Re: soils and C. affinis

Neil Frank wrote, Sat, March 30:

>It sure would make things simpler if I did not have to add the top layer of
>sand or gravel to my tanks without digging fishes. I know that the temporary
>tinting from soil does not change with top layer of gravel or sand. Have you
>noticed any difference in clouding of water when you pull up plants? I have
>always used top layer of sand because I had been thinking that the top layer
>of sand will help contain the soil when the plants are pulled up.
I grow most of my plants in trays, and when it is time to pull them up, I
just take the tray out of the tank, pull out all the plants, rinse all the
mud out of the gravel and plants (using one or more plastic dishpans), and
then dry and store the gravel until I am ready to set up another tray.  In
my tanks where I have soil and gravel without trays, I have almost never
pulled up a plant, or, at least a crown-type plant.  Stem plants, I just
cut near the gravel surface.  Crown plants, I leave alone unless I want to
tear down the whole tank.   I think there would be more mud in the water,
pulling up a plant in a tank without any gravel, but there will definitely
be an annoying amount of mud in the water of a tank with gravel. However,
it should settle out in a few days.
>>>I have grown crypts and other plants in a 50:50 peat-soil mix which I
>composted for several weeks.  Everything did quite well.  I also have had
>some crypts in a 50:50 peat-soil mix which I did not compost,.....<<
>I didn't know that you used peat-soil combinations. How do they compare to
>the cowmanure-soil mixes with crypts or other plants.

I havn't had the cow manure-soil mix going long enough to compare.  I do
recall that the peat-soil mix did very well for about three years, and was
still growing plants well when I tore it down.  I suspect that soil alone
stops providing enough iron in 6 months to a year.  Maybe that isn't a big
problem because we have the option of providing chelated iron additions.
>I still haven't tried a peat-soil mix. I have several tanks going for many
>years with peat only.
I would think that a peat-soil mix would be a lot better because of all
that iron, manganese, and other minerals in the soil.

>BTW my latest affinis tank with the cm-soil is doing great. I have not added
>any CO2 (yet).  Better than all my others with affinis, but too soon to make
>any conclusions. (like you say, maybe because of composting??) These are
>from the same source as yours (most likely the 'large variety' of affinis).
>New leaf growth after a few weeks, but different shape leaf, larger with
>wavy edges, but on shorter stem (so far). Upper leaf surface is also not
>shiny. I have also noticed other color variations in other affinis leaves.
>In another tank under the same lights, a different batch of affinis are a
>very dark color - perhaps reddish (I am red-green color blind).
>Has anyone noticed similar variations in affinis, either due to variety of
>the plant; lighting, or mix of nutrients.

Glad to hear about that!.  Only a few of the leaves of my plant have wavy
edges.  They are somewhat bullate, and with the level of light they are
getting, are somewhat brown-green on top and a red-tan color underneath.  I
have seen a much more intense violet-red color on the underside in another
variety of affinis, which I used to have.  I am pretty sure, that with more
light, the green in the upper sides of the leaves would be less visible,
and the leaves would appear brown.  It is still a pretty plant, with its
muted shades of green and reddish-tan.  It looks nice next to the bright
green of the large Anubias nana (barteri, var. nana?) that occupies the
other half of my 15 gallon.  In lower light, I have seen affinis (perhaps
not the same variety as we have now) with bright green, almost blue-green,
topsides and green undersides with some violet-brown shading near the
>I must note that use of these substrates is not GENERALLY suggested for
>beginners. There are more things that can happen which can be difficult for
>a newbie to manage. Here are some other comments on my experiences.
>I did not pre-treat these plants with diluted bleach, so I had to add some
>fish (endlers live bearers) to control small amount of green algae that the
>snails did not keep up with. Green water developed next, so the fish came
>out and daphnia went in. The water is crystal clear now, the other algae is
>gone, but the fish will probably go back to help supply a little CO2,
>ammonia and other recycled nutrients.

I think a beginner can be pretty safe if he uses some 'soil soup' under the
gravel, sets the plants the tank, and then adds no fish until the plants
are established and growing well.  After that, he or she should add only a
few small fish at a time and keep the fish population rather sparse.

I did not see any hair algae on the plants I got from Shaji, but I treated
them anyway.  The treatment is only good for getting rid of hair algae.
Other kinds seem to either survive the treatment, or get in the tank some
other way.  I am wondering if the green algae that you put in the
livebearers for was hair algae.

Isn't it nice what Daphnia do?  They are indispensable!.

On another subject, totally:  Interesting article on crypts in the latest
TFH.  There is a goof, however in the picture that is supposed to show C.
pontederiifolia.  The plant shown is some other species.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174

Where students and faculty are suffering from spring fever!