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Nymphaea micrantha – Plantlets

June 28th, 2009

Nymphaea micrantha is a very popular water-lily that I’ve kept for some time. It’s sometimes incorrectly sold as Nymphaea sp. ‘4-Color’ or as Four-Color Lotus plant. This is probably because the leaves are a smattering of colors, forming a beautiful mozaic on every leaf.

Nymphaea micrantha

One of the other interesting qualities of this species is that plantlets often grow at the base of the leaf where the stem attaches. I noticed several of my leaves doing exactly this. The larger plantlets look like the picture below, with roots protuding from the underside of the leaf.

Nymphaea micrantha

Initially, the plantlets start as a single stem emerging, which eventually has a leaf that unfolds. I’ve had this particular plant growing for almost a year, and it only started exhibiting plantlet growth within the past month.

Nymphaea micrantha

Even as very small stems, you can see below that minature leaves are present. (Yes, some algae too, darn!) Once plantlets develop to sufficient size, and have nice root structures, you should be able to clip them from the parent leaf, and plant them as their own plant.

Nymphaea micrantha

Growing Nymphaea micrantha is not terribly challenging. You just need to make sure to provide a rich substrate and a strong enough light. If you don’t have enough light, the plant will either melt away, or send all of its leaves toward the surface as floating lily-pads. Sometimes this happens anyways. Usually, if you’re diligent at trimming off these surface-loving-leaves, the plant will produce more compact, submersed leaves.




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Adkins Arboretum

June 25th, 2009

I haven’t posted in a little while because I was taking a break while vacationing at the beach on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. On our way over to the beach, my wife and I stopped at Adkins Arboretum, a native-plants garden and preserve located right next door to Tuckahoe State Park, along the Tuckahoe Creek.

Trail at Adkins Arboretum

As soon as you get out of your car, you see a butterfly garden comprised entirely of native flowers. With bumblebees and butterflies actively buzzing through the garden, we snapped a few shots of the flowers there.

Flower

As we walked toward the visitor center, we had to cross a bridge over the Tuckahoe Creek. I was hoping to see more aquatic plants present, but most were marsh plants, instead of true aquatics. Nevertheless, it was still beautiful, and housed several species of dragonflies and frogs.

Adkins Arboretum

At the visitor center, they were selling a wide variety of plants native to Maryland. I was amazed at how many different plants were available. There’s really not much of a reason why you can’t put together a beautiful flower garden using plants from your area.

Flower

We perused through their library and gift shop, and then decided to head out on the trails. The trails are well-kept, and mulched in most areas. They’re certainly more accessible for kids and families then some of the walking paths next door at the state park. That said, there’s also an element of nature that’s lost because of this.

Flower

Along the trail, we spotted quite a few different mushrooms and fungi growing. I suspect that they’re loving the above average amount of rainfall that Maryland has been having so far this year.

Mushroom

Even despite the well-manicured trails, we still ended up with several ticks crawling on us, but fortunately none had attached yet. As someone who’s witnessed the effects of tick-borne diseases in someone close to me, please make sure to wear proper attire, and take all precautions when hiking to avoid tick bites. Especially folks in the Mid-Atlantic region, where Lyme and other diseases are prevalent, should take extra care.

Fungi

Finally, after our jaunt through the woods, we ended up back at the visitor center, where we took one more stroll through their flower garden. I would recommend stopping at Adkins Arboretum to anyone traveling to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It’s just a short drive off of Route 50, the main passage to the shore from the Baltimore/Washington region.

Flower

For residents closer, the arboretum seems to run special events quite frequently, which look quite interesting. If you’re in the area, check it out!

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CCA: Eric Bodrock: Breeding Corydoras

June 14th, 2009

CCA LogoOn Saturday, I attended the Capital Cichlid Association’s meeting where they brought Eric Bodrock down from Pittsburgh to talk about breeding Corydoras. Eric is quite experienced in this regard as the owner of All Oddball Aquatics, where he breeds and sell many rare or hard-to-find fish, including Corydoras.

I’m going to provide a short summary of his talk, as I remember it from my notes. For starters, there are hundreds of Corydora species in the wild, all from South America. Just like with the L-numbers used to denote undescribed species of plecos, there are now C-numbers, and then CW-numbers which are being used to describe the multitude of new Corydoras species that are being discovered. Once you find a source for the species that you want to breed, you need to make sure you get healthy fish. Make sure their barbels are long, their eyes clear, and free of deformities in their body or fins. Cories are social animals, so buy in groups of 6-10, and try to break them down from there to 2 males/female, or pairs.

Corydoras Paleatus

Now you need a tank to use as a breeding tank. They don’t need large tanks, so 10G and 20G tanks work great. Use a sponge filter, and provide plenty of spawning mediums, such as Anubias or Java Fern, yarn spawning mops, piles of rocks, etc. Also, ensure that there’s plenty of circulation in the tank, as many species prefer to spawn in the current.

Corydoras Paleatus

Once in your tank, you need to prepare the fish for breeding. Feed them a variety of high-quality foods, such as tubiflex worms, earthworm sticks, daphnia, blackworms, etc. Blackworms in particular do a good job at conditioning the fish to breed. Sexing Corydoras is relatively easy. Females are much larger than males, broader across, and often their pectoral fins are rounded. Males are more slender, often have pointed pectoral fins, and also are often the more attractive fish.

