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Red Tiger Lotus
(Nymphaea Zenkeri) Easy Medium 10-32" All 70-86° F, KH 3-15, pH 5.5-7.8 Seeds Red/Green Root tabs, Iron supplement, CO2 West Africa Nymphaeaceae Lotus Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea Zenkeri) originates from West Africa where it is found growing in drainage ditches, the margins around lakes and ponds and other areas of stagnant water. The relatively shallow water in its native habitat has made this plant quite tolerant of water temperature, lighting and dissolved CO2 in the water. When under high lighting and CO2 the Red Tiger Lotus will grow more rapidly, but it is equally at home in environments with medium lighting intensity and no added CO2. Red Tiger Lotus are capable of absorbing atmospheric CO2 from the lilly pads that reach the surface of the water, which accelerates their growth compared to plants that must take in all of their CO2 from the water column. The Red Tiger Lotus will grow to about 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide in ideal water and lighting conditions. They will extend arrow shaped lilly pads to the surface of the water, producing red or blue flowers. It is these flowers that once they fruit will produce the seeds that propagate the plant. The seeds develop into bulbs that root them selves into the substrate and begin the growth of another plant. Without a doubt the Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea Zenkeri) will quickly become a center piece of the aquarium due to its brilliant red and green coloration, arrow shaped red leaves, lilly pads and bright red or blue flowers. It not only looks attractive, but also serves to create areas underneath the broad leaves and lilly pads that is filtered from the bright aquarium lights, which is ideal for fish or inverts who appreciate areas of diffused or filtered lighting. Additionally, it is a versatile plant that can look great in all different areas of the aquarium and can integrate well with a wide variety of other plants, driftwood and rock scapes. Red Tiger Lotus is generally sold within the aquarium hobby as either a bulb or a small juvenile plant with an existing root system. If purchased as a bulb, make sure that the bulb is firm and not soft or squishy which would indicate it is dead. A good firm bulb can be planted about a third of the way into the aquarium substrate or simply place on top of the substrate, where it will begin to establish a root system and producing leaves. Do not bury the bulb too deep or completely covered by the substrate as this will kill the plant. While the Red Tiger Lotus can absorb nutrients and CO2 from the water column, it is primarily a root feeder and does best with a soil rich in iron; additionally, once its leaves have reached the surface of the water where it will take in atmospheric CO2. When kept in aquariums with plant substrates or dirt the Red Tiger Lotus will grow out extensive root systems and take in much of its nutrients through the roots. However, in aquariums with inert substrates the Red Tiger Lotus will be forced to take in the majority of its nutrition from the water column. In these cases it is best not to plant it near more sensitive plant species that it will out compete for nutrients and starve out. Often times with this species hobbyists find that its growth is too rapid, which is often the case in tanks with high intensity lighting, use of liquid fertilizers and CO2. The two primary ways to slow down the growth of the Red Tiger Lotus is to trim leaves before they reach the surface of the aquarium or constrain the roots so that they cannot spread into the whole substrate. Keeping leaves and lilly pads from reaching the surface of the water keeps the Red Tiger Lotus from accessing atmospheric CO2, which is much more abundant than dissolved CO2 in the water column. Constraining the root system prevents the plant from accessing all the iron and nutrient rich soil or plant substrate throughout the entire aquarium. Limiting both CO2 access and root growth controls the amount of fuel the plant has access to and thus controls the rate of growth of the plant. The Red Tiger Lotus propagates through producing lotus flowers at the surface of the water, which produce a large amount of seeds which when dropped fall back into the water and can take root in the substrate and produce another plant. This is a very effective way for the plant to reproduce and in the aquarium environment the fast growing Red Tiger Lotus can quickly take over the aquarium. In order to keep the plant from taking over the entire aquarium it is best to trim surface flowers before they develop fruit and produce seeds. The flowers will only develop when leaves are allowed to grow to the surface of the water. Many hobbyists enjoy the look of surface leaves and the shading it provides within the aquarium, so trimming the flowers is the best approach. However, for those who do not want or care about surface leaves, they can simply trim the leaves before they reach the surface, which will prevent flowering, grow more submerged leaves and slow down the overall growth rate of the plant.
