Nitella (common name: brittlewort)
Overview: Nitella resembles like any other aquatic plant, but are actually a form of algae that is bright green in colour. They grow in shallow and deep waters of natural habitats and prefer soft water bodies, acid lakes and bogs. They also grow in deep waters and form a dense carpet-like growth at the bottom.
Hard /Soft plant: Soft Plant
Appearance: Although they appear to have leaves and stem, in reality they don’t have true leaves, stems or roots. About 6-8 even branches spaced at regular intervals grow in whorls along the smooth stem and resemble leaves. Nitella does not bear flowers but has microscopic spore bearing organs.
Ideal water temperature conditions: Nitella thrives under temperatures between 20 and 30 degree Celsius.
Lighting conditions: Like any other algae, Nitella thrives in high lighting levels. They grow fast in ponds exposed to direct sunlight or in aquariums with sufficient lighting for longer duration.
Ideal pH condition: In saltwater aquariums, Nitella prefers low acidic pH. While in ponds and fish tanks, they thrive under high alkaline pH conditions.
Functions and uses:
1) Submerged parts of these plants provide habitat for micro and macro invertebrates.
2) Stabilizes the sediments at the bottom thereby preventing muddy water.
3) The invertebrates seeking refuge in the submerged portions of Nitella are eaten by fishes and other aquatic animals like amphibians, reptiles, etc.
4) Branches of Nitella provide nutrition to waterfowls.
Did you know?
Reproduction is aided by vegetative propagation as well as spores transported by animals. Often confused with Chara, the only distinguishing character is that Nitella does not emit any odor when crushed and is soft to touch unlike Chara.