Aquatic Botany: Stage 1 – Basic Layout

December 27, 2007

I’ve come to that point in the night where instead of sleeping I start to read up on my hobbies. Last night, I was reading on how to record things using my Line 6 setup. Tonight, it is on aquatic plants.

Choosing plants is one of the more difficult aspects of an aquarium to me. I can raise fish perfectly fine, but my plants tend to burn rapidly. I have had luck with some Hornwort and Anachris, but those are essentially filler plants, used to get the tank going until everything starts to grow in. However, I am not going to be using hornwort anymore. When a plant begins to die, the leaves, which are very much like needles of a pine tree, fall and decompose rapidly. This can lead to ammonia spikes, and all sorts of nasties that can lead to a chain reaction of frustration.

There are several main types of plants you want to choose. To begin with, you have to choose a ground cover, like grass for your aquarium. Then you have your background plants; the plants that will be in the back of the tank. Foreground plants: plants that are in the front of the tank, typically shorter than the background plants. And then you have your mosses, which can be used on driftwood and rocks, or set up in vines or walls.

I’m going to keep my tank relatively simple. For my own records, and to let you all kinda see where I am going with my tank, I’ll break it down here.

Ground cover
Ground cover is one of the things I suck at the most (not to say I have any expertise in any type of plant). I just simply cannot get the dang plants to shoot off runners (the roots that spread horizontally to lead to more plants, resulting in a carpet of grass/plants). I was close with my native dwarf hairgrass last time I had it in there, but there were problems with the entire tank that ultimately led to the death of all living things in it (read: Walmart goldfish of death).

There are some really cool plants that can be used for ground cover. Glossostigma elatinoides is one. It isn’t too terribly hard to maintain, and can have a neat, almost clover field style look to it. However, easy to maintain does not mean easy to grow. There’s also hemianthus micranthemoides, or HM. I might go with HM. It isn’t that appealing to me though, which is a bit of a setback. I would much prefer its cousin, hemianthus callitrichoides. HC, unlike HM, is a pain to grow, and even more of a pain to plant.

Which leaves me with a plant that I have already hit on: Eleocharis acicularis or dwarf hairgrass. It doesn’t require a lot of CO2, but the light requirements are a bit above what I have. I do plan on getting up to about 4 watts per gallon, and this should definitely make these suckers thrive in my tank. I am worried a bit about algae in the grass, as it did tend to pop up in it last time I had the plant. The hairgrass can grow to be a bit taller than most cover plants, but trimming should keep it reasonable, and keep it spreading horizontally.

Background plants

I really like rotala. I don’t know why, I just do. So, rotala will be along the sides of the tank. Cabomba should hide the heater nicely. A couple of cryptocorynes to fill out the middle should pretty much finish that off.

Foreground plants
I’ll be going with some smaller crypts and and swords for these plants. I will also have some anachris as a fast growing nutrient sponge. I love that stuff!

Mosses
I eventually want to have some mosses but that’s gonna wait until I can get the rest of the tank growing.

There were going to be more specifics for the plants, but I got tired after ground cover, and wussed out. I know what I want, just didn’t want to find links to them.

Biggest barrier to my plan: actually finding the plants. I’ll be scouring the Midland fish shops for these, and buying any I can find the day before I head up to Houghton (probably leaving Midland the Saturday before class starts).

__________________________________________________________________________________

Going in to a quick “week ahead” mode for a second.

  • Thursday-Saturday: Hang out with family. Saturday I will pack for Kiln, MS mission trip
  • Sunday: Driving to Toomsuba, MS to visit grandparents night before mission starts
  • Next Monday-Saturday: Work with Samaritan’s Purse to rebuild houses, or whatever they assign us
  • Saturday or Sunday: Drive back to Liberty
  • Following Wednesday: Drive to Midland
  • Thursday-Friday: Hang out with Jill
  • Saturday: Drive to Houghton
  • Sunday: Relax. Stay far away from cars for a while. Get to bed early so I can get to class at 8am the next morning.

Last point is important. It is 4:30am EST, which is about the time I have been going to bed lately. Going to force myself in to getting up earlier, and getting to bed around 1am EST for the rest of the week. Working with Samaritan’s Purse ensures that I will be waking at 6:30am EST or earlier each day. Obviously, something needs to change 🙂

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4 Responses to “Aquatic Botany: Stage 1 – Basic Layout”

  1. Taz Says:

    Hi,

    I’ve always fancied the idea of having a really well planted tank and landscaped, but always end with a well stocked community tank not really focussed on the plants.

    I came across some inspiring pictures on the aquaticplantcentral.com website.

    I’ve got some plants in my tank. i;m not sure of their names but they are the common ones found in most aquatics shops. I’ve always found that the leafy plants tend not to last very long in the tank: i once read that this was because most of the leafy plants looking similar to land plants offered for sale for aquariums were in fact marsh plants and not suited to permanently being underwater..

  2. Daniel Lackey Says:

    APC is a great resource! Between them and http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ I am gathering tons of good information daily.

    You are probably correct that the plants you bought were not proper submersed plants for aquariums. However, many plants can actually be grown emersed (that is, not underwater, but sticking out of the water). There are ways to get emersed plants to take to underwater life, and a search on APC or TPT forums will show you how.

    The number one rule with the hobby is just simply not giving up. Your first, second, even third attempts will probably inevitably fail, but with devotion and an open mind towards learning from your mistakes you should be able to get something working.

    No I just gotta get something working for once 😉 Got all this knowledge now, I need to use it!


  3. […] Botany: Stage 2 – The Substrate Alright; really this should be lumped in with Stage 1 – Basic Layout, but I was tired, so I didn’t get around to mentioning […]


  4. […] on aquarium matters. Twice. Not to mention I was actively studying plant species and DIY plans for CO2 and lighting […]


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