Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Welcome to another tale from the Brisbane Plant Study Group. We held our sixth meeting on Friday the 23rd May 2003 at the home of Alan and Heidy Rubin. There were eight people in attendance on the night and one other who sent his apologies. After a bit of socialising, the meeting got underway.

We started off the meeting with show and tell. Michael had brought in a large plant specimen (about 50-55cm in height) with flower spike for identification. Bruce identified it as Sagittaria graminea ssp. platyphylla (Giant Sag. or Arrowhead; broad leaf variety). It is considered to be a weed, likes growing in mud and cold water. When growing submerse it has a broad strappy leaf with a rounded leaf end, but growing emerse the leaf end is more pointed.

Bruce also mentioned Sagittaria montevidensis (Duck Potato). Getting its nickname from the little white bulbs that grow with the roots, which ducks enjoy pulling up and eating. This plant has a more arrowhead shaped foliage, grows between 45-60cm in height and enjoys bog conditions. It spreads vigorously and produces small white flower clusters.

Bruce brought along two varieties of hair grass. The first one was the dwarf variety Eleocharis acicularis. This plant prefers a fine substrate, plenty of light and is tolerant of most temperatures. The second was a larger variety, Eleocharis vivipara, which is live-bearing (the ends of the leaves arch over to the substrate to form new plantlets).

He also brought along several other plants that look similar in appearance to each other. The first was Micranthemum umbrosum. This has small almost round leaves, usually 3 at a node, tends to grow horizontally, requires high light, temperatures around 20-26C, and is a fast grower. The next plant was Hemianthus micranthemoides (formerly known as Micranthemum micranthemoides). Very similar to M. umbrosum, has three leaves per node, leaves are more elongated (with extended tips) and tends to grow more vertically. Comparing these with the Australian native species Elatine gratioloides we saw that the leaves are only in pairs and the leaves are oval with rounded tips. He also brought Glossostigma elatinoides. This plant is in some ways similar to the others but generally maintains a shorter height and produces numerous runners to quickly form a carpet in favourable situations.

Peter T. brought some red soil in to find out if it was laterite or not. The sample was very heavy and very red. He obtained it from a road works site near in the Tin Can Bay region. Alan passed on information from Charles that you need to check for alum. The easy method for testing this is to put equal parts water and soil in a jar, shake vigorously, then let it settle and become clear (approx. 24 hours). Hold the jar up against a white background and check to see if the water has a blue tinge. If there is some blue tinting of the water, it contains alum, which is very bad in an aquarium. Alan also passed on that a soil test kit could be obtained at good aquarium shops (Aquasonic is one brand). Bruce recommended that DPI might also do testing, but would most likely charge a fee.

Ken mentioned his wife did a geology study in the Caboolture area and there were deposits of laterite identified in the study. He wasn't sure of the location, but said he would try to bring the information along to the next meeting.

Ken is growing Philodendron sp. in submerse conditions. The green and white leaves provide a nice contrast in the tank. Bruce said if you give it CO2 it might do very well. Might have to give that one a try myself.

Peter S. brought along some photos of Lance Smith's place near Townsville. He has many ponds, ranging from bathtubs all the way up to a "lake" with an island. Many of his ponds require him to use snorkel gear as they are quite deep. The highlight would of had to have been the photo of a fish in a jumper. I guess they get cold too.

Peter S. also brought along Kerryn Gough's substrate recipes for Aponogeton madagascarensis (Madagascar Lace Plant) and Cryptocoryne sp. (Crypts). The recipes are as follows:

Aponogeton madagascarensis (Madagascar Lace Plant): 30% coral sand, 30% chicken poo, blood & bone, osmocote plus, osmocote tropical strength, laterite, hoof & horn, iron sulfate. Add equal parts of all ingredients, except blood & bone and iron sulfate (1 cap per gallon). Add tubifex worms.

Cryptocoryne sp. (Crypts): 30% shell grit, 25% sand, 50% chicken poo, hoof & horn, blood & bone, osmocote plus, iron sulfate.

It was also brought up that Aponogeton sp. are being killed by people who purchase them from shops. They are not given good instructions on how to care for them properly. They need to be fed well and given optimum growing conditions to do well. Most simply feed off what they have stored, then die.

Bruce brought some books along that he thought were good resources. They were:

Aquatic Plants of Australia by Helen Aston

Waterplants in Australia: A Field Guide by G.R. Sainty & S.W.L. Jacobs

Water Plants of the Townsville Town Common by Ursula Rowlatt

Wetland Plants of Queensland: A Field Guide by K M Stephens & R M Dowling

Aquatic Weeds in Australian Inland Waters by D.S. Mitchell

Waterplants of New South Wales by G.R. Sainty & S.W.L.

Floodplain Flora by I.D. Cowie, P.S. Short & M. Osterkamp Madsen

Looks like I will be adding to the library shortly!

Michael also mentioned that he has been trying vegemite (as plant food) in his tanks, and he reckons he can see a difference. The recipe is:

1 teaspoon of Vegemite dissolved in 500 mls of warm water, allowed to cool, then use 1ml to 4.5 litres of aquarium water. This will not harm the fish either.

Our next meeting will be the 27th of June at the home of Alan and Heidy Rubin. The Brisbane Plant Study Group meetings will be held on the fourth Friday of every month and are as follows: 27th June, 25th July, 22nd August, 26th September, no meeting in October (ANGFA Convention in Brisbane), 28th November, and there will be a break-up meeting in December (to be scheduled at a later time). Meetings begin at 8:00 PM. If you need directions or have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email at bpsg2002@hotmail.com or via mobile on 0403 790 701. It is advised that you contact us prior to each meeting to find out the meeting location, as it might change from time to time. It is also requested that you bring a dish, as supper is provided after the meeting.