Tag Archives: Aquatic plants

Used flowerpot WARNING

25 Jan

A Spring ritual is putting aquatic plants in clay flowerpots and placing them in my small outdoor pond.


A few years ago this killed some of my fish.

I start with flowerpots plus some clean sand and gravel.


Gravel goes on the bottom.

Then the plant, maybe a little soil, then sand on top.



As I mentioned,  a few years ago there was a problem. I had fancy goldfish, platies and swordtails in the pond. Everything seemed fine but after a week the goldfish were dying and the small fish had quit eating and were sitting at the bottom.

I captured the remaining fish, then completely cleaned the pond. I still had no idea what had happened.

It was a year later that the president of the local fish club (Mr. LVH) said something about pesticides in used flowerpots. It became clear as a bell.

I had bought some used flowerpots at a garage sale. My first use of them was in the pond. Things were fine for a week but then the poison began leaching out.

Another week went by and I had dead fish. The ones that were brought inside were thin and disfigured but, if they could be induced to eat, recovered quickly.

So if you buy used clay flowerpots soak them for several days in a bucket of water. Pour out the water and do it at least 3 times over a week.

Also in Springtime I put Water Lettuce outdoors that has been growing in an aquarium.


First, I put the plants in a plastic container and tuck it in a shady spot to avoid sunburn.


If I move it into sunshine too soon it looks like this.


Water Lettuce can recover and eventually gets accustomed to bright sun, but I think it does best in partial shade.

Partway through summer I have to remove handfuls of Water Lettuce from the pond.


I also have flowerpots in several of my aquariums.

Amazon Swords do best growing in soil.

The only problem growing aquatic plants in pots is that the plants grow too fast.  The tank becomes a jungle. Not a bad problem  to have.



How to spawn Gold Barbs

30 Apr

How to spawn Gold barbs.

Do nothing.

That’s it, thanks for viewing my blog!



I put a pair of Gold barbs into a 10 gallon tank thinking that I would separate them at some point, feed them some good foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp, then put them back together, hope they spawn, then deal with raising microscopic fish fry.

I have about 10 Gold barbs. I picked out the biggest, roundest female. A male is usually thinner but also, when healthy and in breeding condition, gets orange-colored along his belly. Note the orange-bellied male in the picture above. (the fish on the left)

In the 10 gallon tank I put handfuls of plants. An Amazon Sword just floating around. Some Hornwort. Some Red Ludwegia. Some hair algae also developed.

I made a water change one day and spotted a baby Gold Barb! I soon had caught seven babies. Last week I did this again and caught 6 or 7 more! I placed them in a 10 gallon tank with some Platy babies.


What’s nice about this is that I didn’t do a darn thing. No raising infusoria or brine shrimp. I do have several cultures of microworms going and I feed that to the barbs a few times a week. I’m sure the babies benefited from that.

I really like the Gold Barbs. Peaceful, always active, always hungry.




Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth in the Turtle Pond

4 Dec

The first 3 years that I had my turtle pond I couldn’t keep any live plants in the water. The turtles (Red-eared Sliders) annihilate everything.
This year, I came up with a strategy that seems to work:
I start by having Water Lettuce growing in my aquariums during the Winter.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

I have not had any luck growing Water Hyacinth indoors. It must require much stronger light than I have.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun. I leave them in the shade for at least a week and bring them indoors if it gets very cold.

Little Water Lettuce in the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

Then, into the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

I take some medium sized plants indoors and , before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before Winter I take some medium sized plants indoors. They soon spread over the surface of the aquarium.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Water Sprite takes over the world!

17 Oct

A few months ago I found a thumbnail-sized plant floating in one of my aquariums. I still don’t know where it came from, I hadn’t bought any plants for a long time.


It was a little Water Sprite plant. I hoped it would grow, expecting it to get maybe 3 or 4 inches across.

It grew…

CAM01438…and grew…

CAM01419…and grew.


Eventually, it started reaching out of the aquarium. It’s leaves take a different fern-like form when they are above water.


This thing is crawling out to get me! Help!!!!


The main plant covers half of a 55 gallon tank. It’s 24 inches across!!

Also, the plant forms baby plants along the big stems and I have many Water Sprite plants now and have given some away.


The Water Sprite can float or be be planted in the gravel. It’s leaves are soft and the snails will eat some of it. I crush the snails and that makes my Angelfish and Swordtails very happy.

