Nymphaea is one plant that has grown tremendously well for me for the
past 4 years. I ordered an "African Tiger Lotus" from Mike Trzonkowski
circa 1990-91, and he sent me 3 or 4 nice bulbs the size of acorns. (Mike is
usually generous that way.) The plant turned out not to be the real
African tiger lotus, but it is a Nymphaea species. It grew well while I
lived in Berkeley, California and has continued to do well here in
Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
In Berkeley, I grew it in a 33 gallon tank with a shop light: 2 40 watt
fluorescent bulbs, one a GE plant and aquarium light and the other either a
vitalite or a Philips ultralume 50. The light was on for 11 hours a
day. The substrate was about 2.5-3 inches of sand--sifted Monterey beach
sand which I got from a construction supply company (RMC Lonestar in Berkeley).
The sand particles were quite uniform, about 1mm in diameter. The water
was soft, ~20-50 ppm, pH 7.8 from the tap. The tank was filtered by an
Aquaclear 200 power filter. There was no CO2 injection. The Nymphaea
shared the tank with 1 Amazon sword (Echi. bleheri), Sagittaria sp.,
Limnophila sp., water sprite and Java moss. I also had a few lonely
specimens of Crypt. wendtii & Hygrophila polysperma, none of which did well
in this tank. Some Barclaya longifolia did well for a while, bloomed, went
into resting phase and never came back. The Nymphaea and Amazon sword both
got fertilizers whenever their growth slowed down. I used the aquarium
fertilizer tablets made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, although in practice
any old N-P-K tablets would probably do. The tablets were broken in half
and inserted in the gravel near the base of the plant. I also used Tetra
Hilena Crypto occasionally. For trace elements, I used both Wimex Ferroplant
and Wimex Trace elements. They recommended a full dose every 14 days, but
I decided to use much smaller (approx. 1/5 strength) doses once or twice a week.
Under these conditions, the Nymphaea grew until its floating leaves took
over the entire surface of the tank, and it produced runners and several
new bulbs. And it bloomed twice. The flowers were a nice coral pink.
I've got some nice photos of the tank from when it was in bloom.
In Vancouver, I have the daughters of this plant in my 10 gallon tank at the
office and they have done well, though they haven't bloomed in the past
1.5 years. In this tank, the substrate 1 inch of beach sand (with bits of
shell in it). The water is <10 ppm and pH 6.8 out of the tap. The tank is
lit by a 60 watt incandescent bulb and filtered by a Fluval 1 internal
filter. The Nymphaea share this tank with Java moss and water sprite. I
tried some Limnophila and Sagittaria in this tank in the beginning, but the
Limnophila never grew at all and the Sagittaria got outcompeted. The
Nymphaea is fertilized the same way as in Berkeley. It's also taken over
nearly the entire surface of the tank except where the water sprite grows.
I didn't have much luck with any Crypt species in my tanks in Berkeley, but
two species are now doing well in my Vancouver tank. I think the key
difference is that I applied Vinny Kutty's methods.
The Crypt tank in Vancouver was intended to be for low-light plants, so I
initially did not use any artificial light. The 10 gallon tank was
situated in a south-facing room but away from direct sunlight. The bottom
of the tank was sprinkled with about 1 teaspoon of chelated iron powder
and some "micronized iron" which I got from a nursery. This was covered
with about 1 inch of potting soil (Supersoil brand) and 1 inch of peat
moss. I then put in 10 pounds of plain aquarium gravel (#3 size), which
compressed the soil down to about 1 inch, under about 1 inch of gravel.
The tank is filtered by a Fluval 1 internal filter.
The tank was planted with 3 plants which were grown in "rock wool": 1
Anubias nana, 1 Crypt. wendtii, and 1 Crypt. pontederifolia. I also got 2
Crypt. pontederifolia as cuttings, 1 cutting of Limnophila, a small bunch
of Java moss, and one bulb of Barclaya longifolia. The water was
initially fertilized with Wimex Ferroplant and Trace elements at 1/2 the
recommended dosage. However, since I use activated carbon in the filter,
some of these elements are probably present in even smaller quantities. I
haven't used any N-P-K tablets to fertilize the roots and there is no CO2
The Anubias, Crypt. wendtii and Barclaya longifolia all grew very well.
The Barclaya grew the fastest and produced over a dozen new deep red
leaves, as did the Crypt. wendtii. The Barclaya even bloomed 3 times.
There has been no Crypt. meltdown, even when I left the tank alone for a
month during vacation. The Crypt. pontederifolia and Limnophila grew very
slowly during the summer and didn't grow at all during the winter when it
was dark all day. I eventually installed a small fluorescent bulb over
the tank, a 23 watt compact bulb that fits into an incandescent socket.
It's supposed to be equivalent to a 90 watt incandescent. There was no
algae to speak of before I installed the bulb, but now there is some green
filamentous algae growth. This is fine by me since the Limnophila and C.
pontederifolia have done so much better with the bulb. On the other hand,
the Barclaya has stopped sending up new leaves and the old ones are
withering one by one; I hope that it's just becoming dormant. I do small
1/8 water changes every 1 to 2 weeks. The replacement water comes
straight out of the tap with no dechlorinator added and is often a bit
cooler than the tank water itself, but this hasn't harmed any of the
plants. So...I don't think that a slight drop in temperature or a slight
change in water composition necessarily causes a Crypt meltdown.