Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

We gathered on Friday, 26th September 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan in Virginia. There were 7 people in attendance on the night, with 2 others sending their apologies. After a bit of socialising checking on the previous bent fish and tank of death, and having a brief look at the fish room our meeting got under way.

Tony brought in a book to share with the group from 1961. The Pan Book of The Home Aquarium by John S. Vinden. This was a great book to look through and it also had a surprising amount of pictures as well. Good find.

Peter T. mentioned that he had an Aponogeton sp. growing quite tall at the moment. It was in a pond environment, so the height suited him just fine. However, for those with limiting aquarium space, it might pose a bit of trouble. He also recently bought some other Aponogeton sp. One of them was doing quite well, while the other not so well. The first one has sent up a flower spike and the second one which has struggled is starting to make a comeback.

We then moved on to hear about Tony's tank overhaul. It didn't happen on Father's Day, but rather prior to the meeting. He brought along a box of Cryptocoryne sp. (runners) to share with the group. Everyone was most gracious to accept these wonderful plants. The substrate in his newly overhauled tank is layered with mulm (from the old tank), peat mixed with striking hormone, terralit, laterite and gravel. For those of you unfamiliar, terralit is said to be a type of fluorite. I did a bit of searching and found the following information on http://aquariumpros.com/aquaprostore/prods/AQBTRL1.shtml. "Terralit is a long-term fertilizer that guarantees an optimum nutrient supply for the water plants via the aquarium ground. The substrate - on the base of natural zeolite - is loaded through a special process with nutrients. These nutrients can only be taken in by the roots of the plants, making over-fertilization impossible. Terralit bonds nutrients, allowing for a rapid growth of the plants."

While on the subject of tank renovation, Peter T. mentioned that he rebuilt his tank the day of our meeting. He used straight laterite (purchased), then a layer of potting soil and finished with a layer of gravel as his substrate. With such a large amount of space being occupied by the substrate, he is wondering if there will be any room for the fish. Bruce mentioned that the plants should grow very well because the light will be able to reach the bottom of the tank. Others mentioned that they had cut back on the amount of gravel and still had good results. Alan and I had mentioned that we had increased the amount of gravel we used (on recommendation from the experts) because of the laterite leeching into the water and making it cloudy.

Tony also brought in a copy of "Plant Life of Girraween National Park (Species List)" put out by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Amazing to see all the plant species listed. Quite a few I might add.

With all the conversation of tank renovation and the potential move in our near future, I wanted to know suggestions for ways to clean the laterite from the gravel. When we moved from Melbourne to Queensland, I wanted to salvage as much gravel as possible to take with us (being that gravel doesn't come very cheap), so I washed it all and put it in buckets. Many sore and very cold hands later, the gravel was still leeching laterite into the water, but I gave up and put it in the bucket anyway. It seemed that a bit of the gravel nearest to the layer of laterite actually sunk into the laterite. I was worried about the laterite causing the water to cloud up. There were lots of suggestions that no one bothered to clean their gravel, as all the good stuff was in it. Tony also advised that there was no need to clean the gravel because clay soils/laterite will settle faster after they have been used for awhile. I will definitely remember this for the next move, although I don’t think it will be quite as big a move.

Bruce is always keen to bring along books from his library to share and discuss with the group. This time he brought along the following by Nick Romanowski:
Water & Wetland Plants for Southern Australia
Farming in Ponds and Dams: An Introduction to Freshwater Aquaculture in Australia
Planting Wetlands & Dams" A Practical Guide to Wetland Design, Construction & Propagation
What a fantastic array of literature.

It was mentioned that native aquatic plants tend to need lots of light and warmer temperatures. It is also a good idea if starting a new tank, to add lots of plants to help filter the water. There are some really good floating plants that make nice filters: water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Please note that some/all of these may be considered noxious in your area. Please check with your local government agency first.

Peter T. mentioned having some Cryptocoryne wenditii (green) that is insisting on growing on an angle, rather than straight up and down. He has moved the plant to another location and it is still bending toward the sunlight (even thought the tank has good tubes on it).

Prior to the meeting Peter F. discovered something interesting going on in our fish room. There is a piece of Bolbitis sp. in one of our tanks that appears to have some strange looking spore-like (or egg-like) things on several leaves. They are bright yellow (almost fluorescent), and the leaf felt leathery to the touch (almost like velvet material). They came off rather easily, but the fish in the tank did not appear interested in them one bit. I will keep an eye on this to see what becomes of it.

Alan and I were also fortunate in our travels to spot a freshwater eel in a drainage area beside Gympie Rd. near the Aspley Hypermarket. He actually hung out in one particular area for quite a while. Small fish were swimming near and above him, which we figured were Gambusia sp. Perhaps on our next visit to the area, we will have the camera with us to take a picture or two.

The BPSG would also like to pass on our condolences to Ken McDougall and his family on the recent loss of Ken's father. Our thoughts are with you.

There is no meeting in October, due to the ANGFA Convention. Our next meeting will be the 28th of November. The destination is yet to be decided. Please check our website for the latest details. 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 each meeting.

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