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Tiny tanks/Emersed plants

Paul K wrote:

>If the purpose of the algae scrubber is primarily to remove nutrients
>from the water, then using large emersed plants with their roots in
>the water would be much better than using algae.  Any kind of
>rapidly growing plant whose roots can be submerged would be
>ideal.  By being emersed, they have access to atmospheric CO2
>and, given good light will grow rapidly.  Ceratopteris would be

All of the recent talk about tiny tanks inspired me to set up a 51/2
gallon mini-ecosystem in my office, about two weeks ago. It has
become quite an attraction here. The only completely submersed
plants I have are Java moss and Java fern growing on driftwood
which I transferred from my 10 and 20 gallons at home.  Since this
tank is strictly low tech (no heat, no filter, no CO2), I have planted
according to the strategy that emersed and floating plants will not be
CO2 limited, which as we know, can drive the pH of the water
through the roof and lead to all kinds of other problems.  So, in
addition to the Java, I have planted one sprig of Bacopa (B.
caroliniana), a few vines of Hydrocotyle (Brazilian Water Ivy) and a
cutting of giant Hygrophila (H. corymbosa, I believe).  There is also
some duckweed (Lemna sp.) floating in there for a nice effect. The
Hydrocotyle has been planted in the substrate (gravel and laterite)
and is hanging over the outside edge of the tank, which has been
filled with water only to about 3/4  volume.  It looks great
because it is a viny plant and has little white flowers all over it.  I had
put some cuttings from my 20-gallon in a basin out in the backyard
this summer (in full sun) and the stuff grew and flowered like crazy.
I even had to pull its runners out of the surrounding soil.  The
Bacopa and  Hydrocotyle are also growing partially emersed.  All of
these plants can quickly overwhelm a tank if not pruned regularly.  I
have allowed the giant Hygrophila free rein in my open-topped 10
gallon at home (near a window) and it has grown into a bush that's
about 21/2 feet tall.  It is a great plant for an open-topped tank.  The
Ceratopteris, which Paul mentioned above, may be a great nutrient
sink but would be too prolific for a mini-aquarium.  Oh yeah, light on
my tiny tank is being supplied by a single 13 watt compact
fluorescent in one of those swingarm desk lamps which I bought for
the occasion.  The fauna consist of 1 lonely pint-sized platy from my
tank at home (I will try to catch him a playmate this weekend) and a
couple of MTS.  I might throw some rainbow shrimp in there as well
(seen them for sale at a local store).  I am also contemplating
placing a mini-reptile heating pad (about 4 watts) underneath the
tank to provide some warmth and possibly some water circulation.  I
really do not want to place any heaters or other apparatus inside the
tank because that would ruin the aesthetics.  Anyway, the point of all
of this is:  those of you contemplating setting up tiny tanks may want
to consider using at least some emersed plants.

Jonathan in Maryland, where fall is definitely in the air.
Energetics, Inc
7164 Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046
(410) 290-0370

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