Cryptogams are non-flowering plants that are not capable of forming seeds and are propagated by microscopic spores. Such spores seldom develop in aquariums, so these plants are propagated vegetatively. The Bryophyta (mosses and liverworts) and Pteridophyta (ferns) belong to this primitive group of plants.

HEPATICEAE (Leafy Liverworts)

Liverworts are minute green plants that can be propagated by spores enclosed in pods, but they are usually propagated vegetatively. Most liverworts live in moist places and in water.

RICCIACEAE (Thallose Liverworts)

This is a family of minute liverworts with a flat thallus. The thallus is the undifferentiated body of these plants, in this group disc-shaped or stellate in form. They live for the most part on moist soil, but some have adapted entirely to life in the water, where they float on the surface or live submersed, attached to other plants or to the bottom.


The thallus is lobate and forked, with the ventral surface finely scaled. Altogether there are'four similar species known from the tropics and the temperate zones.

R. fluitans is probably a cosmopolitan species. The thallus is ribbon-shaped (with 2-5 prongs), 15 mm long and up to 1 mm wide. This widely distributed species is found on the surface of backwaters and ponds. It develops submersed as well as floating and terrestrial forms. Submersed forms are usually disc-shaped, light green, and attached to the ground or in tangles of underwater plants. Floating forms are very varied in shape; under optimal conditions a conspicuously grassy green globular form develops. Land forms with developed roots appear on disturbed moist ground and on banksides.

This species is not exacting with respect to light and soil composition, but disappears in tanks with a high nutrient content. It is a good spawning medium, but it is necessary to inhibit its growth, which can be abundant. In the aquarium it hibernates regularly.

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