April 2012 Meeting
Viktor Gyorffy welcomed GWAPA to his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland for our April 28 meeting. After members had some time to mingle and eat, and admire Viktor’s many tanks, President Jen Williams opened the meeting with a few announcements.
She noted that the GWAPA forum has been very active of late, with many members posting photos of their tanks. She thanked everyone for participating.
Next month is our joint meeting with Aquarium Club of Lancaster County. Aaron Talbot will speak on Fertilizing the Planted Aquarium. The meeting will be held at That Fish Place, so start saving now for your shopping spree! Please note that the meeting will be held on May 19, the third Saturday of the month, instead of our usual fourth Saturday.
Jen reminded us about the GWAPA Aquascaping Contest currently under way. This year’s theme is Nature Aquarium. Photo entries are due November 18. Watch the forum for more up to date information as the contest deadline approaches.
Kris Weinhold presented this month’s Plant of the Month talk, on Hydrocotyle tripartita. This plant has been circulating in the hobby for awhile under the name Hydrocotyle sp. ‘Japan’. Kris stated that “we think this is tripartita,” calling attention to how the leaves form three distinct pieces. Kris chose it “because it is a great aquascaping plant.” H. tripartita is a bright green creeping plant, which provides a nice contrast against other darker plants, making it a good accent plant. Since it grows so quickly and will creep over everything, it is not a good idea to plant it when first setting up a new aquascape. Let other plants grow in, and get the foreground well established before adding H. tripartita. In about 6 weeks it will be nicely filled in.
It can be trimmed aggressively if used as a foreground plant, and grows well in emersed set ups. Because of its aggressive growth, H. tripartita can become a problem plant. Kris recommends yanking out big clumps of it and letting it regrow from what’s left behind. Julie Weis also noted that it responds well to “smooshing.” She puts substrate on top of it to keep it under control.
Kris concluded his talk by distributing some small bags of H. tripartita to the group. (Which pleased everyone, except for poor Julie who’d brought a bag to sell in the auction! Sorry, Julie!)
The main focus of the meeting was Cavan Allen’s informative talk on plants of the Eriocaulaceae family. This family comprises 1200 species, of which 400 are in the Eriocaulon genus. Plants in this family are found on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica. Only one species grows in Europe.
All plants from the Eriocaulaceae family need stable CO2, root feeding, low KH, low pH, and good lighting. They really like mineralized soil. Most are not hard water plants, although Eriocaulon parkeri is more tolerant, and sometimes even grows in brackish conditions.
Some species will die right after flowering, so any flowers that appear should be trimmed or pulled off to prolong the plant’s life. Plants will often divide at the base, and can be split apart and replanted to make a foreground. Some species will grow adventitious plants.
Cavan gave a run down of various plants in the family, some of which are currently found in the hobby, some not.
Tonina fluviatilis, the only plant in the Tonina genus, is found in Cuba, and from southern Mexico to Brazil. It is very common, and easy to grow. It doesn’t tend to branch much until it reaches the water surface.
Syngonanthus anomalus is probably the correct name for the plant previously known as Tonina sp. ‘Belem’ and later as Syngonanthus sp. ‘Belem’. This plant is known by many hobbyists as a demanding plant which will not thrive if its needs for high light, fertilization, co2, and soft water are not met.
There is an unnamed Eriocaulon species from Guyana that is similar to S. anomalous, but its flowers are different, as is its leaf veination.
Eriocaulon parkeri is a plant of tidal shores, found in fresh and brackish waters. Its range extends from the northeast corner of North Carolina all the way up to Maine and parts of Canada. It used to be found growing alongside Sagittaria subulata and Hemianthus micranthemoides. It is the easiest Eriocaulon to grow. It makes a nice foreground plant. It forms a mound and provides “a little bit of a wild look.”
Eriocaulon aquaticum is the only European Eriocaulon, and is found in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is not too demanding, although it likes cooler water, and requires iron and root feeding. It grows a bit taller than E. parkeri.
Eriocaulon compressum is found from New Jersey down to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico. It is a large plant that requires lots of space. It is very buoyant, and so requires some maintenance to keep it planted in the aquarium. E. compressum was February’s plant of the month, and more detailed information about it can be found in February’s meeting notes: http://gwapa.org/wordpress/2012/02/february-2012-meeting-2/
Eriocaulon ravenelii is very similar in appearance to E. parkeri and E. aquaticum. Cavan states that it “does fine for awhile, then melts for no apparent reason.”
Eriocaulon cinereum is originally from Asia, and is now also found as a rice paddy weed in California. It looks like a “big Kooshball” and is hard to use effectively in an aquascape.
Eriocaulon amanoanum was first described in 1956, and despite the “amano” in its name, was not named after Takashi Amano.
Eriocaulon modestum (this may be the correct name for Eriocaulon sp. ‘Mato Grosso’) doesn’t transport well and is a difficult plant. Cavan has had it melt within a day when the tank’s co2 ran out.
A plant somewhat similar in appearance to Heteranthia zosterifolia (“stargrass”) that has been circulating throughout the hobby as an Eriocaulon type 2 is not an Eriocaulon at all. Its true identity is not clear.
Lachnocaulon minus is a US native. Its name will probably be changed in the future. It has very different looking roots than others in this genus.
Paepalanthus tortilis comes from Guyana, and looks “almost as if you crossed an Eriocaulon and stargrass.”
Rondonanthus capillaceus grows in mountain streams, in high flow areas. It is an epiphyte, and sticks to rocks. Its leaves are fine, almost like hair.
Eriocaulon quinquongulare is from Asia. It is a red plant, and “it could be kind of cool” if it grew that way in the aquarium.
Mesanthemum radicans is a darker green than most Eriocaulons.
Members of the Eriocaulaceae family are a bit challenging, and probably not for beginners. But they are a fascinating group of plants and definitely worth a look.
The meeting concluded with our usual mini-auction, and we gained a couple new members. Welcome to those new members!