Collecting in Nagano pt.2

Hello everyone!
I know it’s been an eternity since my last post. I know I’m not the best at keeping to a regular posting schedule, and that’s usually because real life gets in the way. In this case it is no different, I have started a new job a few months back and have been constantly swamped and so the blog had to take a backseat temporarily. I will do my best to put out a post when work doesn’t keep me down!

Today’s post will be about a collecting trip I took to Nagano, Japan. My last post went over a few other plants I collected from the area, and this post’s plants are from the same prefecture, but a different area.

3 friends of mine wanted to show me a special spot of theirs that they found a long time ago. This collecting spot was basically a small scenic lake surrounded by some houses, in a small town.

Najaslake

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my assumption was that we would just be collecting plants near the waterline. Upon first inspection around the waterline I didn’t really see much of anything except a lot of tall grass. Though when I got closer to the water’s edge, I looked into the water and saw this.

najasinwater

I thought to myself, “alright now we’re in business! Ok so we need a net or something.” Then immediately one of my friends came up from behind me and threw a relatively large 3-pronged hook out into the lake.

hookinwater

He then slowly began “reeling” the hook back in. To my amazement, when he had gotten the hook back, he had “fished” up a good amount of 3 different types of aquatic plants.

hookwithplants

From what I was told, there were: Najas marina, Najas japonica, and an Elodea species.

Najas marina
najasmarina1
najasmarina2

Elodea species
elodea

Najas japonica
najasjaponica

This collection “method” was new to me, but nonetheless it was quite an interesting experience. Maybe some of you can apply this method to collecting some aquatic plants in the future?

We threw the hook out a few more times to collect a good amount of each of the 2 Najas species, and packed up our things to head to the next collection point.

bagofplants

In terms of my experiences with these plants in an aquarium setting. Both of the Najas species were relatively easy to grow in a planted tank setup with CO2 (2-3bubbles per sec), fertilizers, and strong lighting (4watts/gal).

Najas marina was quite hardy, easy-to-grow, but a little “weedy” if you know what I mean. Najas japonica was a little more difficult it was the more fragile of the 2 species. Logic suggests that, because these plants were collected from an area that is usually cooler in temperature throughout the year, these Najas would do better if the water temperature were a bit more on the cooler side. Though when I tried my hand at these plants I kept them at typical room temperature, and they tolerated it well enough.

I hope you all enjoyed this post on collecting in Nagano, Japan!
If you enjoy what you see, please feel free to leave a comment!
Thank you very much!
Inspire91

Hippuris vulgaris in Nagano

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Today’s post will be on a stem plant that some friends and I went to take a look at in Nagano, Japan. I have not seen this plant in the hobby at all and the reason I think for that I will cover later on in this post. I hope you all enjoy this post!

The plant that we went to look at is Hippuris vulgaris. This plant is actually well-known in this area, so much so that there is a sign nearby a stream where it is plentiful. The sign basically states a few things such as that this plant only grows in colder areas/temperatures, where else in Japan as well as other places in the world that this plant can be found (Alaska, Siberia, Greenland). Lastly that this plant is very important and unique to the Nagano prefecture. As the sign nearby this stream stated, this plant only grows in colder areas and colder temperatures. This is the reason that it is not in the hobby, not many people have the money to spend on a cooling-device for their aquariums, it is just too troublesome.
Hippuris stream sign

We found that is plant is quite plentiful in this area, both immersed as well as emersed specimens. The best explanation that I can give for the look of this plant is that it has the structure of a very leafy Eustralis/Ammania, but with translucent green (like Bolbitis) leaves.
hippuris immersed
hippuris emerged

There were also other aquatic plants in the area that were in great abundance, such as Japanese Willow Moss, Fontinalis antipyretica. The stream pictured below was full of it, the whole bottom of the stream was matted with this beautiful moss, it was really quite a sight, and the moss was so clean and healthy, just amazing!
fontinalis stream
fontinalis antipyretica

Also lots of emerged Murdannia spirata
Murdannia spirata
Including beautiful patches of immersed Elatine triandra, this stuff was everywhere!
Elatine triandra

