Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cryptocorynes from Anambas Islands

My explorer friend explored Anambas Islands last weekend and found many streams with cryptocorynes. These cryptocorynes looked rather unique, we will leave it to the experts to decide whether they are the same or different species, whether they are new species / sub-species or some already known species / sub-species. Visit my friend's blog to view some photographs of these cryptocorynes in their natural habitats.

I planted the various specimens collected from different streams which he passed to me, and only have some photographs of their leaves to show you guys. 2 of the specimens have attached spathe but I am expecting them to melt away as some of these specimens seemed quite susceptible to melting. Don't pay too much attention to the location codes, only my friend will understand what they mean and where they represent.

C. sp. 'scurrilis upstream'

C. sp. 'Matak 1'
C. sp. 'Matak 3'

C. sp. 'Copper Type'
C. sp. 'Tarempa 2'
C. sp. 'Tarempa 4'
C. sp. 'Matak 4'
C. sp. 'Tarempa 8'
We are planning to go Natuna Islands next weekend. If the plan is realised, I will have more photographs of crytpocorynes in their natural habitats to show!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

waging war with soil lice

My cultivation tanks were recently infested by these tiny crawling creatures which I believed are soil lice. These creatures would come out to party every night after lights off, scurrying around in the pots of substrates and along the tank's walls.

I tried to be at peace with seeing them but soon lost my cool when they seemed to be multiplying. It is possible that they preferred the lower pH tank which had more peat used therein as the quantity of lice in that tank is more than the rest.
I decided not to use any pesticide to minimise the risk of losing any of these cryptocorynes as some of the species were quite difficult to collect (i.e. we had to spend quite some $$$ and time to travel long distance to their natural habitat). Instead, I decided to adopt the following more natural strategy:

1) Remove the pots of cryptocorynes one by one, loosen the substrates by squeezing the plastic pots. This should agitate some of the lice to start to emerge from the stronghold.

2) Place each pot in a small container and fill the container up with water until the pot is fully submersed. As the water fill up, you would see some of these lice being displaced by the water and start to float around on the water surface. Shake and bang the outer container violently for a few times to ensure that any air as well as lice hiding in the substrates and under the leaves would be displaced.

3) The larger lice would be able to jump from the water surface to the sides of the container in attempt to escape. Kill them by simply using your fingers to press them against the container.

4) Repeat step 2 and 3 again for a few times until you are satisfied that most of the lice have been displaced.
5) Place the treated pots of cryptocorynes in a separate holding tank filled with water to drown (hopefully) any lice which escaped your earlier scrutiny.

6) Engage a Rambo (I used a wild caught punchax) to patrol the flooded tank to search and kill any remnant enemies.
7) When all the pots are removed from the invested tank, clean the invested tank thoroughly and then dry it.
8) After submerging all the treated pots of cryptocorynes for 12 hours (not too long so as to minimise the chance of weak species melting due to drastic changes in environment), transfer them into a temporary holding container for quarantine and close monitoring.

I will transfer these treated pots back into their original tank only after 1 week, provided I don't find anymore soil lice in the temporary holding container. Else, my next action plan would be to flood the container on alternate days with the punchax introduced until I can eliminate the problem totally, hopefully...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My C. ferruginea finally bloomed

After more than 1 year in cultivation, my C. ferruginea 'Sungei Kerait' finally threw out a spathe late April 2009 and it then opened early this week.

As I just bought a A480 Canon Powershot with a super macro function, I tried it on the male and female flowers of the spathe but was not able to keep them focus in the same photograph.
The male flowers:

The female flowers:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

C. sp. 'Pahang 2'

I went to Peninsula Malaysia with my explorer friend last month and explored a forest beside a black water river to search for cryptocorynes. The entire forest bed was flooded with flowing black water.

We walked around but could only find barclaya submersed in the water.

I don't know how, but my explorer friend who always had a good sense of hunting, amazingly was able to spot a small patch of submersed cryptocorynes among the beds of baclaya!

The forest bed was laid with fine sand and the pH of the water was about 5.

This was how the leaves of the cryptocoryne specimens which we found looked like, brownish green bullated cordate leaves with pinkish underside and undulating leaf margins.

We found a few spathes which had not opened yet. A characteristic we noticed was that the tube of the spathes were all slightly twisted.

An unripe fruit was found too and it is now growing in my cultivation tank.

We cut open one of the spathe which looked as if it was going to melt and discovered that the colour of the limb seemed pinkish and the limb's surface seemed to be mottled.

The stigma of the spathe seemed quite long. It was a pity that the few spathes we collected did not managed to pull through (i.e. they melted in our tanks before they could open up).

I am not yet able to fully relate these cryptocoryne specimens we discovered to any of the current known species found in Peninsula Malaysia. My friend thought they could be compared to C. scurrilis, what do you think? C. cordata? C. griffithii? C. scurrilis?
As for me, I will term them as C. sp. 'Pahang 2' in the meantime until we are able to find and photograph their opened spathes for further comfirmation of their identity. My friend went back to the forest again recently and found out that the water level had dropped substantially, he should be able to locate the opened spathes soon! Do visit his blog to see more updated photographs from his recent visit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

C. elliptica plantlets

I threw all the loose leaves of C. elliptica into a small tupperware, added a very shallow layer of distilled water, some peat granules and some slow release fertiliser and closed the tupperware fully. This is how the leaves with attached plantlet looked like after a month, no special care required until this stage.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Effects of Erythromycin on BGA

I had a problem of having blue green algae (BGA aka Cyanobacteria) on the surface of the substrate in one of my pots. I read on the internet and aquarium related forum about the use of Erythromycin to counter BGA and as this is a controlled drug in Singapore, I had to fly to Bangkok instead to purchase them (in the form of ILOSONE Erythromycinn Estolate) directly off the shelf of the many pharmacies there (10 capsules for less than 100 baht I think...)

The below was the condition of the BGA on day 0 (11th April 2009) when I started the experiment:

I opened a capsule, poured and mixed the content into a small container of water and poured about 1/2 of the mixture over the area affected by BGA.

Day 2 (13th April 2009):
Day 5 (16th April 2009):

Day 10 (21st April 2009):

Day 14 (25th April 2009):

Day 18 (29th April 2009):

Day 22 (3rd May 2009):

Day 27 (8th May 2009):

So how do you grade the effective of Erythromycin against BGA? Quite effective I would say!