Limnophila aromatica Flowers!

August 25th, 2007

Along with the Ludwigia that’s flowering, my Limnophila aromatica has been flowering for almost a month now outside in my pond. Each stem sends out a number of flower buds at each node. Then, the buds open to reveal these pretty little purple flowers. The flowers themselves are only about 3/4″ long and about 1/3″ from petal to petal, with the tiny little hairs that you can see in the picture. I often see some of the smaller bees visiting these flowers.

Limnophila aromatica Flower

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Ludwigia Flower in Pond

August 24th, 2007

While in Peru, the pond foliage has absolutely exploded in quantity. The frog bite has claimed 100% of the water surface, while what I think is Ludwigia brevipes is creeping along the edge of the pond. Much to my delight, it is also flowering with these pretty little yellow flowers.

Ludwigia Flower

The flowers themselves seem quite delicate and don’t last more than a day or two, especially with the rain we’ve been having the past couple of days. To give you an idea, these flowers are probably smaller than a U.S. dime in size. I’ve never had a Ludwigia flower underwater, so I’m quite pleased to be able to see it emersed. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Ludwigia Flower

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Giant Frogbite

August 2nd, 2007

As I’ve mentioned this spring, I put frogbite out in my pond to help cover the water’s surface. An interesting thing happens out in the pond, that doesn’t usually happen inside in my aquariums — it gets huge! The roots burrow into the substrate, which when supply all the nutrients it needs to propel the leaves off of the water’s surface, and into the air. Usually, in the aquarium, the leaves have very little stem, and form a tight circular group at each node stretching across the surface. I’ve got stems that 4-5 inches long, standing upright with huge leaves on the end out in the pond.
Frogbite Emersed

Also, on the water surface, the underside of the leaves has a bulbous growth near the stem. When out of the water, this seems to disappear somewhat. There are still leaves growing across the surface, but as they age, they appear to extend toward the sky.

This, of course,  doesn’t seem to bother our newest inhabitant shown below, as he uses them for cover. Unlike his larger bullfrog cousin who is commonly seen sitting on the pond’s edge, he is a smaller frog, much like the ones I used to catch and release when I was growing up.

Frogbitten Frog

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Frog visits Pond

July 21st, 2007

I walked outside this morning to water our garden, and for the first time this year, a frog had come to visit us by our raised brick pond. Last year we had a pair of frogs that stayed with us all summer long, but I think they were a different variety than this guy. We have a fairly large runoff pond, full of cattails and bullfrogs in our neighborhood, but due to this years’ drought, I suspect that this little fellow decided to seek out a different watering hole.

Frog on Edge of Pond

As soon as I saw him, I ran back inside to grab my camera, and I must say that he was a very obliging photo subject. Originally, he was sitting on a fallen purple Torenia flower that was very distracting in my pictures. To my surprise, he allowed me to pull the flower out from under him, without him moving a muscle.

Frog by Pond

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with frogs, ever since catching and releasing them from a small stream near my parent’s house growing up. They’re such colorful creatures, with an amazing life cycle. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!


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Raised Brick Pond – Mid-Summer Report

July 13th, 2007

My small brick pond has been progressing quite nicely this summer. I’ve added quite a few plants than I didn’t have last summer including Pogostemon yatabeanus, Riccia fluitans, Pogostemon stellata var. ‘broad-leaf,’ and a few native Polygonum, Ludwigia, and Lysamachia species that I’ve collected locally. Endlers and cherry shrimp are the main occupants of the pond this year again.

Raised Brick Pond - 7/13/2007

I’ve got frogbite growing quite well, with extensive root systems forming below the increasingly large pads on the surface. I’m hoping that they’ll soon transform into large plants resembling water hyacinths. Hydrocotle is growing nicely, both above and below the surface. The most prolific grower so far this year is definitely the Pogostemon yatabeanus, which seems to thrive regardless of fertilization or water current.

Pogostemon yatabeanus emersed

The solar pump is still operating, but is opposed by the large mass of plant matter occupying most of the water surface. Nevertheless, while some algae is present, the water is very clear, and by and large, the plants are doing well. Now, I’m just waiting for the sun to induce some of these plants to start flowering. I may start dosing extra phosphate to try and encourage the same thing. No doubt, the Endlers are producing plenty of ammonia to feed the plants.

Limnophilia aromatica emersed

I’ve only dosed a small amount of PMDD fertilizer roughly once a week, instead topping off the water in the pond a few times each week. The pond seems to have attracted a fair number of wasps and yellow jackets this year, which I haven’t yet been able to explain. Fortunately, none of these bugs have bothered much with me yet. As usual, birds enjoy bathing in the pond, and stealing the occasional Endler. So, for me it’s provided a great center of attraction for me to watch plants grow, birds play, and insects bugger about.

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Pogostemon Yatabeanus – Emersed Outside

June 6th, 2007

pogostemon yatabeanus emersedI recently planted some Pogostemon yatabeanus outside in my raised brick pond, and just as it often is in my 75G aquarium, it’s the fastest growing plant in my pond. So much so, that it’s grown right up out of the water. Of course, I did cheat a little bit by transplanting some stems that were already starting to grow emersed from my 75G, hence the deformed leaves, burnt by my light strip, but plenty of others have since grown up out of the water.

It’s interesting to see how, when emersed, the stem is a nice red color, where submersed it’s much more subdued. The leaves are much waxier above water, while below water, the stems tend to lie horizontal to the water’s surface, sending vertical side-shoots out of the water.

I have no doubt that before long, I’ll be posting about Pogostemon yatabeanus flowers!

