in larger tanks. HC Cuba grows slightly faster than Monte carlo and has smaller leaves and stems. It is not as deep rooted as Monte carlo and requires more frequent trimming. HC Cuba plant requires a lot more CO2 to grow well compared to Monte carlo. Both plants will creep over rocks; but Monte carlo does this more aggressively.

Key Success factors

  • Good CO2 levels – see guide here.
  • Adequate lighting – 40umols (par) at substrate +
  • Good planting technique – plant separate small strands rather than bunches

Additional points:

  • Lower temperature helps (< 26 degrees celsius)
  • Possible to get good growth till 29 degrees or so. Exponentially harder above that. Tanks in the tropics with no chiller should avoid the hassle and just use Monte carlo.
  • Fine, rich substrates help, but are not a necessity.
  • Not sensitive to KH; can tolerate higher ranges well (10+ dKH

Tissue culture HC can be sensitive to ammonia/raw new aquasoils. Use Activate when starting the aquarium especially using some rich aquasoils to prevent ammonia from going high and harming these plants. Waiting a week while using activate before planting to avoid melt completely.