When eggs are laid, you must either remove the parents, or remove the eggs, as the fish will eat their own eggs. It’s often preferable to use a mesh container, floating the eggs inside of that, with the whole box in the parent’s aquarium so that the water chemistry is consistent. In addition, alder cones are useful tools to prevent fungus from infecting unfertilized eggs. Once the eggs hatch, and you have free swimming fry, squeeze a dirty sponge filter into the tank to provide microscopic organisms for the fry to feed on. As they grow, switch to baby-brine-shrimp, and other live foods to rear them.

Corydora

Eric gave a great talk, and really provided much more information than I can possibly provide here. I’d definitely trust him as a source for healthy fish on Aquabid. He brought a number of fish to the auction. I ended up with Apistogramma alacrina, which I’m looking forward to breed. Another great meeting, thanks CCA!

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Patuxent Research Refuge: North Tract

June 11th, 2009

Last weekend, a friend and I visited the North Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge, a 12,841 acres area which was formerly a military training ground, and has now been returned to nature. While collecting is not permitted in this park, it was still very interesting to hike around the various bodies of water to see what aquatic plants were present.

Lake Allen

The first lake we visited had cattails on one side of it, and lillies on the other. The cattail side also had a number of other aquatic plants present including (but not limited to) Ludwigia palustrus, Hydrilla, Callitriche sp., and some aquatic grass shown below that we’re not entirely sure what it was.

Callitriche sp and Aquatic Grass

In other areas, spatterdock was present throughout. It was very interesting to see which areas had a variety of plants, and which were pretty much dominated by a single species.

Lake

Not being limited to interesting aquatic plants, while walking along one of the roads, we came across a series of stands of Pricklypear (Opuntia humifusa) which were in full bloom, exhibiting beautiful yellow flowers. I believe this is the first time that I’ve seen this plant in Maryland, so I very much enjoyed checking it out. I guess cacti are not limited to southern hot zones!

Pricklypear: Opuntia humifusa

In addition to the lakes, a series of streams run through the property. Most of them are shaded, and so there’s little chance for aquatic plants to grow, but they’re beautiful nevertheless.

Stream

Across the street from that stream happened to be a large boggy area. We pulled over to have a look, and sure enough, we found sphagnum moss, but little else besides the grasses shown below.

Bog Area

There were a few lillies there, but it seemed to mostly be a dead-zone in terms of the aquatic plants we were interested in. Throughout the course of our trip, we noticed a lot of beaver activity, evident from the saw off tree trunks, but we never did see any beavers.

Lillies

In contrast to some of the lakes, which were dominated by lillies, the marsh areas were covered in Brasenia schreberi. In amongst the Brasenia there were several other plants.

Brasenia schreberi

Many Utricularia flowers were present, most likely being U. geminiscapa, but that’s just our best guess. Some of the Brasenia was also flowering, showing smallish red flowers.

Utricularia flower

At our last stop, we found a field of Proserpinaca palustris, most of which was growing in its emersed form, even though it was submersed. This is likely due to recent rainfall that inundated the plants when the water levels rose. Further down the stems you could clearly see the fine-toothed-pinnate leaves that are so typical of Proserpinaca.

Proserpinaca palustris

To any other folks exploring nature in this region, please be sure to use proper tick prevention, as they’re out, and Lyme is prevalent throughout the area. So, while not a collecting trip, it was a great day to be out and about exploring our native Maryland habitats.

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GWAPA: May 2009, CO2

June 5th, 2009

CO2 Canister & RegulatorLast Saturday, GWAPA held its May meeting, in which I gave a presentation about Pressurized CO2. The goal of my presentation was to reduce the intimidation factor for those members who weren’t yet using pressurized CO2. For many folks just getting into planted aquaria, the thought of buying a compressed gas tank at a welding/gas supply store is daunting, particularly with all of the different ways to rig your setup. Hopefully by showing off a number of different setups, and stepping through what each component does, we’ll have even more folks in the club using pressurized CO2.

In addition to the topic, we conducted another large auction. This month, plants were going for dirt cheap, with some of the most rare plants going for $2/bag. This is truly a wonderful thing about joining a local club, as you’re able to try out plants you couldn’t easily obtain otherwise for a very low price.

After the meeting was over, a few of us stuck around to help Rob, the host, aquascape his 75G tank. He had an absolutely fantastic piece of driftwood that we wanted to use, and incorporated it into the hardscape, along with some porous mossy rock. Below you can see the finished hardscape, and mostly planted tank before we filled it up.

Rob's 75G

I’m looking forward to see how this aquascape evolves as it grows in. All-in-all, it was another great meeting!

Update: Meeting notes with more information about Pressurized CO2 now up on GWAPA’s website.

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Fissidens fontanus Moss

June 1st, 2009

Fissidens fontanus is my favorite moss in the hobby right now. With fronds that curl down, and layer upon themselves, it’s a very unique looking moss. The effect is completely different from any of the other mosses in the hobby, as Java Moss, Taiwan Moss, Willow Moss, Christmas Moss, etc all give a similar look, despite minor differences. Fortunately, just like those others, however, Fissidens fontanus is just as easy to grow, and readily attaches to the hardscape.

Fissidens Moss

Similar to any moss, detritus tends to accumulate within, and can ultimately lead to some algae being intertwined with the moss. I use Amano Shrimp to graze on these bits and keep my moss clean. F. fontanus is a North American native moss, with distribution throughout much of North America. As such, it can tolerate a range of temperatures.

Amano Shrimp

Attaching it to wood/rocks is easy. Simply take a few fronds, and tie them down with cotton thread. By the time the cotton disintegrates, the moss should have attached itself. Now readily available in the hobby via hobbyists and online plant resellers, Fissidens fontanus is a moss that everyone should try.

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