Cryptocoryne zukalii

Posted in Cryptocoryne & Lagenandra on April 6, 2010 by Bhushan Dalvi

Cryptocoryne zukalii spathe

Cryptocoryne zukalii is one of the rarest cryptocoryne in the hobby. It is one of the crypts whose original collection locality is not know. This plant which I have in culture has a unique history. C zukalii was first collected and exported in the 70’s. Jan Bastmeijer got this plant from Robert A Gasser(Quality Plants, Florida, USA) around 1975. I got this plant from Ghazanfar Ghori last year who had got this plant directly from Jan.

C zukalii spathe typically has a long limb of  spathe which is almost perpendicular to the tube. This spathe was almost at a right angle to the tube. The limb was more or less smooth with pumpkin yellow color. The throat ends in a sharp border.

I have been growing C zukalii in a mixture Aquasoil Amazonia I, laterite and leaf mould in my freshwater set-up. Once I have a couple of extra runners I am planning to add one to my blackwater setup and see how it does.

The bud one day before opening.


Posted in ADA Mini-M on March 31, 2010 by Bhushan Dalvi

 Mini-M “Simple”

 I started this scape in early July,2009. The Mini-M set was sitting around for a while. Nothing special in the scape just a ” Simple” plant layout to add a little beauty to my living room.

  Here are the tank specs.
Tank: ADA Mini-M ( Approx 5.5 US G)
Substrate : ADA Aquasoil II, Power Sand special, Tourmalin BC and Bright Sand
Light: 27 W PC with 8000 K using ADA SOLAR Mini
Filter: Eheim Ecco 2232
Fertilizer: ADA Brighty K
Step 1
Step 2
Brighty Special Lights
Florish Iron
Green Gain
Green Bacter
Co2: CO2 Advance System 1bubble/sec diffused with a nano diffuser
Hardscape: Local Texas rock called Magma rock and ADA Black Wood
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Velho’
Rotala rotundifolia
Ludwigia arcuata
Rotala sp. ‘Colorata’
Rotala sp ‘Green’
Fissiden fontanus
Taxiphyllum barbieri
Cryptocoryne x willisii
Anubias nana ‘micro’
Microsorum pteropus ‘Needle leaf’

Fish : Axelrodia riesei
Corydoras pygmaeus
Shrimp:Neocaridina heteropoda var. ‘Red’

Neocaridina heteropoda var. ‘Red’ 

Axelrodia riesei

Corydoras pygmaeus

Nacogdoches, Texas- Wetland Habitat Study Trip

Posted in Collection Trips on December 6, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


Eleocharis parvula  

In the first week of November I got a chance to visit some precipitative wetlands in Nacogdoches, Texas with some friends. This area had received quiet a bit of rain in the previous week so the water level in the slough we first visited was a little high.  


This slough was very high in organics. In some portions it was almost impenetrable.  


As we laboured through this dense vegetation we finally reached the edge of the slough where our first interesting find was thalloid liverwort which we determined was most probably Pallavicinia iyellii . This liverwort was growing everywhere along the edge of the slough with some species of moss which we could not identify.  


Pallavicinia iyellii    

Next we spotted some Proserpinaca palustris. This beautiful stem plant is overlooked quiet a bit in our hobby. As can be seen in the picture below P palustris prefers highly acidic substrate.  


Proserpinaca palustris     

We also spotted some  Saururus  crenuus in the same acid rich substrate. S crenuus seems highly adaptable to soil conditions as I have also seen this plant grow around Houston in soil with neutral pH.   

Saururus  crenuus   

The slough had a lot of Sphagnum sp moss growing around. Sphagnum sp moss has an ability to acidify its surrounding by taking up cations like calcium and magnesium. I collected a few strands of it to try in my blackwater Cryptocoryne set-up.  


Sphagnum sp  

As we came out of the slough we spotted some very interesting mushrooms and fungi. I grabbed the opportunity to take a few quick shots.  





Our next stop was a precipitative wetland with some spillage form water bodies around .  The highly tanned water was about 6-10 inches deep in places which made the place look  like a black water habitat.   

Darren in front of the wetland.  

As we entered this wetland habitat I spotted some Eleocharis pravula growing among some dead leaves on the moist soil. This was the first time I had seen E pravula growing in its natural habitat. I was excited.  We also spotted some Eleocharis acicularis growing  here.  


Eleocharis acicularis  


E acicularis growing submerged.  

 This location also had a lot of Vallisneria americana . I had not expected to find V americana growing in such acidic water.  


Vallisneria americana  

Our next interesting find was Ludwigia pilosa. There are a lot of pictures of this plant growing emersed but I was glad to see it growing submerged. This plant has a lot of potential as an aquarium plant. The crown of this plants looks stunning when viewed from the top.  

Ludwigia pilosa  


 Looking around more closely we were able to spot some Juncus repens growing in the dark, tanned water. J repens though an easy plant to grow is not easily available through commercial aquatic plant nurseries. 


Juncus repens 


We also spotted another stem plant here which I believe is a  Gratiola sp.