CAM01596If you look up Water Sprite on the Internet you will mainly see reference to a fine-leaved variety of plant called Ceratopteris thalictroides. I believe my plant, I mean PLANTS, are Ceratopteris cornuta, which is the broad-leafed Water Sprite, even though it sounds like a dinosaur.  I think both varieties of Water Sprite take the same care: Water, light, fish poop.

Water Lettuce in the aquarium

7 Mar

Water Lettuce is a plant normally grown in outdoor ponds. I brought some indoors 2 years ago. At first the plants exploded in growth, multiplying like a weed.  But, over time, these plants got smaller and their reproduction slowed.

Eventually I was left with thumbnail-size Water Lettuce plants. Outdoors they can be 4 or 5 inches across.

A few months ago I moved some of these weakling plants into a half-filled 55 gallon tank. I keep this tank half-filled because I don’t totally trust the stand that the tank is on.


At first there were about 20 little plants.


In a few weeks I had 40 plants.


A few weeks later I had 80 plants. I gave my brother 20 of them. Now there are way over 100 plants, probably close to 150.

I have a 48″ fluorescent light fixture over this tank with 2 forty watt bulbs. These bulbs are new and bright but are just cheap bulbs like you would have in a basement or garage.

I have read that Water lettuce does not like too much humidity but this tank is sealed tight and it is very humid above the water line. Below the water line it is even more humid.

Spring is coming and I have a head start on my pond plants. I’ll be able to put 100 of these outdoors as soon as it is warm enough.

A much cleaner pond! (I’m learning)

26 Jul

I am too cheap to buy a big fancy filtration system for the turtle pond and it has always gotten green in the summer. A few weeks ago I did two things:
I dropped a standard aquarium box filter to the bottom of the pond. Of course, I added filter wool and have the air pumping pretty strong.

The small airline is attached to a plastic box filter on the pond bottom. The bigger line is taking water from the water pump to the big filter box that flows into the stream at the other end of the pond.

The second thing is that I brought my 500 Gallon-per-hour water pump to the upper shelf of the pond and I clean the intake sponge daily. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes.
I clean the box filter wool every 2 or 3 days. I don’t replace it, just rinse it out.
The pond cleared up in about a week and is looking better all of the time!

This pump used to sit on the bottom. The water goes to a plastic tub filled with quilt batting. I used to leave the sponge pre-filter off the pump so the junk would go to the big filter BUT mostly the pump would just get plugged up with leaves and sticks. Now I can lift out the pump and clean the sponge in minutes.

Here is why I can’t have live aquatic plants in my turtle pond. These plants are FAKE FAKE FAKE and they still snip them apart.

On Greenish Pond is not a good movie title

29 Jun

I have mentioned this before but as the year goes by it seems even more evident. Having plants in an outdoor pond keeps the water much clearer and healthier.
In my big pond the turtles would eat any aquatic vegetation so the water becomes green with algae. I have a 500 gallon-per-hour (GPH) pump running on the pond but the filter won’t take out such small particles of algae.

In the little 30-gallon pond, all I have for filtration is a sponge filter connected to a small air pump. There are about 40 little Zebra Danios in there.

I imagine the big pond filled with Water Lilies and Water Hyacinth, Parrot’s Feather, and Water Lettuce, but it just won’t work with turtles, and that is the case if you are thinking about a Koi pond. They eat almost all vegetation, they get huge, and take massive filtering systems.

What happens when aquarium keepers go fishing

22 Jun

A friend of mine is just as crazy as I am about fish tanks and other exotic pets. I called him this morning and asked if he would go up to the Wapsi River with me for some canoeing, exploring, and fishing.
As we were unloading our gear we saw a Northern Water Snake hanging along the edge of the boat dock. Across the river I could see a big Softshell Turtle basking on a log.

We canoed into the backwaters of the river and saw several Western Painted Turtles. When we got WAY back into the backwaters the water was still and clear. Frogs were jumping everywhere, and under water we could see huge Bullfrog tadpoles. We noticed two varieties of aquatic plants, Hornwort and Anacharis, and collected a little for our home tanks.
One of my main goals for the day was to find some interesting driftwood to use in my 55 gallon aquarium that will house the baby Red-eared Sliders.
It was fun to canoe in the backwaters. We had to duck under branches and maneuver the canoe around big tree trunks. We saw a Great Blue Heron and some small ducks. Big Carp would swirl in the shallow flats, stirring up the mud.
We went back out to the main channel and, along the way, saw a baby Map Turtle basking on a small log. My friend leaned out of the front of the canoe with a big dip net, holding it underwater, while I paddled quietly and inched him closer and closer. He bumped the log and the little turtle dove right into the net. My friend wants to keep him for awhile and release him later this Summer.

