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The 2010 American Cichlid Association Convention

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 American Cichlid Association Convention in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I spent most of my time tending my vendor table, but I was able to get up to walk around and see the convention show fish and other attractions. I also caught a few minutes of a few of the speaker presentations, including Ad Konings’s remarkable accounts of Lake Tanganyika deepwater cichlid habitats, Anton Lamboj’s descriptions of many strange little West African cichlids and Oliver Lucanus’s amazing video and photography of South American cichlid habitats.

The convention was held at the Olympia Resort & Convention Center and was hosted by the Milwaukee Aquarium Society. I don’t have numbers at hand, but I gather that there must have been at least a couple hundred convention attendees. I thought I heard that there were around 250 show fish and there was a also a second room set up with about 100 livestock sale tanks. Another large room held manufacturer tables and displays, with representatives from Central Aquatics, United Pet Group and Seven Ports Inc., among others. The vendor room was set up for smaller manufacturers and retailers, including PlecoCaves.com, Captain Bob’s Fishtales and Aquatic Clarity. I was there by myself manning the Riparium Supply and Tank Planters table.

I got a few pictures of some show fish and the convention venue. I have most them formatted, but I’ll post the fish images later on.

Here is a shot of the vendor room. The table there in the left foreground is the Riparium Supply and Tank Planters setup.

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, Vendor Room

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, Vendor Room

And here is a picture of our table.

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, Vendor Room

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, Vendor Room

The fish show room…

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

…the livestock sales room…

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

…and the manufacturers’ display area.

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

American Cichlid Association 2010 Convention, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

I was truly impressed by the 300-gallon Lake Tanganyika setup. This tank had enough space to allow for very clear habitat partitioning by the inhabitants, with fish settling into their respective pelagic, benthic, and rock-associated habitats right away. These fish really made an excellent display. If I were to ever try a rift lake tank I would want to do something like this.

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, 300-gallon Lake Tanganyika Display

2010 American Cichlid Association Convention, 300-gallon Lake Tanganyika Display

Posted in Uncategorized.


New Order from Asiatica Nursery, Part I: Schismatoglottis plants

Last week a box came with a new order from Asiatica Nursery. All of the plants were aroids and it included some pretty great stuff. I was mainly after selections for ripariums, so I looked for plants that can potentially grow well with their roots in wet media. Naturally, the most promising kinds of plants for this application are those that grow in swamps and similar habitats in nature.

Recently I have developed an interest in one particular group of aroids, tribe Schismatoglottideae. This group of genera includes Schismatoglottis, the most species rich genus with about 100 described taxa, as well as the smaller genera Aridarum, Bucephalandra, Phymatarum and Piptospatha, which each include from one to a dozen or so species. There are a number of scientifically and horticulturally intriguing features of these plants. Their geographic distribution is centered mainly on the island of Borneo, although various Schismatoglottis species range more broadly though Southeast Asia.

There are three excellent references detailing the scientific classification and ecology of the Schismatoglottideae that are available online in pdf format. I link them here with the following short list:

It appears that there has been quite a bit of recent taxonomic work on this group of plants. Genus Piptospatha has apparently been split into a couple of new genera, Bakoa and Schottarum. I haven’t yet reviewed it–I can’t wait to give it a read!–but this link goes to the one reference that I found already on these new genera.

Many of the Schismatoglottideae are attractive plants with potential for decorative indoor gardening, although they have thus far been used little in this way: Schismatoglottis in particular includes species with appealing natural variegation and other foliage features. Most of the species among the other genera are rheophytic, growing on wet, streamside rocks. As such they might be good candidates for growing in ripariums and similar kinds of model ecosystem displays, but they have seen very little of this sort of use. A few groups of popular aquarium plants, including Anubias sp. and Bolbitis sp. that use similar sorts of habitat substrates in nature are good subjects for riparium growing as emersed foliage. Piptospatha and others also feature striking floral structures, a topic that I intend to treat in a future blog post.

Here are some shots of the two Schismatoglottis plants that I received along with the names offered in the online catalog.

<em>Schismatoglottis pusilla</em> 'Frosty Kiss'

Schismatoglottis pusilla 'Frosty Kiss'

‘Frosty Kiss’ is a horticultural variety name. Via the International Aroid Society online message board, Aroid-L, I received a suggestion for the this plant. Peter Boyce, an aroid researcher and Schismatoglottideae expert based in Indonesia, indicated that Schismatoglottis ‘Frosty Kiss’ is a variety of S. pusilla. This species has a natural distribution in the Phillipines, but has been in cultivation for a few years in Thailand and elsewhere as a small attractive foliage plant. I believe that this one might be a good candidate for growing ing ripariums. According to the Hay and Yuzammi paper in the wild S. pusilla grows in “Wet places in forest floor”.

My plant came with several rhizomes and sets of leaves, so I was able to divide it into starts for several pots. The largest leaves were about 4″ (~10cm) in length.

