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Re: Riccia!!!!!

I've noticed a renewed interest in Riccia lately and I thought I'd post my 
experience with the stuff. I've been trying to grow a carpet of riccia for 
the last two years to absolutely no avail...so far. I've tried it three times 
with a couple of set ups and all attempts have failed to last for more than a 
few months after setup. I've tried flat rocks, lava rocks, hair grass, hair 
nets, leader line, different light conditions, a number of trimming 
strategies, and every kind of fertilizer, especially KNO3. I bought the Aqua 
Journal volume on riccia so I could see how the man does it. I have tried and 
failed, and failed, and failed, and i will try again. :) I'm addicted to the 

Riccia is _not_ easy. I don't know how that Amano fella grows thick 3" mats 
of it but most of us average joes seem to have trouble keeping it down for 
more than two months before it makes a break for the waterline. In my last 
attempt, I had to pull every rock and trim it every three or four days and 
still, it fell apart after six weeks. Anyway, here's what I've tried and 
learned through it all.

As for keeping it down there are a couple of ways to do it. Basically you can 
use a rock, hairgrass, or some combination of the two which I'll go into 
later. I've basically given up on tying riccia to rock because it takes so 
much time to care for a large quantity of it. But if you wanna give it a try, 
here's what I know. A flat rock provides you with a low visibility solution 
for the front and rounder rocks work well in the back and produce a rolling 
hill affect. If you're wondering how Amano gets steep slopes with his riccia 
he just piles rocks up to the desired height and places a riccia covered rock 
on top. You can use plain rocks but Tom Barr says lava rocks seem to work 
better. I've tried both and haven't noticed a difference accept for the fact 
that the lava rock is harder to work a pair of scissors around. I've noticed 
that riccia starts to stick to the pores in lava rock but not nearly enough 
to hold it down.

You can use leader line or a hair net to attach the riccia to the rock. One 
or the other may suit your needs better. With leader line, you can easily 
wrap more line around your rock should a bit of riccia start to come loose as 
it grows out, but it's also not as easy to distribute the line evenly around 
the rock as it is with the hairnet. Just spread a _thin_ layer of riccia on 
the rock and wrap leader around the rock in a criss cross fashion and tie the 
ends together. The hairnet gives better and faster coverage than does leader 
but the flipside is that you can't just tie down the riccia with more net. If 
you're the mix and match type, you could start with a hairnet and tie any 
loose ends down with leader as the riccia grows out. I like to use my glue 
gun to secure the net in the back. Fast and easy, but you can't undo the glue 
if you wanna refasten so let me know if one of you thinks of a better way. 
Hair nets get expensive if you need a lot of it, so you can use the little 
white poofs that come with liquid soaps like Dove and Oil Of Olay. Just untie 
the knot in the middle and you've got a great big sheet of netting. You can 
even get lime green poofs from Kmart to match your riccia.

You can use hairgrass to help keep your riccia down and it's a must as far as 
I'm concerned if you want a lawn. The problem is that if there a dark spots 
in your tank, the hairgrass tends to take over, something you may or may not 
like. Just plant the hairgrass intermitently, drop the riccia on top and 
sprinkle some gravel over it. Or you can plant the hairgrass, then put your 
riccia covered rocks on top. I think this works better because the hairgrass 
alone won't keep the riccia down. As soon as you start the filter you get all 
this riccia floating around. I guess Dwight manages without a rock of some 

According to Amano, riccia is not really particular about light, temperature, 
or pH (AJ Vol. 38) However, if you want thick pillowy plumes of the stuff, I 
think you need pretty descent amount of light. It manages to survive with low 
light, infact it even grows pretty fast with moderate light, but you get more 
robust growth and pearling with around 3 watts per gallon. Of course you may 
not want a lot of growth since it inevitably means more trimming more often. 
If you want a thick mat, 3 watts per gallon will penetrate the mat better so 
that the stuff on the bottom gets some light.

Knowing when and how to prune riccia is probably the hardest part of growing 
the stuff. Usually, you'll set your tank up, and you'll get the most amazing 
carpet of the stuff about an inch thick. Then when you go to trim it you end 
up pulling out half the riccia with your scissors because the bottom, or the 
attachment point, is all rotten and you get the patchiest, ugliest eyesore 
you ever saw. I used to trim about every three or four days. If you still get 
some rotting at this rate, don't trim. Put some pebbles on top of the riccia 
and the new growth will fuse with the pebbles and weight it down.

Finally, remember, I've never actually maintained a permanent setup, so take 
any advice you glean from this post with a grain of salt. I have learned from 
all of this experience that I _cannot_ run a setup that requires the amount 
of attention required to grow riccia attached to rock. So I think I've come 
up with a low maintenace solution. Here's what I've come up with. For my last 
attempt, I want to try planting some hairgrass and letting it grow out. Then 
I want to drop some riccia between the leaves of the hairgrass and drop some 
pebbles on top so that by the time it grows out I get riccia with pebbles 
fused inside and if it started to float. I could just drop more pebbles on 
top. Very low maintenance. If you're like me and you love a good challenge 
riccia can be alot of fun. If anyone has had more success than I have, and 
I'm sure many have, please email me and let me know what you've done to 
maintain the setup.

Dan P