Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

We gathered on Friday, 22nd August 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan in Virginia. There were 11 people in attendance on the night, with 1 other sending his apology. We had some new faces and lots of things to talk about. After a bit of socialising and looking at our tanks, the meeting got underway.

The topic for the night was to discuss "What causes certain plants to send out runners/pups?" and "What causes Vallisneria sp. to send spirals/flowers?" I have had some Vallisneria given to me with flower spirals on, planted it in my tank, and never seen flower spirals again. I am baffled by this as the source where I obtained this still has the flower spirals on. Could this be due to tank conditions? Could it be the light source, length of light, or strength? I did some web searching to see what has been reported by other aquarists and aquatic plant keepers, but was unable to located anything concrete. This discussion would have to wait until the next meeting because we had several new members with lots to talk about, and members who were very interested in what they had to say.

I started off the meeting by passing around some copies of "Substrate Types/Addititves" and "Substrate Constituent Analysis Table" found in "Planted Aquaria", Summer 2000. Both described different substrate types and their chemical make-up. The location of where the soil samples were taken from was indicated. Interesting information that I thought might help in our previous discussions on substrates. I also passed around the "Planted Aquaria" magazine and "Fishtales" to keep tabs on our friends in the South.

Since we had a few new faces in the group, I figured we should all go around the room and introduce ourselves. This provided us with some updates from regular members, news from those we haven't seen for a few meetings, and lots of good stuff from our new members.

Thomas brought along a list of plant species found in the upper Bulimba Creek area. The list was quite impressive, with several hundred plants listed. He also had another list of 33 aquatic plants listed for Bulimba Creek. These were "true" aquatics and did not include bog/marginal plants. He has been doing research on reestablishing native aquatic plants back into the waterways and clearing out the noxious weeds. We are all looking forward to lending a hand with this adventure when it gets underway.While his concentration has mostly been on the South side of Brisbane, he is also interested in what is found on the North side as well. He thinks there should be a booklet put together of all native species of aquatic plants found in local waterways, but used for scientific studies only. If released to the public, it could contribute to flogging of the local waterways.

Thomas also mentioned an old quarry in the Karawatha region which is now a lake and has no aquatic life (fish, plants, etc.). As part of his research he is looking at trying to repopulate this lake with plants and fish. He asked for the group's thoughts on this . It seems the lake could have lots of minerals leeching into the waters as the colour is deep blue and sometimes green. The lake has been in existence for at least 10 years and absolutely nothing is growing or living in it. Tony suggested that the "ramps" that were underwater from the quarry days could have compacted the soil and made it impossible to grow anything in. Peter thought that cages might have to be designed to hold soil for the plants and possibly establish them this way. It was most strange that even Gambusia weren't thriving in this water hole, as they can travel and survive the most extreme conditions.

While on the topic of Gambusia and possibly reestablishing natives into the waterways, Greg offered up some advice on how to eradicate them. One possible solution was Rotonone. This chemical has been used in ponds to kill off fish but has a short life, so ponds can be restocked rather quickly. If this does become an option, all cautions must be taken and thoughts given to headwaters and drainages from the waterway. It is also advised that all governing bodies be involved in the process.

Peter T. reported back on his 3 foot tank set-up. The substrate he was using was 1/2 laterite (bought from a store), and 1/2 no laterite. The side with the laterite was by far out-growing the side that didn't have laterite. He got the plants (mostly swords and crypts) and instructions for setting up his tank from Michael. He also reported finding some red soil, did an alum test (no alum found), and has been using it for potting up some plants. Plants were doing well. Phil had also received some of the red soil from Peter and reported plants growing well. Peter has another tank which he set up prior to joining our group, which he is getting ready to tear down and set up with the proper materials and knowledge.

Phil was working on trying to get Cryptocoryne wendtii to flower. This particular Cryptocoryne comes from South-east Asia and originates in Sri Lanka. Its height is usually around 6-10 cm and width of about 8-12 cm. The lighting requirements range from low to very high and it prefers a temperature between 20-30C. It can withstand very soft to hard water and has a pH tolerance of 5.5-8. In an attempt to get this plant to flower, Phil has lowered the water level to get some emersed leaves. Someone in the group offered that the length of "daylight" hours was also a contributing factor in getting this Cryptocoryne to bloom. Phil was also interested in knowing if anyone has tried compact fluorescents. No one from the group had tried them yet, so there was no feedback to report at this time.

