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Re: Science Project

>To whom it may concern,
>	I am an eighth-grade science student in Brooklyn, NY and am 
>currently researching for a yearlong science project.  The topic I have 
>chosen is "The Effect of the Amount of Salt on the Growth of Aquatic 
>Plants".   So far I have considered using the Indian Water Friend 
>(Hygrophilia polysperma) or the Elodea densa, since they are sturdy, 
>available and easy to grow.  Is this a wise choice?  Also, I have found very 
>ittle about how salt would actually affect one of these plants.  Do you have 
>any info/references that would help me there?
> I would greatly appreciate it.
>							Sincerely,
>							Jacob Stulberg
>							jastulberg at packer_edu


I think you have an outstanding idea for a science project!
You are right about there not being a lot on information available
on the effect of salt on the growth of aquatic plants. Or at least,
I haven't found very much.  Terrestrial and Bog plants seem to have
gotten most of the attention.

Hygrophilia polysperma or the Elodea densa would be good choices.
If I had to pick from the two I would use Hygrophilia polysperma,
since I consider this plant excellent in watching for trends in 
growth. This plant is like good watch dog or canary in a cave in
spotting troubles. There's a couple of article in the magazine 
"The Aquatic Gardener" which discuss using this plant to monitor 
nutrients in the aquarium.  The plant shows distinctive signs when 
the light, iron, potasium, etc .. levels are out of balance.  I've 
never seen the plant used for monitoring salt levels.  If interested,
I'll look up for you the author and dates when these two articles 
where published.

Of the Hygrophilia polysperma species, I like the "Sunset" Hygrophilia 
polysperma.  This plant has some pink and red color in it.  My daughter
has this plant in her standard "stock" equipped (i.e. no special lights,
CO2, etc...) 20 gallon aquarium.  The plants grow OK in her dimmly lite
aquarium. In my "High Tech" 90 gallon aquarium, the plant is excellent 
in monitoring iron levels.

Another plant you may want to consider is the "Amazon Sword" plant.
The plant is fairly easy to find and should not be too expensive.
The mail order store "That Fish Place" use to sell a Medium Amazon Sword
plant that, for some reason, only grows 6 to 10 inches tall, rather than
the more usual 12 to 18 inches. 

In general, I found Amazon Sword plants to be fairly sensitive to high 
salt levels (i.e. 1 teaspoon of NaCl/gallon of water).  The leaves on these
plants are relatively large and thin making them easy to observe.  I 
believe that when the salt levels in the water get too high, the salt causes 
round brown burn marks in the leaves. Too much salt and the plant turns to 
mush. I'd be extremely interested in knowing what concentration of salt in 
water start causing problems.

One motavation I have in studying this area is that when I started growing
aquatic plants, my aquarium water was softened with a standard water softener.
Regular salt (NaCl) is used in this process.  Anyways, I had a ruff time in the
beginning, most of plants did poorly until I quit using softened water. If it
wasn't from the advice from people on the APD list, I would have given up 
the hobby like a lot of other "beginners".

I thinks results from your study could make an excellent addition for 
publication in the journal "The Aquatic Gardener".

Good Luck,

Ron Wozniak
TAG member
rjwozniak at lucent_com
Allentown, PA