I hope you enjoyed this post on a rarely-seen stem plant from the colder areas of our world!
If you like what you are seeing please feel free to leave a comment!
Have a good one guys!
Inspire91

New Large Pearl Grass

How are all of you doing!?
Today’s write up will be covering a somewhat new ground-cover/foreground plant that has come up here in Japan. It has yet to receive a scientific name, so for now it is being called, “New Large Pearl Grass” by the hobbyists here in Japan. “Pearl grass” here is the general name for Hemianthus micranthemoides, or “HC”, and as is fitting this new plant resembles that plant, but is basically a larger version of it.

NLPG close up

The most defining characteristics of this plant is that the leaves (almost 1/2 inch max in diameter) are perfectly round circles that come out in pairs at each node along the stem. The lack of any petiole connecting the main stem to the leaf, makes for a very compact-look. When this plant is grown to its fullest it looks like a tight mat of circular leaves. At this time there really isn’t any other ground-cover plant like it in the hobby.

NLPG
NLPG

Ideal conditions for this plant are soft and acidic water, with stronger (4-5 watts a gallon) lighting. Stronger lighting is ideal in that since this is a low-lying plant, less light will reach it since it will be at the bottom of the tank (assuming you will grow this in a standard size tank, and not a short tank) basically stronger lighting will be needed to penetrate the water depth, in order to give this plant the amount of light needed to flourish.
In terms of maintenance, as with most thick ground-cover plants, detritus or dead material tends to gather underneath it if there is no current around it at the bottom of the tank, creating a “dead-space”. That gathered dead material will cause the root structure to rot and die, so try to keep a current around this plant or be sure to “fan” out the dead material underneath it when you clean the tank.

Lastly here is a comparison picture (not my own) of the New large pearl grass growing next to Hemianthus micranthemoides. Here you can clearly see the size differential in the 2 plants. New large pearl grass is growing in the top right corner, whereas HC is being grown in the bottom left.

NLPG and HC comparison

I hope you enjoyed this post on a new foreground/ground-cover plant that you can keep your eyes out for!
If you like what you are seeing please feel free to leave a comment!
Have a good one guys!
Inspire91

Mayaca sp.”Santarem Red”

Hi!
Today I will be presenting another stem plant, this time a Mayaca species from Brazil. It made its debut in Japan in mid-2008, so by no means is this a brand new discovery, it is quite an established Mayaca. Although it has since fallen out of popularity and has thus become a “hard-to-find” stem plant.

Whenever you think of Mayaca, what characteristics come to mind?? For me, I think of the color green, leafy, all-around thin plant that is soft and delicate. First and foremost I think of the color green because in the Mayaca genus, you rarely come across any species that is “colorful” or shows any hint of any color other than green. That is where this Mayaca sets itself apart from the rest!

(Unfortunately I was not able to get any pictures of my own regarding this plant, so none of these pictures belong to me, they are from an-aquarium, a small aquatic store located in Ginza.)

mayaca santarem red
mayaca santarem red

The red hue on this Mayaca is astounding! As you can see from the picture below (minus all the bubbles :P) The shade of red is so deep, that it is practically maroon! Although the color ranges from pink to red to this maroon, depending largely on the amount of light given to it, as well as the fertilizers.

mayaca santarem red

If you look closely at the leaves of this plant, you can see that they aren’t fully red. The red color only appears within a small strip going down the middle, length-wise, of each leaf. While there is this red strip down the middle of the leaf, the edges remain green, so therefore there is this green-red-green striping that occurs. Quite an interesting characteristic that is easily missed if one does not look very closely at this plant.

mayaca santarem red

As for the requirements of this plant, obviously if you want to see these bright/deep hues of red, you will need stronger lighting to bring it out. Fertilizers will help bring out the colors, but they aren’t necessary to keep this plant growing healthily. Soft (1-2) and acidic water (2-4) is ideal, as it is a Amazonian species of aquatic plant. Temperature is not of any real concern as long you aren’t boiling or freezing it 😛 You may notice that the leaves look crinkly, and the reason is this plant is sensitive, and any dramatic changes in water parameters or environment can cause deformities in the plant. If grown in an ideal environment, with little physical contact/movement or major changes, the leaves should have little to no crinkling at all. (a small amount crinkling may be inevitable, due to the amount of turbulence made in the tank just by maintenance alone)

Lastly it is a relatively fast growing stem plant, just like most Mayaca species. The crown is about an inch across, so not a large stem plant by any means, it is a smaller stem plant, ideal for mid/background placement in aquascapes, or mini/nano tanks.

