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Family: Lemnaceae

Common Name: Duckweed

Origin and Habitat: Distributed worldwide in temperate climate zones, except for eastern Asia and Australia, though it has now been introduced near Melbourne, Australia. Grows mostly in standing and slow-moving waters.

Ideal position in aquarium

Strictly floating.

Lighting requirements

Low, moderate or bright.

Growth rate


Minimum Tank Suggestion


Water parameters for Duckweed

Soft to hard, acidic to basic. Temperature tolerance 15-32C/59-89F.


Duckweed is a hardy floating plant that reproduces vegetatively very fast; it can easily cover the surface of almost any aquarium within several days. Regular (weekly) removal of excess plants is necessary to prevent total coverage of the water surface. It is quite attractive when it occurs among other floating plants. Most aquarists acquire Duckweed as "hitchhikers" on other plants, wood and floating in fish bag water.

It is a high nutrient-requirement plant, thus particularly useful in new aquaria and "natural" filtration of water; if this plant does not grow well, it is a certain sign of nutrient deficiency in the water. Rarely will there be troublesome algae with duckweed on the surface.

High in protein and fats, it is a nutritious food source (and an excellent natural laxative) for vegetarian fishes such as goldfish and carp; the common name comes from the fact that ducks are very fond of eating this plant.

This species is almost indistinguishable from Lemna gibba. Both will flower above water, though fruit is very rare with L. minor. The plants propagate by division and this is very rapid. The floating "leaves" are actually fronds, 1 to 8(10) mm long and 0.6 to 7 mm wide.

The plant was described and named in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, the scientist who devised the biological classification system in use today. The genus name Lemna is a Greek plant name, and the species epithet minor is Latin for smaller, in reference to the plant Spirodela polyrhiza.


Kasselmann, Christel (2003), Aquarium Plants, English edition.

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