Tales from the Crypts

We gathered at our house in Wooloowin on Friday, 26th November, 2004. There were seven people in attendance on the night, with several others sending their apologies. After having a look at the fish tanks and a bit of socialising the meeting got underway.

First up on the agenda for the night was gathering of thoughts on starting a discussion list between plant study groups in Victoria, Canberra, and Queensland. We decided that we would give it a go and see how successful it is. If it didn't work out, there wouldn't be too much trouble to stop it.

Next were a few questions I had about pond plants. Since our ponds outside were being populated with fry, I figured it might be time to add a few more plants. Lots of plants were recommended as being appropriate for pond environments. Aponogeton sp., Pontederia cordata (although it does drink a fair bit of water and might suck the pond dry), Cryptocoryne sp., Micranthemum micranthemoides, Echinodorus sp., and Eleocharis sp., and Nymphaea sp. were some of the ones mentioned. It was also advised that all Echinodorus sp. (sword plants) grow out of tanks or ponds except for Echinodorus horizontalis. All the plants mentioned could be either potted or planted directly in a good substrate. I was more concerned with potting the plants because it would make moving them easier if need be. Thinking about potting the plants, I was worried that I would have to be repotting the plants frequently as well. This is not the case, potted plants really only need to be repotted if the plant starts to go backward (doesn't grow) or outgrows the container. It is advised that you start with a big container to pot the plant in. It was advised that if planting lilies, I need to remember that they need 5-6 hours of sunlight to flower. If they get much less sunlight they won't flower. Looks like I will have to try out a few to see which ones work best in the ponds.

Bruce advised that the Orchid Society sells hangers in different lengths that can hang over the side of the pond and hold potted plants. This seems like a better alternative than putting in bricks or blocks to keep plants at different heights in the water.

Peter T. has been away again, but his plants are doing remarkably well. His son has taken over for him during his absence and has managed to get water changes down to just half an hour. Peter also brought along some plants to share around. He mentioned that he will have some Cryptocoryne sp. soon if anyone is interested. These will mostly be Cryptocoryne wendittii - both the red and green varieties. He mentioned that he has learned heaps since first coming to the BPSG meetings, but did have a question. He has set up a three foot tank a short while ago with a substrate of laterite, Searles potting mix and gravel but is having lots of bubbles coming out of the substrate, what is the problem? Michael thought it might be due to the anaerobic decomposition of the substrate. In this case, the bubbles are noxious and will kill the fish in the tank. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to tear the tank down and start over or turn the substrate over and add another layer of gravel. Peter advised that the fish and plants were doing well in this tank. Bruce advised that it might just be CO2. Sometimes the breakdown of the substrate just causes the release of CO2. Peter will keep an eye on the fish and plants to make sure their health is not compromised.

Bruce wanted to know if anyone knew what "Quinkin" (spelling?) was. As everyone looked around the room at each other with puzzled looks on their faces, Bruce explained. Quinkin is volcanic rock particles used by Northern Queensland orchid growers. The typical bark used to grow orchids in goes off in the humid environs of the Tropical North, so they use the volcanic rock instead. Bruce brought this up because he is testing out different substrates (scoria, quinkin, mulm, etc.) to see which one grows aquatic plants best. He will keep us posted on the results of his tests. Bruce is also busy growing Echinodorus longipetalus. This plant sort of looks similar to a Valisneria sp.. The tank he is growing it in has four 4 foot fluros.

Another question posed on the night was: "Is there a myth to clown loaches eating snails?" No one in our group could actually vouch for the clown loach doing a good job cleaning up snails in a tank. On the same subject (loaches), there are new varieties coming in to Pet City (leopard, etc.). If you are interested, go have a look.

Bruce also brought along three species of 'duckweed'. (Just when I thought I rid the house of it...Bruce brings three different species). The three species included Spirodela polyrhiza, Lemnaceae sp. (Lemna major & Lemna minor), and Landoltia punctata. Who would have thought there could be so many different ones... all a big nuisance. Bruce also brought along a box of books he just received from America. The books include:

  • The Modern Aquarium - Innes
  • Aquarium Plants and Decoration - R. F. O?Connell
  • Goldfish Pools, Water Lilies and Tropical Fish - Dr. G. L. Thomas Jr.
  • Aquascaping - Tetra
  • Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants - Peter Hiscock
  • The Book of the Garden Pond - Harvey & Hems
  • Waterscaping: Plants and Ideas for Natural and Created Water Gardens - Juday Glattstein
  • Garden Pools - Paul Stetson
  • Water Gardens for Plants and Fish - Charles B. Thomas
  • How to Know The Aquatic Plants - G. W. Prescott
  • Fishkeeper?s Guide to Water Gardening - Derek Lambert

There was a bit of discussion on what causes Cryptocoryne sp. roots to start surfacing. It is thought that the plant is searching for nutrients. The plant doesn't find any in the substrate so it heads for the surface to find nutrients elsewhere.

Bruce also mentioned tipping mulm down a pipe to the undergravel filter to try to "seed" new substrate. The substrate isn't old enough to have beneficial bacteria, whereas the mulm comes from an established tank that does have the beneficial bacteria.

Peter mentioned using rainwater for water changes. He has already noticed a positive change in the fish - they are more colourful and active. He is keeping an eye on the plants to see how they react to the rainwater. The rainwater tank is a new addition, so he is just testing out the use of the water for various things.

Our newest member, Lee, (Welcome!) has a few tanks at his parents' place. One of the tanks has angels in it that are fed more than once a day by dear 'ole Dad. He has a new tank that he wants to set up at his new place (4x2x2). He asked the group's advice on what substrate is best - potting mix, peat, laterite/red soil, etc.? The group advised that it was all trial and error. There were successful results with all the substrates, so it is simply a matter of testing them and finding one that suits. An important word of caution, it is best to put more gravel and less substrate otherwise the substrate will not stay down and start to migrate to the surface. Another piece of advice given by Bruce was to boil the potting mix before using. Lee has plans to start with two fluro tubes and see how they work out before adding more. He is also waiting until he gets enough plants to plant out the whole tank as a preventative to avoid algae growth. He was asked if he would be using a CO2 system or not. Lee advised that he has used a yeast CO2 system in the past but not sure if he will use it this time around. We look forward to hearing how the set-up and progression of his tank goes.

On the topic of algae and what is good for getting rid of it, it was stated that flying foxes do a good job and some shrimp, but you need the right shrimp. Some shrimp will make a feast of your fish.

We finished off the night with supper and more socialising.

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