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Needle Leaf Ludwigia
(Ludwigia arcuata) Easy Medium to High 20" Midground to Background 72-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.5-7.8 Cuttings, Seeds Green, Red/Yellow w/high lighting Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Southeastern United States Onagraceae Ludwigia Needle Leaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia arcuata) is found growing both submerged and emersed in marshes, pond margins and drainage ditches in the Southeastern United States, primarily in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It has a delicate looking reddish stem and thin needle like leaves that vary from green to red. Despite looking quite delicate, it is actually a very hardy species and when kept under the correct conditions will quickly branch and grow into bushy clusters reaching nearly 20" in height. Needle Leaf Ludwigia is an easy plant to grow that adds movement and dimension to the aquarium. The leaves are thin, pointed and grow in opposite pairs along the whole length of the stem. Depending on the amount of iron available in the water and the intensity of the water, the leaves can vary in color from green to red. If pruned frequently, this plant will branch out and provide a bushy filler for the mid-ground or background placements within the aquarium. Ludwigia arcuata is typically sold in a bunch of individual stems, marked for medium to high lighting and recommended for background applications in smaller tanks and mid-ground to background in larger tanks. Many hobbyists are attracted to this species due to the movement it creates within the aquarium as it slowly sways in the water currents. It is also excellent at creating thick bushy areas within the aquarium if pruned frequently, thus providing a bushy filler for the mid-ground or background applications. In more shallow tanks with high lighting Needle Leaf Ludwigia can grow to the surface and grow horizontally on the waters surface, where it will both produce brilliant yellow flowers and provide filtered shaded areas on the substrate below. Needle Leaf Ludwigia is a versatile plant, but to get the more desirable bright red color, hobbyists must provide high lighting and nutrient levels. High iron content is key in bringing out more red tones of the shoot apexes and the undersides of the leaves. CO2 injection is not required for the cultivation of this plant, but can help it grow more robustly. When grown emersed, the leaves tend to be more round like what is typically found on other types of ludwigia and will remain green. When grown under high light and submerged in an aquarium, the leaves turn thin and orange to red depending on iron and nutrient levels. Dosing with iron supplements will bring out the deepest red coloration. In nature reproduction occurs during the late spring and summer when mature plants develop bright yellow flowers just above the surface of the water. From these flowers seeds will develop and eventually drop off and find their way to the substrate, where they will develop into a new plant. Hobbyists looking to propagate Ludwigia Needle Leaf need simply cut off one of the numerous side shoots, branches or simply top off the plant and plant the newly cut stem into the substrate. In order to ensure proper root growth of the new cutting, remove any leaves from the last segment or node of the plant before replanting.
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Blyxa japonica
(Blyxa japonica) Moderate Medium to High 6" Midground 72-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.8-7.6 Cuttings Green, Red/Yellow w/high lighting Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Eastern Asia Hydrocharitaceae Blyxa Blyxa japonica or as it is also sometimes referred to as the Bamboo Plant is found natively throughout southeastern Asia, where it grows both in slow moving streams and in areas of stagnant shallow waters and marshes. It is also found in man made water ways like drainage ditches and rice paddies, which is testament to its hardiness and adaptability. The popularity of this plant within the aquarium hobby has made it a staple plant within the hobby, where it is generally available online and at local fish stores. While aquarium hobbyists have been using Blyxa japonica to create areas of dense bush like foliage in their aquascapes, this plant may be best known for its use in Takashi Amano's 'Nature Layouts' where he would utilize its dense growth pattern and grass-like appearance to create attractive midgrounds in his over the top aquatic creations. Mr. Amano would often use Blyxa japonica to soften the margins of hardscape materials and to act as a transition between shorter foreground species and taller, more traditional looking stem plants. This species it at home in a variety of different aquascapes, where its simple but graceful appearance enhances almost any style of aquascaping. Despite the grass like appearance of B. japonica, it is actually a stem plant whose short stems and dense foliage give it the look of a grass plant species. Unlike many grass plants species commonly used as foreground and midground plants in aquariums, Blyxa japonica does not produce long runners that spread out in all directions from the plant. This makes them ideal for aquascapes where they are planted up next to other plants or hardscape to create contrast, or when they are planted next to an open area of the substrate that is not intended to have plant growth. Blyxa japonica has moderate care requirements that when met will produce a bushy dark green plant averaging about 6 inches in height. When kept in lower lighting conditions B. japonica will tend to grow taller, thinner and take on a lighter green coloration. However, when kept in higher lighting situations with CO2 or a good source of bioavailable organic carbon like Fluorish Excel, Blyxa japonica will exhibit reddish/gold hues on the leaves and will even flower in shallow water environments. An ideal environment for this species will have intense lighting, a nutrient rich substrate, CO2 or bioavailable organic carbon, a fertilization regimen including nitrate, phosphate, potassium, iron and micro nutrient supplementation. Strong lighting will encourage more compact growth, provide deeper coloration and the plant will produce thin stalks with small white flowers. Lastly, adequate internal water movement within the aquarium producing an indirect or laminar water flow will greatly increase the distribution of chemical compounds in the water and assist proper plant growth and positively effect plant respiration. Propagating Blyxa japonica can be achieved either by uprooting mature plants and separating basal side shoots at the connection points on the stem structure or by cutting plants off at connection points in the stem structure. Be sure that the separated or cut plants have some roots showing on the stem. Freshly cut or separated plantlets will need to be well planted in the substrate or weighed down, as they are prone to floating up to the surface of the water.
