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Re: Native plant maintenance
Dick Norwood asked about growing native aquatics. Most people seem
pleasantly surprised at the number of local aquatic plants they might be
able to find in their area. Looking for them can be a great way to get to
know your local area better, as well as give you a better understanding of
what they might need in an aquarium. Just make sure that you collect in an
area where it is legal to do so and that the plants you collect are not
endangered. A good guidebook to your local flora helps a lot, so you know
what to expect. You should never take ALL of anything and try, if at all
possible, to disturb the remaining plants as little as possible. It helps to
take notes of the type of habitat the plants came from, so that you can at
least try and duplicate those conditions back at home in your pond or
"I have collected Bacopa, Elodea, and what looks like Myriophyllum
hippuroides, some of which has red stems and leaves. I have planted them in
a 10-gallon tank with a substrate of peat, gravel, and stones. I have
fertilized the substrate with aquatic plant food 20-10-5 and have added the
recommended dose of Flourish to the water. I am filtering with a whisper
power filter (the Elodea and Bacopa and the red Myriophyllum were collected
in a rapidly flowing stream). So far I have done two water changes (in one
First of all, go to the following URL:
This is a Adobe PDF file of illegal aquatic weeds in South Carolina (to find
it, I opened a Google.com search and entered "aquatic plants in south
carolina" as a search phrase). Check to see if what you call "Elodea" is in
fact Egeria densa (Brazilian Elodea) and whether or not the Myriophyllum
species you collected isn't just M. spicatum (Eurasian Watermilfoil). M.
spicatum can often display a reddish tint, and exact species determination
of many Myriophyllum species is difficult unless the plants are either in
bloom or have fruit.
Just because the aquatics you have found might be on the noxious weed list
doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't collect them and/or keep them in
your aquarium - just NEVER release them back into natural water ways. Many
of the plants listed in the brochure would make attractive aquarium plants.
"I have noticed that some of the old growth on the plants is looking ragged
and attracting algae, but they are beginning to have new growth along their
stems. The new growth is growing very slowly."
This happens quite often - the plants are in shock from having been moved to
new conditions and it will take a while for them to adjust to your tank. A
10 gallon tank is quite different to what they are used to.
"My question is: at what point should I prune and replant? Should I detach
the new stems from the old or cut off the old below the new growth and plant
the old stem? Another alternative, should I cut the old stem just above new
growth that is low on the stem and replant the old stem?"
Let the new growth develop some size before you try pruning it - you want
the cuttings to be strong enough to survive. I wouldn't necessarily discard
the old growth, just leave it alone and dorman buds along the stem might
sprout new stems. It might take a while for the plants to adjust but just
keep up your regular water changes and regular fertilization. The aquatic
plant food you used (20-10-5) sounds like it was meant for an outdoor pond -
a 10 gallon aquarium doesn't compare very favourably to a pond. The
"rocommended" dose of Flourish is recommended for cases where it is the ONLY
fertilizer being used, not in addition to something like (20-10-5). Don't go
overboard! This can be corrected via a few water changes as the Flourish is
in the water column.
The only other thing you need is patience.