Ken is still searching for a good supply of true laterite. He found some nice heavy red clay soil and did the alum test; (no alum found). This recent soil sample came from the back of Beerburum. He hasn't had it professionally analysed or tested. Ken also brought in a plant for identification, found near the top of Gin Gin Creek. Our fellow members identified it as Hydrocotyle sp. Emerse it was much taller; submerse it was shorter. Found in water up to 30 cm deep with shady conditions until afternoon. Many members of the group also advised against red soil in the Rochedale area, due to the high levels of pesticides used in the area for controlling farming pests.

Tony, who hasn't been to several meetings, brought us up to date on what has been going on with his tanks. He is in the early stages of redoing his tanks. The substrate is about 10 years old and consists of laterite and a little bit of everything else. He has put some of the old substrate on the garden and now has crypts growing in the area. He plans to start by thinning out massive mats of crypts (which he promises to share with the group) and deciding to use dolomite (kitty litter) as his substrate. He has been granted permission by his other half to do this tank make-over on Father's Day. We look forward to hearing about the adventure. Tony has also been trying out lots of native plants to see if he can get them growing in submerse conditions. He has Cryptocoryne beckettii flowering at the moment. This Cryptocoryne comes from South-east Asia and originates in Sri Lanka. It grows to a height of 15-20 cm and a width of 10-15 cm. It is has a broad range of lighting requirements from very low to high, and prefers temperatures between 20-30C. Like most crypts it can withstand very soft to hard water, and has a pH tolerance of 5.5-8.

Nick, a newcomer to our group is not so new to the hobby. He has had aquariums for 60 years and has been breeding fish, but never had many plants in his tanks. He wants to take the next step and incorporate aquatic plants in his hobby. Now is a good opportunity since his wife is getting a new laundry, he gets the old laundry (to convert to a fish room). He has been in Australia for about 12 years and when he first came over he thought he might have fish or birds. Since there are so many lovely birds in his backyard, he couldn't see caging them, so he turned to fish. He got a discus, but one discus is probably a bit lonely, so he got another. Nick has had several generations of discus, some of which he has sold, but a lot have been so beautiful, they have remained. He has done some pollinating of plants and is interested in collecting some plants when we go on outings.

Greg has been successful in growing Aponogeton madagascariensis (Madegascar Lace Plant) in water with a pH of 8.2 with limestone chips. This plant comes from Africa and originated in Madagascar. It grows to a height of 25-50+ cm and a width of 25-30+ cm. It has a broad range of lighting requirements from low to very high and a temperature preference between 15-26C. It can tolerate very soft to hard water and a pH of 5-7.5. It is said to have high demands on water quality and likes frequent water changes. He also recommended a book to be on the lookout for; Encylopedia of Aquarium Plants by Peter Hiscock. This book is available through Amazon.com for $17.47 US. Peter Hiscock also has another book, A Practical Guide to Creating and Maintaining Water Quality, which is available for $9.95 US.

Peter F. shared some Aponogeton elongatus (Queensland Lace) with the group. He says it likes cooler periods and that the plant has a dormant period. This particular plant is from the Bundaberg area. It is a protected plant, and therefore not to be sold.

Thomas wanted some recommendations of books for aquatic plants. Members recommended Christel Kasselmann's Aquarium Plants, Diane Walstad's Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, and Nick Romanowski's Water Garden Plants & Animals: The Complete Guide for All Australia & Aquatic and Wetland Plants: A Field Guide for Non-Tropical Australia. There was also the recommendation of Mangroves to Mountains which is a field guide to plants occuring within the Logan and Albert River catchment areas. Thomas knew of some of these and is particularly interested in books on aquatic plant identification, rather than scientific studies.

Our next meeting will be the 26th of September at the home of myself and husband, Alan, at our home in Virginia. The Brisbane Plant Study Group meetings are held on the fourth Friday of every month. The schedule for the rest of 2003 is as follows: No meeting in October (ANGFA Convention in Brisbane), 28th November, and there will be a break-up meeting/BBQ in December (to be scheduled at a later time). Meetings begin around 8:00 PM. If you need directions or have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email at bpsg2002@hotmail.com or via mobile on 0403 790 701. It is requested that you bring a dish, as supper is provided after the meeting.

Please visit our website at http://bpsg.frell.org