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AGA 2008: Greg Morin: Iron Uptake

November 17th, 2008

The Aquatic Gardener’s Association 2008 Convention officially kicked off with Greg Morin of Seachem talking about Foliar vs. root-zone uptake for ferric and ferrous iron. I arrived a little bit late that day after spending some time going around Atlanta, but the talk was very interesting, although it was a little bit above my head. Greg explained how iron (Fe) is essential for plant growth because it facilitates electron transfer as a constituent for enzymes & proteins. In laymens terms, plants need it.

Plants have a number of methods for obtaining, and then regulating the iron that is needed for growth. Ideally, iron should be readily available to plants, either via the water column or in the substrate, but if it is not, plants can access a stored protein form called ferritin. Unfortunately, while this protein will work, new growth is slow, and yellowing of the leaves often occurs. Therefore, it is much better to make it readily available.

Greg detailed a series of laboratory studies that Seachem is conducting to determine the best way to feed iron to a plant. Essentially, there are two ways: via the leaves or via the roots. In addition, there are many compounds that contain iron, so they are comparing a chelated supplement (EDTA) verses iron gluconate (Flourish Iron). They’re using three types of plants, Crypt wendtii, Anacharis, and Echinodorus bleheri, to compare how different types of plants might react to the various iron forms. Preliminarily, they have found that roots are far more efficient (40:1) than the leaves at absorbing iron. In addition, compared to EDTA, their findings seem to indicate that iron gluconate is more easily absorbed by both foliar and root regions. They, of course, recognise that no plant can grow with just iron, so there are limiting factors when other nutrients are in short supply. Therefore, they are continuing their research to take some of these things into account.

Overall, what I heard from this talk is that the Flourish Iron I’m using in my tank is doing what it’s supposed to do, so I’m going to continue using it.




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AGA 2008 Contest: Best of Show

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here is the best of show aquarium. The judges liked this aquarium very much. Karen Randal noted how the use of sand and varying size rocks in the foreground really added realism to the scape. Amano had some issues with the driftwood because it looked distorted from the use of a wide-angle lens for this picture. He also thought that the background plants could be a little bit more lush.

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Due to his criticisms of the Best in Show tank, Amano offered his top two picks for best of show, even though he was ultimately overruled by the scoring of other judges. Amano really liked how this next aquarium has the bare-bottom of the aquarium exposed to create the look of a lake. He also liked how the lake reflected the color of the sky and clouds in the background. Basically, he valued the originality of this idea.

Amano Pick 2

Amano was also very impressed with the rock-work in this next aquarium. He found the attention to detail, and the creation of depth very good. He also noted how it was a big risk to use rocks in the foreground, but that ultimately the aquascaper pulled it off.

Amano pick 1

For me, of all of the tanks that I saw this evening, my pick would be the following tank. I really like the sense of depth created in this tank, plus the whole glacier theme, and incorporation of a snow-covered mountain in the background. That’s a little bit unconventional, and overall, a very cool scape.IMG_6971

My runner up would this this scape. The depth is incredible. The background is a little overdone, but the close density of the plants on either bank is really impressive .IMG_6961

Please leave your thoughts for the best tanks in this contest.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Biotope

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Extra Large >400L

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Large 200-400L

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Medium 70-200L

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Paladarium

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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AGA 2008 Contest: Small <70L

November 16th, 2008

At the AGA Convention banquet tonight, the winners of the 2008 Aquascaping Contest were announced. For more information, better pictures, and runner ups, please visit the AGA convention website. Without further adieu, here are the top aquariums in this category.

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50G – First Planting

November 11th, 2008

Even though I’m still waiting on my 4x39W T5 light fixture to arrive from Catalina Aquarium, I’ve managed to borrow lights from some other tanks so that I can get going on the planting. I hooked up the Eheim 2026 Canister Filter, Hydor In-Line Heater, and CO2 canister so I’m good to go on everything but the light. I also added a few more rocks to fill in the hardscape. As this is my first planting, everything is subject to change and refinement as it grows in.

50G Aquascape

I’ve surrounded the large manzanita root ball with Stargrass, which I hope will provide a bright green backdrop to the wood. In front, I planted Hemianthus callitrichoides along with a little bit of hairgrass mixed in. This transitions up to some Blyxa japonica in the midground areas. In the back, I’ve planted five or six varieties of Rotala, which I’ll groom and cull once they’ve grown in a little bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have full bushes of many of the stems, so they’ll all have to grow for a little while before I can truly scape with them. I still need to obtain a bunch of Fissidens fontanus moss to accent and soften the wood and rockwork. So, it’s definitely still a work in process… Comments welcome!

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CCA: Fish of Honduras: Ken Davis

November 9th, 2008

Ken DavisThe Capital Cichlid Association’s November meeting brought in Ken Davis from Atlanta, Georgia, to speak about his collecting experiences in Honduras with Rusty Wessel. Ken has been president of the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association, owned a retail fish store, wholesale distributor, and fish hatchery, so it was great to hear the adventures of an expert through the Central American country. The presentation was more or less a slide-show of various species of fish (and other critters) that he found during his trip. I’m going to share a few of the species that most interested me.

Of course, one of the most famous fish from Honduras that has recently spread throughout the hobby has been the Honduran Red Point. Interestingly enough, this fish has already been selectively bred to look very little like its native counterpart. Below is a picture of how the Red Points look in the wild; note the vivid coloration on the body. Apparently, many breeders have been trying to get a blue body on this fish, to the detriment of the other colors, even some of the red.

Amatitlana sp. Honduran Red Point Danli

Ken told sad story about the beautiful undescribed Parachromis species of fish seen below. He was staying at a local hotel, and while waiting for all of his comrades to wake up, he and some others took a short hike to a small lagoon nearby just to see what was there. To their delight, they managed to catch one of these fish, which they have never found anywhere else in the country. They subsequently caught a total of 7 fish, and are currently breeding them. Unfortunately, on a later trip, they went back to the location, and all of the forest surrounding the lagoon had been cut down for new development, and the water itself was covered with an oil slick. Nothing living remained in the water, so it’s possible that the fish they previously pulled are the only surviving of the species. Let’s hope they can thrive in captivity.

Parachromis sp. 'La Ceiba Yellow head'


One of the things that I enjoyed about Ken’s talk is that he didn’t confine it solely to cichlids. While I love cichlids, I’m also interested in the complete ecosystem of any given place. In addition to several cichlids that fit this description, Honduras is home to one of the world nastiest livebearers, the Belonesox belizanus. Just look at the teeth of these guys. They can get up to about a foot long, and Ken says they’re great fish to have in your fishroom when you need to cull a group of fry.

Belonesox belizanus

There are also a large number of invertebrates to be found in Honduras. Ken found (and feasted on) several freshwater crabs and prawns, but in amoungst the roots of creekside trees, he also came across these inch-long purple shrimp. He’s tried unsuccessfully to bring them back to the States, but he hopes to have success sometime in the future, as he sees a great place for them in the hobby. I agree!

Purple Freshwater Shrimp

Finally, I asked Ken what the habitat was like as far as aquatic plants go. He said that 99% of the places he collected were rocky bottomed streams or rivers that contained zero plant life. The only exception was a small section of private property that the owners invited him to that wasn’t fished commercially or otherwise. I’m sure that there are a number of interesting plants available, but I imagine they might be hard to come by. Overall, Ken highly recommends Honduras as a place to visit. He says the people are incredibly friendly, and the accomodations aren’t bad. Maybe someday I’ll be able to visit there.

Note: All pictures of species were taken during Ken Davis’ presentation, and belong completely to him.

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