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Water Box Dreams

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  1. There are so many moss species we may never know. I have experimented with at least four that exist on my sheep/cattle station. I discover new natives I can't identify often. I may update my terrestrial moss post soon. One point I can confirm is that this is an aquatic species and not terrestrial - an important point that I have only begun to comprehend. Have had so many terrestrial moss failures that I am only just beginning to understand - if such a thing is possible. Another thing I can confirm is that it is not on sale in any aquarium store. Aquarium stores only sell about 0.0001% of aquatic species on this wonderful planet of ours. Can aquatic species be found on dry ground or more correctly a site which is mostly and usually dry - only submerged a few weeks a year? I believe the answer is yes - that's the bit that I find very difficult to understand. I think I found one. One observation about terrestrial mosses. I used to think I had the one species but it appears that on the one site where terrestrial moss grows there are multiple species. At least that is what I think I am observing? A rare and suitable location that can support moss in an arid land at only certain times of the year - winter in my case. Sometimes I see only one moss in one location but I am starting to wonder about this. Another thing to bear in mind is that it is likely that there are some moss species not yet identified at all. I read recently that there are certain frog species (presumably alot of them - an unknown) in Australia that may not be yet known to scientists. An opinion whose source is an Australian frog-scientist (that's all she does). A truly humbling fact.
  2. Its a good choice of plants and Zenzo is spot on. My Java Moss and Valisneria seem to handle cold water (might depend on the species - I have jungle val). Others I have tried are Dwarf hairgrass (mine are surprisingly resistant to cold but don't like it) Lilaeopsis (a non-tropical so should prosper) Glossostigma Elatinoides (its actually a cold water species which is often mistaken as tropical) - it will grow very well (not just survive) in any water temperature from 4 deg C up to 30 C. Some of these plants don't like cold but they survive. By cold I mean super cold down to 6 degrees C, but my winters are usually about 10-24 degrees tank temperatures with excursions down to 6 or 8 degrees for a few days. 4 degrees C as a rule is approaching ice conditions so these plants display a wide range of tolerance. It makes sense since natural non-tropical biotopes experience a wide range of temperatures even in one day. I have observed outdoor water bodies and it can vary quite a lot, a bit the same as ambient temperatures do during the day and night. My summer water temperatures (same plants above) reach 30 degrees C routinely. An example of an outdoor waterbody I measured just below the surface level, about 10cm below water level on the one day in Australia (where you measure is tricky as temperature varies with depth and you have to be consistent - ie measure at the same depth) 9am... 15 deg C water temp Afternoon... 25 deg C water temp Ambient air temperature afternoon peaked at about 30 deg C and was generally hot all day including in the morning. When it comes to cold alot of plants don't do well but survive. But then again tropical species do not do well at all - I generally avoid tropicals like crypts, ambulia etc... One aspect of plants commonly misunderstood is that non-tropicals will thrive in tropical water. They handle a wide range of temperatures. Tropicals are limited in range. To know which is which you need to study their geographic origin.
  3. Thomas if you do decide to become an engineer I can relate three stories about engineering and aquaria in my life, as a mechanical engineer of 20 years experience. The first was my aquarium knowledge helping me in my profession, the last two the reverse. I once worked for a German manufacturer of flow meters, their sales office overseas. Having by then kept aquariums for several years and being accustomed to converting metric lengths into volume (knowing that 1 litre = 1 dm3) I told them within a few days that the German sales brochure data was in error. They of course thought I was stupid until an annoyed email arrived from Germany telling them that they had been informed of the publication error many years ago and should have destroyed them! An example where my hobby helped me professionally. I once did a stress analysis as part of my studies of a theoretical 3 tonne (the weight of the water) glass aquarium. Can't remember now what the glass thickness was but it must have been considerable. That helped my understanding alot. The greatest stress on an aquarium (other than the bottom portion of its vertical sides) is the centre point of the bottom base pain of glass. Its the reason I would never support a glass aquarium by its base edges only. Cross bracing is preferred (additional support for the base of the aquarium in the middle other than its edges) - 100% base support would be ideal but not always acheivable. Glass will not undergo deformation - in other words it will not sag, but this does not mean that it is not under great stress. Deformation is only one material property to consider, there are others. Can you get away with it? Probably but its still not good engineering to do so. But then again designers of glass aquariums probably allow for this by increasing the glass thickness. I once built a pond in my backyard with pond liner on a raised bit of ground and my sister was terrified that the extra weight of the water would cause a landslide. She didn't realise that soil pound-for-pound is about the same weight as water and that the soil I had removed was the same weight roughly as the water that replaced it (the water probably weighed less). In any event the weight of the pond water was inconsequential in comparison to the overall tonnage of that back yard of rocks and soil. Like a fly sitting on an elephant. In a similar way adding rocks to glass aquariums may be of little consequence structurally speaking, unless it is a particularly dense and heavy rock. The water it has displaced might be about the same weight? Water is quite heavy. Wishing you luck with your studies.
