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NFC: Plants

                                           Plants for the Coldwater

                         By Bill Duzen

     The title of this article is really misleading.  Unless you have
your aquarium equipt with a chiller unit or you are not on speaking terms
with your gas supplier or you live in an igloo your non-heated tank is a
couple of degrees below room temperature.  So if you keep your abode at
70 then your unheated tank is around 67 to 68 degrees and you can still
keep many of your favorite plants that you are now keeping in your 78
degree tank.  What this article is really about is keeping native aquatic

     I am currently keeping a native fish tank and I tried to stock it
with several species of plants that I have ran across in the area on my
forays into the local streams and ponds.  One can find many aquarium
plants if a watchful eye is kept.  There is one plant that is encountered
usually in the emerse form along side any ditch that has water in it for
any length of time, Ludwigia repens.  This is a plant that has glossy
green ovate leaves with re-brown undersides and with small yellow star
shape flowers in the emersed form.  In the submerged plant the leaves are
medium green with darker green undersides.  This plant grows very well in
the aquarium but must be trimmed back when the stems start to reach the
surface.   Trimming will also keep the plant very bushy. 

     Speaking of bushy plants, you can also find Ceratophyllum demersum,
Hornwort, Myriophyllum spicatum, Anacharis and Didiplis diandra.  M.
spicatum is one of the bushier plants and should be located in the rear
of the aquarium.  Again, trimming will help keep the plant compact and
can be propagated by cuttings.  Just replant your trimmings.  This palnt
likes medium light and will get "stringing" if your light is inadequate. 
Didiplis diandra is a foreground plant.  Rarely getting over 4 inches
tall.  This plant has short light green leaves, not unlike pine needles. 
Again, propagation is by cuttings.  This plant does better in a layer of
soft sand or dirt mixture and requires medium light.  It does well in all
water except that which is extremely hard Didiplis also gets little brown
nodules at the base of its pine like leaves that resemble manicure pine
cones.  These are young buds. Anacharis or more properly called Elodea
nutallior canadensis is a plant that can become a problem in a pond or
other large quiet bodies of water.  It can grow to several feet long and
"choke" a waterway. It is a dark green plant with whorls of leaves.  This
plant will grow constantly in medium to strong light.  You can acually
see the oxygen bubbles rising from the plant.  Anacharis can be either
planted or used as a floating plant.  Hornwort is a light green floating
plant that is great for "saving" baby livebearer from the ravenous
parents and tank mates.  Hornwort requires rather strong light to grow in
a compact form but will grow in lesser light but with longer stems and
few leaves.

      There are a couple of other floating plants one can pick up while
out for a stroll through nature.  Duckweed, Lemna trisulca and L. minor
can be found floating on quiet waters.  Also a rare occasions on water
with out duckweed you can find a plant very similar to Lemna but much
smaller, Wolffia or watermeal.  This is a very small rootless plant,
about 1/4 size of Lemna minor.  Riccia fluitans or crystalwort can also
be found in this area. This is another rootless plant and resembles the
childhood game 'Jacks" and is dark to medium green.  This plant does well
in almost any kind of freshwater and must be thinned every so often to
allow light to reach the bottom of the tank.
     There are a few other plants that can be brought in from the pond or
collected, that you may not think would do well in the home aquarium. 
Saururus cernuus, the Lizard Tail, is a plant that looks much like
Cryptocoryne cordata, with rounded leaf the comes to a point.  This does
well with bright light but must be kept trimmed or it will start to grow
out of the water.  The Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis is a plant you
can find in marshy wooded areas that are underwater part of the year.  In
or around your pond this plant will get about three feet tall and have
deep red flowers.  In the aquarium, with moderate light and trimming it
will stay compact and have medium green leaves much like a Amazon Sword
plant. A plant very similar to Java moss is Fontinalis antipyretica, It
is found in slow moving cool streams attached to submerged wood.  It only
does well in water temperature under 65 degrees.  If transplanting, do
not remove the plant from the wood it is attached to.

      One word of warning though, as you collect these plants you must be
careful not to introduce unwanted guests.  Dragon fly larva, various
nymphs, beetles, aphids and pond snails must be watched for.  Also if you
are placing these plants into a tank with fry, Hydra is also a problem. 
Check over each plant carefully for insects and egg casings and remove.
So, as you can see there is a whole assortment of plants for your
aquarium that can be obtained by just taking a stroll through the country
side streams.   

Robert Rice
Help Preserve our Aquatic Heritage join the Native Fish Conservancy
 at our website  www.nativefish.org