I hope you enjoyed this short write up on this really unique colorful species of Mayaca from Santarem.
I still have a few more stem plants to cover in my future posts, so keep your eyes open for them!
If you like what you see, please leave a comment!
Have a good one!
Inspire91

Bacopa sp.”Roraima”

Hello again!
I hope all of you have been doing well 🙂 For my next couple of posts I will be covering a variety of stem plants, changing it up from my usual rosette-oriented posts. Today’s post will be on the unique Bacopa sp.”Roraima” which hails from Brazil. While it is not anything new, it does have some unique qualities which set it apart from your typical “Bacopa”-look.

BacopaRoraima

Right off the bat what stands out to you and in my opinion makes this Bacopa something quite special is the long and curled leaves. When one thinks of a Bacopa, you think of round, circular, short leaves, but this one is different. The leaves are about an 1 1/2 inches in length out from the stem, and as you can see they curl in a downward direction, and inward, down the length of the leaf. Something you may not notice, unless you look carefully is that where the leaf meets the stem, some of the larger leaves have “ears” that face downward.

One other thing you can see very faintly in the close up picture below, is that there is a slight pinkish coloration on the crown. The crown of this particular variety will turn a light pink color if given a high amount of light.

Bacopa Roraima

This Bacopa really only requires a medium amount of light to just survive. It is easy to grow, and fast at doing so. Water parameters should be soft and acidic water at 20-28 degrees Celsius. Propagation can be done by cuttings.

Bacopa Roraima

I hope you enjoyed this short write up on this interesting Bacopa variety from Brazil.
If you like what you see, please leave a comment!
Have a good one people!
Inspire91

LARGE Hygrophila

Hello all!
Today’s post will be about 2 of my favorite, but LARGE Hygrophila species.

The two I will write about today are “Bihar” and “Guinea”, as of this time I am unaware if there are species names to both of these plants, but they are both relatively new, appearing about 2 years ago. Both of these species can have a leaf span of up to about 6-8 inches from leaf tip across to the other leaf tip. Another defining characteristic that I like about these Hygros are that they have serrated edges on their leaves. Of course these are most definitely background bunch plants, and should be given a good amount of space to grow.

This is a fast growing asian type of Hygro, soft to the touch, and somewhat creeps, but usually just gets large and goes straight up. Prefers softer water, but is quite tolerant to a variety of water conditions. This one does not have serrated edges all the way up and down the edges of the leaves, as you can see it serrates in only parts of the edges of the leaves, quite interesting.

This is a slower growing West-African Hygro, which has a tough stalk, but soft leaves. Preferes soft and acidic water, but is a tough plant. This one on the other hand as serrated edges all the way up and down the leaf edges.

I hope you enjoyed this post about 2 of my favorite Hygrophila!
Have a good one guys!
Inspire91

Unique Syngonanthus species

Hello all!

Inspire91 here again with another post about a group of plants commonly labeled with the name, “star plants”. Hopefully I have some return-readers :), and welcome to those of you who are new to this blog! Take a look at the previous post for a short synopsis of who I am, my interests, and what this site will provide!

This time I will be focusing on the genus Syngonanthus, formerly known by the genus of Tonina, which now refers to such plants as the common Tonina fluviatilis. These aren’t as popular as their “star plant”-rosette cousins, Eriocaulons, yet they still have some flare that cannot be elsewhere. These plants are quite widespread in South America, mainly within Brazil are the most beautiful in my opinion. Being that this genus is quite widespread, there can be a wide variety of different locales, each with a distinct feature/characteristic.

