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Wood Chunk Update

The "Y" shaped growths I described are indeed Riccia.  Honestly, I'm a bit 
disappointed because I found the idea of the fern taking a regressive form 
to be very interesting.  Perhaps I'll try to induce such growth in the 
future.  BTW, thanks for the info, Paul.

As for the runner-like growths, the nodal tufts which I originally thought 
were leaves are actually fruit or seeds of some kind.  The leaf-ish 
appearance is due to filaments which grow at the nodes along with the 
fruit.  Filament structures often branch into a "Y" shape and there appears 
to be no regularity in number found at any given node.  The fruit grows on 
the filaments and it's a pale green-yellow but turns dark over time.  To 
the naked eye, fruit appears smooth and slightly dimpled in the center. 
It's about 1.5mm in diameter but slightly misshapen and not spherical. 
Fruit which is released or dislodged from the runner floats readily on the 
water's surface---a dispersal strategy I presume.

An individual runner is a delicate and even graceful structure with a 
diameter of around 0.5mm, maybe less.  It's extremely flexible and doesn't 
have much tensile strength---a gentle tug snaps it off.  There is a slight 
bend at each node which alternates directions giving the length of the 
runner a mild zig-zagging appearance.  The growing tip of the runner curls 
up into a coil.  Runners stay up in the water column and make no effort to 
reach a solid surface, though they do cling to other objects if broken off 
and sent drifting.  In my original post I simply said the runners grow 
long.  Maybe I could have been a bit more vague? ;-)  The longest runner is 
currently about 20 - 25cm long--that looks pretty long in a 2-foot 
tank.  Overall, the runners are kind of weed-ish in appearance and growth 

The source of the runners is still unclear though I've ruled out the 
fern.  There are many runners now, perhaps a dozen, and they are either 
something that was in with the Christmas moss or they are coming from the 
Christmas moss itself.  The former is most likely since all of the runners 
seem to originate from one location on the wood/moss mass.  If it were a 
construct of the moss, I'd expect runners from other areas.  Everytime I 
tried to follow a runner to its source within the tufts of moss, the runner 
would break or just slip out of the moss unattached.  I gave up after a few 
tries as I was tearing up the moss in the process.

So ends the mystery of the wood chunk (and the "woodchuck" too ;-) ).

Chuck Huffine
Knoxville, Tennessee  USA
mailto:grendel at usit_net