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RE: Hornwort and Calcium in gravel

Kelly is wondering about her frequent replanting of Hornwort...

> I got 2 bunches of Hornwort for my Flags to eat and since I don't like
> it floating around, just stuck it into the substrate mainly in 1 corner
> of my tank.  Well, it is so massive and dense now (I like it) that I
> need to pull it OUT of the tank when I clean the gravel each week.  Then
> I "replant" it when done cleaning.  I just started this, but am
> wondering if this will eventually kill it since I am pulling it up and
> replanting it every week?  Can plants take this much uprooting and still
> be OK?

There are a couple of species of Hornwort, and they are found worldwide, but
as far as I know (and I may be wrong, and if I am I'm sure I'll be
corrected), all Hornworts have lost the ability (or perhaps the need) to
grow roots - they are floating plants. At least that's the way I've always
treated it and it can grow like a weed. One thing of note about all
Hornworts that I've ever run across is their brittleness - even a strong
water current is sometimes enough to cause the stems to snap. But that seems
to work in Hornwort's favour - automatic propagation, with each small piece
quickly growing into a rope many feet long.

A question for any of the botanists on the list - does Hornwort incorporate
silica into it's structure (and is that why it is so brittle)?

I don't know how appetizing Hornwort is to Flagfish but I wouldn't worry
about killing it by repeated replanting. Just be careful not to snap the
stem when you insert it into the gravel. It's not going to grow roots


And Bob Dixon wonders if some of us are crazy....

> I have lived and kept fish in Western NY, San Diego, Baltimore,
> and now Boise.
> I have kept fish on and off for almost 30 years and have NEVER
> seen, found,
> dug out, or otherwise disclosed any amount of shell material in
> my gravel.  I
> have tested commercial gravels with muriatic acid and never gotten any
> positive indication for carbonates in any form.  Either y'all are talking
> about something other than the remains of small hard-shelled
> animals, or you
> guys aren't buying your gravel at pet shops.
> I know I'm not nuts, and I'm (reasonably) sure you guys aren't
> either, so what
> am I missing here?

Bob, I grew up in Nova Scotia, on the East coast of Canada. Pet stores were
few and far between and those that were around found that shipping costs for
something as heavy as gravel was expensive. So as a result, most of what was
available for sale (other than the hideous coloured stuff) was locally
sourced. Nova Scotia is full of limestone and there is some marble there as
well. The sand that is available comes either from an ocean beach or from
crushed limestone or marble. Believe me, it produces hard water, neither one
of us is crazy.

Here in Toronto the geological situation is probably different but last year
when I went looking for 400 lbs of gravel for my big tank I quickly realized
that I wasn't going to be buying it from a petshop (not at the prices they
want for it). So I turned to local building supply companies and I had to
look long and hard to find one which sold gravel of the proper size and
color that was made from crushed granite rather than from crushed marble. I
found it but not everyone might be aware that quite often people selling
gravel and sand have no idea what types of rocks that it is actually made
from. I got quite a few funny looks with my bottle of muriatic acid and cup
for testing what they had available.

Commercial gravel (as sold in a pet shop as opposed to a building supply
depot) should be clearly labelled as to whether it is meant for freshwater
(no carbonates) or saltwater tanks (carbonates O.K.). But a short review of
the posting on this digest will show that as a group, we tend to be bargin
hunters and will look for the cheapest place to buy things for our tanks - a
Home Depot type store will generally win over a petshop when dealing with
something like gravel.

If you live in an area where the local rock does not contain carbonates,
then I guess that your local gravels would be carbonate free.

James Purchase
Toronto, Ontario