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Re: 4 ground

>From: "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill at rt66_com>
>Subject: #&! carpet plants
>While I'm at it I might as well take the time to grumble about care and
>maintenance of plant "carpets".  I just spent the better part of an hour
>separating Hydrocotyle and Marsilea and replanting.  I can't escape the
>sense that there has to be a better way.
>I grow carpets from 5, maybe 6 (depending on your definitions) different
>plants.  Here's my experience with each.  I'd love to hear other people's
>experience with these and others and the solutions they used.
>Hydrocotyle sp. (leucocephala?):  Really worked well once I got it to grow
>horizontally.  It's easier to plant if you let it float at the surface for
>a while before trying to plant it.  That way the leaves and roots are all
>pointing in the right directions.  The stems don't branch much and (in my
>tank) older leaves tend to get holes and look bad.  That leads to a lot of
>maintenance because old leaves need to be removed and trimmed stems need
>to be replanted to keep the carpet thick.

Agreed. I can get to do well by pinching the older leaves and the new ones
come in nice and smaller and bushier. Likes lots of light. Nice color.
>Marsilea sp.:  I've had this stuff for several years.  It has always grown
>very slowly when the plants were small.  Growth accelerates as the plants
>spread out and mine now are large enough that they can extend their
>horizontal runners 6 inches or more in a week, with new leaves coming up
>every inch or so.  The leaves are mostly of the 4-leaf clover variety,
>with some of the "inverted ladle" type.  I've had two problems with the
>Marsilea; old leaves turn dark, gradually die and need to be removed, and
>shading causes the plant to send its leaves up higher.  The first problem
>requires trimming, but nothing too extreme.  The second problem is getting
>really annoying because young leaves coming up in the middle of the carpet
>where they are shaded by older leaves tend to grow above the older leaves
>- - way above, sometimes 8 inches to a foot above the substrate.

Nice and semi easy plant though. The trimming part is a pain sometimes as
the stolons are harder to cut than many other plants and the roots are sort
of shallow. So when you remove some you often yank out more than you wanted
unless very careful. It drove me nuts for awhile because of this.
>E. tenellus:  It's a heavy feeder that grows like mad.  Stands of it get
>so dense that the plants starve each other competing for nutrients. The
>carpet gets light colored, sickly and weak if it isn't continually
>uprooted, thinned and fertilized.  It also tends to bolt for the light
>when it's shaded and in that case it's a pretty lousy carpet.

Easy to remove ugly leaves though. A nice fast yank with the fingers will do
it without ripping up roots or the plant. I have two different types of
tenellus. One is much smaller and reddish, the other is lighter green and
gets larger. Then there's E. quadircostus(or whtever the broad leaf kind is
called) which is very nice and a good color. All of these can get the "yank"
treatment of pruning without much hassle. A pruning job for sure unless you
have another fast grower it competes (or out competes) with. The E.quad got
my favorite vote.
>Sagittaria sp. (subulata? - or possibly another grass-like Echinodorus):
>Broad, grass-like leaves with a prominant central vein and two less
>prominant veins parallel the central vein.  Runners are mostly (but not
>always) below the substrate.  This stuff makes really dense stands without
>strangling itself, but it gets tall enough that it's more of a
>middle-ground plant (maybe foreground in a large, deep tank).  It's very
>invasive.  Less demanding than E. tenellus, but usually too big.  It may
>stay lower when the plants are separated and unshaded.

Nice plant. Being taller try the corner(s) foreground instead of the central

>Lileaopsis sp.:  I had a heck of a time getting this to grow.  I bought a
>single pot of lileaopsis 5 or 6 years ago and it grew poorly.  Eventually
>it died back to the point where I had 1 inch of runner with one healthy
>leaf and half of a dying leaf.  I moved it to another tank and got a very
>slow recovery.  I tried it in a few other conditions without success, then
>last year I moved what I had (then two or three runners, each 6 inches
>long or so) to a third tank - a 20 gallon tank with 2 20 watt fluorescent
>lights and a mature substrate with peat mixed into the lower half.  There
>it burgeoned.  Now I have a pretty respectable little carpet spreading
>fast.  It's pretty invasive and I have to uproot and replant some every
>couple weeks.  It gets really dense and doesn't seem to choke on itself
>the way E. tenellus does.  Lileaopsis would be a nearly ideal carpet plant
>if it weren't for the difficulty finding a place where it would grow.