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Guest Toad at the Pond

May 26th, 2007

Toad - Head Shot One evening this week, I glanced outside at my raised brick pond, and noticed that the spring foliage and pond had attracted a little toad to our patio. After my dogs gave it a thorough inspection, the toad remaining perfectly still to avoid absolute detection, I thought it would make the perfect photo subject. I grabbed my camera, slapped on the macro lens, got down on my belly, and shot the little guy for about 5-10 minutes. Besides the motion of inhaling and exhaling, he didn’t move a muscle. He didn’t even blink when the flash went off. I hope this guy sticks around for the duration of the summer. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Toad - Full shot

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Pond – Down for the winter…

October 11th, 2006

Last night, I finally broke down and emptied out my raised brick pond for the winter. The night-time temperatures have been slowly teetering around the 50 degree mark, with a few night last week in the high 40’s. In good conscience, I didn’t want the Endlers to freeze to death.

Empty Pond - 10-10-2006
The pond is emptied for the winter.

So, I pulled out my trusty net and siphon and went to town. The ludwigia aromatica was still flowering away, but I was surprised to still find a few stems of rotala macrandra ‘green’ still alive — I had long thought they had melted away. The sagitaria subulata looked more like Val, as nearly all of it was 2 feet tall due to the shading walls of the pond.

I had netted out 100-200 Endlers the week before, but I still managed to pull out remaining holdouts. To my surprise, I also pulled out about a dozen cherry shrimp! I had thrown in about a half-dozen pregnant females earlier in the summer, but hadn’t seen them since. I figured that fell victim to the weather, or perhaps the frogs that frequented the water hole. (Do frogs eat shrimp? They obviously enjoy other their insectual invertebrate cousins.) Then of course, I pulled out more pond snails than I have any practical use for.

Just bricks and pots left
The bricks and pots are stored away inside of the pond.

I have my bricks and planter pots stored away inside of the pond. Otherwise, the only thing left to do is to build a lid over the pond to keep out any rain/snow/leaves that are sure to come over the next few months. Otherwise, I can just look forward to this Spring, when I’ll do it all over again.

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Limnophila Aromatica Flower!

August 31st, 2006

Limnophila Aromatica Flower (immersed)I was out tending the garden today, on a cool, overcast day, and to my delight, I saw the first bloom on an immersed limnophila aromatica stem! The flower is very pretty purple, and is slightly fragrant. I hope to have many more in the coming weeks, so I’ll keep posting updated pictures as I take them.

As an aquarium plant, limnophila aromatica is a beautiful addition to any high light aquascape. Depending on nutrient and light levels, the plants can be anything from a bright green to deep purple, with bronze edges on the leaves. When planting, you will realize why it is called “aromatica,” as the plant itself has a distinct smell. In fact, limnophila aromatica, or “Rice Paddy Herb,” as it is known to the culinary world, is an ingredient unique to Vietnamese foods.

Some aquarists have noted that limnophila aromatica is an “indicator plant” for nitrate and/or iron levels. They say that when nitrate levels in the tank drop too low, the plant will turn a bright purple. I have observed the opposite, which leads me to believe that my iron levels were insufficient at the time.

Limnophila Aromatica

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An Outdoor Tank

August 25th, 2006

This summer I decided to try my hand at some outdoor water gardening. My problem, of course, was that I didn’t have a pond outside, and we don’t have a lot of space in the backyard to make one. So, we came up with the idea of building something a little bit different — a small raised brick pond.

Small Brick Raised Pond
(Photo immediately after construction – May 2006)

Since construction, our “pond” has gone through a number of phases. One of my experiments for this project was to see if I could get away with keeping the pond healthy without your typical pond filtration. I found out that while I could get away without filtration, I couldn’t get away with a lack of circulation. Within a few weeks of filling the pond, the surface was pretty much covered in blue-green-algae (BGA). I decided it was time to invest in a pump to move the water around. The obstacle, was that I didn’t want to go to the trouble of extending our outdoor electrical circuit over to the pond. So, I found a solar-powered pump instead, which has worked out beautifully.

Solar Panel for PumpThe pump circulates approximately 170l/h, which is just about perfect for the 65-75 gallons of water in our pond. As you can see, the panel itself is not too large, and doesn’t take away from the overall view of the backyard.

Now, with the algae under control, I introduced a number of plant species from my aquariums. I added heteranthera zosterifolia, sagittaria subulata, limnophila aromatica, hygrophila polysperma, hydrocotyle leucocephala, phyllanthus fluitans, frogbite, and echinodorus quadricostatus. Additionally, I added about 2 dozen Endlers livebearers fish, some cherry shrimp, and plenty of common pond snails.

As expected, the Endler population has exploded. From the 2 dozen initial fish, I estimate there to be no less than 200 fish currently in the pond. They’re quite active fish, and do not shy away if you put your hand in the water. In fact, they will readily swim up and nibble on your arm hairs, if you let them.

Endlers swimming into your hands

This fall, I hope to drain the pond for the winter and sell off or give away most of the Endlers and plants. It’s been a really enjoyable project that’s enhanced the look of our backyard. Additionally, it’s become a gathering spot for our two cats to amuse themselves, and for our dog’s a drinking trough. (Regardless of how much we discourage them.)

L. Aromatica Emersed

Sag. Sub. Flower Finally, I snapped some pictures of a sagittaria subulata flower, and the  limnophila aromatica, which has started growing emersed. Did you know that in some asian countries, l. aromatica is used as an herb in cooking? I hope it flowers too!

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