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Root bound?

Hi all,

A few weeks ago, I posted that I had some Crypts that were putting roots 
out above the substrate even though the substrate was not compacted when 
put to the highly scientific "poke it with a chopstick" test.  Well, I 
think maybe I have solved the mystery.  I have a new theory other than 
substrate compaction at least.

I redid a 20 gallon tank this weekend and found a similar rising root thing 
happening there with several species, especially the Bacopa that 
necessitated the redo.  When I pulled the Bacopa out, I found that the 
entire substrate was saturated with root mass to the point where it was 
impossible to remove the Bacopa without removing all the plants (except one 
flowering A. nana for some reason), so I checked the Crypt tank--same 
thing, roots aplenty.

I'm thinking now that the roots poking out of the substrate may be due to 
the plants becoming root bound in the small tanks and/or because the 
substrate is too shallow (I usually shoot for ~3").  Both of these tanks 
are/were a year old or more and have never been seriously molested in that 
time, so the plants have had plenty of time to become well established and 
prodigiously rooty.  Too rooty it seems.

However, the one thing that keeps me from exclaiming "Eureka!" is the fact 
that I've heard of many tanks much older than one year which have had the 
same plants always and yet there's never any rising root problem mentioned.

Any comments?

Chuck Huffine
Knoxville, Tennessee  USA
mailto:grendel at usit_net