Like the dwarf clover it too gets tall in the shade. I can get to grow very
fast but I have to "corral" it to get a good dense stand. Plastic slats do
well for this. Remove them when anyone come over to see your tank! They will
think you are an expert! 

>Isoetes sp.:  I have a couple clumps of this stuff that send their quills
>up about 2 inches then spreads horizontally to a diameter of 6 inches or
>so.  It grows slowly and requires no regular feeding or trimming and seems
>like an ideal low-growing foreground plant, It even provides a nice bush
>or bunch-grass look that could be used well in an Amano-style landscape
>analogy.  Its downside seems to be the same as its upside.  It is slow
>growing and I'm continually weeding more aggressive plants out from around
>it so that it doesn't get smothered.  It's in the same tank with the
>Lileaopsis stand and some E. tenellus and both plants tend to grow into
>the isoetes.

I'd like some. I do very well with the taller types. One of my personal
fav's. Groovy plant that is under appreciated and used. Very suseptible to
brush algae.

>Letting two different kinds of carpet plants grow into each other seems
>like a maintenance no-no.  Different plants require different care, and
>when they're intergrown you can't do anything to one without doing it to

I call it War. Who will win? Gloss vs Pearlgrass or E.tenellus vs Lileaopsis
You seem to always yank it after sometime and it gets all ratty. Use wood or
rocks etc to corral it in their areas. 
 Some plants do super with this approach too like some crypts poking out of
some hairgrass or Riccia. Good and bad IMO.

>In addition to these, there a few other plants that I've grown that have
>some promise as foreground or carpet plants, and I wouldn't mind hearing
>from people who tried these or anthing else.

Hair grass is way cool. 
Pearlgrass can be cut like a lawn and works very well! Both types can be
done in this manner(Amano's that Neil brought back (2 leaves per node ) and
the regular Hemianthis(4 per node)). This and Gloss you should try.

My new one is the Dwarf Lobelia. It's a nice tough plant that prunes easy
and grows great. This is the plant found in the European tanks and in the
front cover of Innes's Aqaurium Plant's Manual by Barron's. There's a larger
type that is bigger and has longer leaves too.
Stay away from it. It's Ok but........this one's better and you can make
nice "streets".

>I've tried a couple small Crypts and found that they shade each other and
>get taller.  

C x willisii,C. x willisii- lucens, parva all fit the bill. Parva is a very
nice plant. 

I have some Bolbitis (huedelotti?) tied to small pieces of
>driftwood and arrayed at the front of a tank somewhat like some people use
>riccia.  I like the Bolbitis, but it's growing very slowly and tends to
>harbor an annoying algae.

Neat way to use it!

  Riccia - I started with it but it seemed like
>way more trouble than it was worth.  I've also used Java moss on rocks in
>the foreground and decided it wasn't very attractive.  I haven't tried
>glossostigma yet despite it's being fairly commonly available these days.  
>Nor have I tried pinning down Hygrophilla difformis the way I do
>Hydrocotyle - I understand it works very well that way.

What about the lace type of Java fern? It may fill the bill nicely. Anubias
barteri var. nana too.
I have a 135 that I have the H. difformis being used in a part of the tank
as a foreground plant.
It grows fast though. Lots of pruning.

Crassula aquatica would make a nice plant. I mangled it though. I'll get
some more and try again.
C. helmsii may prove better if I can get it. *Some* C. wendtii types do very
well and grow rather flattened. C albina might be a neat one. I use it and
am happy but it's not a dense forming plant.

Didiplis diandra is a favorite.
Some small swords could be done too like the E tropica parvifolous.
The gloss might be a nice item for you as it is a nicer plant is some ways
to the dwarf clover.
Ludwigia  repens might be a nice plant too.
Some Dwarf lilies also.
Java moss is very nice attached to wood and is far less laborious than the
Riccia. Try the hairnet thing for Riccia and or java moss.
>Any more thoughts?

This should be enough!
Tom Barr