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Rootless nitrogen sponges

I have a pair of angels spawning and a LFS that has expressed a couple times 
they would be quicker to buy my angels than my Apistos.  No accounting for 
taste, I guess.  I have decided that one thing that would help growth is to 
add some plants to the fry tank.  I tend to use bare-bottomed tanks for 
cichlid fry.  While Java fern and Anubias can be grown attached to a piece of 
wood, they don't grow very fast, and I can't imagine that they would consume 
much nitrate/nitrite/ammonia.  Java moss doesn't seem to do well in my tanks, 
even though I like it for its ability to support infusoria. 

Any ideas what I can use for a "nitrogen sponge" without cluttering the 
bottom with pots and stuff the fry can get stuck under?

Bob Dixon