<em>Schismatoglottis picta</em>

Schismatoglottis picta

The picture above shows a single leaf for the plant offered as S. picta in the Asiatica catalog. Actually, the Hay and Yuzammi paper lists Schismatoglottis picta as a synonym of S. calyptrata, which is one of the most broadly distributed species in the genus. It occurs throughout the Malesia biogeographic region, a very large area encompassing the Malaysian Peninsula, Indonesia, New Guinea and The Phillipines. It is also variable in characters such as leaf coloration and shape. My “S. picta” has attractive heart-shaped leaves measuring about 6.5″, (~16cm) with an inner border area of whitish-green mottled variegation. The habitat description in Hay and Yuzammi mentions “lowland and lower montane rainfores..and forest margin in both wet and well-drained sites”. I potted the two rhizomes that I divided from my plant in regular flower pots using a standard composted potting media, but I will plan to also try some in riparium planters as I get more new divisions.

These are fun plants. It will take a few months to see what happens, but I will return with a new post to report how well they grow for me. There were also an additional three plants in this same order from Aisatica Nursery, so I hope to write another post with observations on them pretty soon.

Posted in Crypts Emersed, New Plants, Other Plants, Schismatoglottideae.


International Aroid Society, Now on Facebook!

The International Aroid Society has a new Facebook page. Check it out and sign up as a fan.

IAS Facebook Page

<em>Cyrtosperma johnstonii</em>

Cyrtosperma johnstonii

Posted in Uncategorized.


Moved 55-gallon to Paradigm Gardens

Once again I’ve let my blog posting slip. I have quite a bit of news, including a number of great new plants for riparium culture, so I’m going to get back to it.

I have been shuffling tanks around and found a new spot for the 55-gallon that I had going in my home office. It is from a while ago, dated November 30, 2009, but this is one of the most recent shots that I have of the layout in the tank while I still had it here.

55-gallon Crypts Riparium

The setup was planted with Cryptocoryne, Anubias, Spathiphyllum and Bolbitis ferns in the emersed area. All of the underwater plants were crypts. Before making the move I decided to switch up the planting. For the sake of the crypts I maintained this riparium as a high-humidity setup. With the water heater switched on–as it was all winter long–the glass was perpetually obscured with a condensed water fog. This condition would clearly not be suitable for the new setting, a retail garden center, so I opted to exchange most of the plants for others.

I replaced the crypts with various selections of Spathiphylum, Acorus gramineus, Syngonium, and Dieffenbachia. I kept one Trellis Raft planted with an Anubias barteri va. nana, but used a couple of different Pilea sp. planted on Nano Trellis Rafts to develop a mid-ground emersed hedge. Here is a shot of the tank shortly after the move, dated 23 February 2010.

55-gallon Planted Riparium

55-gallon Planted Riparium

That picture also gives an idea of the setting, there near the front door of the Paradigm Gardens store here in Madison, Wisconsin. Paradigm Gardens recently moved to this new location, which is several times larger than their previous store. The carry many useful and innovative products for home gardening and I recommend you check out the new shop if you are ever in the area. Here is a link to their online store:

Paradigm Gardens Online

This next couple of shots will give the reader a better idea of the mix of plants that I used for this new layout.

55-gallon Planted Riparium

55-gallon Planted Riparium

55-gallon Planted Riparium

55-gallon Planted Riparium

Lastly, a quick shot of the fish. I decided to use the same fish that I had in this tank previously, small groups of yo yo loaches (Botia almorhae), cherry barbs (Puntius titteya) and gold barbs (Puntius semifasciolatus).

25-ii-10-tank-barbs-loaches-iv-s

I had wondered about these fish becoming too large for this rather small volume of water, but they are still only one to two inches (2.5-5cm) in length, so they are still suitable enough this system.

I have a few other pictures that I have taken over the last couple of months to upload and describe. I visit this tank for servicing once per week, so I’ll more new updates to come as well.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Riparium Supply product review update on Guitarfish.org

A few months ago Guitarfish (external link) posted a product review on Riparium Supply planting accessories. That original post is right here…

Guitarfish.org: Riparium Supply Review

He recently also posted an update, with a couple of shots showing the development of the planted riparium. Here’s the link.

Guitarfish.org: Riparium Update

Posted in Hardware, Other Websites.


Dieffenbachia cv. and Pilea cardierei

I have a few shots here with one tested riparium plant, and a second that looks promising. Last week I picked up some potted material Klein’s Floral and Greenhouses Inc. (external link), a local garden center, so that I could have a little more propagation material on hand. Klein’s has a nice selection of houseplants right now.

I have already used the plant shown here, Pilea cardierei in several riparium layouts, but the specimens there at the garden center looked especially good, so I got three little pots of them.

<em>Pilea cardierei</em>

Pilea cardierei

This plant is easy use in a riparium. With some water column fertilization it grows well with its roots suspended directly in the aquarium water. I have used the Riparium Supply Nano Trellis Raft as a support for the stems, which quickly root from cuttings planted directly into the raft, in the same manner as used for the Hemigraphis cuttings shown in the next figure.

Nano Trellis Raft

Nano Trellis Raft

With several groups of P. cardierei stems planted in this way it is easy to develop a midground hedge as a midground in front of taller riparium background plants.

