Not so sturdy plants

When I ordered my batch of aquatic plants I made sure to read all sorts of aquarium forums, plant websites, and even watched YouTube videos. I consulted the great and mighty Internet! In fact some of the plants I chose are even banned from some states (e.g. Hygrophila difformis from CA, AZ, TX, LA, EU) because they’re considered invasive and too risky if any bits got out in the wild! It means if you just dumped a piece in a lake it would take over! So I dumped them in my tank and they melt. They slowly lose their leaves. Then their stems get dark and soft and mushy and they just die. And now it feels like half of my plants are stuck on the intake of the power filter.

I spent a good part of the weekend siphoning out some of the mushy floaty bits. The Bacopa caroliniana and Ludwigia repens are all gone. There’s no hope of salvaging either of them.

I got 2 other plants to replace them. And now here’s my new list of plants:

  • Vallisneria spiralis ‘Leopard’ – 1″ or 2″ nubbin left
  • Ludwigia repens
  • Rotala indica
  • Bacopa caroliniana
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green’
  • Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort)
  • Amazon Sword
  • Lace Java Fern (Windelov’s Fern)
  • Hygrophila difformis – 1″ pieces floating about
  • Java moss
  • Hemianthus callitrichoides ”Cuba”
  • Marimo ball
  • Anubias barteri nana – added this weekend
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Red’ – added this weekend

My goal is to just get these plants established and growing.  New leaves, propagation, off shoots – anything but melting.

I got the 2 new plants from PetSmart. I’m not a fan of Pet-Smart/Co but they sell cultured plants that are grown in clean gel so they’re free of disease and snails.  I can get them online too but for only 2 plants, it’s not worth the shipping costs.  While I was there the store guy there was giving such bad advice to folks. It pained me to hear him talk about adding Stress Coat and other garbage into tanks.  One lady asked if she should replace her filter floss regularly and Store Guy said yes.  I tried to keep my trap shut, mind my own business, but then I couldn’t take it anymore and just interjected to tell her I would just take it out and rinse it in the dirty water when I do a water change.  That way I keep all that bacteria in the floss.  I’d only replace the floss when it’s falling apart.

They should just look stuff up on the Internet. Except sometimes the Internet underestimates how good beginners are at killing things.  Like my stupid plants.

Slowly coming together

It took a lot of shuffling furniture around but I finally settled on a nice little corner between a window and bookcase in the living room.


I picked up as many used items as I could to reuse.
I got a 29 gallon tank, heater, filter, gravel, driftwood, and a few rocks big and small.


Then I bought a new LED light and it’s already starting to look like a proper aquarium. It’s the light that does the trick.

Despite all my planning and reading and researching, I still messed up. I ordered my plants before the fertilizers. I could’ve added the root tabs after, but I decided to wait. And in the meantime, the plants languished in this here bucket.
In hindsight, I could’ve set up the tank with the plants then added the fertilizers after. Duh. But the bucket soak helped me treat the plants of any buggies, hitchhikers, and trespassers. I saw a snail in the bucket but I didn’t see it again when I was assembling and planting.

And here is the planting. This is right before I added water. I used superglue gel to glue some stems that were hard to get in the gravel or ones that shouldn’t be in gravel (java fern) onto medium rocks.


The new best seat in the house. The first thing I notice when I walk into the living room is how loud the water filter is. The tinkling of water is soothing but loud too. It sounds like a fish tank. With the plants, I won’t be installing an air pump.

Sturdy plants coming

Today, my order of the LED light fixture arrived.  I got the Aqueon LED Modular light fixture. It’s not that bright, even with all three LED lamps installed, but I like that the LEDs are replaceable in case something burns out.  Yes – I’ve had LED bulbs burn out (in less than a year too; made in China of course).