Gratiola sp

Walking around the swamp we were also able to find some very interesting critters.  First we found the Central/Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis) hiding nicely among the underwater vegetation. The next one was a juvenile crayfish which I believe is a Faxonella sp.

Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis


Faxonella sp 

We called it a day around 1: 00 pm and headed out for lunch. Thanks a lot to Darren who took the trouble to show us around.

Cryptocoryne pygmaea

Posted in Cryptocoryne & Lagenandra on November 24, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

Cryptocoryne pygmaea spathe

Cryptocoryne pygmaea is a relatively rare Cryptocoryne species from Philippines. It is an easy plant to grow in emersed culture. I have been growing it my freshwater crypt set-up since April, 2009. I used 80% ADA Aquasoil Amazonia and 20% pure laterite as the substrate to grow this crypt.

C pygmaea gets its name due to the very small spathe compared to the size of the plant. At times the kettle can be completely buried in the substrate with just the limb of spathe visible above. The kettle of  spathe in the above pictures was about half buried in the substrate. I had to slightly dig around base to expose the complete kettle.

Noticeable feature of the spathe was the rough inner surface of the limb. The spathe was about 3 cm in size. I wanted to slice open the kettle to take pictures of the male and female flowers but decided against it as the kettle appeared almost fused with the rosette.

If seen from the top the spathe is almost invisible with just the a small part of  limb sticking out. I spotted the spathe developing about 3 weeks back. The spathe finally opened up last Saturday.

Spathe two days before opening.

Staurogyne sp. ‘Low Grow’

Posted in Emersed Culture on November 22, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

Staurogyne sp. ‘Low Grow’ bloom.

I have been growing Staurogyne sp ‘ Low Grow’ for about 8 months in my emersed Cryptocoryne set-up. I have two more Staurogyne species (Staurogyne sp ‘Porto Velho’ & Staurogyne stolonifera ) growing along with this one under similar conditions and this one proves to be one of the slowest growing one for me. When I received a couple of stems initially they were grown submerged. It took a while for them to acclimatize to emersed culture. Finally Staurogyne sp ‘ Low Grow’ decided to flower yesterday. I think a recent increase in photo-period on my emersed set-up could have triggered the bloom.

 Staurogyne sp.’Low Grow’

Staurogyne sp ‘Low Grow’ grow very slowly in emersed culture even under good light. An interesting thing I observed with this species is its rate of growth does not change much even after moving it to a shaded location from a well light location. It grows about an inch every month in my experience under both high and low light conditions.



“Beauty in Red”

Posted in Aquatic Photography with tags on October 21, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


This photograph of  Red Cherry Shrimp aka Neocaridina heteropoda var ‘Red’ taken by me was selected as the Photo of the Week – Aquatic Category Week #58 over at  yesterday. This came as a pleasant suprise to me when I saw the thread. Thanks to Hristo Hristov and AP team for this accolade.

Here is the direct link to the thread: Photo of the Week -Aquatic Category Week #58


“Spring Colors”

Posted in 10 Gallon on October 17, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


10G “Spring Colors”




Every year March brings beautiful colors of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Wild flowers in all possible colors start popping up through meadows and fields everywhere putting an end to the drab gray winter. I started this scape just around the advent of spring this year. This scape is my feeble attempt to capture the beauty of spring in this small glass box.

Here are the tank specs.

Tank: 10G with trim removed

Substrate : ADA Aquasoil I & Aquasoil II mixed , Power Sand special and Tourmalin BC

Light: 65 W PC with 9325K

Filter: Eheim 2213

Fertilizer:  ADA Brighty K
                     Step 1
                     Step 2
                     Brighty Special Lights
                     Florish Iron
                     Green Gain
                     Green Bacter

Co2: 1bubble/sec diffused with a nano diffuser

Hardscape: Manzanita wood

Plants:  Hemianthus callitrichoides
               Utricularia graminifolia
               Hemianthus micranthemoides
               Micranthemum umbarosum
               Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Velho’
               Staurogyne stolonifera
               Limnophila repens ‘Mini’
               Blyxa japonica
               Anubias barteri var. nana ‘Petite’
              Rotala rotundifolia
              Rotala wallichii
              Rotala sp. ‘Colorata’
              Rotala sp. ‘Nanjenshan’
              Rotala sp. ‘Butterfly’
              Nesaea sp. ‘Red Leaved’
              Fissiden fontanus
              Taxiphyllum barbieri
              Vesicularia montagnei
              Cryptocoryne x willisii
              Cryptocoryne parva

Fish :   Hemigrammus rodwayi
             Ottocinclus sp.
             Hisonotus leucofrenatus

Shrimp:Cardinia japonica
               Neocaridina heteropoda var. ‘Red’


Day 1 of the set-up.


Day 3 of the set-up.


Day 41 of the set up.


Day 65 of the set-up.



Day 70 of the set-up.

