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re: Marine Plants

I actually had JUST started branching out into keeping "marine planted
tanks".....it all started with wanting to keep seahorses. Having come from a
planted tank background, I wasn't content to just keep them in a tank with
some dead coral and fake plants for them to hitch on.

After scrapping my (over?) ambitious 92g corner tank lagoon biotype plans
due to cost restraints (not to mention my not being able to compromise
aesthetically on the more-affordable-but-less-good-looking imho corner
stands that All-Glass makes) I ended up setting up 2 much smaller systems.
That was probably for the best ultimately, considering my learning curve. I
don't have to tell anyone here that you can research all you want
beforehand -and it DOES help and it is recommended to do so - but nothing
can compare to hands on experience.

I had a 10g tank in which I kept appx 15-20+ dwarf seahorses (h. zosterae),
and a lightly stocked 40hex with 4 pairs of Ocean riders (they don't divulge
species, it's a "trade secret" apparently, but they are captive bred and eat
frozen mysis, so you won't hear me complain!). Both tanks had live rock, red
and orange tree sponges, various feather dusters, many many types of
macroalgaes, including G. parvispora (long red ogo - beautiful beautiful
beautiful!), C. sertularioides (feather caulerpa), Halimeda, Ulva, some
other forms of Caulerpa, and some unidentified species. The tank for the
larger horses also had eelgrass and a couple corals (gorgonians) in addition
to all that. Lighting for the 10g was accomplished with compact fluorescents
from AH supply (4 13w bulbs, 2 white, 2 actinic blue). The 25g was lit with
a Hamilton MH pendant - 175w. There were also other inhabitants in the form
of clean up crews and pods and rotifers, but I won't go into all those here.

I had no problems whatsoever with the macroalgae - they all grew
prolifically, even the halimeda. The ulva especially was an amazing breeding
ground for the various grammarus (sp?) and other mini inhabitants and kept
the smaller horses busy hunting for them. The biggest problem I found, was
keeping things in order. The caulerpa especially did what it wanted, I had
runners all over the place - over rock, in the sand, growing ON the poor
sponges....I found it difficult to keep things in any semblance of an
ordered aquascape, although even in all it's chaotic madness, it still
managed to look beautiful =).

The eel grass however, was a disappointment. Keep in mind that since these
tanks were my first forays into marine fishkeeping, my focus was more on
keeping the seahorses happy than propagating plants, so I didn't spend alot
of time experimenting with fertilization, lighting levels etc. I didn't want
to stick fertilizer tabs in the sand because I had a deep live sand bed with
all sorts of inhabitants and wasn't sure of the effect it would have on
them. The thought of adding anything to the water column was a terrifying
prospect as well, lol. I was busy enough getting the basic water chemistry
down. Someone on a reef board somewhere had advised me to dig up about 4-6
inches of sediment along with the grass in order to keep it happy, but I
didn't have the luxury of collecting it myself. Anyhow, it DID grow, but
rather slowly, and never looked very healthy. I didn't get it in good shape
to begin with either - little 2 inch "stumps", lol. Not quite the luxurious
bed of eelgrass I had in mind, but ah well.

I didn't really have the tanks set up long enough to truly determine if I
would have been successful or not in the long term. A few months after
starting all this, I became engaged and was planning our wedding and
preparing to move to Canada, so I had to dismantle all my tanks *sniff*. I
was pleased with my progress up until then however (cept for the eelgrass).

I hope to re-start this endeavor up here in the Great White North (and it IS
indeed white today, I can tell you), but as of right now, I can't say when
that would be. The sooner the better tho, hehe. Right now I'd be happy just
getting a little 10g planted tank with some neons up and running 0_o.

I told Santa, now let's see if he listens.....


(fishkeeping only info below, sorry for making this post so long w/ WAY off
topic info, but I just wouldn't feel like my post was that of a responsible
fishkeeper unless I stated the following)
A WORD OF CAUTION!!!!!  For anyone out there who is thinking "hrm, dwarf
seahorses....sponges....live rock....plants....all in a 10g tank....sounds
cute and easy, maybe I'll try that....." PLEASE NOTE: in general, it is
advised that dwarf seahorses be kept in a very "sterile" environment. This
usually consists of nothing more than a tank with some gravel and dead
twigs/fake plants for them to hitch on. A 10g tank is also an enormous tank
for dwarfs, usually they are kept in 2-5 gallon tanks. [It's too much to get
into here, but in the case of ALL seahorses (dwarf to giants), you want to
keep them densely stocked to ensure they feed properly.] Because of the
dwarves' tiny size (~1-2"snout to tail as adults) they are very susceptible
to death by stings from hydroids, tiny anemones and various other itty bitty
nastys that can hitch in on live rock , plants, etc. I decided to take the
risk of providing them with a more "natural" environment because I felt I
had enough knowledge to be up to the challenge. You also need to feed them
artemia constantly - which also should be decapsulated, as brine shrimp eggs
tend to contain hydroid cysts. So unless you are prepared to set up several
staggered hatcheries to ensure a constant supply, please reconsider.

I WAS successful during my brief stint in keeping them - and I know of
others who have done the same with good results as well, - but it required
ALOT of maintenance and vigilance. Also, because I only kept them for a few
months, it can be argued that not enough time had passed to truly determine
long term success or not. The tanks were just starting to mature when they
had to go bye-bye =\

Just something to keep in mind. Alot of people decide to keep dwarfs
thinking they'll be easier than keeping the larger species, which is not
necessarily so, neither are what you'd call "low maintenance".