In my own tanks and those I design for zoos and aquariums, I have long been fond of featuring exposed root systems. I am also drawn to what used to be termed “shoreline terrariums” – exhibits highlighting shallow water fish and semi-aquatic amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Zoo exhibits are often quite deep and not always equipped with lighting that meets the needs of aquatic plants, so water-tolerant land plants often fulfilled my needs.
One species I have come to depend upon is the Peace Lily, a common house plant. Its genus contains over 40 South American and Southeast Asian species, and the leaves are fairly “generic” in appearance, and so the plant handily fits the themes of a wide range of exhibits. I prefer the “Mauna Loa” strain, which is readily available and amazingly resilient.
Most Peace Lilies prefer slight shade, but thrive under lights and tolerate fairly dry to wet soil. In my opinion, they really come into their own, terrarium-wise, when planted or suspended in water. They thrive for years this way, and send out truly impressive root systems in short order. Fish, shrimp, crayfish and snails will spend hours foraging among these, and the roots also have a beneficial effect on water quality. Their intertwined tendrils provide vital shelter to young fishes and shrimp, and lend a stunning look to planted aquariums and terrariums.
As you can see from the accompanying photo, the sturdy leaves function almost as do water lily pads, and easily support the weight of an adult Green Frog. The other photos depict a Southern Leopard Frog resting on a leaf draped over a stump, and the extensive root system that was formed from one small plant (5 leaves).
I have even seen Peace Lilies sold for use as totally aquatic plants, but have not tried planting them in this way.
I AM LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO HELP MY WITH A DILEMMA.MY FATHER RECENTLY PASSED AWAY AND I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE HOME A PEACE LILY,WHICH I READILY DID. I HAVE HAD THE PLANT SINCE DEC.5TH.I WAS WATERING THE PLANT THE OTHER EVENING (SAT.THE 27TH)AND I NOTICED 2 SMALL FROGS IN THE SOIL.WHAT IS GOING ON? CAN YOU PLEASE SEND ME SOME RESPONSE TO THIS ISSUE.IT SCARED ME AS I WAS NEVER EXPECTING TO SEE THAT.THANK YOU
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.
The frogs you have are almost certainly greenhouse frogs, Eleutherodactylus planirostris. Originating on various Caribbean islands, they have become established in greenhouses worldwide, as well as in the wild in Florida and Louisiana, in exactly the manner you have described – by stowing away in plants.
Unfortunately, they are difficult to maintain in captivity by other than one experienced with small frogs, as they eat only tiny living insects such as fruit flies and newborn crickets.
I can offer the following suggestions:
1. Call the herpetology department of your local zoo and ask if they might accept the animals (this is not likely, but worth trying); explain that they are stowaways and not merely unwanted pets – that may arouse some interest.
2. Log onto the following frog hobbyist sites and see if you might locate a frog keeper nearby who would be willing to take them:
3. As a final resort, see if a local greenhouse might allow you to release the frogs there. They do very well in these situations (as one might expect from their name!).
If you are interested, I have written about a colony that has become established in a bird exhibit at the Bronx Zoo:
You can see a photo and read a bit more at:
Please let me know if I can be of any further help.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
Those “lucky bamboos” from Oriental theme stores do great in goldfish/koi ponds. Use ones tall enough to stick out of the water to get a reed marsh effect.
Thanks, George, Yes..those are great as well; always had it in mind to set up a semi-aquatic terrarium with them…best regards, Frank