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Rotala Nanjenshan
(Rotala Nanjenshan) Easy Medium to High 12" Midground 74-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.8-7.5 Cuttings Green, Red, Yellow Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Taiwan Lythraceae Rotala Rotala Nanjenshan is a plant native to smaller lakes, ponds and slowly moving water ways of Taiwan. The bright green coloration and intricate leaf pattern has made the Rotala Nanjenshan plant a very popular aquarium species. Rotala Nanjenshan typically grows to about 12 inches within the aquarium environment and is considered a mid-ground plant in most aquariums. Rotala Nanjenshan have stems that grow closely together with small plentiful leaves. This dense growth gives the plant a bushy appearance and is too dense for all but the smallest of fish to swim through. Both the dense growth and its delicate leaves make the Rotala Nanjenshan better suited for aquariums with smaller fish species that will not damage the plants fragile stems. Rotala Nanjenshan does best in aquariums that maintain a warm water temperature between 76 and 82 degrees and a light output of between 3 to 5 watts per gallon. Full spectrum lighting in the 5700 to 7000 kelvin range brings out the best coloration and growth rate in the plant. They do well in lighting conditions that vary between moderate to high lighting; however, growth will be slowed in moderate (3 watts per gallon) lighting conditions. Water flow should be in the gentle to moderate range, as strong water flow will often damage the plants delicate structure. Rotala Nanjenshan does best with a dense aquarium substrate of fine gravel between 2 to 3 inches in depth. Plant cuttings can simply be pushed in to the substrate, where they will in time grow a substantial root structure to hold the plant in place. Lastly, it is recommended to keep Rotala Nanjenshan with smaller fish species or larger fish species that are not overly active swimmers. Rotala Nanjenshan can easily be propagated through cutting stems off of an existing healthy plant. Simply cut the desired height of plant that you want and strip the leaves off an inch above where the stem will be placed into the substrate. The plant will grow roots from the last node of the stem and will in time establish a complete root system. In addition to proper lighting, hobbyists should provide a fertilizer containing iron, potassium and trace elements. CO2 will increase growth rate and bring out the full potential of the plant; however, it is not a requirement to grow Rotala Nanjenshan. Hobbyists who do not use CO2 should utilize a dosing product that contains a source of bio available organic carbon; such as, Seachem Flourish Excel or other similar product.
