GWAPA – September Meeting

September 29th, 2008

On Saturday, GWAPA had another packed meeting at Kevin’s house in Silver Spring, MD. This month, over thirty folks showed up to hear about soil substrates in the planted aquarium. One of our members, Sean, is the originator of the soil substrate recipe that so many people are starting to use in the hobby. It was popularized by AaronT and others on Aquatic Plant Central, and we got to hear the soil method straight from the source.

In addition, we had another large auction — just look at all the bags of plants! I came away with a few things, such as Polygonum sp. ‘Porto Vehlo’ and Rotala verticillaris, and sold off a few things myself. We also debuted GWAPA’s new logo design, which you can see above.

All-in-all, it was another great meeting!

Business Broker

Hygrophila difformis var. ‘variegated’

September 27th, 2008

Hygrophila difformis var. ‘variegated’ is a new variety of Water Wisteria that grows similarly, but has white veins, giving it a nice variegated look. Just like regular Wisteria, this plant can easily outgrow the space that you allot for it, but if you’re looking for a plant to fill out the corner of your aquascape it might be just what you’re looking for.

Hygrophila difformis

One thing to notice is that not all of the leaves exhibit equal variegation. Some contrast quite significantly, while others are hard to differentiate from a regular wisteria leaf. This can occur on leaves along the same stem, even.

Hygrophila difformis

Overall, Hygrophila difformis var. ‘variegated’, it’s a fast grower, a nitrate suck, but most importantly, a pretty plant.

Update: I learned today that this variegation is caused by a virus affecting the chlorophyll in the veins, and can be exemplified by low nitrates. Don’t worry, the virus is self-contained, and causes no danger to this or other plants.

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Limnophila sp. ‘Needle Leaf’

September 25th, 2008

I wanted to share a picture of one of the new plants my wife brought back for me from AquaForest in San Francisco, CA. Sold as Limnophila sp. ‘Needle Leaf’, I would not be at all surprised to find out that this is a variant of Limnophila aquatica, as it grows equally as fast. The main difference is that while L. aquatica stays green, this particular species is a brownish/red color.

Limnophila sp. 'Needle Leaf'

As noted, the growth is extremely fast, and I suspect it’s forming strong root systems and runners in my rich earthworm castings based substrate. The plant readily branches by itself, but I’m not sure how good of an aquascaping plant this could be, as it’s just not that compact and shoots to the surface. Perhaps it could be used effectively as an accent plant, but frequent trimming will be required.

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Dwarf Crayfish

September 22nd, 2008

This weekend, I spent some time over at another GWAPA member’s house, Dave (ingg), and I wanted to share a couple pictures of his Dwarf Crayfish. I have kept this kind of crayfish before, and even had them breed for me, but I don’t have them any longer. They’re really neat invertebrates, and since they don’t get as large as normal crayfish, they can’t eat your fish.

Dwarf Crayfish

Dave’s got a fair number of crays in a 37G aquarium. I think they’ve started to breed for him, but I’m unsure as to whether or not any of the babies have survived to adulthood. As you can see below, they’re pretty much just smaller replicas of larger crayfish.

Dwarf Crayfish

I wonder if these guys would survive in my sunfish tank? They’ve all but annihilated any of the shrimp that I’ve put in that tank, but since the crayfish are generally a little bit more feisty, maybe they could defend themselves? If anyone has any experience keeping dwarf crays with shrimp-eating-fish, I’d love to hear your advice.

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Limnophila sp. ‘Mini’

September 19th, 2008

I got Limnophila sp. ‘Mini’ a couple months ago from another hobbyist. This is another plant that’s pretty new to the hobby. I’ve been a long time fan of Limnophila aromatica, and the ‘Mini’ variety shares some resemblances to that plant. They both have serrated edges on their leaves, and both turn a beautiful bronze to purple color, depending on the nitrates in the tank.

