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Plants for Creek/River Biotope?

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#1 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 04:47 PM

I have started 55g tank with river manifold setup and recreate creek or small river from SE states - N Alabama/Tenn. is my inspiration, as I have collected fish there before, although I live at moment in PA. I search for what plants, that I could use in such aquarium. I know that there not much in this biotope - nothing occur to me except willow moss at moment. Any other suggestions? Most NA plants in stores seem to be lake/pond plants and would not tolerate the current. Thanks!

#2 Guest_EricaLyons_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 05:40 PM

I have seen plants out in the flowing parts of rivers when I go out, but the problem is that my tanks at home are all slackwater setups, so when I take them home they don't grow well and eventually die off. There are some things that look like chara, and some things that look like potamogeton, but I couldn't get them to grow in my tanks and I'm not sure where you'd find them except by collecting them yourself. Perhaps if you joined NANFA you could barter for some on the trading dock? It's a members-only area of this website where people can trade things to one another. For example you could collect some of your local plants and someone who goes out collecting frequently (not me, haven't been out this year and it's already August) could trade you for some of their local plants. You could both ship them to one another, double checking that that's legal.

#3 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 07:46 PM

Well problem with collecting is that I not live in area of habitat that I recreate and there are no good areas to collect here, that are public (my collecting spots in the South were mostly on private land, where I had permission). Some possible species would be Potamogeton (some species in flowing water?), Vallisneria, Echinodorus tenellus and maybe Ludwigia/ some other creeping semiaquatic plants? Appear that most of the larger pondweeds like Elodea grow only where less current.

#4 Guest_EricaLyons_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 08:48 PM

there are no good areas to collect here, that are public (my collecting spots in the South were mostly on private land, where I had permission).

Who's the regional rep for Pennsylvania? I'm sure there are some good places to collect near you, you've just got to know who to ask. PA people want to help out?

And like I said you don't have to live in the area that you're recreating; that's one of the perks to being a NANFA member. If you were on the trading post you'd see that I have a standing offer to people who could ship me Potamogeton richardsonii. Its range includes Pennsylvania (http://plants.usda.g...le?symbol=PORI2 ). If you find that I'd trade you for some of my local creek plants. We could ship them both to each other in an exchange. But again, these are conversations best left to the trading post part of this forum. There are lots of people on it. ;)

#5 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:08 PM

Will consider to join NANFA. I recreate an area that I am more familiar with first hand (have not lived in PA long or fished here). Visited a local stream recently, but saw only trout, some bottom fish (sculpin?) and very few small minnow-like fish. Not try to catch anything. Nothing like the rich on fish areas in other places. Still need to find out which plants I need of course, before I know what to trade! Would like to know if any North American plants easily available in trade is suitable, before I start with trades on here.

#6 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:11 PM

Here is photo of my setup. Will cycle it with several fathead minnows soon.

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#7 Guest_EricaLyons_*

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:21 PM

Please don't use fish to nitrogen cycle your tank. It is a cruel and unnecessary outdated practice. Adding fish flakes every day to the tank as if there were fish in it would accomplish the same goal (the protein in the food is the source of the nitrogen, not the fish). API Quick Start is an example of a product that contains the nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria that you are trying to grow. It has a shelf life of two years and will skip the approximately forty days that the tank would otherwise take to cycle.

If you choose not to add the bottled bacteria and instead add fish flakes every day, the cycle will look like this:
Fish are unnecessary to this chart; only the fish flakes whose nitrogenous proteins degrade into ammonia are needed.

Posted Image
At day 40 on that graph (which will probably not actually be day 40 in your tank, but right around there), the ammonia and nitrite have dropped to 0 ppm and nitrate is a measurable concentration. At that point the tank is ready for fish. Regular water changes will keep nitrate below the danger level of 30 ppm.

Adding live plants are an excellent supplemental or alternative way to handling ammonia. If you examine Table 2 on this website, you will see that plants can eat and remove 26 ppm of ammonium in 4 hours.

To quote Diana Walstad, "Aquatic plants, then, are much more than ornaments or aquascaping tools. They remove ammonia from the water. Furthermore, they remove it within hours (Fig 1, Table 2). When setting up a planted tank, there is no need to wait 8 weeks to prevent ‘new tank syndrome’. (Nitrifying bacteria require several weeks to establish themselves in new tanks and make biological filtration fully functional.) Thus, I have several times set up a new tank with plants and fish all on the same day." Source: http://www.theaquari...ical_Filtration
You can find more information in her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.

#8 Guest_Sven_*

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 04:12 PM

I allways had problems from creeks rivers. Might depend on the cold tempertures we have her in winter and also in summer (water max 15-20oC). I solved this problem by using subtropical or (tempered) tropical plants that look the same.

For getting a "good floting effect" Valisneria sp. is a good choice, for the hardy plants you can use Microsorum pteropus and typical for our creeks, some mossy stones.

