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

The First

Hello all! 🙂

Since this is my first post on my brand spankin’ new blog “AquaBiota” I just want to give you a short synopsis of what sort of topics will be covered here and my own interests and reasons for starting this blog.

First, “AquaBiota” is Latin for “aquatic life”, more specifically in terms of what this blog will be focusing on, is freshwater aquatic life (plants and fish).  There will various pictures of such things as aquarium/terrarium setups, aquarium products, fish, plants, and anything else that the aquarium hobby might find interesting.

As for my own interests and the reason for starting this blog is quite simple.  I have had a deep interest in the aquarium hobby for about the past 9 years now.  I have had experiences in working with a number of plants and fish, yet I have no specifics as to what species I like to work with, as I mainly enjoy working with species new/rare at the time.  If I had to put my finger on one of each plant and fish genus I most enjoy working with, it would be Apistogramma (fish) and Microsorium/Bucephelandra (plant).

I am by no means an expert or claiming to be one, the purpose of this blog is to share my interests, learn myself from others, and hopefully pass on some helpful information to others with interests similar to my own.  I hope you all enjoy this blog and the interesting things to come! 😉

Sincerely, Inspire91

I will leave you with some pictures of a few “Star Plants” or Eriocaulon. One of the more unique genus of aquatic rosette type plants that have had a strong buzz around them for the past few years. They as a whole can be quite fickle and require a specific environment in order to thrive. Certain species will quickly melt if optimum water conditions are not met.

Requirements: Generally speaking, they will do best in acidic (pH ~ 4-5) and very soft (GH of 1-3*) water. They do well in stronger lighting, and in my experiences really flourish in a “current” area within the tank.

Propagation: They propagate either by splitting from their core, similar to watching cells “cleave”, or they will throw up a long thin stem that will produce a small plantlet at it’s tip. If the plant begins to “cleave” let it split into separate cores (or as close as possible to separate cores), and then gently pull them apart, if you try to force it early and break them apart, you risk killing both (or more) of the plants that were about to be produced. If long thin stems (which break the water’s surface) with a white spores at the tip appear, you can (if by chance you have another of this plant doing this same exact growth at the time) use a q-tip and touch the various heads of these spores, and hope you have pollination. Another possibility is that the tip may or may not break the water’s surface, yet has grown a small plantlet, at which point you will want to leave it alone until it reaches about an inch and has a few roots growing from it, then you will cut it, and plant it into the soil.

This is a small only about an inch tall maximum, very hard to the touch species of Eriocaulon. It is found on the shores of the lakes in Sulawesi, in very tight compact mats. Very slow growing, but readily splits, and is quite unique in its “carpeting” capabilities.

This can be a tough one! This species of Eriocaulon from Matogrosso in Brazil, has very particular water requirements, very soft and very acidic. Prefers an area where there is a current, as it very much dislikes any debris settling on it. The many long and thin leaves, are very iconic of this species.

This is Eriocaulon sp.”Goias”, another Brazilian beauty that is special for its wider, turning leaves. This one can get quite large, as I’ve seen a specimen that was about a foot in diameter!

This is Eriocaulon cinereum (notice the many long thin stems shooting up from the plant, signaling a time of propagation) nothing too special, as this species was one of the first on the plant scene.
Eriocaulon cinereum (reproducing)