Dwarf Hairgrass Complete Growing Guide 2022 (growing, feeding & propagating)

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Growing live plants in our aquariums has really grown in popularity over recent years, and one phenomenon that has become really popular is carpeting. Carpeting is the process of growing a thick carpet of low-level plants across the front of the tank.

Many of the plants that we can use to create these carpets require special lights and lots of dedication from the fish keeper. Dwarf Hairgrass is the exception. This low-growing, grass-like plant will create a lush carpet with very little help from us fishkeepers.

In this article, I look more closely at Dwarf Hairgrass.

Overview of Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass, as the common name very much suggests, is a short plant whose leaves resemble blades of grass. Dwarf Hairgrass is one of the hardiest and easiest to grow plants in the hobby. Given a half-decent setup, Dwarf Hairgrass will form a thick, lush green carpet in your tank.

There are two species of Dwarf Hairgrass sold in the hobby and both use the name Dwarf Hairgrass interchangeably. These two species are Eleocharis parvula and Eleocharis acicularis. Fortunately, both species have almost identical care requirements.

Dwarf Hairgrass has been grown and loved by both general fishkeepers and dedicated aquascapers for many years.

Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis Parvula) -BUY3GET1FREE- Live Aquarium Foregound Plant
  • Plants provide great shelter from smaller aquarium inhabitants including baby fish, and invertebrates.
  • All our plants are grown in the best environment possible with high output lights and injected CO2. As well as liquid fertilizers every week. You can expect a high quality plant that is algae and snail pest free.
  • SHIPPING ALWAYS COMBINED - Buy as many plants as you'd like for 1 combined low flat rate. Give it a try!
  • 100% LIVE ARRIVAL GUARANTEE! - See bellow for details.

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dwarf Hairgrass Characteristics

Common Name:Dwarf Hairgrass
Scientific Name:Eleocharis parvula or Eleocharis acicularis
Origins:Europe, N. America, S. America, and Asia
Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Fast
Light Level:Medium to High
C02 Level:Low
Tank Location:Foreground
Temperature:60°F – 82°F (15.5°C – 27.5°C)
Propagation Method:Runners
Maximum Height:4″ (10cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10-gallons (38 liters)

Dwarf Hairgrass General Description

Dwarf Harigrass is a low-growing plant that is widely regarded in the aquascaping hobby as the easiest plant to be able to ‘carpet’ the aquarium floor. Only growing to a maximum of around 4″ (10cm), Dwarf Hairgrass spreads by sending out small runners in all directions.

The thin, grass-like leaves of Dwarf Hairgrass form a thick, lush carpet of dark green, covering every inch of the substrate if so allowed.

Although undemanding, the brighter the light used to grow Dwarf Hairgrass, the thicker and darker the carpet of grass will be.

Ideal Tank Conditions for Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass is often described as one of the easiest plants to be able to grow to form a carpet across the aquarium substrate. It is not too demanding of fertilizer or CO2, and providing at least a moderate aquarium light is used, Dwarf Hairgrass will grow well.

With regards to water temperature, I have always found, providing the water temperature is in the region of 60°F to 82°F (15.5°C to 27.5°C), Dwarf Hairgarss will grow really well. I have read articles suggesting Dwarf Hairgrass will grow as low as 50°F (10°C), but I don’t have any tanks that run that cold, so I can’t confirm that to be the case.

Many of the so-called carpeting plants need lots of light in order to grow and form a lush carpet. Dwarf Hairgrass is nowhere near as fussy. Providing you have at least moderate light, Dwarf Hairgrass will happily form a carpet.

In my own aquariums with Dwarf Hairgrass, I tend to run Fluval Aquasky lights. Aquasky lights give enough light for the Dwarf Hairgrass to grow well, but without costing a fortune. If you have slightly deeper pockets, the Fluval Plant 3.0 is even better (check the current price on Amazon.com).

Dwarf Hairgrass produces tiny, white hair-like roots that anchor it in place. As such it needs to be grown on a substrate that isn’t too large or too fine.

I have never had much success trying to grow Dwarf Hairgrass on sand, but it always seems to do really well for me when grown on fine gravel or Fluval Stratum. Larger gravel, 20mm and over, should also be avoided as it is just too large for the Dwarf Hairgrass to get its roots into.

Dwarf Hairgrass does not especially need additional CO2 to be injected into its aquarium. I currently grow it in some tanks without CO2 and some with, and the growth rate is very similar.