We made our way up to a large sandbar and I picked up some interesting driftwood pieces.

There were thousands of minnows schooling in the shallows.

We found ourselves wandering. We went into the woods and found a little pond filled with hundreds of small frogs. They appeared to be juvenile Bullfrogs, but I think there were some other species as well.
My friend would be searching in one direction and I would be off in the other direction. We had brought our fishing poles but hadn’t touched them.

Off in the distance, my friend is walking along the sandbar, looking for….who knows!

I ended up standing in the water and enjoying it so much that I swam across the river to another sandbar. Not very far at all, but the feel of the current and the cool water really put me in touch with reality. Then I came back to to where my canoe was. My friend had started fishing and had caught a young Largemouth Bass, maybe 6 or 7 inches long. As usual, the fishing looked better on the other side of the river, so I grabbed my fishing pole and swam toward an area of large downed trees. I stood up on a huge tree and watched a big Softshell Turtle come up for a breath. I made a few casts into the shaded areas against the shore and along the tree trunks. No luck, and I got snagged after a few minutes. I pulled on the line and the lure broke off. I watched a Watersnake swim right below me. Reluctantly, I climbed off the log and and went back to the sandbar.

Out on the river, you can barely see me standing on a log where I was fishing…but not catching.

We left the sandbar and I acted as a human trolling motor for my friend as he fished along the driftwood, then the rocks, and finally along the boat docks as we returned to our starting point. He fished like a pro, putting the lure in some very fishy-looking locations but he didn’t catch any.
I dropped him off at his house. He had a very over-populated tank of Mollies. I don’t have any Black Mollies so he gave me some.

I washed off the aquatic plants and put them into a tank with some baby Swordtails. I’ll have to watch closely. There is a good chance some predatory aquatic insect larvae are in those plants.

Baby Green Swordtails that were born a few days ago.

All in all, we fished about an hour and explored for three hours. We had seen frogs, tadpoles, clams, crayfish, ducks,a heron, lots of little fish, snakes and turtles. On the way home both us were chattering about going back as soon as possible.
I think I will give him one or two of my baby Red-ear Sliders and we can take that Map Turtle back to the river where he belongs.

Fast and easy freshwater aquarium

3 Apr

Some of my older Neon Tetras and Harlequin Rasboras have died , so yesterday I bought 4 Neons and 3 Rasboras. I want to quarantine them for a few weeks so I set up a simple 10 gallon tank.

Also, my male Betta was getting beat up by the large Marble Angels that have been spawning in their 29 gallon tank. I need a new peaceful home for the Betta.

I washed some sand that I bought at Menards, a "home center". This is probably $1.50 worth of sand.

Here is the heater and a sponge filter. The sponge filter was in another tank. I washed it out but it has a nice bacterial colony going

I caught the Betta in a net but when I can I prefer to use my hands to transfer the fish.

The water is half "fresh" water and half "used" water from the Bettas tank.

I planted Watercress that I got at the Asian market. A bunch cost $1.10 and I used about a third of it in this tank.

After one day the water is clear and the Neons are looking good.

I hope the Betta gets his blue color back. Those Angels kept him in hiding and he certainly looked unhappy.

I left the water level down an inch or so. I expect the Watercress to reach up and come right out of the water. The tank should have a “jungley” look to it. I’ll take some pictures in a week or so.

The only way this “instant tank” works is because I pulled the sponge filter from another tank.  Don’t set up a brand new tank and throw Neons in there. Start with guppies and wait 6 weeks, then add Neons or whatever you like.

Water Lily in the aquarium

9 Jan

I have a tropical Water Lily in my small outdoor pond. In the Fall, I re-pot it and drop it into my aquarium. It does pretty good and my Angelfish have spawned on it a few times.

I’ll say it again,  re-pot it before putting it in the Aquarium, the muck that comes from the pond is very smelly. Remove the Water Lily and hose the roots off gently. You can see I use some larger rocks to hide the clay flowerpot.