Archive for the Collection Trips Category

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.


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

NASH-DFWAPC San Marcos Collection Trip

Posted in Collection Trips with tags , on October 14, 2008 by Bhushan Dalvi

In May, 2008 NASH (Nature Aquarium Society of Houston) and DFWAPC (Dallas- Ft. Worth Aquatic Plant Club) arranged a collection trip to San Marcos River, San Marcos, Texas. NASH was represented by Kevin, Thanh, Rick, his wife Melissa, myself and my better half Preetam. DFWAPC was represented by their president Nikolay and his wife. We started the drive from Houston to San Marcos at 5 am after meeting up Kevin and Than at Houston Aquarium Warehouse. Kevin was driving which was a good thing as both I and Thanh had slept just a few hours the night before. We arrived in San Marcos around 8:30 Am and met up with Nikolay and Casey Williams our guide from Texas State University.

San Marcos Springs Ecosystem is the second largest in Texas and along with the Comal Ecosystem has the greatest known diversity of organisms in an aquatic ecosystem in southwestern United States. The source of these springs is the Edwards Aquifers. There are quiet a few organisms that are endemic to these spring systems. This biological uniqueness is limited to first 4 miles of the San Marcos River and the Spring Lake. This ecosystem has a temperature of 72 degree F all year round. The water is extremely clear with visibility up to 20 feet underwater. This unique freshwater habitat is a home to several threatened and endangered species. These threatened and endangered species are not supposed to be collected for any reason, unless one has a permit from Texas Park and Wildlife Department and U.S Park and Wildlife Department.

Entering the protected area of the Aquarena Spring Lake through the Wetland Boardwalk the first aquatic plant we spotted was Hydrocotyle verticillata and Cabomba caroliniana. The water here was about 12” deep with a layer of organic sediments at the bottom. The banks of the lake were lined with Elephant Ears which is an introduced plant to this ecosystem. This specie has been considered responsible for displacing the now endangered San Marcos Gambusia (Gambusia goergei). As we proceeded on the boardwalk we startled some thing big in the water below by our movement. Peering down the sides of the boardwalk I was excited to see a large black shape about1.5 feet large dash towards the bank. My excitement soon faded as I realized it was large Tilapia. Tilapias were introduced in the Spring Lake to combat another introduced specie Hydrilla verticillata. The tilapias did not eat the hydrilla but established themselves in this ecosystem. Today both the Tilapia sp. and Hydrilla sp. are rampant in Spring Lake and have contributed to the destruction of the native species of plant and fish. This was the breeding season for tilapias and we spotted a large number of males which had dug round nests about 3feet across all over the shallows. We could spot large stands of Myriophyllum spicatum and Ludwigia repens growing here. Two other introduced wetland plants that have become a huge problem here are Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth) and Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce). Moving on we saw a lot of gambusia and flagfish. We could not exactly ID them as we were not supposed to catch anything here.

The day was turning out to be perfect for a collection trip. The temperature was staying around 78 degree F all morning. At about 10:30 am we proceeded to book our seats on the glass bottom boat. The water in this part of the lake looked turquoise blue like a coral reef. Huge strands of Cabomba caroliniana and Vallisneria americana created a beautiful underwater maze as colonies of soft coral would create on a coral reef. The glass bottom boat ride showed us how amazingly clear the water was even at 20 feet with lush green growth of aquatic plants even at the bottom of the lake. We also encountered specie of Fissiden in the eastern part of the lake. While waiting for our boat ride we found Hygrophila polysperma, Ceratopteris thalictroides, Cabomba caroliniana and Riccia fluitans growing in a quiet corner of the lake. The H. polysperma was some of the reddest I had ever seen. From the top this part of the lake looked like a nice aquascaped tank compleate with large Astyanax mexicanus (Mexican tetra) swimming in and out of the foliage. Most of the unique organisms found in this lake are bottom dwellers. We got a chance to check out some of these at the small aquarium maintained near the lake. The fountain darters (Etheostoma fonticola) were really interesting. These fish would have made a beautiful addition to a nano aquarium had they been not endangered.

Our next stop was going to be downstream from the lake on the San Marcos River. Here Casey showed us stands of Texas Wild Rice growing in the swift current of San Marcos River. Texas Wild Rice is another native species which is endangered due to destruction of its habitat. The water current in this part of the river was pretty swift, but we could still spot large patches of H. verticillata growing very close to the river bottom. As we proceeded further down the rivers bank we were amazed by the lush growth of Potamogeton illinoensis and H. polysperma covering the entire width of the river. We could not spot the river bottom for quiet some time after that. Here H. polysperma was growing both emersed as well as under water. We could also spot some C. thalictroides growing emersed along the bank.

Our last stop was going to be the spot where Kevin had seen some Cryptocoryne beckettii growing in shaded pools in the past. We were disappointed to find that spot closed to public due to some construction activity along that part of the river. It is alleged that C. beckettii was introduced here due to dumping by aquarists. We started our journey back to Houston from here. This was a well planned trip and all of us enjoyed our uneventful drive back.

Some more picture here: