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RE: Planting plants

Hey, William.

I've only been doing the planted tank thing since about April, but I don't 
remember ever cursing so much as when I was trying to get the dang stem 
plants into the gravel. My Rotala indica was going to be the end of me with 
the frustration I was feeling trying to keep them down. Then, I stupidly 
decided to try Cardamine lyrata, which is even worse. I was always 
uncomfortable with the idea of using the soft lead weights; and especially 
now that with CO2, the pH of my water is below neutral.

Well, I was searching in the archives here, and found some threads where 
Dave Gomberg was describing coating the lead, and there was talk about 
steel wires or some such thing, and the idea hit me to try stainless steel 
washers. To make a long story short, it was pretty effective, as well as 
cheap ($.99/dozen 3/16" flat). I could stick about 6 or 7 R. indica stems 
into the center of one of these washers, and if it still floated up, I 
could just double up on the washers. Didn't even have to bury them, or even 
worry about removing them after they were rooted. For the first time, I was 
enjoying playing in my tank ;o).

Wait-wait! There's still more...

So, I was asking at another site forum whether there might be traces of 
anything harmful that could leach into the water, and this guy said it was 
probably safe, but 6 or 7 stems bunched together would likely result in a 
die-off of the lower leaves. So, I went back to the hardware store and 
bought stainless steel hex nuts, which had an even smaller diameter. In 
these, I could stick three R. indica stems comfortably, and it was still 
cheap ($.99 for six size "6-32" [whatever this means]), because I didn't 
have to double up on the nuts. And besides, what can you get for a dollar 
these days? ;o)

You can even use larger-diameter washers with slits to hold down rosette 
plants, like smaller Echinodorus spp, and later remove them, if they're 
constricting the base of the plant. If you want to get fancy with these 
weights, I suppose you could use those polished stone washer-shaped 
thingies that they use in East Asian jewelry. I was thinking of that, too. 
A bit of shiny jade or coral might look pretty wrapped around the plants...

The washers/hex nuts work wonderfully and may lower your blood pressure, 
risk of losing your sanity, and the unfortunate event that your children 
will learn bad words from you. At least it's one thing you could try. Enjoy!