Limnophila sp. 'Mini'

I’ve kept Limnophila sp. ‘Mini’ in my 40G tank with the earthworm castings substrate. The growth has been slow, but steady, and the plant is absolutely gorgeous. It’s in the back of the tank, surrounded by other plants, so it was hard to get a good picture. I suspect that if I put it in a tank with daily fertilization, that it would grow much faster. There aren’t as many leaves per node as L. aromatica, and the leaves themselves are slightly smaller. I am really looking forward to having a sizable quantity of this plant, so that it can be a big part of a future aquascape. I think Limnophila sp. ‘Mini’ has quite a bit of aquascaping potential! Definitely try it, if you find it available.

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Hygrophila sp. ‘Porto Vehlo’

September 17th, 2008

Hygrophila sp. ‘Porto Vehlo’ is one of the latest species entering the hobby. Unlike most Hygrophilas, Porto Vehlo creeps horizontally along the the substrate, rather that growing vertically toward the light. This make it appropriate as a foreground plant in larger tanks, and midground for smaller aquascapes.

Hygrophila sp. 'Porto Vehlo'

It will creep along, growing over some portions of your hardscape, which means that you will eventually have to trim it to keep it from turning into a monster. As it grows, it puts down roots into the substrate. The plant seems to be pretty hardy. I kept in my 75G aquarium, shaded and ignored for awhile, and although it didn’t look pretty, it hung on.

Hygrophila sp. 'Porto Vehlo'

In my earthworm castings tank, it has been growing quite prolifically. The leaves on Hygrophila sp. ‘Porto Vehlo’ are attractive, with a visible vain running throughout each leaf. They will bronze up a little bit under high light, but will not get too red.

Hygrophila sp. 'Porto Vehlo'

I generally avoid some of the Hygrophilas because they grow too fast and shade everything else out. I’m really enjoying Porto Vehlo, however, since it stays low to the ground. Like, Hygrophila sp. ‘Low Grow’, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not a Hygrophila at all. Whatever it is, I suggest you try it.

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CCA – Dick Au on Discus Basics – Sept. 2008

September 15th, 2008

The Capital Cichlid Association was back after their summer break on Saturday with a huge meeting, featuring Dick Au, author and expert on discus. With many cichlid-o-philes from all

over the east coast region attending, there were at least 84 people in attendance. This month also had the largest auction I’ve ever seen at one of their meetings.

Dick Au gave a fantastic talk, dumbing down the basics of keeping Discus, so that I left that meeting feeling like they might not be as much trouble as their reputation suggests. He went through the entire lifecycle of how to choose your discus, who to buy them from, how to keep them, breed them, raise the fry, and so on. He stressed that the most important thing whenever keeping discus is to make sure you get quality discus from the start, otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble down the line. He suggested avoiding chain or general purpose pet stores, but fish stores who maintain significant stock of discus year-round should be okay because they need to know how to care for them to keep their stock healthy.

Even so, he suggests that you always ask the store owner to feed them in the store before buying, so that you can make sure they have a good apetite. Without that, there’s likely something wrong with them. Of course, breeders of discus who maintain quality strainsĀ  are great sources as well.

One of the things that he mentioned which surprised me was that he didn’t neccessarily recommend keeping them in planted tanks. Not that it can’t be done well, but he said it’s much harder to maintain proper water quality without being able to vacuum up uneaten food, like you can in a bare-bottom tank.

That said, Dick did mention that discus have been raised in captivity long enough that most are quite adaptable to a wide range of water conditions, contrary to their wild counterparts. As long as your water doesn’t have significantly high pH, he recommends using tap water for water changes, verses mixing your own RO water because he believes the water conditions stay more stable that way. Additionally, while temperatures between 80 and 84 degrees are ideal, most discus will do just fine in slightly lower or slight warmer temps. This is good if you do want to keep them with plants. He discused far many more topics, but most of them are covered in detail in his two books.

Overall, this was a fantastic meeting!

