Javas, Swords and Crypts, Plants and Ammonium

 Subject: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #298

> AFAIK, there are two genetically different types of Java fern.  
> least two.  I have both and so does Neil Frank and I think Erik 
> does too.  Neil calls them narrow and broad leaf, I call them bi
> little.   Big has 10" fronds typically, they are cross-shaped (t
> pinnae on the frond about 2/3 of the way to the tip) and medium
> green.  The frond surface is slightly crinkly.  Little has 2-3"
> fronds, they are lanceolate and dark green, with a smooth surfac
> Big grows more spread out, little grows in a clump.

There are at least 4 different forms of Java Fern that reproduce 
true to form, although I won't get into the genetics...I'll leave 
that to the experts.  The two you mention, plus 'Windelov' and 
'Tropica'.  Of these, the first three can be reproduced in any of 
the normal vegetative ways and remain true to form. 'Tropica' is a 
little different because if it is reproduced via the rhizome, and 
divided, it remains true to form.  "leaf babies", however, 
_usually_ revert to the form of what you call the "large" Java 
Fern.  I say usually, because I do have just a very few plantlets 
that do have their parents tagged leaves.

The two you mention get quite a bit larger than your estimates 
under my tank conditions.  The large form regularly reaches 18", 
and the smaller one about 6",some times a little more.  Another 
difference that I see is that the large form regularly becomes 
trilobate, while I have yet to see this happen with the smaller 
one.  According to Claus Christensen, _all_ Java Ferns will 
produce trilobate leaves under the right conditions, and if the 
plant is old enough. But at least in my tanks, the small version 
does seem to wait a lot longer.<g>  

The final difference I've noticed is that the small form produces 
_lots_ of "leaf babies", which are loosely enough attached that 
they often float free and clog my filter intake.  While the large 
form produces "leaf babies" too, most of my reproduction is via 
rhizome divisions.  Plantlets are few and far between (in 
comparison) and seem firmly attached to the parent leaf until that 
leaf becomes very deteriorated.

I really wonder with these two forms whether we are really dealing 
with the same species.  I would not be at all surprised if 
eventually someone decides that we have two species of Microsorum 
in our tanks.

> The Bobitus I saw from Neil was robust and healthy, sort of like
> refined big Java fern.  I don't know how fast it grows for him.

Hmmm.  I'll have to compare notes with him.  I do know that his 
water is quite a bit softer than mine.  I have yet to see "robust 
healthy" submersed grown Bolbitis heteroclita.

> Here is an interesting observation:  Six months ago my crypts we
> going great guns.  I had a couple of small (young) swords (amazo
> and bleheri) in the tank.  Over the last six months, the swords 
> grown and grown, to the point where Friday I pulled the bleheri 
> 25" leaves and sold it.  Today I trimmed 18 leaves off the amazo
> and it is still bushy.  Here is the puzzle:  During all these go
> times for the tank (other plants have done well too) the crypts 
> melted away slowly to nothing.  pH 6.0, kH 3-4, total hardness a
> the same (very little Ca), passive CO2 (2 liter bell filled twic
> daily), infrequent water changes (every month or two).  Fish ar
> spawning, plants are happy, all but the crypts and some vals tha
> have melted.  Any ideas?  My suspicion is that the swords excret
> allelotoxins that the crypts are sensitive to.  Anyone believe t
> is a valid theory?  Is that the cause for the vals too or do the
> just hate the acid?   Dave

The vals I've seen collected from the wild came with seashells 
imbedded in their roots, which gives you an idea of the kind of 
water they were growing in. (some of the clams were still alive) 
So i suppose it could be the soft water causing them a problem.  I 
know it is also intolerant of copper, which is why I can't grow 

As far as Crypts and Swords are concerned, I have Crypts and 
Swords co-habitating in several tanks, so they are not necessarily 
mutually exclusive.  OTOH, none of these tanks are dominated by 
Swords, so I suppose that you might have to have a preponderance 
of this genus before they started to adversely affect the the 


 Subject: Plants and Ammonia
> A friend of mine and I are having a decussion as to wheither or 
> can make use of ammonia. I an about ready to setup a new tank an
> going to have any bio filter at all. I was planning on using a M
> for the mechanical filtration and water circulation. He is sayin
> will not work.
> I plan on having the tank pretty heavly planted with about 30 ne
> house keeping fish. The tank will be a 45g high with aprox 2 wat
> lighting.
> The main question here is will the plants take care of the ammon
> and can a tanks be sucessfully setup without biological filtarti

Plants do use ammonium in preference to nitrate.  Also, just 
because you don't set up a dedicated biological filter, there is 
_still_ lots of biological filtration going on in the average 
mature aquarium.  Nitrifying bacteria attach to every surface in 
the tank.  I run my heavily planted, lightly stocked 70G tank on a 
single 350 Magnum filter, and have for years without problems.

Many people set up filterless planted aquariums, but remember that 
these people also usually have a very low fish load.  You might 
want to start with 20 neons and your algae eaters to start with.  
Also, I have found that the center of a Magnum filter collapses if 
you don'r fill it with somethingm so it probably is not the best 
choice if you are truly after a set up with _no_ additional 
biological filtration.  I just keep my Magnums filled with coarse 
gravel.  This gives them some biological capacity, and also keeps 
the basket from collapsing.


> From: Erik Olson <eriko at wrq_com>
> Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 12:44:36 -0800 (PST)
> Subject: Java Fern rotting
> Hi.  Had an interesting problem develop in the last 2 weeks I'm 
> if anyone's also seen.  I have a huge growth of Java Fern (four
> different varieties, including two grown from Karen's cuttings) 
> piece of bogwood in my 45 gallon semi-high tech tank.  In the la
> I've noticed a lot of the leaves have rapidly rotted away, first
> developing brown spots which eventually spread to the whole fron
> is what has changed in my tank recently:
>   1. almost 3 weeks ago, I pulled the whole piece of bogwood out
> tank for about 30 minutes to an hour, where I pulled off about 1
> plants for auction.  During the hour, the bogwood sat in an empt
> ie, open air.
>   2. one week ago, I  re-adjusted my CO2 reactor such that it ha
> far more efficient (see posting earlier in the week).  The pH go
> the very low 6's for probably five days before I got to it yeste
> started adding carbonates back to the water (it's now a respecta
> 6.8-7.0 again).

Either of the two above could have caused the problem, although I 
suspect it was the former.  Java Ferns don't handle drying out 
well at all.  And they look OK when you first return them to the 
tank just to die later.

I also have seen them react this way from a major change in water 
chemistry, although your change wasn't all that great.  

In either case, if the rhizome is left in place, they usually 
bounce back just fine.

>   3. I've been pretty lax in my fertilization the last month or 
> (durn this job thing), so nutrient deficiency theories are welco

Doubt it's this one... lots of people grow very nice Javas with no 
fertilization other than the fish.

> Any ideas?  It looked like it was "spreading" to newer plants la
> the week, which is worrying me greatly.  No other plants in the 
> affected (aside from the Crypts, which melted after I changed th
> weeks ago; Java Ferns, Swords and Crypts

I have seen an occassional slowed-down version of Crypt melt in 
Javas in other people's tanks where I couldn't pin point a cause. 
Still, I suspect there was some change that triggered the 
die-back, and in each case, if left alone, the plants recovered on 
their own.

As far as recurring Crypt melt is concerned, this is a very good 
reason for doing smaller more frequent water changes and sticking 
to a regular fertilization schedule.  Crypts do _much_ better in a 
stable environment.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Assoc.
Boston, MA