April 2009 Meeting

Saturday, April 25th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

If you’ve ever wondered “Why would I want to grow aquatic plants out of water?” the April GWAPA meeting was just the place to be. In the ever-inspiring home of Ghazanfar Ghori, members (and guests from New Jersey’s NJAGC club) were introduced to the art of emersed growth. The standard not-so-mini auction followed the talk and plenty of socializing while enjoying the views of Ghazanfar’s amazing tanks.

April 2009: Ghazanfar's 90P

Ghazanfar's 90-P

So why would you want to grow plants emersed anyhow? A very compelling argument was made for this method… it is a simple and inexpensive way to keep lots of different kinds of plants you may not want or have need for in your display tanks at the time. It is also a fantastic way to grow out large quantities of foreground (or other) plants in a matter of weeks rather than the dreadfully slow and painful method of gridding out and planting foreground plants that can take months to fill in nicely. Emersed growth is also the method of choice for nurseries such as Florida Aquatic Nurseries.

How to get started is simple. You will need a nursery flat, which consists of two interlocking trays (one with slots in the bottom to let the water through, one below it to keep the water in) and a clear plastic dome to keep humidity levels up. You can find these at hydroponic stores or online for around $10. This will allow for about 40 pots to get started with. Lighting isn’t fancy, all you need is a standard shop light about 6″ above the dome. For planting, use net pots (also found online or at hydroponics stores) and rockwool or old ADA Aquasoil.

To plant, it is best to wrap the roots in rockwool then place in the net pot. Stem plants and Anubius do best in soil, for the stems just coil the stem around on top of the soil, as it will root from the nodes and grow from there. Anubius just sets on top of the soil and roots down. When plants are converting to emersed growth it is important to not strip the leaves and let them fall off naturally. During this conversion the plants are sucking nutrients out of the leaves and need this available resource to grow. It is also important to know that the look and color of your plants will change. Leaf sizes will vary from emersed to submersed growth, and some species will flower only in emersed growth conditions. This is one way to verify the identity of a mystery crypt you’ve been growing– flower it!

To maintain your new emersed setup moisture is key. Maintain about 1/2″ of water in the lower tray. You don’t want the pots to be constantly sitting in water, rather to make use of physics and capillary action to soak up water into the pots. Initially, keep the adjustable vents in the dome closed to maintain the maximum amount of moisture in the air and lessen the shock of going from submersed to emersed growing. The ideal humidity level to maintain is between 82-85%. If you aren’t sure about how much humidity you are maintaining, simple humidity meters (hygrometers)can be found at shops like Radio Shack, home improvement or cigar stores. An easy tell is whether you see condensation inside the plastic dome, that indicates there is too much moisture in your setup. Each week gradually open the vent in the dome a small amount to lower the humidity level and continue the transition process.

Temperature is only slightly important, general room temperature should be sufficient as long as it remains between 70-85 degrees.  Usually the heat emitted from the lighting will keep the temperature high enough. Plants like crypts flourish in higher temperature ranges, while plants like Ludwigia, Bacopa and Utricularia do well in cooler temperatures (like what may occur in basement setups).

While not necessary, fertilizers can be used in an emersed setup for better growth. You can use root tablets like Miracle Grow’s fertilizing tabs found at home improvement and nursery stores, broken into small pieces and pushed into the root mass. For stem plants, you can use a diluted liquid fertilizer mixed at approximately 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of distilled water then misted on with a spray bottle once per week.


April 2009: Ghazanfar's 215G

Ghazanfar's 215G

April 2009: Jon and Fred Checking Out Ghazanfar's 215G

Jon and Fred Checking Out Ghazanfar's 215G

April 2009: Kris Goes Through the Announcements

Kris Goes Through the Announcements

April 2009: Ghazanfar Talks Emersed Setups

Ghazanfar Talks Emersed Setups

April 2009: Auction Table

Auction Table