Business Broker

Sulawesi Shrimp – Six Banded Black Bees

September 11th, 2008

I haven’t talked about the Sulawesi shrimp that I got for awhile. Mostly, that’s because I only have two left, and am still waiting to get some replacements for the huge loses that I incurred from shipping. What I have left are Six Banded Black Bee Shrimp.

Six Banded Black Bee Shrimp

They’re aptly named this because of their black bodies with roughly six white bands across their back. The thing I like the most about them are their eyes, which are quite striking and intense. Due to the Hydras in their last tank, I finally moved them to a tank with more plants, which allows me to see them more.

Six Banded Black Bee Shrimp

The previous tank had black sand as a substrate, so they were quite difficult to spot. They’re a little bit smaller than full adult cherry shrimp, but still big enough to be seen. Unfortunately, the ones I have are all the same sex, which means I’m still in a holding pattern in terms of breeding these fellas.

Six Banded Black Bee Shrimp

The ones that survived the shipping seem to be pretty tolerant of my water conditions, as I haven’t had a death in a few months. I really hope that all of these Sulawesi shrimp are starting to be commercially bred so that we can start having easy access (both in accessibility and price) to more of them.

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Threadfin Rainbowfish (Adults and Fry)

September 8th, 2008

In a 20L aquarium, I have a small colony of Threadfin Rainbowfish, Iriatherina werneri, that I’m attempting to breed. These blue-eyes are beautiful fish that I’m hoping to eventually have a huge school for my 75G aquarium. The males are especially brilliant, displaying long fins, which they use constantly to prove their dominance to other males, and to impress females.

Threadfin Rainbowfish

The males also tend to get a striking headlamp, a bright yellow/orange stripe along the top of their head, when they’re courting females. The females are not pictures here, but they do not have the elongated fins that the males do. It’s quite easy to tell them apart due to the noticable difference in finage.

Threadfin Rainbowfish

As you can see from the backgrounds in these pictures, I’ve been using spawning mops made from acrylic yarn to try and harvest eggs. The goal is to float these mops, have the fish lay eggs, and then remove the mop and place it into a hatching/rearing tank. By cycling two mops between these tank every 10-14 days, I hope to constantly have new fry. So far, I’ve been successful, but only on a very small scale.

Threadfin Rainbowfish Fry

The fry are absolutely tiny when they first hatch; no more than a millimeter or two long. Right now, I have a couple that are 5-6mm long, but recently lost some to a Hydra infestation. I feed the newly hatched fry GP 5micron powder, which besides green water is just about the only thing that will fit in their tiny mouths. I’ve started feeding the larger fry some baby brine shrimp. Hopefully, they’ll grow up fast, and will be able to go in with the adults soon. If anyone’s successfully bred and raised these fish, I’d love to hear some advise.

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Attack of the Hydra!

September 6th, 2008

Today, I had the misfortune to discover a new creature in one of my fry tanks. Quite a few Hydra are present in this tank, presumably introduced by feeding incredibly small fry foods, such as newly hatched brine shrimp. It’s also possible that they’ve been present all along, but couldn’t survive until I provided high-quality micron-sized protein powder for them (and the fry) to feed on.


Hydra are bad to have because just like their marine cousins (jellyfish, corals, and sea anemones), they feed off of small organisms, capturing them using their stingers. If they just stuck to water fleas or infusoria, I wouldn’t mind, but they will also attack newly hatched fry. That’s unacceptable. Now, I have shrimp in this tank, which some folks report will keep them under control, but nevertheless the Hydras are still present. Supposedly, they can be killed by using Fluke tabs, raising the temperature significantly, or by breaking down the whole tank, and sterilizing it.


I’m not going to break down the whole tank because feeding fry will just continue to promote their presence in the future. For the next couple of hours, I’m just going to watch them, since they really are neat looking creatures. But, then, I’ll start my assault on their lives. Suggestions welcome!

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