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Anubias Congensis
(Anubias Congensis) Easy Low to Medium 16" Midground 72-80° F, KH 4-18, pH 5.5-9.0 Rhizome Division, Cuttings Green High Quality Aquarium Fertilizer, Iron-Rich Fertilizer Western Africa Araceae Anubias Congensis Anubias Congensis is tropical species from Western Africa, where it is common amongst the rivers, streams and bogs found in the region. Previously, this species was rarely seen within the aquarium hobby as the regions of Africa in which it grows were unstable due to warfare. More recently though exporters were able to export a sufficient amount of the species in order to establish farm raising of the plant. Anubias Congensis are now readily attainable within the hobby, which gives hobbyist's another hardy Anubias species that can thrive in a variety of conditions and aquarium setups. Anubias Congensis are excellent for Cichlid aquarium setups, as their thick strong leaves and root systems make them up to the challenge of co-existing with larger Cichlid species. They are also not on the menu for most all Herbivores, which makes them great additions to aquariums housing larger freshwater herbivores. Anubias Congensis is a hardy plant species that has only modest requirements when kept within the aquarium environment. They can grow both in the aquarium substrate and can be attached to driftwood or rocks, where their root system will gradually take hold of these harder surfaces. While they can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, they should not be kept in high light conditions. Instead they should be positioned where they will receive medium to low lighting or indirect lighting if housed in an aquarium with bright lighting. Their natural habitat has iron rich soil, thus Anubias Congensis should be supplemented with a quality iron-based supplement to provide them optimal nutrition. Anubias Congensis is considered to be a slower growing species that is not particularly stimulated by CO2 supplementation. Anubias Congensis are easy to propagate as they can be divided through rhizome division. The plant should be cut with very sharp, sterilized scissors in a location that is above the substrate. The cuttings can be grown fully submersed or partially submersed in paludariums or terrariums.
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Myriophyllum
(Myriophyllum sp.) Moderate Medium 24" Background 70-84° F, pH 5.5-7.5, KH 3-8 Cuttings Green, Tan, Red Iron, Trace Elements, CO2 Supplementation North, Central and South America Halorhagaceae Myriophyllum is a fast growing species, native to the wetland regions of North America, Central America and South America. There are several different variations of the species, such as Myriophyllum propinquum, Myriophyllum aquaticum, and Myriophyllum mattogrossense. There is also another variation named, Myriophyllum tuberculatum, which is native to India and Southeast Asia. Myriophyllum is a very attractive species with frilly foliage that creates a rather delicate appearance. Myriophyllum has a color form that ranges from green to red (pink has been also been observed) and it makes a beautiful addition as a background plant. Myriophyllum requires regular dosing of iron-rich fertilizer and trace elements, and will thrive under moderate lighting of 2 to 3 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Myriophyllum will turn pale or whitish in coloration as an indication of iron or nutrient deficiency. CO2 injection is not necessary, but is recommended as it will lead to robust and vigorous growth. This species will require regular pruning that can be achieved by simply "topping" the plants at the level desired; the cuttings may be used for propagation. Myriophyllum tuberculatum is very similar to the other species of Myriophyllum, but its color form is a bright, burnt-orange to red and it requires high intensity lighting of at least 3.5 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Regular CO2 injection is also required for Myriophyllum tuberculatum as well as regular dosing of nitrates and phosphates (5-15ppm and 1-2ppm) that should be monitored closely and never be allowed to reach zero. Under optimal conditions, groupings of Myriophyllum tuberculatum can be eye-catching and beautiful when planted alongside green Myriophyllum or other contrasting plant species. Propagation of this species can be achieved from cuttings; simply cut the top half of an established stem or take a cutting from a side-shoot and gently replant it in the substrate after removing any leaves from the last node of the stem. The "parent" stem will quickly develop new shoots and the newly planted cutting will quickly develop a root system. Over time, the process will develop lush, bushy plants that have multiple lateral branches.
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Wisteria
(Hygrophila difformis) Easy Medium 20" Background 74-84° F, pH 6.0-7.5, KH 3-8 Cuttings Green Iron, Potassium, Trace Elements, Substrate Fertilizer, CO2 Supplementation Southeastern Asia Acanthaceae Hygrophila difformis, also known as Water Wisteria and Wisteria, is a beautiful species that can be found within marshy habitats of southern Asia. As its scientific name suggests, its forked, fern-like leaves will vary in form and appearance under different conditions. Its sturdy, bright-green, forked leaves provide an attractive contrast to other leaf shapes and make excellent cover for invertebrates and fry. Wisteria requires a moderate lighting intensity of at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. With a nutrient-rich substrate and regular dosing of high quality liquid nutrients (iron, potassium, and trace elements), Wisteria will thrive and grow rapidly. Provide CO2 injection more robust and vigorous growth. Wisteria is very effective for inhibiting algae growth and removing excess nutrients and organic waste from the water column as well as releasing plenty of oxygen. Propagation of Wisteria is done by cutting the top half of a strong stem and replanting it in the substrate after removing any leaves from the bottom inch of the stem. The "parent" stem will quickly develop new shoots and over time, this process can develop lush, bushy specimens. In addition, new growth will develop from nodes on strong, established stems that are right above the substrate's surface, and over time the growth can creep across the substrate to new areas.
