Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Welcome to another tale from the Brisbane Plant Study Group. We held our third meeting on Friday the 28th February 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan. There were six people in attendance on the night and others who sent their apologies. After a bit of socialising and sharing of some plants, the meeting got underway.

Since those in attendance had brought along some goodies, we decided to jump right into show & tell. Bruce brought in a native Australian plant that is similar to Micranthemum umbrosum known as Elatine gratioloides. This plant can be found in shallow margins of still and slow flowing water and likes a fine organic substrate. It has a pH range of 6.5 – 7.2, temperature range of 10–22C, water hardness of 30 - 150 ppm, and can grow to 20cm. He also had some other plants to share. These were Ludwigia sedioides, the “mosaic” ludwigia which grows from the substrate and produces rosettes of floating leaves and looked like a mosaic tile. They are very slow growing, but do make a nice addition to any pond. Very attractive plant.

Next up was Ken with a native plant he needed identified. Bruce identified it as Potomageton crispus. Ken found this plant in shallow moving water and now has it growing in a bathtub pond outside. The plant is usually red or brown with wavy/curly leaves, and it gets a knob-like fruit on it. It has a pH range of 7-8, temperature range of 12-20C, and water hardness of 150-200 ppm. It is a very adaptable plant found widespread.

It was also stated that aquatic plants tend to do better if they are able to get to the top of the tank and grow emerse as well as submerse. Many aquatic plants look completely different in their emerse form and this can be quite a nice addition to a planted tank.

Next, I brought up the idea of algae eaters in the planted aquarium. I had recently visited the Dallas – Ft. Worth Aquatic Plant Club's website (http://www.aquatic-plants.org) and found an interesting article on algae eaters. The article focused on the positives and negatives of algae eaters in the planted aquarium. It also discussed the different algae that each of the algae eaters would feed on. I had my doubts on algae eaters in planted aquariums, as the ones I had experience with seemed to munch on my plants as well. After reading the article, I think I'll give them another chance. You can read the full article in this issue of “In Stream”.

Bruce said that Otocinclus sp. won hands down in eating algae. There was a study done that actually proved their superior algae eating abilities. Otocinclus sp. tend to be quite delicate and sometimes don't do well. Bruce also recommended the Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) for good overall algae control.

American flag fish (Jordanella floridae) were also mentioned as good algae controllers, especially of thread algae. Not only do they have attractive colouring, but they seem to feed on a variety of algaes including blackbrush algae. They have several downfalls, they seem to enjoy the occasional delicate plant or fine leaved plant, will occasionally go after plants that can be easily torn, and are somewhat aggressive towards other fish – including their own kind. Also when spawning the males dig a pit in the substrate.

I had a problem with my pond plants yellowing, so I asked the group if they could advise me on what needed to be done. It was thought that there could be a lack of nutrients in the substrate/soil. This could be rectified by repotting the plant. One of the plants that was doing quite poorly was an Anubias sp. The group advised that the larger varieties of Anubias sp. do better when their feet are wet and their leaves are grown emerse, as long as humidity is maintained. I will be sure to try these remedies and see how things go.

Another concern I had was about the birds eating the fish in my ponds. The group unanimously agreed that they have all witnessed birds taking fish from their ponds. Some birds of concern were Egrets, Herons, and Kingfishers. The best solution to prevent this problem is to place chicken wire on top of the ponds. This allows light and air to the pond and preying birds are kept away.

Alan wanted to know if anyone in the group had kept mangroves in their aquariums before. Bruce mentioned that he had kept them in a tank before. He used a smaller variety that comes from less salty areas upstream. They did quite well and were a good filter plant. Another good filter plant is the papyrus reed (Cyperus involucratus).

In wrapping up the meeting Bruce recommended a fantastic website, The Crypts Pages (http://users.bart.nl/~crypts/index.html) . He said it was the best plant site on the web. It had great pics and loads of up-to-date information. The meeting adjourned and we all headed to the kitchen for some supper.

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 are as follows: 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.