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Re: Growing H. micranthemoides

Jennifer Peters wrote:

I am trying to grow a large patch of H. micranthemoides in my 75G tank.  I have 390 watts of light on it, but my new Ozelot sword has taken off like a rocket so now the babytears are partially shaded by the sword's huge leaves.  It isn't dying off, but it sure isn't growing, either.  Is this plant just a slow grower, or am I going to have to move it to a "sunnier" location to get some growth?  I don't believe it's a nutrient problem as everything else in the tank is growing quickly, too.  Also, do these plants eventually grow good root systems?  Every time my cories go through it, I end up having to replant half of it.  Maybe this is related to the slow growth?

I had a very interesting experience with this plant. Two years ago, when I first started keeping plants (with the intention of keeping them alive) I got some pearl grass and buried pieces of Jobe's fertilizer spikes by their roots. It grew TOO well, and in an attempt to slow things down, I stopped root-feeding. Things gradually slowed down to the point where the pearl grass ceased to grow, turned a sickly dark-green, leaves were stunted, and the tips browned, like they'd been singed by a flame. The stems became very brittle, but somehow, the plant was hanging on - not dying, while struggling to live. Well, for about a year and a half, they stayed like this. I was confused because I'd completely forgotten about the Jobe's that I'd stopped using. They must have been growing *very* slowly, but it was all dark-green and brittle and I was ready to chuck them. I moved them into my other tank with Flourite, but it didn't help. I moved them back and they stayed sick. Then it hit me that they had been growing very well when I was using the Jobe's. So as an experiment, I trimmed maybe 6 of the tips that were still green (instead of brown), planted them and stuck some tiny pieces of Jobe's under them. I saw results quite literally "overnight." For the first two days, I kept in mind that it could've been just my imagination, but by day three, I was seeing definite bright-green tips. It's been two months and they're back to being happy and out-of-control... I tried the Jobe's on a few other stem plants that I haven't been having much luck with, but they had little effect, except to initiate green water :-/

So you might want to try a small piece of Jobe's (I used 13-4-5) to get your pearl grass going. I agree with Chuck that with that much light, you more than likely have a nutrient imbalance (deficiency) on your hands. Some plants can manage better than others for a while, so the condition of the other plants isn't necessarily an indication that all's well. I think your pearl grass is starving for nitrates. If you're adding nitrate to the water column, it may be that the pearl grass is simply not as strong a competitor for the nutrient and needs to be "spoon-fed" through the roots. Or it may not be competing as well in the shade. It could be any of a number of factors. I can only speculate...

The tank in which I have the pearl grass is also my cory tank (albeit only dwarf varieties). Incidentally, I also grow M. umbrosum in there (which takes longer to root). I like to push stems *deep* into the gravel with a pair of tweezers. Neither the cories, nor the snails, nor the Amano shrimp have ever managed to uproot anything, even before roots have formed on newly-planted cuttings. As I tell everyone with the problem of plants getting dislodged, "jam the dang thing down!" Few plants are so delicate as to not be able to tolerate this. With pearl grass, you need not be light-handed. Just trim off any bottom portion that's rotting before you plant it, and bury the bottom 1" *at least*. If the whole stem doesn't measure 1", then bury the bottom 1/2-3/4 of the stem. Under decent conditions, pearl grass will root fairly quickly. If all else fails, try moving it to a better-lit area. Good luck!