10GMarch2009 027F


“Mountains of the Monsoon”

Posted in 10 Gallon on August 14, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

Mountains of the Monsoon2310G “Mountains of the Monsoon”

Mountains of the Monsoon22

Mountains of the Monsoon24

Mountains of the Monsoon6Rotala rotundifolia

Mountains of the Monsoon7jpg

Mountains of the Monsoon4Rotala sp. ‘Nanjenshan’

The inspiration for this scape came from the beautiful Western Ghats in India. The rain soaked slopes of these mountains covered in rain forest is a sight to behold. This scape has been my attempt to replicate a fraction of this beauty.  This scape was ranked 445th in the International Aquatic Plant Layout Contesst 2009.

Here are the tank specs.

Tank: 10G with trim removed

Substrate : ADA Aquasoil II, Power Sand special and Tourmalin BC

Light: 65 W PC with 6700 K

Filter: Eheim 2213

Fertilizer: ADA Brighty K
Step 1
Step 2
Brighty Special Lights
Florish Iron
Green Gain
Green Bacter

Co2: 1bubble/sec diffused with a nano diffuser

Hardscape: Local Texas rock called Iron rock.

Plants: Hemianthus callitrichoides
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Velho’
Rotala rotundifolia
Rotala wallichii
Rotala sp. ‘Colorata’
Rotala sp. ‘Nanjenshan’
Fissiden fontanus
Taxiphyllum barbieri
Vesicularia montagnei
Cryptocoryne x willisii
Echinodorus tenellus var ‘Micro’
Eleocharis acicularis
Hydrocotyle verticillata

Fish : Celestichthys margaritatus
Microrasbora erythromicron
Ottocinclus sp.

Shrimp:Cardinia japonica
Neocaridina heteropoda var. ‘Red’

This set up was started in the last week of September 2008 after I took down my previous set-up “Boraras Dream”. I used the same ADA Aquasoil for this set up without taking it out of the tank.

Mountains of the Monsoon8

I know the rock do not follow the basic iwagumi/rock placement rule. But I added the 4th stone to the set up as the three rocks where just not anchoring the placement for me.

Mountains of the Monsoon9

I could not find all the plants I wanted for this scape from the get go so had to start off with what I could find. This shot was taken just after planting and filling up the tank.

Mountains of the Monsoon10

This is how it looked approximately one month from the start.

Mountains of the Monsoon11

Approximately 1.5 months after setting up this tank the plant growth was just amazing.

Mountains of the Monsoon13

The stem plants had taken over this scape within a span of 50 days. This is how it looked after the first trim.

Mountains of the Monsoon15

These pics are taken roughly 70 days after the set up. I was playing around with the background trying to decide which looked better.

Mountains of the Monsoon20

Mountains of the Monsoon19

This was taken about 110 days after setting up this scape.

Mountains of the Monsoon5

Brazos Bend State Park

Posted in Collection Trips on June 18, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

In the last few weeks I have made a couple of trips out to Brazos Bend State Park (BBSP) near Houston after hearing about it from a friend. There are lot of aquatic plants around the park and some interesting wildlife. I could not do any collection here as this is a state park and collection is prohibited.


Echinodorus cordifolius were growing huge and were ominipresent around all the lakes.

BBSPTrip1 456FE.cordifolius flower


Polygonum hydropiperoides growing through out the park were in full bloom.

As I looked around the bank of the lake for more plants and was trying to reach for some Limnobium laevigatum (Amazon Frogbit) , this guy waited patiently for me to do a mistake.

BBSP 327-2F

This beauty had ventured quiet far from the lake probably to lay eggs.


Pistia stratiotes and this Hydrocotyle sp was also easy to spot along the lake.


BBSP 041FHydrocotyle sp

BBSPTrip1 329FNelumbo lutea (American lotus)

A view of the Elm Lake,  one of the few lakes in BBSP.

BBSPTrip1 347F

Sagittaria platyphylla was another plant common along the lake’s bank.

BBSPTrip1 408F

This yellow crowned night heron tolerated me quiet a bit as I kept on disturbing him as he hunted for his supper.

BBSPTrip1 279FThis guy was not so accomodating.

BBSPTrip1 284F

A sunset at 40-Acre Lake.

BBSPTrip1 164F

Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Florida Sunset’ spathe

Posted in Cryptocoryne & Lagenandra on June 5, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

C.Florida sunset 7Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Florida Sunset’ was introduced to the hobby by Florida Aquatic Nursery(FAN) in November of 2008 at the AGA convention.  It was not until March,2009 that FAN started shipping out this plant to its distributors. C.wendtii ‘Florida Sunset’ is a variant of C.wendtii ‘Mi oya’. In emersed culture the leaves are brown with shades of  pink and small amount of white.

C.Florida sunset 9C.wendtii ‘Florida Sunset’ is a easy plant to grow both emersed and submerged. It loses its variegated form underwater.This Cryptocoryne  is extremely easy to flower. My plant send out a spathe approximately one month after it was planted in my emersed set-up and has been putting out spathes continuously since then.

The twisted yellow limb of the spathe is clearly visible in the picture above. This is not typical of a C. wendtii limb which is generally reddish brown. The deep brown collar is fairly pronounced.

C.Florida sunset 11A cross-section of the kettle shows a short spadix.