01-01-2011, 12:51 PM
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Hi AfricanAquarist, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
I agree with what willow advised. As for the time, I have never really monitored, but a few weeks if it is not continually coming off.
Some aquarists can manage to grow Java Fern with the roots in the gravel, but I would not advise it; all plant authors I have read mention that if buried the rhizome (the large fleshy "root" from which the leaves arise) will usually rot, so this should be above the substrate. Attaching it to a rock or wood is ideal, and it will sometimes send the finer hair roots into the substrate, but remain attached (firmly in time) to the rock or wood.