Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Welcome to another tale from the Brisbane Plant Study Group. We held our second meeting on Friday the 24th January 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan. There were ten people in attendance on the night and some others who sent their appologies. Everyone wanted to have a look at the fish tanks which have undergone some changes – new plants and fish. After a bit of socialising and sharing some plant cuttings, we got the meeting underway.

Since we had a few new members, we began with brief introductions including details of our fishkeeping and aquatic plant growing experience. There was a wide range of experience with both fish and plants, ranging from beginner to those with many years in the hobby. Alan and I fall into the beginner category for both fish and plants. While we kept fish back in the U.S., we never really explored breeding or expanded our knowledge on aquatic plants. Since our move to Australia 2 ½ years ago, we have expanded from one fish tank, to many fish tanks and some ponds. It seems to be quite an addictive hobby and I'm not sure when we will stop expanding.

First item up was a moss brought in by Tony to be identified. He found it growing in the North branch of the Albert River near Lost World. It was growing submerse and in running water. The water temperature wouldn't go above 20°C and the depths where it was found would be around 20cm. There wasn't anyone in attendance who was able to identify it with complete confidence, so it was recommended that Tony get in contact with Glenn Leipa for identification.

The conversation then moved on to other native aquatic plants and Bruce wanted to know whether or not the odour of Chara affects fish. It was advised that the odour does not affect the fish, so it was okay to use in an aquarium or pond. Ken brought along a sample of what he thought might be Chara. The group decided that it was Nitella. Ken also brought along another plant for identification that he collected in the wild. It was identified as Myriophyllum.

While identifying plants, there were a few others in the group who had brought along plants for identification. Daniel brought along a crypt. It is very hard to identify crypts without the parent plant and a flower, but it was decided to be similar to Cryptocoryne affinis. On the discussion of crypts, Bruce pointed out that the saltwater crypt, Cryptocoryne ciliata grows similar to the Mangrove with branching out roots. It has a thinner leaf than its freshwater variety. It was also stated that Microsorium is a true aquatic plant, usually found growing on logs and rarely seen growing out of water.

Michael brought along a plant he found growing in his pond. Thought to have been brought in by the ducks as they have brought in water lilies and other plants. Since the pond does not have drainage from any other source, this could be how it was brought in. After careful investigation, it was decided that it was Crassula. He offered cuttings to anyone who wanted them. Several members took a cutting to try in their aquariums.

Tony mentioned that he had a freshwater sponge pop up in his tank out of the blue. He said that he originally thought it was some sort of fungus, but then was quick to realise that it was a sponge. It was apparently in favour of the conditions he had in his tank.

Since Alan and I were steadily moving towards having a few outdoor ponds, I wanted to know if there were any aquarium plants that would thrive better being in an outdoor pond. I also wanted to know if there were any aquarium plants that would not do well outdoors. The group advised that Aponogetan sp., Echinodorus sp., and swords tend to do very well. Echinodorus will throw flower spikes quickly if in shallower water. Bruce advised using a pot holder over the side of the pond to hold the potted plant closer to the water's surface. There was also advice to weight down the flower spike and it will seed, creating plantlets. It was also mentioned that stress sometimes causes plants to send out flower spikes. An example would be to put a plant outdoors in winter (in Melbourne) and the stress to the plant might cause it to send out flower spike.

Many conversations and discussions about plants and fish continued over supper. The Brisbane Plant Study Group meetings will be held on the fourth Friday of every month and is as follows: 28th February, 28th March, 25th April, 23rd May, 27th June, 25th July, 22nd August, 26th September, no meeting in October (Brisbane ANGFA Convention), 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 and will be held at the home of Alan and Heidy Rubin until further notice. 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 also requested that you bring a dish, as supper is provided after the meeting.