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Low-light plants I can collect in Central Texas?

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#1 Betta132

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  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 20 May 2015 - 10:30 PM

I'd like to plant some things in strawberry baskets and hang them in my sunfish tank to soak up some of the nitrates, and also add to the appearance. Sunfish seem to like protected, shallow areas with lots of sticks and plants, so that's the look I'm going for. 

I have two categories of plants that I'm looking for: bog and aquatic. 

I need plants that can be rooted in a minimum of soil (in a basket or such) and hung from the edge of the tank with the roots in the water. I need plants that don't mind just having the ambient lighting in my room, though, so I imagine that limits things. Perhaps some sort of fern? I'd like something that flowers, but that's not a necessity. 

I also need plants that don't mind sunfish. I can plant them around a piece of wood to keep the sunnies from digging the roots out when they nest. My sunnies don't seem to care about plants, they leave the Java moss and Java fern alone, but they're a bit prone to running into things. I have a decent light on the tank, but thanks to tannins, the light level is probably pretty low. Anubias, Java moss, and Java fern grow, but I'm not sure what else will. Any suggestions on something that might do alright? 


I know a park with a lake full of what appear to be swordplants, though the swords are oddly transparent and show the veins very clearly. Anyone have experience with whatever native sword we have? They grow to the top of the water in most shallow areas, and they get probably 15" tall in the deep parts. 

Apparently they're called Texas swordplants: http://davesgarden.c...pf/go/198228/#b

Edited by Betta132, 20 May 2015 - 10:32 PM.

#2 smilingfrog

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  • Minnesota

Posted 20 May 2015 - 11:13 PM

I could suggest some terrestrial plants for your baskets, but they aren't really bog plants and aren't native if that is important. Impatiens and coleus cuttings will root very readily and will grow quite well with no soil, just submerged roots. The impatiens will get flowers, the coleus sometimes flowers but not as attractive. Another plant is bamboo. My in-laws actually have one of those little lucky bamboo planters in their bathroom which has no windows and I cannot imagine gets more than 2 hours of light a day. It has been growing there for close to a year and is very healthy looking. Again with no soil just submerged roots in a little dish of water. I would think any of those should do well. There are a number of house plants that can also grow well for extended periods with just submerged roots. Spider plants, pothos, and peace lily come to mind. I know there are many others as well.

#3 Betta132

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  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 21 May 2015 - 02:17 AM

Oh, one other thing: has to be nontoxic. We have cats, and one of them attacks plants sometimes.

#4 Mrfipp

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  • Runaway Bay, Texas

Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:09 AM

In general, to successfully keep a planted aquarium you need light and nutrients. If you change your tank lighting to an elevated fluorescent light or LED light, preferably in the 5000k color temp range you would have more available light for emerged plants (you can get by with down to about 3500k, but I tend to have more algae at low color temperatures than at 5000-6700k). Almost no plants will grow in an aquarium with just ambient room lighting. There are some very common aquatic or emergent plants in Texas, most of which share an environment with various sunfish. Not all of them do well in an aquarium. Lilly plants and some floating plants are native and will survive the fish and have better access to light, oxygen and CO2 (plants use both: they consume oxygen and put off carbon dioxide at night and reverse that during photosynthesis in the daytime).

One thing you may browse through is resources from Texas A&M. They also have an app called AquaPlant that is a useful tool for identifying plants.

The description of the sword-like plants makes me think they were decomposing, and potentially a plant that may or may not be a true emergent/aquatic. We have suddenly elevated water levels in much of Texas from all the recent storms. Even a true emergent will grow two different leaf forms usually (one emergent and one submerged), and the leafs that die off will become clear.

You may consider some "house plants" for the baskets at the top of a tank (like pothos) but I think small rushes and such look nicer. Most marsh edge plants get large, which is a problem. Also, if you don't find a native plant that fits the bill, you could consider some "tropical" aquarium plants.
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#5 gerald

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  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:17 AM

Lysimachia nummularia is not native, but it is a widespread "naturalized" creeping plant that you can probably collect and tolerates shade.  There's the normal green form (wild) and an ornamental gold form you can get from nurseries.

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#6 strat guy

strat guy
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  • Orland Park, IL

Posted 21 May 2015 - 07:04 PM

I don't know if its in Texas specifically, but Ludwigia repens is considered a pond weed in most of the south. Mine grows really well in medium light under simple compact fluorescents, despite the red pigment. I would imagine that other Ludwigia species would be present as well, but I don't know how hardy they are.


Pothos are the best. THE BEST. They are a nitrate MOP. I used to use them in my tank before I had plants. One hanging basket and some dim light was all it took, they soaked up every last speck of nitrates. However... they're called devil's ivy for a reason, they're poisonous. Keep your cat off the tank and you couldn't ask for anything more. Let the leaves drape over the aquarium, only the roots in the water, and it should do well. Better to place the roots in the water flow so they have access to more nutrients. If leaves and/or stems are left in the water, they rot pretty quick.

Edited by strat guy, 21 May 2015 - 07:18 PM.

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