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Eusteralis stellata

Speaking of getting back to plants, remember last year when we picked a
species or two and surveyed the group asking about growing conditions?  I
think we worked on Lilliaeopsis first, if memory serves.  I thought it was
great fun and yielded very interesting and useful information.  When you
think about it, you couldn't get this kind of base-case information any
other way (or it would be very difficult/expensive to obtain).  The Internet
is great Saba.

How about Eusteralis stellata, one of my favorite plants?  What conditions
are you growing it in?  What seems to make the plant thrive?  And
particularly for this plant, what conditions lead to the striking red color
seen occasionally in photographs?

Let me start off.  I grow ES in soft water (GH 2-3; KH 3-5), in a brightly
lit (~3 watts per gallon fluorescent/cf lighting), CO2 supplemented (20 ppm
target) tank.  Fertilizer is TMG (Tropica Master Grow; 25-30 ml per week in
a 125 gallon tank) with a dash of Seachem Flourish iron (squirt here; squirt
there :-)); and about - tsp. of KNO3 per week.  The substrate is quartz
gravel with laterite.  The substrate is mature (over one year old).
Significant water changes weekly or bi-weekly.  Moderate fish load with
fairly heavy feeding (flake and frozen live foods) once a day.

The plant has not always thrived for me under these conditions.  Growth of a
stem can seem to stunt for no particular reason and get kind of bushy at the
top with short leaves and then 3 or 4 new stems emerge from the top.  These
new stems sometimes grow well and sometimes seem to lead to the plant
becoming not hardy in general.  A patch can begin to die off in this manner
of spindly tops shooting out weak stems.

My recent experience has been much better.  Strong growth from replanted
tops begins almost immediately following topping and replanting, and strong
new stems emerge from the top as it reaches for the light or as it lays over
at the top of the tank.  The key to this strong growth appears to be very
small phosphate supplements.  On the order of 1/10th gram of KH2PO4 per week
or at water changes in my 125 gallon tank.  As for color, my ES has always
been quite green.  Initially I even doubted reports by Karen and others that
the plant often is a deep rich red color.  However, with the addition of
PO4, my ES is twice as red as it has ever been for me, but not actually very
red when compared to Rotala macranda which grows next to the ES.  The RM is
also quite a bit redder with the PO4 additions.

Neil Frank, on the other hand, took a couple of my ES stems and placed them
in one of his soil substrate tanks, if memory serves, and those stems
immediately grew in a very striking red color according to Neil.  We have
mulled this over via email and don't really know why the plant has grown in
so red for Neil.  It would not appear to be iron per se, at least not iron
in the water column, because I have tried that with no significant effect in
my tank.  Recently Neil has reported that his ES does not always thrive
either and we have been speculating about PO4 and other things.

So tell us, how does your ES grow?  :-)

Regards, Steve Dixon in San Francisco where we are having a beautiful sunny