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Thread: Using terrestrial utrics as aquarium plants?

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    Using terrestrial utrics as aquarium plants?

    I'll make a confession that I'm not a CP nut although my latest research may say otherwise.

    I've been thinking about using terrestrial utrics as a groundcover plant in my aquarium. An aquarium plants company has done this with U. graminifolia successfully. If you haven't seen the photo:

    and accompanying article,

    So why don't I just use that? Well I'm in Australia and can't source any. Plus the importation of exotic plants in nigh on impossible.

    So my question is could this be done with other utrics? I think I'm able to source U. bisquamata, U. blachettii and U. subulata. I should stress what I'm looking for is a grass-like appearance similar to U. graminifolia - I'm not interested in whether it flowers or not.

    Any expert opinions on whether this could be done would be greatly appreciated!

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    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Hey Mazisto,

    Not going to claime to be an expert but I have a few years experience so take it for what it is worth

    Interesting article, I had not come across it before. Couple things I want to ask before I answer and they may change my answer. When you say "aquarium" do you mean a true, water filled tank? This does make a difference. I know some people simply refer to all tanks be they water filled (like a fish tank) or landscaped (like a reptile tank) as aquaria when it is more proper to refer to the prior as aquaria and the latter as terreria or vivaria. These are the terms I will use in my answer.

    The article seems to be showing U. graminifolia growing as an aquatic in an aquaria. The plant does not grow that lush as a terrestrial no matter how great the conditions are. So if you want something like the picture in a terrarium you are going to be disappointed as it can not be done.

    Now, if you are going for that same look in an aquarium you have a lot of choices. Obviously graminifolia works, and I understand the difficulties you speak of but I am certain there are a few Aussie CPers with that plant so you might want to ask around on the "local" forums to see if you can get some help. Other than that species though you can also go with one of your local species; U. dichotoma. Like graminifolia, this plant is typically a terrstrial but it can grow aquattically pretty well. Another good candidate is U. biloba. Check out the tank in this link here:

    http://www.cpukforum.com/forum/index...9&hl=volubilis

    So, I hope that helps at least as a starting point

    Cheers
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    Thanks for the response pyro.

    Yes you are correct in assuming I mean to grow terrestrial utrics as aquatics in a planted aquaria. That's my hobby (although i can myself keeping urtics now having been exposed to them ). So yes, covered with water year round. The water, by the way is likely to be pH around 6.5 and quite soft. I intend to grow it in the same substrate as used in that picture.

    Information on this sort of thing is scarce, but I was able to find reference of someone else who had tried it with U. livida, U. dichotoma, u. sandersonii plus a few others I can't recall right now and they all apprently grew with "grass-like leaves" which is the effect I'm looking for. I will say that scale is an issue as I'm planning on using it, if successful, in a 45cm (18") aquarium so the smaller the length of the leaf the better (which to my reckoning rules out U. biloba).

    I think I've read that U. ugilinosa is quite closely related to U. graminifolia and is native to Australia. I'd like to try that also.

    I guess a few things that I'm interested in knowing:

    1. Will higher than normal nitrate levels have an adverse effect?
    2. Am I correct in thinking that the plants I'm thinking of trying perrenials and as such won't die off after a year

    I suppose that a lot of things are unknown and the only to know is try. An overwhelming proportion of plants used for planted aquaria are amphibious and indeed many aquarium plants sold in shops are grown emerse.

    I'll be sure to reoprt back if I'm able to get hold of these plants.

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    wmgorum's Avatar
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    Check the recent issues of some of the aquarium magazines... I know one of them had some info about using U. graminifolia as an aquatic plant and a nice picture of it as well. I *THINK* it was either Tropical Fish Hobbyist or Freshwater And Marine Aquarium. I didn't read the article since I don't really keep planted tanks. Most plants make for expensive appetizers for mbuna.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmgorum View Post
    Check the recent issues of some of the aquarium magazines... I know one of them had some info about using U. graminifolia as an aquatic plant and a nice picture of it as well. I *THINK* it was either Tropical Fish Hobbyist or Freshwater And Marine Aquarium. I didn't read the article since I don't really keep planted tanks. Most plants make for expensive appetizers for mbuna.
    I imagine that would be very similar if not the same as that info in my first post.

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    Hey Mazisto,

    Sorry for the tardy reply, holiday weekend coupled with Mother in from out of town and the little one's birthday.

    Okay, I thought that was what you were getting at but it is always good to double check these things. I would think you should do okay but it might take some trial and error to get it right.

    You mention the water being "soft". Definitions may be different but here in the States that means that calcium has been removed, usually by the addition of salts. If this is the same as down there then this could pose a problem as high salt concentrations can be detrimental to CPs. It might be better to try for RO water if that is possible, it should give the same qualities but without the added sodium or potassium that softeners usually add.

    The pH is perfect, acidic conditions are ideal for Utrics.

    U. uliginosa should be an okay candidate. Like you said, it is native and amphibious in habitat. I am sure there are a number of other species that would work well for you too. I am going to try and get another Aussie to chime in here as he grows a few native Utrics and can probably help you more there.

    To answer your 2 question.

    1) Higher nitrate levels may be a problem but it all depends on the definition of "high". CPs evoleve thier cornivorous habit as a means to aquire nitrogen in deficient habitats. So too much can make for problems. But I assume you are talking about somehting akin to the levels found in a typical fish tank which should not be too terribly high and so should not cause too many problems (unless you get a bacterial bloom...)

    2) Yes these plants are perennial. However, some people find that you need to divide them annually to get the best growth. I find that it depends on the growing conditions, in a larger area you should be fine but if you are growing in something like a pot then you need to divide.

    I would not exclue U. biloba. Admitedly it is a bit weedy but it sort of grows to fit the environment so in a smaller tank it should grow a bit smaller. Plus, you can always pullsome out if is starts growing in too much. And the flowers are some of the nicest in the Genus
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

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    Pyro......i could be wrong with the Aussie version but the US vesion of "soft water" in an aquarium sence means generally low in minerals, high in plant tannins.....more or less tea colored water to some extent(though how dark varies GREATLY from one aquarist to another), usually trying to duplicate the Amazon river or similar spots through out the world...........
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    Thanks guys. All info is good info!

    By "soft" I do mean that the water wil be low in general hardness (GH) which is basically levels of calcium and magnesium, and also carbonate hardness (KH) which is levels of carbonate (duh!). Peat or blackwater extract are methods often used to soften water

    A bit about the substrate... The stuff I'll be using is called ADA Aquasoil Amazonia. It's a whizz-bang substrate for plants aquaria that's made from baked soil particles. It will lower the hardness and pH of water and it contains peat and humic acid. I think it will mimic quite well the sand/sphagnum moss mixture that I've seen recommended for utrics.

    I've ordered the the three i mentioned in my first post from an online CP nursery so it's all systems go: U. bisquamata, U. blachettii and U. subulata. I'd love to be able to find the time to go out and collect U. biloba or U. ugilinosa, but we've just had our second child and excursions like that are af thing of the past I fear... However I know a gentleman who has a thriving aquaculture business up in the north of Australia who specialises of native aquatic plants and he's indicated that he may give U. ugilinosa or U. fulva a go.

    Anyway, I'll keep those of you who've been so kind as to offer help updated on how I go.

    Cheers!

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