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re: Freshwater Plants and Brackish Water Conditions

>From: Jerry Buchko <j.buchkojr at worldnet_att.net>
>Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 16:32:38 -0800
>Subject: Freshwater Plants and Brackish Water Conditions
>        Hi.  I would like to post a question to those plant
>people out there who have tried to keep freshwater plants along
>with fish that require brackish water conditions.
>        I have set up a 10 gal. plant tank with several species
>of plants, including: Hygrophila polysperma, Cardamine lyrata,
>some specimens of dwarf and narrow Sagittaria, as well as some
>Java fern (Microsorium pteropus).  The plan is to make this the
>new home for a small group of Bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius
>xanthozona) that I have my eye on.  The dilemma is that these
>fish seem to be living quite happily in a tank where the
>salinity of the water is around 20-22 ppt (a specific gravity
>of approx. 1.014 to 1.016).  After a little experimentation, I
>found that this means I'll be adding approx. 3-4 tablespoons
>of salt (non-iodide table salt) per gallon of tapwater to bring
>the salinity of my tankwater within the above range.
>        This seems like an aweful lot of salt, and I'm wondering
>if my plants are going to be able to put up with this level of
>salinity for any length of time.
>        Any thoughts?
>Jerry B.


Regrettably, very few commercially traded plants are useful in brackish
water aquaria. In part this reflects the absence of small herbaceous plants
in many such environments; which are dominated either by larger plants like
mangroves and various rushes, reeds, and turtle and eel grasses.

At the lower end of the brackish scale (below 1.005) many hardwater
tolerant plants will do well - but this is a bit hit and miss, and depends
on the quality of the other tank conditions (lighting, etc.). Forget about
any plants that need extra carbon dioxide - you want plants that are good
at using carbonate and bicarnonate salts in the water. So Vallisneria,
Sagittaria, Elodea, Ceratophyllum and such like are all worth trying. Java
fern is often quoted as being worthwhile in such aquaria, but I have
*never* had much luck with it.

Between 1.005 to 1.020 there is basically nothing in the trade. The eel
grasses, which look superficially like Vallisneria, are natural inhabitants
of such habitats, but you need to collect them yourself. These plants are
said to be quite tricky. Check out "Dynamic Aquaria /  Adey & Loveland" for

Above 1.020 Caulerpa algae make good aquarium plants, but need all the care
of marine invertebrates for long term success. They are easy to grow and
quickly form dense stands.

Bumblebees can be adapted to marine conditions easily, especially
Brachygobius aggregatus, one member of the genus found in fresh and marine
environments. Brachygobius doriae is one species that probably won't do
well though.

A number of other gobies besides bumblebees would be worth looking out for,
especially the larger Cryptocentrus 'watchman' gobies which could be mixed
with burrowing shrimps.

With best wishes,



From  Neale Monks' Macintosh PowerBook, at...

Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD
Internet: N.Monks at nhm_ac.uk, Telephone: 0171-938-9007