Requirements:These plants can be quite demanding when it comes to their environment. Their water requirements are somewhat specific (acidic and soft), with some species being easier to grow than others. Generally speaking, they do best in a temperature of about 22-28*C, pH of about 4-5 is preferred, and a GH of about 1-3 is also preferred. If not given these water parameters, they have a tendency to stunt (especially at their crown) and their speed of growth greatly decreases (more noticeably than other stem plants). They also will flourish in a stronger amount of light, in the field, these plants occur in shallow streams and are in full sunlight with no over-hanging trees etc.

Propagation:These plants aren’t any different from propagation any other stem/bunch plant. Cuttings can be made, or off-shoots can be cut off and replanted. An issue I had run into when working with these plants is that their tops can become quite thick, blocking a good amount of light from reaching any part of the stem below the crown. That then resulted in the root/lower parts of the plant rotting and/or becoming quite weak, so try to avoid keeping the cuttings too close to each other, give them some space between crowns. These plants also love any area with a current, they really dislike any detritus settling on them, especially around the base of the stem (thus resulting in rotting of that area).

This is a Syngonanthus from, “Manaus” in Brazil. In my experiences, this is the 2nd most common Syngonanthus behind the, “Belem” variety, although it hasn’t quite made a very strong foothold in the hobby due to the fact that it is not as easy to grow as the, “Belem” variety. This particular species is quite sensitive to water parameters.

This is a particularly new variety of Syngonanthus out of, “Madeira” Brazil. I found this variety to be easier to grow than the, “Manaus” variety. The most unique characteristic of this variety is that it’s crown can get quite large, I had grown specimens with crowns up to 2 inches+ in diameter. Another characteristic as you can see is that unlike the “Belem” variety, the leaves don’t curl underneath the crown.

The following pictures is just a comparison between Manaus and Madeira, as some people may not notice the difference between the two.
Madeira vs Manaus

This is by far the most common variety of Syngonanthus spread throughout the hobby. The variety of “Belem” that I was working with was actually collected from the Belem area of Brazil. I really wanted to work with a wild specimen, as I had worked with cuttings from various fellow hobbyists, and was unsure of their origin. When I compared the various specimens of “Belem”, I found that this particular variety below, had much more “curling” of the leaves, as well as the crown was a bit larger and “fuller”. This may have just been that the original specimen of those cuttings I received from hobbyists had come from a different are within Belem, although easily I fell in love with the wild specimen as it was much more beautiful.

The following pictures are of various “variety” tanks, at Japanese pet stores. The Japanese really appreciate the fine-details and differences in things in general, and so it’s no surprise that the collectors would go out of their way to find as many varieties as possible! You will also see some other varieties of Eriocaulon and Tonina, as these “variety” tanks are mainly comprised of “Star plants” (Eriocaulon, Tonina, and Syngonanthus).
Star plant variety
Syngo and Tonina Variety tank
Syngonanthus variety
If you ever plan to buy plants from Japan, be sure you bring a full wallet! Japanese prices are considered high all around including the aquarium hobby, but that’s ok with me because the Japanese really provide quality goods.
The prices listed below are anywhere from $3-$10 a stem, and $12-$40 for 3 stem packs. The varieties listed below include from places such as: Sao Gabriel, Iquitos, Tocantins, Sao Paulo, Tefe, and Negro, just to name a few, and thats only half of the list!
Star plant prices

This last picture I meant to post with the previous post, but here it is, a shot of a variety tank of Eriocaulons at another Japanese pet store. I took this picture back in 2004, these plants weren’t even popular, let alone known, maybe to a select few in the hobby in the US. It was a sign of an incoming storm of popularity of these “Star plants”. If you can believe it, some of the prices listed for these wild collected specimens were from $120 to $180 a piece! That’s the price you pay for quality rare plants 🙂
Eriocaulon variety tank

Thanks for checking this post out!
Hope you all enjoyed it! 🙂
Take care, Inspire91