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hard water vs soft water for creeping plants

According to the Baench atlas, the idea GH for growing aquatic plants is
about GH 10 or somewhere around 150-200 ppm of CaCO3. Soft water is NOT
ideal for growing plants. Aquatic plants need minerals in the water for
two reasons:

1) to maintain the internal cell pressure (helps to prevent leaf damage
like Crypt melt)

2) to supply metabolic nutrients.

It should be no surprise that many kinds of plants do not tolerate soft
water very well.

I would go so far as to say that most fish and plants can adjust or
thrive well in hard water but not always in soft water. In many fish, a
change in water temperatures to colder and softer triggers breeding
instincts especially for Amazon fish like Coryadorus. Some fish like
Discus probably need the humic acids in their tank water in order to
inhibit bacterial and fungal infections. Of course, a side effect of
black water (dissolved humins), is low mineral content. 

In a tank designed to emulate an Amazon biotope, you might try mixing
some dolomite into the substrate to supply Ca and Mg needs for Amazon
swords. I would also recommend peat in the substrate of a Discus/Amazon
tank to help supply humins.

If you have plenty of minerals in your tap water but your plants don't
thrive, chances are you are missing a key factor such as one of the
required nutrients. For small creeping plants like Lilaeopsis,
Glossostigma and Marsilea, they seem to benefit from being able to get
their rather shallow roots into something better than sand or gravel.
That's my experience but YMMV (yer mileage may vary).

Does anybody know if Amano uses a special substrate to grow the
Glossostigma he uses? How long does it take to develop the lovely
Glossostigma carpets in the pictured tanks?

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!

P.S. I apologize for the use of the h- word in reference to mineral
content again. Thrash me with a wet noodle. ;-)