Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Our latest meeting was held Friday, 27th June 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan in Virginia. There were eight people in attendance and several others who sent their apologies. After a bit of socialising, and giving the tanks a good look, the meeting got underway.

The first item up for discussion was books to add to my library. I have been putting off expanding my aquatic plant library, waiting for the bank account to recover from months of unemployment. Bruce mentioned Christel Kasselmann's book. Hmmm, I thought to myself, where had I seen or heard that name. Ah yes, in the last issue of "In-Stream" where Bruce reviewed her book "Aquarium Plants". With 518 pages of valuable aquarium plant knowledge, it seems like a good possibility. The only hesitation is the $84US price tag. I wonder when the next relative is coming for a visit.

Next up was a letter from George Brand that was forwarded to the group from the Editor of "In-Stream". George had recently visited a local aquarium shop in hopes of acquiring the necessary ingredients for a successful planted aquarium. The salesperson recommended laterite, a daily nutrient supplement, and another supplement to be added during water changes. He opted to hold off on the CO2 apparatus because of the cost. He has been reading our articles and noticed we never mention these nutrient supplements or CO2. So, he wanted to know what the groups thoughts were on these products.

The general group consensus was that it depends on the plants being grown. Eng said that some plants like the additional nutrients, some don't. The same goes for CO2. For example, bunch plants like the extra nutrients in the water, while crypts do not. A substrate supplement is good for those plants that absorb nutrients through their roots. Remember, not all plants feed from their roots, and not all plants feed from the water. Overall, if a tank is in good "balance" the plants will do well on the fish waste and decay of old plant leaves, etc.

Please note, it is good practice NOT to over-clean your gravel in a planted aquarium as they use the "muck" as food.

Bruce mentioned Dupla's 10 Golden Rules as a good start for people wanting advice on helping their planted aquarium. (This is a guide...not a list of what you HAVE to do). They are:

  1. Tropical Warmth in the Substrate and in the Water (undergravel heating cables)
  2. Adequate Lighting (intense!)
  3. Assured Water Stability
  4. Nature-like Plant Nutrition (iron-rich laterite substrate enrichment)
  5. Biological Filtration (high nitrates!)
  6. Strong Water Movement
  7. Dense Planting
  8. Balanced Fish Population
  9. Fish Care compatible with the Tropics
  10. Control of all Variables

It should also be noted that there are many different ways of having a successful planted aquarium and what works for one person, may not necessarily provide the identical result for another. There is also personal taste to take into consideration. I would also like to recommend, for those of you just starting out with a planted aquarium, "The Underwater Garden" video. This is a two-hour amateur video production that gives a full explanation and demonstration on how to prepare, set up and maintain a picturesque planted aquarium. The video was created by the Eastern Districts Aquarium Society's own experts from The Plant Study Group in Victoria, Neil Armstrong and Eddie Tootell. This video is available for $25AU and can be had by contacting EDAS Club Secretary, Debra Sabin debrasabin@yahoo.comor Post payment, prepaid to: EDAS Inc., Post Office Box 5, Nunawading Mail Centre, Nunawading, Melbourne, Victoria 3131, Australia. This is how Alan and myself started our first and subsequent planted aquariums and it works!

In regards to substrate, we have touched on this subject a few times. A "laterite" substrate is ideal, but not necessary. Several members have had success with potting mix, well composted mulch, peat with sand, and mulm from a well-established tank (mulm is ideal as it will have many of the bacteria needed to get a new tank going). If you are desperate to have some "laterite", talk to one of our plant enthusiasts and they might tell you where to find some. The thought behind the use of laterite is for the iron supplement it provides to help the plants grow. However, lately this has been a hot topic of discussion and is being debated by many aquatic plant growers.

I think all in the group would agree that light is a very important component of a successful planted aquarium. Most people do not use enough light. By increasing the light on the tank, you will get better results. It is recommended to have the lights on a timer and at least two fluoro tubes.

I hope this has been of some help to George and others of you who have been wondering how to improve your aquatic plant health in your aquariums. If you need further assistance or have any questions, please feel free to contact any of us; we love to help.

Charles gave us an brief update on his recent trip to Melbourne. He got to see several fish rooms, attend the local ANGFA Victoria meeting, and even got to bring back a few goodies. While he enjoyed the trip, he is glad to be back in warmer weather.

Alan passed around the last issue of "Fishtales" for all to read the "Plant Group Cuttings" from our plant buddies in Victoria. One item of mention was Paul Byham's recipe for CO2. It is as follows:

6 cups tap water
2 cups raw sugar
1 teaspoon Tandaco yeast
1 teaspoon Bicarb of soda.

Add ingredients to a 2 litre Coke bottle, shake it all up and it will produce gas for about two weeks. *Cheap alternative to the CO2 systems on the market*

Greg provided us with information on Aquarama 2003. Aquarama is an international aquarium fish and accessories exhibition and conference. It is being held in Singapore 30th October - 2nd November 2003. For further information, check out their website, http://www.aquarama.com.sg/

We adjourned to view some images on the computer that Greg had brought from field trips he had been on in recent months. He even had a few shots of the plants in our tanks. What a nice surprise.

We would also like to announce that the Brisbane Plant Study Group Website is live!!! You can visit our website at http://bpsg.frell.org.

Our next meeting will be the 25th of July at the home of Michael and Yvonne Cocks of Burpengary. The Brisbane Plant Study Group meetings will be held on the fourth Friday of every month and are as follows: 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 me 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. It is also requested that you bring a dish, as supper is provided after the meeting.