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Re: local plants

> Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 14:16:24 -0400
> From: "Gordon L. Mc Lellan" <gordon2 at dimension-x_net>
> Subject: local plants
> I recently tried to acquire some local plants from a small 
> lake in Northern Michigan, but was unable to use them 
> because of serious insect infestation.

Most aquatic insects are harmless or beneficial in the aquarium. A few 
obvious predators, like water beetles, Dragon-Fly larvae, or 
hellgramites are easy to see and pick off the plants. Otherwise, you may 
be worrying about superior fish foods! :-)

> The main plant I gathered was a floating plant with red
> stalk and stems, and very fine green leaves (needle like,
> like a pine tree)
> The other plant was growing in the sandy bottom near
> shore and was very small (1/2" max) tree like plant,
> with lots of roots.
> I took these plants home in a bucket and was sorting,
> preparing them for their bleach dip.  I noticed LOTS
> of little critters swimming around, as well as various 
> clams and some zebra muscles.
> I originally thought bleach was the end-all, kill-all 
> kind of poison you didn't want to mess with, but I 
> learned last weekend this is not the case.

Some shelled creatures just close and ignore bleach and other strong 
oxidizers. Epsom salt dips have been favored for snails and their eggs.

> I originally started with a 10 to 1 bleach dip, and
> gave the plants a 6 min dip...  The plants looked ok,
> and so did the insects!  Some of the clams fell off 
> their plants, others looked ok.  So I rinsed the 
> plants, and put them back under for a few more
> min.  The plants were starting to loose their color
> and become slimy, but the insects were doing fine.
> Another dip killed all the plants (their color was all
> gone, their cells were breaking down into mush)

You might want to consider the opposite of oxidizers and digestive 
agents (bleach and enzymes). Formaldehyde and potassium permanganate can 
"tan" (cross-link) proteins, which is very unhealthy for mobile animals, 
often with less damage to the plants.

> But the insects were happily swimming around.

Bet a shot of "Amquel," a vaguely formaldehyde-like material, would have 
done most of them in. Ostracods and a few tougher beasties may have to 
have a pretty good jolt for effective elimination. Daphnia and most 
smaller "infusoria" die quickly in near normal doses of "Amquel."

> ...I took the concentration up to 2 to 1, and it still
> took nearly two hours for the insects to die.
> Any ideas on how I can kill these bugs without 
> killing the plants?  How about a fish-safe pesticide
> or something?

Probably no such thing, in the long haul. Let the fish eat them, if they 
are small enough to fit in a mouth. Pick off anything larger, by hand.

> Also, can anyone recommend a website that
> would have pictures of freshwater pests, so I can
> identify what these critters are?

Good idea, but I don't know one. Wild-caught organisms don't seem to be 
a big aquarium problem. I use the pics in such books as the Baench Atlas 
Series for most such IDs. Do a web search for Daphnia and Ostracods for 
some interesting sites.

> Is it worth worrying about the larvae?  Maybe the 
> fish will enjoy the tasty treat?   My fish are all
> community type, mollies, platys, various tetra and
> an angel.

IMHO (free advice being worth every penny) I wouldn't worry about them. 
I routinely feed my fish stuff I have collected, usually from 
essentially fish-free waters. That assures more critters and less chance 
of any fish parasites. Every fluke, hexamita, columnaris, Ich, velvet, 
etc. that I have ever gotten into my fishroom came in on fish or store 
plants. Hence, I have become way more cautious about them than wild 
stuff. YMMV, of course.


Wright Huntley -- 209 521-0557 -- 731 Loletta Ave, Modesto CA 95351

"The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others."
                                 -- Thos. Jefferson --

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