Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Welcome to another tale from the Brisbane Aquatic Plant Study Group. We held our fifth meeting on Friday the 25th April 2003 at the home of Michael and Yvonne Cocks. There were nine people in attendance on the night and three others who sent their apologies. A special welcome to our two new members of the night, Phil and Peter T. After a bit of socialising and looking at Michael and Yvonne's fantastic planted fish tanks in the house, the meeting got underway.

I started off the meeting filling our new members in on how the meeting usually runs. It is very informal, with show & tell, plant identification and discussion on whatever topic is brought up by the members.

Michael started us off by mentioning that he had blue-green algae attack some of his tanks in the house. He figured something was wrong with the lighting or water quality. After a quick investigation he discovered his light tubes hadn't been changed in awhile. It is generally recommended by most aquarists to change your light tubes every 9 months or so. This is due to the fact that they quickly lose a lot of their spectrum in the first 6 months, then slowly lose the rest of it at a slower rate. However, some members of the group disagreed with this and have tubes on their tanks a lot longer. Tony also added that blue-green algae tends to make an impact on a tank when the water quality is poor. A constant check on the water quality and regular water changes will keep the blue-green algae at bay. Michael will keep an eye on things to make sure the blue-green algae is kept under control.

Peter S. brought in several copies of The Aquatic Gardener, a quarterly journal produced by The Aquatic Gardeners Association based in the U.S., for members to browse through. He also brought along an article to share, “Cryptocoryne” by Shaun Winterton. The article was published in Superfish (September/October 1994).

Charles was recently visited by Shaun Winterton. Shaun graduated from the University of Southern Queensland in 1992. After which he worked for CSIRO where he researched insect-plant interactions of introduced water weeds. He attained his Ph.D in 2000. Charles said Shaun didn't talk much, but took lots of photos of the aquatic plants. Shaun is currently working in the U.S. on an aquatic plant identification key that will be available on CD possibly by the end of the year.

Alan passed around two plants we had collected from Downfall Creek. One was identified as Potamogeton javaniscus, the other as Ludwidgia peploides subspecies montevidensis (water primrose). The Ludwidgia gets a yellow flower and doesn not grow submerse. It will only grow on the water surface or in bog conditions.

I passed around a copy of the front page of our group's website, which is under design and construction at the moment. Everyone provided some useful thoughts and ideas for improvement. I will take all this into consideration when continuing with the website creation. I will make an announcement when the site is becomes active.

Tony brought in a plant he thought might be a type of elatinoides. It is a very delicate plant and easily damaged. It prefers a fine substrate as opposed to gravel. It was collected at Capalaba and Ormiston. Mostly found in ephemeral pools. Has flower buds on stem that can be found on submerged stems as well. Unfortunately no one at the meeting could identify the plant. Tony will try to bring another sample to the next meeting and hopefully some of our absent members can help out. Tony also brought in several books to share. The first was an old copy of Tropical Fish Hobbyist which had an article on Aponogeton madagascarensis (lace plant). He also brought along Carnivorous Plants by Adrian Slack, which had a write-up on Utricularia sp. (bladderwort). Tony has also found Ranunculus sp. at the Nudgee waterholes. He is trying to get it to grow submerse.

Ken brought in a Potamogeton sp. for help in identifying. He collected it from Mellum Creek, where it was growing in the channel. It was very long, about 60-80cm. There were no floating leaves because the current was keeping it completely submerged. It was thought it might be Potamogeton pectinatus.

Phil, one of our new members is a keeper of killies and catfish. He had a nicely planted tank, which was recently unplanted by some catfish. He also has several other planted tanks with Cryptocoryne sp., Vallisneria sp., and others.

Peter, our other new member, has also mostly kept killies. He was overseas for awhile and is now back in Australia. He hasn't had much luck with keeping aquatic plants and says that most of them have died in his care. He has tried to get information from aquarium shops, but has been unsuccessful. He decided to join the group to learn more about aquatic plants and to try to stop killing the plants he has. He has already gotten some recommendations from Michael on changing his light tubes to brighter ones. He also asked about substrate. Alan recommended laterite or potting mix, adding that you need to be careful of phosphates. Many aquarists believe phosphates are bad in heavy doses. However, Tony disagreed saying that he adds phosphates to his tanks and they are doing quite well. It was agreed by all members that substrate is all trial and error. Test several items (laterite, clay, sand, potting mix, etc.) and see what works best. Alan suggested viewing a copy of the Underwater Garden video, produced by Eddie Tootell and Neil Armstrong. Copies are available through the Eastern Districts Aquarium Society (EDAS) in Victoria. Further information can be obtained on their website http://www.edas.com.au Michael lent his copy to Peter since he wanted to get started straight away.

The tip of the day came from Tony. He advised that if you want to add soil to an already established and set-up tank, you simply needed to wrap the soil in wax paper and push it under the soil. The wax paper will break down and eventually disintegrate. Thanks for the tip Tony!

Peter also wanted some advise on a sword that is not doing well. Swords are heavy root feeders and typically need fertiliser under the bottom of the plant. It was recommended that he use “Dinosaur Dung” (produced by our good friend Dave Wilson and his company Aquagreen in the Northern Territory). You can find out more by visiting Dave's site at http://www.australianrainbowfish.com/aquagreen/. Most members who had used the Dinosaur Dung liked it because it slowly released the fertiliser.

As the meeting came to an end, we headed out to Michael's fish house to view his tanks. He has a magnificent set-up with many tanks. It was quite a feast for the eye.

Our next meeting will be the 23rd of May 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: 23rd May, 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.