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Water Sprite
(Ceratopteris thalictroides) Easy Medium 12" Midground 70-84° F, pH 5.5-7.0, KH 3-8 Adventitious Plants Green High Quality Aquarium Fertilizer Widespread Pan-tropical Parkeriaceae Ceratopteris thalictroides, also known as Water Fern, Indian Fern, and Water Sprite, is native to slowly moving, calm, or still waters in tropical regions throughout the world. Having a poor root system, the Water Sprite absorbs nutrients directly from the water column, which also makes Water Sprite an excellent species to anchor to rocks and driftwood, or leave to floating on the surface. Water Sprite also does well at the aquarium substrate if it is loosely rooted or if the roots are anchored by rock, wood or a small weight. Its sturdy, bright-green, forked leaves provide an attractive contrast to other leaf shapes and make excellent cover for invertebrates and fry. This is an ideal plant for those new to keeping planted aquariums, as it can tolerate a variety of water conditions and can thrive under a variety of conditions. Water Sprite is also popular with hobbyists experienced with keeping live plants due to its brilliant coloration, unique leaf pattern and diverse planting options. Water Sprite requires regular dosing of high quality, liquid nutrients, as well as moderate lighting of 2 to 3 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Water Sprite will grow vigorously under optimal conditions (even more so with CO2 injection), which makes this species very effective for inhibiting algae growth and removing excess nutrients and organic waste from the water column as well as releasing plenty of oxygen. In an open environment, Water Sprite can eventually grow out of the aquarium and start to form attractive surface leaves. Snails tend to find Water Sprite very appetizing and it's recommended that snail eating fish species (such as Loaches) be introduced into the tank. Propagation occurs via adventitious plants forming on the outer leaf margins, making Water Sprite very easy to reproduce. Simply use sharp scissors to clip the newly formed baby plants and they can either be floated or planted in the substrate.
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Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush
(Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus') Easy Low to Medium 12" Midground 62-82° F, pH 6.5-7.5, KH 3-8 Rhizome Division, Shoots Green, Tan High Quality Aquarium Fertilizer Asia Araceae Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush is native to Asia and has stiff, grass-like, green leaves with cream striping that grows in dense groups. This is a great species for a tank with Herbivorous fish and/or Cichlids as most fish tend to leave this tough plant alone. Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush is a slow grower that is very tough and can withstand a wide range of water temperatures as well as being able to tolerate partial shade to moderate lighting. Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush requires at least 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon of light provided by full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Regular dosing of high quality liquid fertilizers and a nutrient-rich substrate is recommended for optimal growth and health. Variegated Japanese Dwarf Rush mainly propagates via rhizome division; simply cut the plant at the rhizome with very sharp, sterilized scissors. It's recommended to place the newly cut divisions in a pot for a few weeks so they can develop before transplanting them to the aquarium substrate.
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Tonina fluviatilis
(Tonina fluviatilis) Difficult High 14" Midground 72-84° F, pH 4.5-7.0, KH 0-7, gH 1-5 Cuttings Lime-Green, Green Iron, Trace Elements, CO2 Supplementation South America Eriocaulonaceae Tonina fluviatilis is an exceptionally attractive species that is native to South America, that grows in dense mats within shallow, slow-moving, blackwater rivers and streams. The Tonina fluviatilis is considered a demanding plant and requires the knowledge of an experienced hobbyist. Tonina fluviatilis is an excellent choice for a mid-ground to background plant due to its beautiful, lime-green foliage. Tonina fluviatilis thrives in soft water and requires an acidic, nutrient-rich substrate. This species demands high intensity lighting of at least 3.5 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000°K) bulbs. CO2 injection is a necessity and must be done on a regular basis. Tonina fluviatilis is actually not too demanding when it comes to liquid fertilization, although it will need normal doses of iron and trace elements. For propagation of Tonina fluviatilis, cut off the side-shoots with a pair of sharp, sterilized scissors and gently replant the top two inches of each stem into the substrate and they eventually will grow back as clean, healthy plants.
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