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Undergravel filters and swords/crypts

Swords and crypts seem to like their roots in a richer substrate.  I used 
one of my 300 gallon tanks and put a plexiglass divider, front to back, 
about half way along the tank.  One side has undergravel filters.  The 
other side has about a half inch of potting soil covered the an extra 
rich laterite laced gravel mix covered with regular gravel.  When first 
set up the large sword in the UGF side grew OK but older leaves were 
wearing out rather fast.  After six months it settled down and looks the 
ones on the other side.  

BTW, this is a hi tech tank with MH, co2 etc.  I found no difference in 
crypt growth between the two sides.  As a further experiment I had a 
shallow tray 2" deep with  almost all potting soil covered with silica 
and a thin layer of coarse gravel on top of that.  The crypts planted in 
that did fantastic with roots so tangled it was a job thinning out the 
thicket.  I tried growing a heart sword in each side.  No big difference 
but really so so growth.

One of the low tech tanks set up according to the plant primer guilde is 
in a dark room at a local motel.  65 gallon tank with two 40 watt bulbs 
on 12-14 hours a day.  Gravel always looks clean with no visible detritus 
because the owner is religious about 1/3 water change every two weeks.  
HIS HEART SWORDS ARE AMAZING.  They always have runners, perhaps because 
of the longer photoperiod.  The leaves have no deterioration and they  
are about the best and biggest I have ever seen.  We keep the ttank 
stocked with fish traded for the plants.  I planted an E. Bleheri a 
couple of months ago and it is also doing better than any I have at 
home.  Doesn't make sence and proves we are all still learning.

As a refinement on the plant primer, or perhaps to review, the suggestion 
is to start with the fastest growing plants and add the slower growing 
stuff later.  I think when this is done there is enough stuff in the 
gravel to give the swords and crypts a better chance.  I have also set up 
two low tech tanks where the amazon swords gradually got smaller until 
they dissappeared.  These both suffered from neglect and irregular water 
changes.  I have yet to see a tank with a dozen species of plants where 
all did well unless there were regular water changes.  

--Earle Hamilton from northern Michigan where coral once grew