Houston Plant Fest (2009)

April 13th, 2009

This past weekend I flew down to Houston to attend Houston Plant Fest, a planted-aquarium weekend put on by the Nature Aquarium Society of Houston (NASH). The event kicked off on Thursday evening at Houston Aquarium Warehouse, a local fish store and importer who caters much of his store to the planted aquarium hobby.

Houston Aquarium Warehouse Tank

Daniel, the owner of the store, brings in many smaller fish which are perfect for an aquascape where you don’t want the fish to overpower the environment around it. I saw some of these Paraguayensis Tetras (Aphyocharax paraguayensis) and had to buy a small school for my 50G aquarium. It was simple enough to get them back home in my checked luggage without any loses.

Paraguayensis Tetra

On Friday morning, two vans arrived near our hotel at 5:00am to take us on a 3 hour trip to the San Macros River. The river runs through the middle of the college town, where huge stands of Hygrophila polysperma, eel grass, Hydrocotyle, Cabomba, Ludwigia repens, and Texas wild rice all live. It was bittersweet to see Texas wild rice in its own remaining habitat, as development along the water has brought it to endangered status. Clearly, we didn’t collect any of this.

San Macros River

In some areas of the river, Cryptocoryne beckettii is purported to grow, but we didn’t see any during our trip. As an introduced exotic, the local government has been very dedicated to trying to eradicate it so it does not further diminish the Texas wild rice population.

Fields of Cabomba

That evening, we all returned to Houston to gather at The Fish Gallery in town to eat and appreciate their beautiful gallery of aquariums. They also have a retail store attached to the gallery in which they tailor to the higher-end aquarist.

Fish Gallery

On Saturday, we all filed into Aquaruim Design Group’s gallery for an aquascaping presentation by Mike Senske. Mike and Jeff Senske are long time hobbyists, and are well known for their beautiful aquascapes in the ADA and AGA aquascaping competitions. ADG is one of the few stores in the U.S. that carries and distributes ADA aquariums and products, so the Houston folks are quite fortunate to have them in their backyard.

Mike Senske and Luis Navarro

Mike aquascaped an ADA 90P aquarium, which will now be displayed in their conference room. The scape was a wood-based scape using two beautiful pieces of driftwood that they found locally. They filled in the rest of the scape with plants easily available in stores. Overall, it was a good presentation.

Finished ADG Scape

From there, we went to one of the NASH member’s homes to enjoy some Texas-style BBQ, and just talked plants for the remainder of the evening. Sunday, we all had flights to catch. It was a great weekend spent with fellow hobbyists. These little excursions really help to keep the hobby fresh, and energize me to try different things in my aquariums. Thanks for a great weekend Houston!

15 Responses to “Houston Plant Fest (2009)”

  1. rahamen Says:

    Nice report and beautiful tanks, thanks for sharing.

  2. Phillip Brown Says:

    What a fantastic trip and I do like those Tetras.

  3. Richard Says:

    Nice report Kris. I’ve had a small school of those Paraguayensis for over a year now in my planted low-tech 10 gal. They have lived peacefully with a few endlers, a bronze aeneus cory and a dwarf african frog. The white and black markings of mine are a bit more defined and contrasty than the photo above. Only thing about them is they often chase each other quite aggressively, no harm done, they just seem to really like to do such. Quite suddenly and very quickly too.

  4. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments! My Paraguayensis are quite active too, which is one of the things I liked about them in the tank. A NASH member warned me that they can be fin nippers, but they’re the only open-water fish in my 50G, so I’m not too worried about that.

  5. Al Says:

    That’s really cool. I can never get enough of your site.

    While in Texas, did you by any chance hear anything about domestic fish and plants going rampant in the ecosystems (apart from the crypt of course)? I’ve heard that after all the hurricanes one can find every kind of fish possible due to hatcheries being destroyed. I’m highly skeptical since most hatcheries are located in Florida and if fish were in enclosed containers I don’t think they would survive the ordeal.

  6. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Al! I didn’t hear anything about the fish, but we did see a ton of very large plecos “hanging” on the side of one of the waterways. You’re definitely right about Florida. We caught all kinds of non-native fish down there in the Miami canals last time I was there.

  7. Mark F. Says:

    What I found educational about this post is the second photo of the San Marcos River, showing what appears to be cabomba in its naturalized state – about an inch or two of bright green at the very top, and all brown (and decaying?) downwards from there. Very similar to the hydrilla in the C&O Canal – but very different from how we strive to maintain plants in aquariums!

  8. Luis Navarro Says:

    It was great having you Kris! See you in October.

  9. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments guys. Mark, you’re right that the way we strive for plants to grow in our tanks is often a completely different paradigm than how they exist in nature. Still pretty impressive to look down at all that plant mass though!

  10. John D. Says:

    Nice write-up Kris! I’m working on mine now =]
    It was good to see you again man! and hopefully I’ll be joining you guys in October!

  11. Paul Says:

    Excellent write-up, Kris! I enjoyed it immensely! It was definitely wonderful to have you guys come down and visit.

  12. Jay Says:

    Well done Kris. Really enjoyed photograph #3. It was fun. We should do it again.

  13. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks guys. Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone again at Aquafest in October.

  14. Michael Chan Says:

    Very nice! The first picture is very ironic – a driftwood-only tank in a planted aquarium fest 😛

  15. Mariano Rosbough Says:

    It is corporeal joy to study you blog!