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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #805

>Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 08:01:50 -0800
>From: Mortimer Snerd <n9720235 at cc_wwu.edu>
>Subject: George's uprooted plants, evil substrates

>I was wondering which plants you uproot on a regular basis 

Stem plants such as Rotala, Ludwigia, Bacopa, Shinnersia, Ammania, 
Eusteralis, Mayaca and Hydrocotyle are uprooted when they need trimming; 
every two or four weeks in our case. We uproot them for two reasons: we 
trim and replant the more attractive tops and I think it is good to disturb 
the substrate around the roots. Most stem plants will get water roots after 
a few weeks, so trimming and replanting the tops keeps things neat. We 
dislike the appearance of water roots - they collect detritus and they make 
the tank look fuzzy. Fast growing plants only need a week or so to regrow a 
decent root system and plants like Rotala seem more robust if treated this 
way. We also lightly gravel vac every couple of months when a section is 

Most rosette plants such as Crytocoryne, Echinodorus, Lobelia and Samolus 
are left alone until they become eyesores. Then they are uprooted, trimmed 
as needed and replanted. We will usually cut the root mass back quite a bit 
to make replanting easier.  

Chain plants such as E. tennelus and E. quadricostatus are left alone until 
they have oversteped their bounds. Then the whole patch is completely 
uprooted. The larger "mother" plants are cut from the chains and replanted. 
This happens every three months or so. 

Other plants like Anubias, Java Fern and Bolbitus are pulled up or removed 
from their moorings when they have gotten overgrown or impacted. Every 6 to 
9 months seems like a typical interval. 

>and if you have problems keeping the laterite layer layered as the gravel 
>is mixed from you pulling up the plant.  

After a tank is set up, I give no further consideration to substrate 
"layers". Laterite is mixed into the bottom 1/3 to keep it away from the 
water column initially, not specifically to create a special layer. The 
laterite definitely is pulled up to the surface when a plant is removed 
since most roots find their way down to the laterite. As a mater of fact, 
most roots will have a graduated color going from white near the crown to 
dark brown at the lower ends, presumably due to increasing laterite 
concentrations lower in the gravel. 

Laterite DOES get into the water when we uproot. For most stem plants, a 
little 2" cloud will be seen when the plant comes up. This settles right 
away and disappears back into the gravel within minutes. When we do a 
massive uprooting during serious yearly pruning, the water will be clouded 
for a few hours or overnight. Duplarit has the wonderful characteristic of 
settling out quickly. I tend to think of it more as ground-up rock (heavier 
than water) than as clay mud that would easily disperse.   
>I ask because I recently tore down my 60
>gallon to set up my new 100, and I discovered that I had some plants
>with serious, serious root clumps.  I had a few (a small patch of rotala
>indica, some apons) that had clumps larger than a pool ball and were
>holding all kinds of gravel, leading me to believe that some of the
>problems I've was experiencing were due to compacted gravel.  Any

I would sugggest they became root-bound. Even thought they had the "whole 
bottom" to spread out in, they probably have thoroughly clogged their local 
area and exhausted it of nutrients. Another reason to uproot and replant 

>I guess I'm not totally sure why a hybrid substrate is bad.  While I
>understand that most people get poor results with them, I'm not sure
>what happens that creates such problems.  I could understand it if we
>were talking about a rich soil substrate mixed with laterite or
>something like that, 

I think that is the typical case. You usually hear of top soil, peat, worm 
castings and other fertilities being mixed into a layered substrate to 
provide "richness". 

>but I fail to see why mixing laterite with
>flourite, clay balls, or other non-rich substrate could create such
>problems.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

It is probably not "bad" per se. I think the usual point is ... there is no 
point in mixing all this stuff together. The right amount of Duplarit works 
fine. The right amount of flourite works fine. The right amount of other 
amendments works fine. Why bother adding more and more? 

Remember, it's either "MORE IS NOT BETTER OOMMM" or "OWA TA-GO SIAM". 


But, hey, it's your substrate. If you mix laterite and flourite, the AGA 
Secret Police will not come banging on your door in the middle of the 
night. It's your money to spend as you like.  

And always remember, it's not the substrate that is evil, it's the people
who use them.

George Booth, Ft. Collins, Colorado (booth at frii_com)
  Back on-line! New URL! Slightly new look! Same good data!