Re: NANFA-- Off-Topic Plant Question

Ty Hall (
Sun, 13 Apr 2003 08:22:22 -0500

Thanks Scott. Next time I do any collecting, I'll be sure and let you know.


unclescott wrote:

> > Can anyone recommend plants that would do well in a typical African
> > Cichlid tank? High Alkalinity, High Ph, you get the idea.
> This turned in to a bit of a ramble by someone who is certainly not a plant
> or chicklett specialist. Non-plant people, be forwarned. ;)
> Some species of Vallisneria show up in a few Rift Lake photos in sand zones
> and gravelly transition zones. Many of the popular aquarium fishes are rock
> dwellers and the Val beds don't get mentioned much except maybe as shallow
> water fry nurseries. If you have a large tank and open water fishes, plant
> giant val in the back and patches of several of the other types on the sides
> of the tank. There are even attractive color varieties I believe.
> Two other hard water popular aquarium plants are Najas and hornwort. The
> Najas seen usually in the Chicago area (and probably Milwaukee) - sort of up
> your way Ty - seems to be Najas guadalupensis, by it's name a warm water
> plant but a reasonably good fry shelter. There are several species of Najas,
> including at least one from the southern US (N. conferta, maybe
> guadalupensis way south). Naturally don't dump excess guadalupensis in any
> water way. :)
> Some strains of hornwort, a.k.a. coontail, or Ceratophyllum are even found
> in very hard waters indeed. The late (and lamented) Al Castro found hornwort
> in Death Valley streams! They measure hardness there in part per thousands,
> not ppm. I've noticed different "strains" in shops. Some seem more
> "comfortable" in warm water and may have warm water antecidents.
> All those aquarium plants are fast growers if kept under lights on timers.
> I can't think of the number of hornwort "weed bass" I reeled in as a kid in
> Wisconsin and Illinois. An easy way to collect.
> I would recommend soaking collected plants for 15 minutes in a gallon of
> water in which a tablespoon of alum has been previously dissolved. Then
> rinse, rinse, rinse....
> While waiting for someone else to answer your question I pulled out a new
> acquisition which I guess is very big among the aquatic gardening crowd -
> the English translation of Aquarium Plants by Christel Kasselmann. It may
> well replace Rataj as a standard reference for many hobbyists.
> Pricey - I was lucky enough to visit Mike Schadle's book table and purchase
> it about about $20 below list - it does seem to include more plants than the
> older works and a couple of exciting and "new" ones - to me anyway. (Why
> else would a killinut visit a livebearer guru at a Chicago area cichlid club
> swap meet other than to buy books?)
> I just noticed that Kasselmann has a section on biotopes and she lists
> plants found in various parts of Lake Malawi and Tanganyika. I'm sure you
> are aware of how big those bodies of water are and she notes that some of
> the plants are only found in certain areas or infrequently.
> A quick list drawn from her book would include:
> water lettuce, Pista stratiotes
> Val spiralis var. denseserrulata
> hornwort, Ceratophyllum demersum
> Myriophyllum spicatum
> Potamogeton pectinatus and P. schweinfurthii
> Hydrilla verticillata
> Najas horrida (There's a name which recommends it!)
> Najas marina subsp. armata
> Reeds of some sort
> Interesting, when one considers the numbers of endemic fishes from those
> waterforms, is Kasselmann's assertion that there are no aquatic plants
> endemic to those two African Great Lakes. They all tend to be found in
> relatively shallow and sheltered zones. Where there is serious surf, algae
> manages on the rocks, but that is about it.
> I wonder if you Wisconsin guys could find local analogues of many of those
> plants. Invite this maladroit to tag along on one of your summer collecting
> rambles and I'll bring the plant books. ;)
> I hope this is useful and not too long. Maybe do a google image search
> pasting in the above names.
> All the best,
> Scott
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