Orchid Lily: Barclaya Longifolia

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Barclaya longifolia is a very attractive and beautiful aquarium plant among the aquarium enthusiasts due to its sparkling coloration and toughness. It is a flowering plant which belongs to the family Nymphaeaceae under order Nymphaeales. The genus ‘Barclaya’ is named after the American born Scientist Robert Barclay. Now it is listed as threatened species of the IUCN Red Data Book (2011).

Systematic Position

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Tracheophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Nymphaeales
  • Family: Nymphaeaceae 
  • Genus: Barclaya  
  • Species: Barclaya longifolia

Distribution And Habitat

Barclaya longifolia is also known as orchid lily which is native to south East Asia including Burma, Andaman Islands, India, Sumatra, Thailand, Malaysia, New Guinea and Vietnam. In nature, it inhabits in tropical rain forests. Generally, it grows along the banks of muddy slow streams, lakes and small rivers.

Physical Description

Barclaya longifolia grows up to 80 cm in height. It has an elongate with undulate leaves. The leaves are beautiful and silky shine. Upper side of the leaves are olive green and lower surface is violet red in color. It can grow throughout the year in aquarium condition with proper care.  

It is the best-looking plant which makes an excellent beauty for the Mid-ground zone of the aquarium. It is especially appropriate for maintaining in an aquarium. To display its beauty, the plant needs lots of space in the aquarium. This type of plant is very suitable for a discus tank. Besides these, it also offers a valuable shelter for aquarium inhabitants, especially nano fish, dwarf shrimp, and fry.

Barclaya longifolia can easily flourish and become a major centerpiece of the planted aquarium. This plant should not be placed in areas where heavy water flow is available due to its relatively delicate leaves.

Quick Barclaya Longifolia Facts

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    Scientific name: Barclaya longifolia
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    Common name: Orchid Lily
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    Plants type: Flowering plants (Angiosperms)
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    Order: Nymphaeales
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    Family: Nymphaeaceae
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    Origin: Southeast Asia
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    Placement: Foreground to Mid-ground
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    Height: 30-80 cm (11.81 - 31.5 inch)
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    Width: 20-50 cm (7.9-19.7 inch)
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    Propagation:  By runners
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    Recommended substrate: Fine gravel
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    Water temperature: 23 - 28 °C (73.4 - 82.4 °F)
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    Water pH: 6.3 - 7.2
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    Water hardness: 4-18 ° dGH
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    Lighting needs: Moderate
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    Growth: Medium
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    Care Level: Moderate

Housing And Care Facts

Barclaya longifolia requires suitable water quality parameters. The plant feels best in very soft, weakly acidic water with a pH of 6.3 - 7.2 and hardness of 4-18 ° dGH and the optimum water temperature should be ranges from 26-28 ° C (73.4 - 82.4° F). If the temperature falls below 24 °C, it hampers the growth of the plant while water temperature increases to 30 - 32 ° C, it does not affect the growth of the plant.

For optimum growth, it needs moderate lighting and nutrients. For artificial lighting, you should use fluorescent lamps or incandescent lamps. If you use incandescent lamps, the color of the leaves becomes brighter. If your tank gets direct strong light, it is better to give the shade of your plants. In this case, the plant should be placed in the shadow areas of large plants like Echinodorus sp, Anubias sp or other tall plants. For shading, you can also use floating plants on the surface of the water. It does well with additional CO2 supplementation.

Its root system is extremely sensitive to damage. To prevent damage of root system, it is recommended to use large river sand and small pebbles. In a very rich silt soil, the roots of the plants quickly die, which leads to the death of the entire plant. To avoid such troubles, it is very useful to regularly clean the soil weekly with a funnel. In this case, it must be done very carefully, since damage to the root system of the plant can lead to decay of the plant.  In your aquarium, soil layer should be 4 - 5 cm thick.  

This plant does not need frequent water changes. For proper growth, you should feed the plant weekly or once every 10 days with complex mineral fertilizers with micro-elements. When the aquarium is densely populated with fish, you should introduce only micro-fertilizers into the water.

Propagation / Reproduction

Barclaya longifolia can propagate in aquarium condition if proper care is taken. Propagation is done by separating the rhizome. Under suitable condition, rhizome produces new plants within a short time. It can also do sexual reproduction through seed formation.  During propagation, the plant should be kept in iron-rich nutrients, soft water, and plenty of other nutrients to keep them in flourishing condition.

Concluding Remarks

Barclaya longifolia is a very attractive aquarium plant among the pet fish keepers due to its lovely shading and toughness. It makes an excellent beauty for the mid-ground zone of the aquarium. To make your aquarium inhabitants safety and healthy, you should keep this plant in your aquarium.  In the pet fish market today, this plant is available with sensible cost. To make your aquarium more magnificence, we prescribe you to keep this wonderful plant in your aquarium.

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