This second one, a Dieffenbachia, is something that I have not yet tried in riparium culture. It seems that Dieffenbachia should be able to grow in a riparium, because I understand that most of the species are associated with moist to wet soil. I remember seeing a wild stand of a large species–these might have been D. maculata, the familiar “dumbcane”–in a swampy spot out in the rainforest in Costa Rica. Anyway, here is the plant that I purchased.

<em>Dieffenbachia</em>

Dieffenbachia

I imagine that this plant is some kind of cultivar, but there was no label in the pot. I would appreciate any suggestions that anybody might have. It is small now–the leaves probably 6″ (15cm) or so–but I imagine that it will grow quite a bit larger. I planted the main rooted stem in a Small Hanging Planter and snipped off several little divisions too. The potted plant went into my 20-gallon tank which I recently tidied up again.

20-gallon Planted Riparium with <em>Spathiphyllum</em>, <em>Dieffenbachia</em> and Other Plants

20-gallon Planted Riparium with Spathiphyllum, Dieffenbachia and Other Plants

Posted in New Plants, Other Plants, Stem Plants.


Green Leaf Aquariums

I have linked to their site before, but post again with a reminder to check out Green Leaf Aquariums.

www.GreenLeafAquariums.com

They have added quite a few new things to their store, most notably their very own line of rimless aquariums. I have heard that these are quite well-constructed. I was also surprised at the affordable UPS shipping rates to destinations in the US.

Posted in Hardware, Other Websites.


Cyrtosperma johnstonii

I was moving some plants tonight and got a few shots of an unusual one that is doing pretty well, Cyrtospoerma johnstonii. This plant is originally from Southeast Asia. It has striking leaf coloration.

<em>Cyrtosperma johnstonii</em> in Riparium Planter

Cyrtosperma johnstonii in Riparium Planter

I have two little divisions of this plant that are growing well in riparium planters. Mature C. johnstonii specimens can grow to more than 4′ tall. The petioles are quite long and with tiger stripe patternation. Larger petioles also develop sharp spines. I hope that I will be able to control the size of these plants as they grow.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Hybrid’

I acquired this plant back in June via a trade with a fellow member of The Planted Tank Forums. It came in a box with eight other plants and I posted pictures of all in a previous entry. I planted this crypt in a hanging planter and situated it in a little 15-gallon growout setup. It has had rather slow growth, but it looks good.

<em>Cryptocoryne wendtii</em> 'Hybrid'

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Hybrid'

This plant has distinctive foliage. A very fine reticulated variegation covers the leaves and the new leaves emerge with a rosy midvein coloration.

<em>Cryptocoryne wendtii</em> 'Hybrid'

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Hybrid'

A closer examination of the leaves reveals an additional variegation pattern, random splotches of lighter coloration.

<em>Cryptocoryne wendtii</em> 'Hybrid'

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Hybrid'

I only noticed this other variegation when I pulled the plant from its other enclosure in order to place it in the 55-gallon emersed crypt display. The splotchy variegated pattern of a new C. wendtii cultivar, ‘Florida Sunset’, has been unstable for many growers, disappearing after a short time in both immersed and emersed conditions. While its variegation is more subtle, this Cryptocoryne wendtii variety, apparently identified in the hobby with the provisional moniker ‘Hybrid’, might retain its variegation better and be a superior alternative for hobbyists wishing to enjoy a variegated crypt.

Posted in Crypts Emersed.


Trimming Riparium Stem Plants

I am sure that trimming methodologies would be an important thing to consider when growing stem plants in ripariums, just as they are for regular planted tanks. While some of the stems that I have tried grow more slowly than others, they are all bound to require pruning to control size and shape. The following photograph illustrates this well. This is the same Pilea sp. plant growing on a Nano Trellis Raft in my 20-gallon tank.

<em>Alocasia amazonica</em> and <em>Pilea<em> sp. in Riparium Planters

Alocasia amazonica and Pilea sp. in Riparium Planters

Although I don’t have that larger plant in this tank, I paired the Pilea with the Alocasia amazonica, which I am growing on for my 56-gallon Column, to get an idea of how they would look together. You can see that the Pilea stems have gotten to be long and leggy and that it needs a trim.

After shooting that picture I did top the Pilea and planted the new pieces on another Nano Trellis Raft. This plant is easy to propagate in this way because as it grows it develops many small roots all along the stem, even above the waterline, so you can just put cuttings on the raft without having to worry about maintaining high humidity while new roots form.

So, I have not had much practice growing stems in ripariums, but I offer as food for thought the idea that growing and maintaining them for pleasing riparium layouts will require some careful observation of the responses of individual plants. It has been my experience that rosette-type plants (e.g., Spathiphyllum, Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne) are somewhat easier to manage in riparium planters, but the great variety of aquarium stems plants that can grow emersed offer many colors and textures for the above-water area of riparium layouts.

Here is another shot showing these two plants together.

<em>Alocasia amazonica</em> and <em>Pilea</em> sp. in Riparium Planters

Alocasia amazonica and Pilea sp. in Riparium Planters

Posted in Stem Plants.