I placed an order of aquatic plants from and it should arrive tomorrow or Saturday.  Here’s what’s coming:

  1. Vallisneria spiralis ‘Leopard’
  2. Ludwigia repens
  3. Rotala rotundifolia
  4. Bacopa caroliniana
  5. Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green’
  6. Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort)
  7. Amazon Sword
  8. Lace Java Fern (Windelov’s Fern)
  9. Hygrophila difformis
  10. Java moss
  11. Hemianthus callitrichoides ”Cuba”
  12. Marimo ball

Gosh it didn’t seem like a lot at the time, but now typing it all out, it seems like a lot.

Except for the HC Cuba, they’re all supposed to be easy to grow; good for beginners and aren’t too demanding with the light.  I’m partly counting on the fact that the tank is by a window for extra light and partly counting on the durability of these plants to “grow like weeds” even under moderate conditions.

This weekend I plan to add the plants and then start cycling the tank.

Current plan:

  • 6 Sterbai Corydoras
  • 10(?) Red cherry shrimp
  • 2 German Blue Rams (maybe)





Some of the potted plants have a little bit of a gnat problem going on. After I water them, they get particularly pesky. So I went around spraying everything with a concoction I made of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water – my shower/bathroom cleaner essentially. And I killed some of the plant stems. The philodendron stems went black and I had to cut them off and re-root them in water.

And so did the baby spider plant. Luckily the mother spider plant survived the blasting.

So now I know. Don’t keep your soil too wet and don’t spray it with alcohol vinegar. Or this is what you’ll wind up with.

Low Light

Here’s the philodendron before, where it’d been sitting in a poorly lit location for a few months.
6.19.2015 Philodendron

A month of sitting in the sunny corner later, it’s like a Miracle Grow commercial. I didn’t make any changes except moved it to a brighter location.
7.10.2015 Philodendron

If I’d taken a before picture of the pothos, you’d notice the same drastic difference. Low light tolerant plants don’t die. That’s all. But if you’re looking for good healthy shiny big leaves, they need sunlight.

I’ve moved our gigantic ZZplant to a dark-ish corner because it was just taking up too much space in the jungle (that’s what I call my plant corner). It’s supposed to be an anything-tolerant plant (well, anything except overwatering). I’d done it before but then moved it back to the jungle out of guilt. Like I was mistreating my prized plant. But it was so big whenever I went to water the other plants in the jungle, it was in the way. So it’s back in the dark-ish corner. I’ll probably move it back to the jungle in the late summer/early fall as the days get shorter.

Romaine Lettuce Experiment

My last kitchen scraps experiment, growing pineapple tops failed. And this is the summary of my romaine lettuce experiment, which I would also conclude as a failure.
June 17, 2015

June 18, 2015

June 19, 2015

June 20, 2015

June 21, 2015

June 22, 2015

June 25, 2015

July 10, 2015

I found it dried out last night and added water to it. Still, it was looking pretty sad so I took this last photo before I tossed it out. It was growing a pretty healthy root system in the water. I think if I’d added some fertilizer or maybe even something as simple as epsom salts, it might have done better? Either way, it didn’t seem like I was going to grow another head of lettuce big enough to eat.

ZZ Plant Propagation

While I was moving around my monster sized zz plant and trying to get it in a better corner of the house and evening out the sunlight I knocked over a leaf or two. I stuck them in the pot with the begonia back in March. I heard they take forever to root but being curious and impatient, I dug one up today to check out its progress. And I found this!

ZZ Plan root bulb thing
A root bulb thing.

Ginger and other plants

It only took a week or two for the ginger to take off after I planted it in the soil. I should have done it long ago! All those weeks languishing in the shallow dishes of water.

Every other day I found new sprouts and they’re doing pretty well now.

The begonia has 4 leaves now.
It started out with 2. One of them dropped and it grew 3 more. It’s getting taller too. I’m so proud of this little begonia. It started out pretty sad looking. You can see at the base is the stumpy twig it came from.

The succulents are growing like weeds, I’m not even sure what to do with it all. They’re going to quickly outgrow these containers.

I can’t wait until next spring so I can start propagating these. I’ll have succulents everywhere!


The nasturtiums that moved outside are doing well.

The ones that stayed indoors all slowly died. I threw them out.

I’m still not sure these will grow as well as they could because it’s still not sunny enough.