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Plants for low/moderate light

Karen Randall wrote:

>>My experience has been that some plants that don't do well in our water
>>with only moderate light, can do very well with more light and higher
>>levels of CO2.  I'm not quite sure why this is, however.

Bruce Hansen wrote:

>This has been my experience with many of our Australian native aquatics,
>especially those from the tropical north that come from the monsoonal belt
>e.g. Eusteralis (Dysophila/Pogostemon). I wonder if Karen would be kind
>enough to list some of the species she feels are in this category so we
>could advise intending growers.
>We could then publish (perhaps in the AGA journal) that those folks with a
>single tube setup and no CO2 could expect reasonable results with species
>A,B, C  etc but if they were prepared to add another tube, a timer and CO2
>then D,E, F, G, would be more likely to do well.

I'm more than willing to tell you the limited list of what grows well in my
water without strong light and supplemental CO2, but I think the list
varies greatly depending on your exact tap water parameters.  It also
varies for me depending on the substrate.  

We have even seen that a slightly different group of plants grows well in
our school tanks than those that I grow at home.  This, in spite of a town
well system.  But different wells hit the system in different locations,
and in varying quantities depending on time of year, demand, etc.  So the
mix at my point in the line draws slightly more heavily from some wells
than the schools which are only about 1/2 mile away.

In _general_ we find that the plants people are most likely to succeed with
in low light (below 2w/g) tanks without supplemental CO2 are:

Java Fern
Java Moss
Water Sprite
Cryptocoryne wendtii (some other commercially propagated Crypts as well)

Depending on water chemistry and substrate, I'd add the following, and most
of these will grow reasonably well at 2w/g and minimal CO2 supplementation
under many water conditions:

Rotala rotundifolia
Hygrophila polysperma
H. difformis
Bacopa monnieri
Valisneria sp.
Sagitaria sp.
Echinodorus sp.
Ambulia sp.
Myriophyllum sp.

I'm sure I've forgotten some, but off the top of my head, this is a list of
plants that I consider pretty safe for beginners to choose from with a
strong possibility of success.  Once the tank is established and growing
well, you can afford to experiment with other species that might or might
not do well under low-moderate light conditions.  As always, YMMV.  What's
"easy" for one experienced aquatic gardener to grow, might be the nemesis
of another.<g>

I think for _most_ aquatic gardeners, it is best to start with plants that
will grow well under the conditions that you already have.  Then, as you
become proficient with these, you can try to find the exact combination
that works for a particular plant that you just _must_ have in your
particular tank.  

It took me a long time to learn how to grow R. macrandra well under my
water conditions, but now it grows like crazy.  I've always had trouble
with Cabomba, and if I cared enough, I suppose I could learn the "trick" to
that one too.  As it is, I find Ambulia to be a fine substitute for
Cabomba, and troublefree to the point of being rampant, so I haven't
bothered to spend the time  on Cabomba. (so many plants, so little space
and time<g>)

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association