Cleaning Plant Tanks

> From: "Carol Darnell" <carol at jupiter_biochem.missouri.edu>
> Now I would like to ask the plant Gurus if when you are doing
> maintenance, do you take the plants out of the tank; uproot them, to
> prune, clean algae off etc.? Do you clean up dead leaves and stuff or
> let it form a natural fertilizer? I don't mean a lot of leaf debris,
> but some? Do you stick the vacuum nozel (sp?) into the substrate at
> all?

When the stem-type plants need trimming, we remove them from the tank
completely. While those areas are clear, we gravel vac in that area.
In the UGF tank, we vacumm deeply; in the heating coil tanks we vacuum
just the top 1" (not deep enough to disturb the laterite). 

To trim, we cut off the top 6-8" of the plant (just below a leaf
node), remove two sets of leaves and replant the top part. The lower
part with the root is sold to a plant broker. 

Plants with large rhizomes in the substrate are left alone except to
remove some of the older leaves.  The leaf and petiole are broken off
right at the rhizome.  The older leaf-stems are typically on the
outside of the newer stems, so this is easy. 

Plants like Anubias and Java Fern are removed from the tank and
trimmed by cutting the rhizome in pieces.  We usually keep the newer
section of the rhizome and sell the older piece to a plant broker.  

Don't be afraid to disturb the plants; they re-root very quickly
(within two weeks). 

> Also, in the process of getting the tanks to stabilize and plants to
> grow, finding which ones would grow ect., I have ended up with a tank
> (Discus) that looks as tho it was landscaped by a psychotic
> landscaping student or something.  :-) So, would you uproot and
> rearrange? It doesn't really displease me actually, and especially if
> stuff ever really started to grow, it wouldn't look bad.

Uproot and rearrange.