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Apon. Biovinianus & Driftwood
Here are some anecdotal experiences I though I'd share with the list
given the recent threads on trouble with Apon. bulbs and treating wood
for aquarium use.
In my first (reasonably) succesfull planted tank (20 Gallon, high), the
centerpiece was a gorgeous A. Biovinianus that was putting out 20"
leaves, some of them nearly 3" wide. It got so big, that I decided to
convert a a 29 Gallon tank that I had into a planted tank. The first
tank had little or no substrate fertilization, and I was only adding
nutrients to the water column. (Tetra's liquid initially, then
SeaChem's) I was also injecting DIY CO2, and using 2 15W flourescent
When I began setting up the new tank, I realized that the gravel I was
using for the old tank was contributing a lot of hardness to the water.
Our Ann Arbor water comes out of the tap with a very low alkilinity (< 2
degrees kH, tetra test kit) and pretty low hardness, less than 4 degrees,
I beleive. The water in the 20 Gallon consistently had a kH reading of
at least 8.
So, I decided that I would find a new source for gravel that was inert
and would not change the water hardness. I added laterite to the
substrate in the new tank, and used essentially the same parameters as
the old tank. But when I transferred that one glorius A. Biovinianus to
the new tank, it promptly died. I was so dissapointed.
Since then, I have learned quite a bit more about water chemistry and
plant nutrition, and my impression is that the gravel I used for the new
tank was devoid of any mineral nutrients. The Apon. plants that I've
tried to grow in there have never survived, and I think that it's
essentially due to the water being too soft.
I can't give any firm numbers here, but I think that Apons prefer much
harder water than I was giving them. I'd appreciate it if anyone could
corraborate (or refute) this claim with published data.
So, for those of you with Apon bulbs that seem to have gone into
remission, check your hardness, and maybe try adding some lime or other
calcium/magnesium source to the substrate.
Now, on to the topic of driftwood. I have seen a lot of people recommend
boiling the wood to purify it - but it's pretty hard to boil any but the
smallest pieces of wood. For larger pieces, I soak them in a plastic tub
for several weeks. First, soak in a dilute bleach solution for about a
week, and then soak in fresh water for three or 4 weeks, changing the
water at least once a week.
After this process, the wood will sink pretty well. It will look a
little white from the bleach, but my experience has been that it will
eventually regain a more natural color. Especially if you've got some
pl*cos in there to rasp it. It will also discolor the water for a while
- evidence that there are still plenty of tannins in it even after all
Hope this helps somebody,
Steve in Ann Arbor