As far as I am aware, Dwarf Hairgrass is not too fussy about the pH or water hardness. Providing your aquarium water is somewhere between 5.5 and 8.0 it should be fine.

Dwarf Hairgrass, in fact pretty much ALL aquarium plants need good water circulation. Water circulation helps spread nutrients all around the tank, making sure every plant has access to fertilizer, etc. Good circulation also helps maintain an even temperature throughout the tank and prevents dead spots where debris can accumulate.

Dwarf Hairgrass appreciates good circulation but prefers not to be blown around the tank.

Dwarf Hairgrass Maintenance

Dwarf Hairgrass really is a low-maintenance plant. There isn’t a great deal we need to do to keep it looking good and growing well. The main maintenance required is trimming and removing any uneaten food or debris that might gather on the plant.

Trimming Dwarf Hairgrass is a simple affair. Take a pair of sharp scissors and work your way from one side to the other, trimming the grass to your desired length. Some aquascapers like to leave the Dwarf Hairgass at the back longer than the front to help create a sense of depth, but that’s a case of personal choice.

Truth be told, I very rarely trim my Dwarf Hairgrass. Looking around my tanks, it is probably close to 4″ (10cm) tall in most of them, and that’s fine by me. If you are creating a high-end aquascape, you may wish to trim it on a more regular basis.

After trimming, vacuuming is the most time-consuming piece of routine maintenance required by Dwarf Hairgrass.

Every time a piece of food gets past the fish or a large piece of poop is passed by one of the inhabitants of the tank, it naturally lands on the Dwarf Hairgrass. Under normal circumstances, a fish or maybe a Red Cherry Shrimp will come along and eat the offending item. If however, this debris starts to build up in one spot, it can cause the Dwarf Hairgrass to die back.

When carrying out a routine water change, I would recommend passing the suction hose slowly and carefully over the Dwarf Hairgrass to suck up any debris that might be lying there. That way, your Dwarf Hairgrass will continue to grow without fear of dead patches.

On a day-to-day basis, Dwarf Hairgrass requires little maintenance and is certainly not a demanding plant to grow.

Fertilizing Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass will grow fine without the addition of aquarium fertilizer, but it grows really well when fertilizer is added.

In an ideal world, we would place root tabs underneath Dwarf Hairgrass to fertilize it. However, when we get to the stage where dwarf Hairgrass has formed a thick carpet, there is no easy way to get the root tabs into the substrate.

As such, I would recommend fertilizing your Dwarf Hairgrass with a liquid aquarium fertilizer.

I like to use Easy Green, which is made by Aquarium Co-op. Easy Green has been designed to be an easy-to-use, all-in-one fertilizer. Depending on the size of your aquarium, you just add a few squirts each week and your Dwarf Hairgrass will grow lush and thick and bright green.

Adding fertilizer ensures your Dwarf Hairgrass will get all the essential nutrients it needs to grow well.

Propagating Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass is extremely easy to propagate, although you have to wait for the plant to be ready. Unlike many stem plants, you can’t just cut a piece of Dwarf Hairgrass and stick it into the substrate.

Dwarf Hairgrass propagates by sending out runners. When the plant is ready it will send out a runner under the substrate. Usually, the first we fishkeepers know about it is when a new patch of Dwarf Hairgrass appears a few inches along from the existing patch.

Dwarf Hairgrass will continue to send out runners and increase its own size naturally. There is little we aquarists can do to help, other than ensure the plant has enough light and lots of fertilizer.

What Other Plants Can Be Grown With Dwarf Hairgrass?

Dwarf Hairgrass itself can grow with any other plants. The only thing to consider is, will the other plants in the tank shade the Dwarf Hairgrass out?

Dwarf Hairgrass finds itself at a major disadvantage when it comes to light. It can only grow about 4″ high. Compare that to Water Sprite of Vallisneria, both of which can get closer to the light, and spread out, creating a shadow that will kill off the Dwarf Hairgrass.

If you are planning on growing other plants in the same tank as Dwarf Hairgrass, I would make sure there is enough of a gap that the Dwarf Harigrass does not get crowded out by the other plants.

In some of my own tanks, I grow Dwarf Hairgrass with lower growing plants like Java Fern or Cryptocoryne Wendetii.

What Fish Can Live With Dwarf Hairgrass?

