Tales from the Crypts
by Heidy Rubin

We gathered at our house in Northgate on Friday, 28th May, 2004. There were seven people in attendance on the night, with several others sending their apologies. After some socialising and catching up on the latest with our fish tanks, our meeting got started.

Bruce brought along a plant for identification. Is is an algae? Is it a moss? It looked similar to Bolbitis heudelotii (Bolbitis), but in a very miniature form. This sample was collected from an area on the banks of a rainforest. The area was receiving a light mist or spray of water. Bruce has been keeping it in a tank for a few weeks now and it is doing okay. It prefers to be on wood near a spray of water. Since we were unable to identify it, we will refer to it at 'Bruce's Christmas Tree Moss'. Very interesting little plant.

Since we were on the topic of algae's, I thought I would mention the article by Ron Bowman featured in the June 2004 'Vic News' on his experience with trying to establish a G. pusilla population in his local park pond. The aspect of the article I wanted to highlight, was a warning sign posted by the local council. It reads "ALGAL BLOOM.... Please avoid contact with the pond water as there are high levels of a TOXIC blue-green algae present." I guess many water bodies get infected with this algae, not just our fish tanks.

We briefly spoke about the thread being discussed on the Rainbowfish Mailing List (RML). The unknown Stiphodon sp. from the Cape Tribulation region. The reason we brought this up was because apparently this little beast from the Gobiidae family is very good at algae control.

The topic of the night must have been on algae, since that seemed to be the bulk of our discussions. I shared some articles that Alan and I had found on the use of algae as a substitute for fossil fuels. The first article was called "Algae: Power Plant of the Future?" and can be found at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,54456,00.html It was very interesting to think of a microscopic algae, that we refer to as pond scum, being a solution to the world's fossil fuel dependency. After Alan forwarded me that article, I decided to poke around on the Internet to see if there were any other studies on the use of algae for alternative energy sources. To my surprise, there were heaps. The second article titled "Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae" can be found at http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html If you have some spare time and a bit of interest in this sort of thing, have a look at the articles.

While we talk mostly aquatic plants, the occasional discussion on fish (more often than not) comes up. Bruce shared an article about exotic fish breeder Diana Morrison in Carnarvon, WA. Unknown to many in our group, she is a breeder of New Guinea Rainbowfish (a breed common to many members of the BPSG). Her biggest struggle was to find fish species that could tolerate considerable densities of iron, calcium, and magnesium found in her artesian water supply. New Guinea Rainbowfish seem to do quite well. It was nice to see another successful aquaculturist.

After all those discussions, we moved on to hear the latest updates from our members. I started off by sharing our story of the broken light bar on our 4' display tank. It seemed that there was quite a bit of moisture accumulating on the inside of the light canopy. The light bar showed this excessive moisture accumulation with heaps of rust. So, we decided to replace the light bar. That was the smallest of our challenges to come. The biggest was re-wiring the new light bar and fitting it inside the canopy. With a lot of luck and experience with helping my Mom re-wire things in the U.S., I was able to get it done. The biggest relief came when I flipped on the switch and the fluro tubes lit up. We have also added some cover glass to the tank to prevent the accumulation of moisture inside the canopy. So far it seems to be doing well.

Bruce was motivated by this story to share his experience with changing fluro tubes in his house. He discussed the difficulties with getting the VERY old starters out. It seemed some of them were so old, they disintegrated when he tried to remove them. Bruce also brought along some books to share with the group. They were:

  • Fish Ponds and Aquaria by Rosslyn Mannering
  • Aquarium Plants by Christel Kasselmann
  • Goldfish Varieties and Tropical Aquarium Fishes by Wm. T. Innes
  • Freshwater Algae in Australia by Entwisel, Sonneman, & Lewis
  • Tropica Aquarium Plants by Tropica

The goldfish book was simply lovely to browse through. An old, but very lovely image of a goldfish graced the first page of the book. The artwork of yesteryear is simply sensational.

Peter's plants were starting to make a comeback since he replanted his tank. A few of the plants died back, but are now just starting to come good. He mentioned the difference between the emerse and submerse forms of Crassula helmsii (Australian swamp stonecrop). This plant originates from Australia and New Zealand. It can grow in a variety of different aquatic habitats (acid to alkaline waters and even in semi-saline sites). It can grow on damp ground or in waters of depths to three metres.

Michael's fish room is going well. One of his inside tanks (smaller one in the dining room) sprung a leak again and had to be fixed. Bruce added that it is always good to put new silicon layer on when tearing tanks down, before setting them back up.

Seweryn mentioned that glass is still a liquid and over time it runs down making the bottom of the glass thicker than the top. He said that this was easily seen in old house windows, where the bottom of the glass was very thick and the top was very thin. This could explain why glass becomes brittle and breaks more easily over time.

Michael also mentioned the high price of plants in pet shops/aquariums. For example, he noticed one shop selling a bunch of Fontinalis sp. (aquatic moss) the size of a fifty cent coin for $5. His Echinodorus uruguayensis (green variety) that was growing out of the water is now growing underwater (since winter has arrived). He also asked if anyone had Echinodorus uruguayensis (red variety) grow above water. Both Michael and Bruce had never achieved this. They also mentioned that the red variety never got as big as the green. Echinodorus osiris, opacus, and portoalegrensis all multiply by growing plantlets off a rhizome.

We closed the meeting and had a bit of supper. The June meeting will be held at Bruce's house. We look forward to seeing everyone again in July after our return from the U.S.

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