You alos get a good creek impression by using ground in very different sizes like you did. You might get a better effect by using some smaller stones too on the back of the bigger ones. best is to take a look into a river/creek and see how they lay there. (see here: http://footage.shutt...mall-creek.html )


#9 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 08:09 PM

Ericalyons: This offtopic, but response to your post. Many aquarists use fish cycling still. The API bacteria in bottle is to me skeptical and many other aquarists have this view also. The bacteria not have long shelf life at room temperature. The fish flakes is also slow and not so effectual by itself (as only source). It is better I think is to establish plants and leave some waste, together with frequent water changes, before about 3 fish added to help cycle (I have had aquaria before, only not for several years). Consider to try Dr. Tims One and Only, as it has good reviews from some skeptics.

Back to topic! It is not easy to find what grows in good current rivers, so I make some research and guess conclusions (wish for confirmation, but that seems hard to receive). Some possible plants include Vallisneria, Ludwigia repens (or peploides?), Fontinalis, Potamogeton pectinatus and Eleocharis acicularis. The plants Echinodorus tenellus and Hydrocotyle verticillata are possibilities, but grow mostly on wet shore areas above water. Have seen underwater occasionally. This sound like good selection? I know this in Florida, but good idea about plants in river current. The Cabomba there seems somewhat less common to encounter in such environment.

Sven: Das Wehen der Vallisnerien in der Strömung eines Flusses/Baches ist etwas, was mir auch gefällt. Sieht echt schön aus in Videoaufnahmen, die ich im Internet geguckt habe (wie im Link). Doch die Wassertemperaturen in den Südstaaten sind etwas wärmer als in Deutschland, finde ich.

#10 Michael Wolfe

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 08:50 PM

Val is a good option and it does OK in normal room temperatures. I have it growing in several of my tanks and I have definitely seen it (or similars) in streams here in the south (Georgia, SC, etc.).
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#11 Guest_Doug_Dame_*

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 12:43 AM

I have a profusely planted "darter/minnow" tank that includes not only a good amount of val, but also rotala indica, babies-breath, "anacharis", pennywort, hairgrass, a little cabomba type plant, etc. And some fish you would not expect to see in a stream type darter/minnow tank with good velocity water flow.

How do I do that?

The tank has 48"x24" footprint. (14" tall, 70 gallons nominal.) That width lets me build an asymetrical "undersea mountain" off-center in the tank, and rather than bouncing off walls as turbulence, the water goes round and round like NASCAR. On the long side closest to the mount, there's a long ramp of stones that narrows horizontally and vertically, to about 4" from the surface and 6" wide. The water accelerates through that chute, goes about a bend (helped by a plastic retainer wall), and then hits the other long side, where the main channel deepens and widens ... and thus the water slows to a moderate velocity zone. At the other end of the tank, things open up across the entire width of the tank, and this area has gravel and sand, leading to a jungle of plants forming barriers and protection in the corners. One tank has fast water, medium water, slow water, and barely moving water. Subtrates from 1" rocks to small gravel and sand. It's 50% open water, and 50% jungles of various densities. This is my variant of Todd Crail's Ultimate Aquarium, inspired by his article from a few years ago.

The v.2 mountain is largely made of kitty litter stuffed in a nylon stocking. (The v.1 mountain was kitty litter capped with gravel and sand, the big bad wolfie water pumps just blew that down.) I punch little holes in the nylons to insert the plants' roots. The center planted area is 6" inches under a 4 x T8 fixture that usually runs 16 hours a day. The plants are pearled up all the time.

For water movement, the Version One setup had a 1600 gph pump and a MaxiJet 1200. That was too much. When I rebuilt the center mound for Version Two, I took out the bigger pump and have been running just the MaxiJet 1200, mounted at midwater height. Given the easy circular flow, that's plenty of current in this tank.

My Bruiser Boy gang includes 8 yellowfin shiners, 6 whitetail shiners, a 5" male N. studfish, a warpaint, a couple of fat stonerollers, etc. These guys go bezerko at feeding time, and are very active all the rest of the time.

The Not-So-Rambunctious crew includes a dozen or so Pteronotropis colei (a split-off from metallicus/hypselopterus) and about the same number of N. petersoni (coastals.)

The needs-some-work collection of darters includes blackbanded, redline, rainbow, christmas, fantail, sawcheek, etc. There's also 3 tadpole madtoms, one big bruiser I've had for a while, and two new small ones.

The "Totally Unexpected In A Darter Tank" contingent includes approx 15 bluefin killies and 4 flagfish. I thought there was enough planted areas to keep those fish comfortable. I was totally surprised by how much time the BFKs spend out in the current, or how they'll battle nose to nose with fish 4 times their size, in the fastest water, at feeding time. Little schools will also surf round and round in the tank in the current, like high-schoolers at the mall. The flagfish don't stay in the main channel much, but they will hang in it near the vegetation, and have no hesitation in crossing from one green zone to another. Two lovey-dovey pairs.

I have also been surprised by how much some of the darters will hang out in the plants. The female redline spends half her time in the vegetation. She perches on leaves 1" from the surface, looking up intensely hoping for something interesting to float by. Then she'll scoot over into a thicket of plants that only the BFKs visit much, and clamber through that 3-D maze in search of who-knows-what. Some of the fantails also will spend a good amount of time perching in the vegetation. Nothing in my experience in catching and seeing redline and fantail darters in N. Alabama and TN suggested that they would be comfortable in and around plants. But mine clearly are.