  4. Let me share an example of my statement about how different plants absorb nutrients under water - every plant is different. The great debate between substrate and water column. It is the reason that many have been scratching their heads wondering why glossostigma elatinoides will only grow vertically in their aquarium and not horizontally as a carpet. Conversely they have noticed that diandrum will not grow at all in their aquaria. It has nothing to do with the light, I have various glosso's that grow in very low conditions and very high light conditions - they are very adaptable to lighting and will thrive in both. The reason that elatinoides will grow vertically is because being an efficient plant with a strong survival instinct it will grow where the nutrients are - the water column. Diandrum and cliestanthum have not made that evolutionary adaptation and can only grow in a nutrient rich substrate like a terrestrial plant - indeed they both tend to grow more out of the water than under it, but can do both - hence why they are called mud-mat - they can often be found near by the waters edge on a muddy bank. I have been observing cliestanthum and diandrum in the wild now for about a year. Recently purchased some elatinoides and am expecting to prove my theory over the next few months - that it will grow as a carpet given the right low nutrient water conditions. It will grow horizontally because that is where the nutrients will be found - in the substrate not the water column. I hope this has cleared up a mystery for some growers of elatinoides.
  5. Cool. Hope you bring that mind of yours to bear on the problem of growing plants underwater, a hobby which is still in the dark ages in my opinion. Our greatest progress has been CO2 and water column fertilisation - but not all plants respond to water column fertilisation, maybe because some aquarium plants are actually terrestrial plants that can live under water (marsh plants)? I recommend mechanical engineering - it will give you some great skills you can apply in your every day non-professional life. The difference between glass and plastic aquariums and how to support them. I am a big fan of plastic (its many advantages) but its either too expensive or unavailable.
  6. Yes if you pay for water may not be cheap, but for a small aquarium it won't ruin you. That amount shown left over in the bucket took about 20 litres and half an hour of washing. Its a 20L bucket. The latest batch was 3x whats shown left over in the bucket - about 60L to wash in total, washing about 10-15 times.
  7. Aquarium stores will hate me for this post maybe but I have been manufacturing my own aquarium sands on and off for 30 years. Would be interested to know if anyone else does? Its pretty simple you just need a bucket and a spade, dig up some soil near you and wash it about a thousand times and you end up with sand. Most soils are about 1/3 sand and there are as many different sands as there are soils. I am no geologist but most sands will be the local bedrock I imagine. Below is a sand I sourced recently. Its from the same soil as the local terrestrial moss in this tank - hence why the moss section looks the same - its the same sand/soil. Have bought many things from stores but never sand. Have never found a sand on sale more attractive than what I can get locally, however I have been tempted by a few bulk landscape suppliers for gardens and builders. You sometimes see some nice sands on sale.
  8. Yes good point about lighting. I am reading a book at the moment written by a Scientist stating that algae species are shade loving. Not the algae where I live - in brightly lit water catchments without plants they are the only species that thrives. But I suppose there are many species of fresh water algae. I am OK for light I expect as almost all of my tanks use sunlight. Its a long story- its about my electricity bill! One great advantage of using sunlight for illumination is that the sun moves through the sky which means that a tank in a window will generally only get about 2 hours of direct sunlight a day, depending on the location. My sunniest tanks get 3 hours. I find that a great advantage as more than 2 hours can cause heating and algae problems. WITH REGARD TO CYCLING, personally I wouldn't as I would expect that a healthy tank of algae would naturally cycle itself after a few weeks. But you could try adding small amounts of fish food. I have done this sometimes with only plant tanks, thinking I may add fish to a tank later. Its like feeding your fish a few weeks before they are there - after all a fish is simply processing the food, something bacteria can do as well. But I am not that knowledgeable about fish keeping or cycling (I expect fish keepers here know vastly more than I do on this subject). I know that some in the Walstad plant community consider cycling unnecessary as they believe the plants do it from day one.
  9. You have inspired me to maybe setup an algae tank. I have a large ceramic bowl outside, been there for years, which gets about 8 hours of intense full sunlight almost every day. I have often thought when looking at it that it is as beautiful as any planted aquarium. The sides are coated with a thick matt of algae about 20 mm thick and red on the underside, if you scrape some off. Usually the water is crystal clear, like a rock pool, but occassionally a clump of loose algae will float on the surface, but that is only 10% of the time, 90% of the time the surface is completely clear. When algae does float to the surface it depends on the water temperature - it will rise and fall during the day, maybe as it creates 02 bubbles? The reason I noticed it was when one day I was passing it and noticed little explosions on the water surface like sparkling. I have seen this before by plants in full sunlight where the miniature 02 bubbles explode when they hit the water surface which must be very clean for this to occur. It represents intense photosynthesis. I am thinking the best way to transfer this algae to a tank would be to put several rocks at the bottom of this pot for a few months and let the algae attach to their surface. Just a thought - I am thinking that in your case you need not restrict yourself to floating algae. Creating an algae pot outside is not difficult but it will probably be dependent on the seasons you have. My algae grows outside all year round as I am in a relatively hot and arid location. PS. The pot is clay and its rough surface is what allows algae to attach itself to it, and the algae is cleaning the water (hence why it is so clean) just as an aquarium plant does. Animals drink out of this pot. Have never fertilised it, it is just there. Simply keep it filled with water. I believe the purpose of the matt is that the living algae (on top) is feeding off the dead algae under it. Plants are basically cannibals - they eat themselves! I have learnt a lot about how to grow aquarium plants studying this pot.