The list of fish that can live in an aquarium with Dwarf Hairgrass is fairly long. In my own tanks that have Dwarf Hairgrass growing I keep the following;

What Fish to Avoid with Dwarf Hairgrass?

When it comes to which fish to keep with Dwarf Hairgrass, there are a few species of fish that should be avoided.

Any fish that digs in the substrate should definitely be avoided because they will either dig up your Dwarf Hairgrass or eat the tiny shoots on new plants as the runners come up through the substrate.

Common Goldfish and Fancy Goldfish should definitely be avoided as should any member of the Geophagus family (Geophagus translates as Earth Eater) as they will all sift through the substrate looking for anything they can eat.

Large South American Cichlids should also be avoided. They will quickly destroy ANY plants they are kept with.

Benefits of Growing Dwarf Hairgrass

There are many benefits to growing live plants in our aquariums. In my opinion, any tank with live plants growing just looks and feels more natural, even though there is nothing natural about our aquariums!

Another major benefit to growing live plants, including Dwarf Hairgrass, is the plants’ ability to absorb ammonia and nitrate which result from our fish going to the bathroom.

Fast-growing plants like Dwarf Hairgrass absorb lots of ammonia and nitrates as they grow, making our aquarium water cleaner and safer for the fish.

One final benefit that I have found is providing a safe space for baby Red Cherry Shrimp to hide. I keep Red Cherry Shrimp in almost every aquarium I own, and when the shrimp have babies, those tiny baby shrimp need somewhere to hide from hungry fish. The Dwarf Hairgrass provides that hiding place.

Problems with Dwarf Hairgrass

Although Dwarf Harigrass is a hardy plant and one that is often recommended for beginners, it is not without its problems.


Algae is always a potential problem for plants. The most common algae issue I have found with my own Dwarf Hairgrass is Black Beard Algae. On more than one occasion my lush green carpet has been spoiled by the appearance of the dreaded Black Beard Algae.

Fortunately, I have had good success introducing known algae eaters like Black Mollies and Siamese Algae Eaters. Red Chery Shrimp are also great algae eaters, so I am always trying to increase my Red Cherry Shrimp population.

Plants Dying Off

Occasionally, individual Dwarf Hairgrass plants may die off. If these plants are new to you, there is a good chance they were grown emersed (meaning out of water), and they have to transition to life underwater. This means all their foliage will die off, then new submerged foliage will grow in its place.

If the plants are not new but have started dying off, take a look at your fertilizing regime. It is possible you are not adding enough fertilizer. As plants grow they consume more fertilizer. If we never increase the amount we add, we might be leaving our plants short of nutrients.

Leaves Turning Brown

When a large number of Dwarf Hairgrass leaves begin to turn brown it is often a sign that they are lacking nutrients. As above, take some time to assess your fertilizing regime, and if the problem could be a lack of fertilizer, consider adding more.

Where to Buy Dwarf Hairgrass?

Dwarf Hairgrass is one of those plants you can buy at almost every good local fish store around the country. It is essentially a fish store staple.

Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis Parvula) -BUY3GET1FREE- Live Aquarium Foregound Plant
  • Plants provide great shelter from smaller aquarium inhabitants including baby fish, and invertebrates.
  • All our plants are grown in the best environment possible with high output lights and injected CO2. As well as liquid fertilizers every week. You can expect a high quality plant that is algae and snail pest free.
  • SHIPPING ALWAYS COMBINED - Buy as many plants as you'd like for 1 combined low flat rate. Give it a try!
  • 100% LIVE ARRIVAL GUARANTEE! - See bellow for details.

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I grow dwarf Hairgrass without CO2?

Yes, it is possible to grow Dwarf Hairgrass without CO2. Injecting CO2 into a tank where Dwarf Hairgrass is growing will make the Harigrass grow faster but it is by no means essential.

Does Dwarf Hairgrass spread?

Yes, Dwarf Hairgrass is a spreading plant. It is well known as the easiest of the carpeting plants to grow. It has a natural desire to spread.

Will Dwarf Hairgrass grow in gravel?

Dwarf Hairgrass will grow well in fine gravel. Gravel up to about 10mm is ideal for Dwarf Hairgrass. Any larger and the Dwarf Hairgrass can’t penetrate the gravel with its fine root system.

In Conclusion

Dwarf Hairgrass is a stunning plant that is not only easy to grow but will form a lush green carpet across the bottom of your aquarium. No matter what your experience in plant growing, no matter what size you tank, Dwarf Hairgrass will work well.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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