This bulb plant is actually a type of lotus, growing long, delicate leaves that are green to deep reddish brown in colour, with attractive undulating features.
Healthy specimens of Barclaya Longifolia will regularly send up flower stalks that can self-pollinate, eventually producing seeds that can be planted in your aquarium to create new plants.
Barclaya Longifolia is relatively easy to grow, requiring a nutritious substrate or regular fertilisation, moderate to high lighting and water temperatures of 24c or above.
B. longifolia is a member of the Nymphaeaceae and is essentially a lotus that does not grow any floating leaves. Its elongate and reddish to green undulate leaves make it look superficially similar to a Cryptocoryne when smaller, but it soon attains a size rivaling many larger Echinodorus. Red and green (with reddish leaf undersides) forms exist, with the green one attaining a slightly larger size. As with other Nymphaeaceae, restricting the roots by potting the plant can keep the plants smaller for a longer period. It is rather undemanding and good for suitably sized aquariums of almost any type as long as it receives good light and water that is not too cold (under 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius). It is usually able to obtain sufficient nutrients from the water column, although it does benefit from root feeding (which may not always be advisable given its eventual size). Although not very sensitive to nutrient deficiencies, B. longifolia does unfortunately suffer the attentions of snails. Even in tanks where snails are not usually a problem, leaves may become riddled with holes, so be prepared to deal with them if necessary. Its leaves are rather delicate and should not be subjected to brisk currents. One final point worth mentioning is that this species is given to occasional rest periods, during which plants will die back for a few weeks.
Propagating B. longifolia is as interesting as the plant itself. New plants occasionally form at the base of a larger plants bulb, but propagation through seed is far more productive. In fact, B. longifolia is one of the easiest plants to reproduce through sexual propagation. Healthy plants routinely send up flower stalks that somewhat resemble those of poppies and will self-pollinate whether they reach the surface and flower or remain closed and don't (cleistogamy). As seeds start to develop, the enlarged area grows and when the seeds are mature, starts to dissolve. It is highly recommendable to cut off the flower stalk when that happens so that it doesn't make a mess of the aquarium. Inside the pod is a white jelly-like substance that encloses numerous thorny and tan-colored seeds. Separate them from the jelly and transfer them to an area that receives unimpeded light and is protected. A sandy area in a tank with sedate fish or a dish in an emersed setup are ideal. Even scattering them about the foreground of an established tank will result in a fair number of specimens appearing over the next few months. As the seeds sprout, they are even more vulnerable to snails than ever. Once they have grown to a few inches high, seedlings are ready for transplanting.
B. longifolia can really only be fully appreciated when given a lot of room to spread out. Aquariums of seventy five gallons or more are the most suitable. As with many large Echinodorus, they can be rather difficult to aquascape around. Even so, they can be very effective as a specimen plants it the background or sides of large aquariums. It is unfortunately overlooked as a candidate for discus tanks, where its love of warm water makes it right at home.