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Echinodorus bleheri questions


I have what I believe to be an Echinodorus bleheri that has a peduncle which
is now about 32 inches long. As my tank is only 24 inches tall (and also has
a few inches of gravel under the E. bleheri), the thing has come up out of
the the water several inches. I was going to let it continue upward, but
since there is no light above the tank I decided to put it back under the
hood in the water. It was also looking kind of dried out out of the water,
although it was still nice and healthy looking. Also, it has forked off into
4 stems, with what look like more on the way. Will it be more apt to make
baby plants (which I'd prefer over flowers) by remaining in the water, or
should I just let one or more stems grow up out of the tank?

Another question: this plant was purchased with a number of banged up leaves
(creases, tears, etc). It has since grown numerous fresh ones that are nice
and unblemished. Would it hurt anything to gradually trim off the older
leaves? If not, where should I cut them off? As near the crown as possible?
The plant currently has 21 leaves, of which 9 are damaged to various
degrees. A new leaf is appearing about every 3-4 days. If it's safe to do
so, how quickly can I remove the old leaves without affecting the health of
the plant?


Dan Dixon