Ottelia mesenterium

It’s not all about shrimps and snails. Aquatic plants from the ancient lakes of Sulawesi are another phenomenon associated with the uniqueness of this island. Some plant species are remarkable, also endemic to Sulawesi. Since our "botanical catches" from the September 2022 excursion were numerous, we will divide the report into several parts. And we can't start with anything other than Ottelia mesenterium.

Quick info for aquarists: it's not impossible to get Sulawesi plants, but from experience so far it's rather difficult to grow them successfully in aquarium and practically “impossible” in case of Ottelia mesenterium.

In other parts of the series, we have presented:

Ottelia mesenterium

The queen of Sulawesi plants with beautifully curled leaves. It looks compact in some shots, the length of the leaves in many plants was about 30-40 cm, but we also found tall specimens with leaves around a meter long. Dense plants provide a favorite shelter for fish. White flowers are on stalks extending many meters from the bottom to the surface.

Most of the stands were at a depth of 2-3 m or more, the muddy shallow shore in Lake Mahalona was a notable exception.

Endemic to Malili Lakes (Matano, Mahalona, Towuti), locally abundant – but it is always a pleasant experience to find such a place 🙂

The eastern shore of Lake Mahalona with a flat and rather muddy bottom.
Note the white blooms on the surface. This is a sure sign that Ottelia mesenterium is growing here.
The murky water in this part of the lake, with huge clumps of plants, was a different world. So ghostly!
The leaves and stems are inhabited by snails.
Lake Matano, depth about 4 m.
Mud deposits in a small bay in the SW part of Lake Matano.
Lake Towuti, northern shore, depth over 5 m.
The flower measures about 3 cm.
After flowering, the stalk spirals and pulls the flower below the surface.
Snorkeling with Ottelia mesenterium.

Markéta Rejlková