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Re: Foreground plant suggestions

Alireza Sedarat wrote:

> Hi all I'm looking for an attractive, relatively easy foreground
> plant... any suggestions?

Last winter I wrote a fairly long description of my experience with a
number of different foreground and carpet plants.  These plants mostly
need fairly bright light and they can't be shaded, otherwise they may
either fail to grow or reach for the light and cease to be suitable in the
foreground.  Given enough light they can be fast-growing, aggressive
plants that need fairly frequent attention to keep them from getting
everywhere and into everything.

After I wrote my bit about foreground and carpet plants Tom Barr presented
me with a few plants that I hadn't tried yet.

I know from his past statements that Tom really likes dwarf hair grass.  
Dwarf hair grass didn't work well for me, but I think that was entirely
because of the American-flag fishes that refused to leave it alone.

The dwarf lobelia that Tom sent has become my favorite foreground plant.  
The plants grow well without any bother, don't grow too fast and provide
an attractive, light-colored foreground that can even take a little shade.  
It isn't a carpet plant, and it does require occasional trimming.  The
plant doesn't seem to spread at all on it's own so it's necessary to
replant the trimmed tops to maintain or expand the stand.

You may not be able to find dwarf lobelia at your LFS.  I think Robert H.
recently mentioned that he was going to start selling dwarf lobelia.

> In line with this, I'm looking for something to form a carpet or grass
> or something similar; however, the substrate in the tank is plain
> gravel.  I am experimenting with using pots that have appropriately rich
> substrates for individual plants.  What kind of carpet can I form in
> plain gravel? Will Narrowleaf Chain (E. tennellus) work?  If this plant
> (or something similar) needs a fertile substrate... any ideas how I can
> apply the potted method that i'm using?

Things vary a bit, depending on the age of your plain gravel substrate and
your fertilizing methods. If your substrate has been in place for a couple
years or more, then you can actually grow quite a few plants in it.  If
it's a new substrate then you might try growing something that doesn't use
the substrate at all -- riccia.

Riccia is a primitive, rootless floating plant that can be tied down to
rocks, driftwood or other sinking objects to produce some interesting
effects, including flat, lumpy or tiered carpets.  I treat riccia like a
poisonous weed and rip it out of my tanks any time it shows up, but other
folks seem to like it.  There's no accounting for taste :).  Since I don't
grow riccia you will need to get the details from someone else.  Amano
describes it's uses in pretty good detail.

People on this list have described tanks where there is no unpotted
substrate at all.  Instead, the bottom of the tank is covered with closely
spaced containers with potting mixes of one or more types.  Unless someone
speaks up about how this is done you'll need either to explore the
archives to find out how to do it, or experiment with it yourself.  I
think that shallow, clear plastic deli packs might be used to good effect.

Roger Miller