Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Nephew's First Planted Tank

I had not set up a planted tanks for many years but was given a chance to work on one yesterday for my nephew. I wanted to create a low tech maintenance free tank for him but the effect did not really turned out to be what I expected, some lessons learnt:
  1. the colour of the driftwood may become darker than when it was dry (depending on the type of wood chosen);
  2. if the colour of the soaked driftwood is dark, a lighter substrate might need to be chosen if you want to the driftwood arrangement to stand out;
  3. more thoughts need to be placed in the size of the leaves of the plants chosen to ensure that it fit the size of the driftwood and tank chosen;
  4. always buy a little more substrate then planned, especially if you intend to form earth mounds

This was how the end result looked like after the set up was completed:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I went on a field trip last weekend to Malaysia and encountered my first ever leech bite. I lit a cigarette to "burn" and remove the leech like what I observed on the Internet on how others do it.

It was only when I reached home and did some research on this subject that I found out that removing leeches using cigarettes, vinegar, salt, etc are not advisable as such methods may cause the leech to regurgitate its stomach's content out into the wound, increasing the chances of getting infected (bacterias from previous hosts may survive within the leech for a long period of time before being retransmitted to humans).

A better way to remove the leech is to use your finger to break the suction of the suckers, dislodging the wider end of the leech first before dislodging the narrower end. I found a short video on youtube regarding this too.

The sensation when being bitten by a leech is similar to being bitten by an ant, if you did not notice it, it will suck your blood to its heart content before releasing itself. As the leech secretes a form of anticoagulant enzyme into the wound, the bleeding will take longer than usual to stop (It's true, I tried and tested it).

I will bear with the discomfort of wearing soggy long pants and shoes for all my future field trips to prevent this from happening again, or better still, buy a wader suit!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

C. pontederiifolia in the wild

These are some photographs of C. pontederiifolia in the wild in Singapore:

I managed to snap a photograph of a flowering C. pontederiifolia many years ago:

I managed to get this species of cryptocoryne to flower under cultivation in my flower bed too with a mixture of Garden soil and 'Horti' soil:

It then developed into a fruit (syncarpium) for me, ugly and black in colour:

The flower bed was unfortunately heavily flooded one rainy day and when I poured away the water into the drain (along with lots of floating dirt), I saw this:

It was too late by then, I have already poured all the floating seeds (which I thought were dirt) into the drain..... sob sob.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

C. ferruginea

C. ferruginea 'Sungei Kerait' was my first purchase of cryptocorynes with locality known , the owner was kind enough to pack 02 plantlets for me. That was in mid February 2008 then when I had not set up me emersed tank yet. I planted one plantlet in 'GEX' brand substrate (light green packaging) and the other in used ADA Amazonia + Aficana (50%:50%), both in mineral water bottles setup.

This species is quite an easy cryptocoryne to grow, the below shows their condition in early April 2008 after one and a half month of growth, the cryptocorynes in both bottles were already developing new plantlets. The growth rate for this cryptocoryne is about 1 leaf per month.

In my opinion, the one grown in GEX has a better growth than the one grown in used ADA (Maybe it is less acidic? Maybe it is looser and less compact?). The plantlets from the one grown in used ADA substrate seemed to be stuck in the substrate and never could grow out of the surface at all.

I already managed to re-pot 2 plantlets from the one grown in GEX instead into my emersed tank, one during end May 2008 (in GEX substrate again with 1/4 wonder-gro roots tablet, with the pot placed in a tub of water of neutral pH) and one during mid July 2008 (similar condition to the above, except that the substrate is changed to GEX mixed with 'Kotobuki' brand Dr Soil).

Friday, August 1, 2008

C. x purpurea has rounder new leaves

I recently realised that the newer leaves of my C. x purpurea 'Lundu' are rounder in shape.

C. minima is afraid of dryness

I forgot to close the glass cover of my tank for 1/2 hour today and the relative humidity dropped from 90% to 60%, I realised that C. minima 'Perak' was the most affected species with the leaves starting to wilt, the rest of my collection still looked fine.