  10. Oh OK. Yes unless you catch a fish can be hard to identify. I use a 2L clear plastic drink bottle (coke bottle) which I have cut the end off (the cap end) and put it back in reverse ways - they can get in but can't get out. There are many utube videos about how to do this. Usually catch fish within 5-10 minutes. I use crushed crackers (sao biscuits) as bait. The strange thing about crackers is it will attract a wild fish but they won't eat it in captivity. My experience is they won't eat anything but live food. Not a fan of wild caught fish - too hard to feed. Certain individuals may eat prepared flake-foods but they are rare in the group. Its like almost all of them go on a hunger strike and would rather starve to death than live in captivity.
  11. There are many native species that look like the first photo such as red water-milfoil (Myriophyllum verrucosm) which is endemic near me and found in almost every water catchment. That one is not red water-milfoil. Identifying natives can be tricky. They all look similar to hornwort which is another native but has very fine fronds. Alot grow in and out of the water like verrucosm. The last one you might want to be careful with as it may be parrot's-feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), a declared weed, but then again it might not be? I have PDF's that I got online that are weed identification guides. They are freely available and not hard to find if you google it. There are many problem weeds in our waterways. We also have lots of invasive fish species like the 'plague-minnow', mosquito fish, which comes from the USA and was intentionally released in NSW one hundred years ago to combat mosquitos. Now they are every where.
  12. I have seen flowing natural rivers in the wild that look just like popular aquarium aquascapes, river pebbles of various grades from large rocks to medium size pebbles to a fine grade of gravel (2mm) not sand, all mixed together, but not an underwater plant to be seen except algae clinging to rocks. The Hunter River, West of Newcastle NSW comes to mind. No plants but it is very beautiful.
  13. Here is my hairy moss tank, a terrestrial moss under water now 4 months and looking very healthy. Looked like combed hair until I messed it up a bit. A bit like a shaggy carpet now. I know it is aquatic now as it has grown considerably like hair. It didn't look anything like this outside where I found it. Outside the moss was very short about 1mm long. Water is clean and I would put a fish in it if the tank was larger. It looks like a natural biotope more than an aquarium, which was exactly the dirty natural look I was hoping for. This tank is my greatest success with terrestrial moss. Have tried to reproduce it with the same moss from the same location but only this tank worked. I take it back - doesn't look like any moss I have seen before under water. The low resolution of the image makes it look like a mass of green stringy algae but it is moss. You can't see the individual strands.
  14. As far as collecting in the wild - went on a botanical expedition yesterday and collected some natives - I am not an expert in these matters but I believe that in most places in the world persons are permitted to collect things (beach combing etc...) as long as it is of a limited nature and not for profit (ie you are not running a business), AND the species does not appear on a threatened species list in your area or have other restrictions on 'that species.' I would avoid national parks and other special nature zones. Public roads out in the countryside and environs are the best for me. Have found some amazing plants growing in water filled ditches beside public roads.
  15. Crabby, welcome to the wonderful world of 'natives.' I live in NSW and there are few restrictions in Australia for native aquatic plants, as long as you don't sell them across borders. Many are available from Aussie nurseries and they know all the restrictions for sale of plants - the only one I am aware of for the hobbyist here (not selling plants) is glossostigma elatinoides in Tasmania. Not aware of any in NSW or Victoria. Almost all restrictions (99%) are about invasive non-natives - that is what local authorities worry about. Laws aren't there to punish the innocent. I prefer natives for the following reasons: - they are free - you cannot accidentally introduce them - they are native! - if you live in the sub-tropics like you and I do and people in the Southern States of USA they will happily grow in high temperatures like tropical aquariums (that is their summer environment) and also very low temperatures down to 4 deg C. Alot of people in the hobby are not aware that Glossostigma is a sub-tropical species which can grow in water temperatures as low as 4 deg C and as high as 30 C. Glosso (mud-mat) will also survive winter overnight frosts in its emergent form (ie not underwater). Its a tough little native to be sure. Below are some links online. If you are ever concerned about a species and you know its scientific name, all you need do is google it and if it is a problem you will find it on a website somewhere. https://www.threatenedspecieslink.tas.gov.au/Pages/Glossostigma-elatinoides.aspx Online references for aussie natives are https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Glossostigma~cleistanthum https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/0762e7d1-7360-452d-a6d8-c66ceaf60f4f https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora https://avh.ala.org.au
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