Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

Welcome to another tale from the Brisbane Plant Study Group. We held our fourth meeting on Friday the 28th March 2003 at the home of myself and husband Alan. There were eight people in attendance on the night and others who sent their apologies. After a bit of socialising and checking out our tanks and newly added pond to the fish room, the meeting got underway.

I started off the meeting with some show & tell. I had some native plants collected on a recent outing. The first one was a very small Myriophyllum sp. This one was a bit unusual as I have never seen it so small. It was thought that it might grow bigger in a lighted tank and given the “right” circumstances. I will give it a try and see how it goes. The second plant that I had was a very short Vallisneria sp. The stubbiness of this plant was most likely due to the conditions that it was growing in – very shallow waters and full sunlight.

Hairgrass (Eleocharis sp.) was brought up, so I passed around an article that I had found in the June 2002 issue of "Freshwater and Marine Aquarium" (FAMA) magazine. The article was titled “Hairgrass: Maintaining an Illusion” and described how the author, Kevin Osbourne, had used hairgrass to try and hide a filter tube. It had grown to approximately 10 inches and was floating along the surface of the water as well. Apparently it was in need of a mow. Ken mentioned that he has hairgrass that is rather short. Bruce advised that hairgrass grows best in a fine substrate with bright light, and that several varieties can tolerate both warm and cool water.

Next up was Bruce, who had brought along some plant cuttings with flowers intact. He thought it was a nice opportunity to show the flower, as the opportunity doesn't always arise. The first plant was the white flowering form of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata). It typically grows to about two to three feet tall with large leaves, up to five inches wide, and usually twice as long. The leaf shape is variable, but is usually lance-shaped. It also comes in a violet-blue flower form. His second plant was Hydrotriche hottoniflora . One member advised that the plant usually flowers near the end of its life cycle, before dying back in the winter.

Bruce was full of goodies and also brought along two plant books. The first was the Aquatic Plant Book by Christopher D.K. Cook. This book had fantastic line drawings and is full of valuable information. Bruce thought the only downside was that it only reviewed one species from each genus, otherwise it was a great resource. The second book was the “Aquarium Plant Catalogue” by Oriental Aquarium. While this was simply a catalogue of plants supplied by the dealer, it had great colour photos of plants. Another very valuable resource.

Just when you thought Bruce's bag 'o' goodies was empty, he also brought along the entire print-out from “The Crypts Pages” internet site. Their website can be found at [http://users.bart.nl/~crypts] and is a fantastic collection of information on anything and everything crypts. Check it out!

Ken had a question on how to keep a red tiger lotus (Nymphaea zenkeri 'Red') small. Charles advised not to feed it. Whoops! Too late for that Ken said. In further discussion it was discovered that what Ken actually had was Nymphaea sp. 'Red' and not a true red tiger lotus as he had originally thought. The determining factor was the flower colour. In a true tiger lotus (Nymphaea zenkeri 'Red'), the flower is red. The flower is white on a Nymphaea sp. 'Red'. This plant will set numerous under water leaves before floating leaves are produced, making it a good aquarium specimen. When floating leaves are produced the plant easily sets flowers. If you find the floating leaves blocking out too much light, newly formed floating leaves and longer roots can be removed to stimulate production of more under water leaves.

Michael also had some items to share with the group. He brought along a copy of “Fishtales” and “ANGFA News”. “Fishtales” is the publication of the Eastern Districts Aquarium Society in Victoria. It contains articles on various aquarium subject-matter, and a write up from their own plant fanatics - The Plant Study Group. This group was the inspiration behind the forming of the Brisbane Plant Study Group. Our group even got a bit of a mention in their article “Plant Group Cuttings”. “ANGFA News” is the newsletter published by ANGFA Inc. and contained an interesting article on the use of Vegemite as a fertiliser for plants. A very interesting read. Bruce and others mentioned using Vegemite as fish bait in traps, which seemed to work well. The Vegemite was placed in a film canister and small holes were drilled in the cap.

Alan brought up the use of the word “emerse”, which doesn't appear to exist in the dictionary. He was unable to locate it in several online and paper dictionaries (Australian and American). It was agreed by the group to be an authentic word, but no one could give reason to it not being worthy of listing in the dictionary. Surely this widely used word deserves some space in a dictionary somewhere.

Alan also mentioned the dedication of the Nudgee Waterhole Reserve to be held Saturday, 30th March, for those interested. The site of the waterholes is one of the last Aboriginal ceremonial sites in Brisbane. The site includes cultural heritage trails, native plants, play equipment, boardwalks, and viewing platforms around the waterholes. Go have a look.

Tony mentioned he had recently been to Greening Australia, located at 57 Paten Road, The Gap, and said they had a nice selection of pond plants. Tony also mentioned that he has a Cryptocoryne sp. (first thought to be Cryptocoryne blassii) and would like suggestions for growing. Bruce mentioned growing in subdued light, warm temps, and a sandy substrate. While searching through a book, Tony discovered that what he might have is Cryptocoryne griffithii.

We are also in the process of creating a website for the group. Keep your eyes peeled for more information.

The Brisbane Plant Study Group meetings will be held on the fourth Friday of every month and are as follows: 25th April, 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. The next meeting 25th April will be held at the home of Michael and Vonnie Cocks (***please note this is a change from the normal meeting place***). 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.