Low-Light Tanks and Micro Swords

Subject: Micro Swords

> I just purchased a new plant I never heard of before it was called
> micro-sword plants at the fish store.  It grows thick in a carpet like
> grass but the leaves are shaped like sword leaves growing only about 2
> inches tall.  Has anyone seen this plant before and can add some good
> info on it?

Sounds like Lillaeopsis sp. to me.  The species most often pictured in books 
is L. novae-zealandia, the one most often offered for sale is, I beleive, L. 
braziliensis.  What ever species, they require strong light and a fine 
substrate to do well.  But in good conditions, they spread rapidly, and 
become a beautiful lush lime-green lawn.  In my 75G tank, it carpets the 
entire front of the tank, and then winds its way around underneath all the 
larger plants further back.  I prefer it to E. tenellus as a "lawn" plant, 
because it does not shed leaves the way the small chain swords do, nor does 
it seem to overcrowd itself as quickly.

It's disadvantages are it's delicate root system, which can be easily 
disturbed if you have larger fish who root around on the bottom, and the 
fact that if you have algae problems in the tank it is dificult to clean due 
to the small leaf size.  I also have to keep good tabs that my Java Moss 
isn't allowed to grow down into it, as it is almost as difficult to remove 
as algae!

Subject: Low-Light Tanks


> >Don't feel that you _have_ to add CO2 to your tank.  While this will 
> >certainly give you the most options, it is _completely_ possible to have 
> >lovely, healthy, lush "low tech" set-up as long as you find the proper 
> >balance and use the right plants.  While I have 2 "high-tech" planted tan
> >that I enjoy immensely, to the casual observer, my "low-tech" tanks are j
> >as pretty.  
> What kind of lighting do you use on your "low-tech" tanks?

Well, I'm not "KatzW", but it's my quote, so I'll respond.<g>

Over my 55G Paludarium, I use 2 40W Philips Daylite bulbs.  Over my 2 20H 
tanks which side by side underneath another 55G tank.  I use 1 40W Philips 
Daylite (which runs over both tanks) and each tank has it's own 15W cool 
white bulb as well.  The major limiting factor in my "low tech" tanks is the 
high pH of my tap water (about 8.2) which means there is _very_ little 
dissolved CO2 in the water.  Still, I have good steady, though slow, growth 
from Java Ferns, Anubias and various Crypts.  Rotala rotundifoila and H. 
polysperma are in a state of almost "suspended animation" in these tanks.  
They hardly grow at all, but don't deteriorate either. (maybe their 
"pickled" in my awful tap water!<VBG>)

I've jsut started an experiment to see if the use of a peat substrate in one 
of these tanks (the Paludarium) will improve plant growth at all without 
resorting to yet another CO2 system.  I know I could set up a yeast reactor, 
but A,) I don't like to have to keep servicing it, B.) IME Crypts don'e take 
kindly to the pH fluctuations likely with yeast reactor CO2 set-ups, and C.) 
 I'm pretty sure the waterfall in this tank would drive out CO2 almost as 
fast as I put it in.  I think the peat substrate has been in for about a 
month yet, and other than slightly discoloring the water, I haven't seen any 
major change yet, although the pH is now down around 7. (of course this 
doesn't mean the CO2 level is any higher, as I would think the humic acids 
in the peat are what is lowering the pH)