Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

We gathered at our house in Northgate on Friday, 23rd April, 2004. There were ten people in attendance on the night, with several others sending their apologies. After some socialising and catching up on the latest goss, our meeting got started.

The topic of the night was 'Winterising Ponds'. I wanted to know if there were any plants (or fish) that should be brought in to warmer conditions over the winter months. Everyone agreed that most plants will survive in ponds outside during the winter months here in Brisbane. I guess my worries stem from living in Melbourne, where none of our fish or plants were housed outside, but rather in the lap of luxury of a heated spare room in our house. (The luxury of some fish, eh?). Since this is only our second winter here in Brisbane, I wanted to make sure there were no unnecessary sacrifices of plants or fish because of a lack of knowledge. The verdict is in and our ponds (and fish) will be fine. I was mostly concerned about our Ludwidgia sedioides. Since I have finally been able to grow this plant with some success, I wanted to make sure it was properly looked after. Several people indicated that this plant dies off and then grows out the next season, so not to panic. I suppose I might have thrown out the last pot of it too soon, when it died off I assumed it was dead. Guess I should have given it a bit more time. Vonnie and Michael mentioned that they had some in their pond. The pond dried up completely and when it filled again it came back - even flowered. So, just give it time.

Just a little note on the fish, (even though we are are a plant group, we still talk about fish), they will be fine. They are all from this climate anyway. Bruce brought along some fish on the night which would be perfectly happy outside - Pseudomugil signifer and Pseudomugil mellis.

We then started our rounds with the group to see how everyone's tanks were going. I started by admitting that our tanks have been somewhat neglected since I have returned to University. They have basically just been fed and monitored. Alan did water changes in all the tanks two weeks ago. I asked about the frequency for changing of tubes (lights), because I recently realised that ours haven't been done in a very long time. (Too embarrassed to tell you exactly how long). It is recommended to change the lights every 9-12 months. Alan asked how long the lights should be on. Everyone recommended 12 hours as a basic rule, since Brisbane has shorter days and the tanks don't get much natural light. This can be adjusted accordingly to decrease algae growth, etc.

Peter Thomas has been out of the country and his son has been looking after his tanks. He lost a few fish with the heat (as did a lot of us), and his microworm and whiteworm cultures. His son has only been doing water changes, no gravel cleaning. There is some Valisneria sp. growing beautifully that Peter has never been able to get to grow himself. It is in very deep mulm, from the lack of gravel cleaning, and must love it. So, Peter has decided that his tanks are probably in better hands in his absence. Many of his crypts are doing well - his Nymphae lotus (tiger lotus) is throwing off babies, and his Echinodorus sp. (amazon sword) is also producing pups. The (Queensland lace plant) got disturbed by the dog going for a swim. When he found it, it was still growing so he moved it back into more sun. Peter agreed to send us some emails while he is out of the country to let us know what he finds when getting his feet wet in the local creeks. He says he will have more time on this trip but most of his visits have been rushed, leaving little spare time for the fun stuff.

Phil bought some Aponogeton rigidifolius at the last ANGFA QLD meeting, which is doing okay. Nothing else is going on, except the Valisneria sp. is still doing quite well. (If you remember, the Val was subject to some 'extra' fertiliser from a rat which died in the tank).

Peter Ford didn't have anything new going on with his tanks at the moment. It sounds like most of us have been quite busy lately.

Michael mentioned a mixed bag of plants that he was given by someone, which were from the ANGFA QLD Convention, that grew like 'jack-in-the-beanstalks' had died back. No one could identify these at the last meeting, but he brought along some pictures to show on the computer in hopes it could be identified this time. This plant grew back out and sent out a flower spike with stunning red flowers. He also brought along some sample plants, which were growing out at the base of the parent plant, to pass around for others to try. It was identified as Lobelia cardinalis. Michael also mentioned that the Ludwidgia sedioides growing in the pond was flowering nicely. The Echinodorus sp. (amazon swords) in his fish tanks had gone airborn again with leaves. He also had one Echinodorus tunicatus (Queen of hearts) plant, planted a pup from the parent plant, it got disturbed, melted and he still only has the parent plant left.

Bruce asked if anyone had ever had a sword plant that split off at the bottom of the plant. Michael said that Echinodorus osiris (melon sword) does. Greg mentioned that he was at the Singapore convention and Heiko Bleher mentioned the new book on sword plants. A review of the sword plants was passed around.

Nothing much was going on with Ken. His marine tank was settling in nicely. He has a snowflake moray eel, and some coral at this point. He used some Pseudomugil signifers from a saltwater lagoon to cycle the marine tank. The colour of the fish was very nice and they are still doing well. The eel doesn't appear to bothering them - yet!

We closed the meeting and had a look at the fish tanks, followed by a bit of supper. Another good meeting.

The Brisbane Plant Study Group (BPSG) meetings are held on the 4th Friday of every month and begin around 8PM. 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. For the latest information, please visit our website at http://bpsg.frell.org