Part of Todd Crail's message in his Ultimate Tank article was "provide a variety of different micro-niches," and the fish will find their own happy places. Very true.


A darter tank without plants is like
a banana split without ice cream.
Not as enjoyable.

#12 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 04:44 PM

Thanks - the darter tank sounds very interesting! Would like to see, if any photos? So far, I have Vallisneria, willow moss and Ludwigia repens. May add some hairgrass or Potamogeton (if I can find latter), but not want to densely planted for mine. Fish I plan are fathead minnows, Southern Redbelly Dace, Shiners (a smaller species from local aquarium store), Central Stonerollers and 1-2 madtom, Had not planned to have darters, because have heard somewhere that it not good with madtoms (which I plan to have), but seems to work for you. I remember only Johnny Darter and one Rainbow Darter (I think? or was some other colourful species?) from my collecting days in N Alabama.

#13 Guest_Sven_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 01:42 AM

Nice tipps here.

I think Valisneria is THE plant to get the "flooting/streaming" effect. You can hold it a bit higher by laying a large stone or drift wood behind a plant, so that the streaming let´s it flow over it. The smaller plants would ussaly be behind stones, wood, not in the stream.

Cryptocoryne are a good hardy choice for small plants. cold + warm water.

I guess the problem is sometimes, that the tanks are too small to add a plant zone AND a pen water region. It should eb at last 15 - 23 "/40 - 60 cm.

Hi Flusskrebs :biggrin: (ich schreib´s mal in englisch) He mentioned that the water temp might be higher in the USA. Right, but thatfore the "tropical"/Subtropical Valisneria, fit´s every aquarium from topical to tmepered cold water. I have them with 18 - 24oC

@Flusskrebs PS: Hatten wir uns schon geschrieben? (--> PM) Bin aus Freiburg/Baden

#14 Guest_gzeiger_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:13 AM

Erica doesn't mean to suggest that cycling with fish doesn't work, but that it is cruel to the fish and unnecessary, and frequently leaves you with an unwanted fish in the tank that's awkward to get rid of. Adding pure ammonia or any food source does in fact accomplish the same thing as the fish.

#15 Guest_gerald_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:59 AM

Has anybody had success with Callitriche heterophylla in aquaria? That's the plant I see most often in strong current in central NC sandy/gravel streams. The rocky streams have Fontinalis and/or Podostemum (which many people have reported as hard to keep in aquaria).

#16 Guest_UncleWillie_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 12:19 PM

I kept Callitriche (don’t know if it was heterophylla) that I yanked out of a roadside ditch near a culvert. In general, I had the same experience with it as I did our native Micranthemum baby tears. They both did wonderfully in my outdoor flagfish breeding tub, in shallow water that got a ton of light and was hot as the dickens. They got very dense growth and looked great. I moved some indoors to a 20’’ tall tank and both got very “lanky”. I don’t think I had enough light for that deep of a tank, so they stretched out towards the surface and had an overall puny look. I did move some to a 20g long, and the Callitriche did fair and the Micranthemum did well. They grew quickly to the surface, and put on some very thick growth at the surface. They looked good if you looked down on the tank, but soon both plants had shaded out their own stems and the undergrowth quickly melted away. The Callitriche might be doable if you have a shallow tank with plenty of light and nutrients, and do some pruning to keep the plant from shading itself out.

#17 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:58 PM

Erica doesn't mean to suggest that cycling with fish doesn't work, but that it is cruel to the fish and unnecessary, and frequently leaves you with an unwanted fish in the tank that's awkward to get rid of. Adding pure ammonia or any food source does in fact accomplish the same thing as the fish.

What Erica claimed, was that it is outdated, which is disputed by some hobbyists. The fish that I would have used for cycle is also a species, that I wanted to keep and is very hardy (Fathead Minnow) and kept in poor conditions at stores anyway. But I have instead decided to try plants and Dr. Tims One and Only with Ammonium Chloride solution first. Some report good results with it, so why not? I can not find any pure ammonia (which take long time and many careful dosings), where I am btw.

But enough of this defence! We can leave at this and talk about the plants instead. Maybe this thread belong better in the native plant subforum. I missed this somehow earlier.

Edited by flusskrebs, 21 August 2013 - 07:59 PM.

#18 Guest_Doug_Dame_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 08:55 PM

I can not find any pure ammonia (which take long time and many careful dosings), where I am btw.

I had a heck of a time finding any pure, unadulterated ammonia when I was looking. Finally found some at Ace Hardware.


#19 Guest_flusskrebs_*

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:00 PM

I know that everyone say Ace Hardware. There are none near me, that I know of, and I live in larger city. But it is ok, I use different method (mentioned above) with ammonium chloride.

#20 Guest_Sven_*

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 02:53 AM

@flusskrebs: Where can you get Fathead Minnow in Germany?
I had them some years ago, very hardy and spawning in my tank. Nice breeding color form the males


Edited by Sven, 22 August 2013 - 02:53 AM.

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