“Mountains of the Monsoon”

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

Mountains of the Monsoon2310G “Mountains of the Monsoon”

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Mountains of the Monsoon6Rotala rotundifolia

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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A sunset at 40-Acre Lake.

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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.

Polygonum hydropiperoides

Posted in Emersed Culture with tags on May 4, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


Polygonum hydropiperoides in my emersed Cryptocoryne set-up put out an inflorescence last weekend. P.hydropiperoides is native to both North and South America and is generally found growing along ponds and swamp margins.  Typically flowering from June through November,this plant had flowered for me in July of  2008 when I had just started my emersed set-up.


P.hydropiperoides is one of the less popular Polygonum sp. in the hobby. This is probably due to its less flashy colors as compared to the other Polygonum species.  P. hydropiperoides is a moderately difficult plant to grow submerged.


P.hydropiperoides has a straight upright growth pattern and tends to grow out of water if given a chance. Although this plant is not available from any of the aquatic plant nurseries it is easily obtained by collection throughout United States.

P.hydropiperoidesP.hydropeperoides growing in its natural habitat at Armand Bayou Nature Center, Pasadena , Texas.

Houston Plant Fest 2009- Part 2

Posted in Club Activities with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


ADA 180P at ADG Gallery

The third day of Houston Plant Fest started early for some of the NASH members who volunteered to help Mike Senske prepare plants for his demonstration. Mike was gracious enough and offered to do a planted tank set up demonstration for the group which had gathered in Houston for the Plant Fest. The ADG Gallery was looking great as usual.

houstonpffinal33-1ADA Mini-M


The ADG Gallery also had  some great looking marine set ups.


houstonpffinal29-1As Mike and team prepared for the presentation some of the people who had arrived early spent  some time pouring over  Aqua Journals and gazing at the relaxing aquascapes in the ADG confrence room.

houstonpffinal24-1Ghazanfar And John

houstonpffinal35-1Ghazanfar, Thanh and Dave

Other than the beautiful aquariums, the ADG Gallery also has some interesting pieces of wood  on display.


Mike started his presentation with a brief introduction about his business and how he  and Jeff Senske have made Aquarium Design Group what it is today.

houstonpffinal27-1Mike was setting up a ADA 90P for this demonstration. He had decided to do a divided substrate set up with ADA Bright Sand in the front and AquaSoil Amazonia in the back.

houstonpffinal34-1John And Luis , helping Mike.

Mike’s demonstration was great as usual and was an amazing opportunity for people who had gathered to learn and discuss the intricacies involved in setting up a show quality aquascape.


houstonpffinal49-1The finished scape.

The Houston Plant Fest was graciously sponsored by Seachem Laboratories and Deep Sea Aquatics. Seachem had arranged for a lot of  free goodies for the people who attended the presentation at ADG.


Deep Sea Aquatics had donated an awesome  rimless tank setup to be raffled at the end of the presentation. Mary Beth, the winner of the raffle was definitely pleased with her prize.

houstonpffinal40-1Mary Beth excited about her prize.

After the presentation NASH had a impromptu plant auction. Kevin, did a good job as an auctioneer . There were some great plants to be had at dirt cheap prices.

houstonpffinal2-1Kevin trying to sell me some Anubias minima.

From ADG Gallery the group headed to a BBQ party at Valerie’s Lake House on Lake Houston. Valerie is one of the founding members of NASH and was kind enough to host the BBQ party at her beautiful lake house.

houstonpffinal41-1Valerie’s Lake House

I arrived a little late for the BBQ party and missed out on some of the delicious food Kevin’s dad had cooked. But  just hanging around with friends, having some drinks together and checking out the beautiful sunset from the lake house made up for it.

Overall this was a great weekend which we all enjoyed as a group. On behalf of NASH, I would like to thank all the people who participated in the Plant Fest 2009. A big thanks goes out to Aquarium Design Group, Seachem, Fish Gallery , Houston Aquarium Warehouse, Deep Sea Aquatics, Valerie and all the volunteers from NASH who made this  fun filled weekend possible.


Houston Plant Fest 2009- Part 1

Posted in Club Activities on April 19, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi


Houston Plant Fest 2009 kicked off on Thursday April 9th with a get together at Houston Aquarium Warehouse. Planted tank enthusiasts and friends from all over United States had flown to this event hosted by Nature Aquarium Society of Houston (NASH). Daniel Villasenor owner of Houston Aquarium Warehouse is a reputed discus seller and stocks a lot of “hard – to-find” fish perfect for planted tanks.


The Red Leopard Snakeskin Discus that Daniel had in stock were some of the best I have seen. After some drinks, snacks and catching up on old friends and new  I had to head out with Thanh to pick up the vans for our next days trip to San Marcos.

houstonpffinal42-1 Checking out crystal clear water at Aquarena Springs

houstonpffinal43-1 John looks pretty excited.

The drive to San Marcos started early. When I arrived at the meeting point with the van along with Thanh every one was already there, geared up with their collection equipments and cameras for a fun filled day ahead. There were 22 people in the group who made the trip. The drive was interesting as we spent a lot of time discussing our planted tanks.  We reached Aquarena Springs around 9 am. The day was looking great for our collection trip. After gazing at the beautiful underwater scenery at the Aquarena Springs reservoir through its crystal clear water the group was ready to head downstream to collect some plants.


Drinda ready to collect some plants.

houstonpffinal46-1 Dave trying to grab some Fissiden fontanus.


Collected Fissiden fontanus

The first stop down stream was a great spot just off the road. The group collected a lot of Riccia fluitans and Hydrocotyle verticillata at this spot. Heading further down from there we spotted Fissiden fontanus growing along the embankment. This was the first time we had spotted F.fontanus at this location.

houstonpffinal14-1The group headed further down the river where we spotted a lot of  Hygrophila polysperma , Potamogeton illinoensis, Ceratopteris thalictroides and Ecihhornia crassipes. It was really disheartening to see the river choked with these introduced species.


Hydrilla verticillata clogging the river.

From here we proceeded to our next location to find the elusive Cryptocoryne beckettii. This is another non-native species which is gradually spreading in this river system. The group followed a trail along the river trying to spot some crypts. Along the  river banks we spotted Nuphar lutea, Ludwigia repens, Pistia stratiotes and more H.verticillata. We were not lucky enough to spot the Cryptocoryne but we spotted a school of large Koi cruising peacefully in a secluded section of the river.


H.verticillata was growing everywhere.



At around 3pm we headed back to Houston. Fish Gallery one of the premium aquarium store in Houston was hosting a small cocktail party in the evening.  At Fish Gallery we got a chance to relax and chat about our hobby with other fellow hobbyist. I grabbed this opportunity to snap some pictures of their beautiful livestock.


Pterois volitans


Ginglymostoma brevicaudatum

The day ended on a high note with all of us eagerly looking forward to the presentation from Mike Senske the next morning at the ADG Gallery.

Cryptocoryne ponterderiifolia & Cryptocoryne usteriana ‘Red’ spathe

Posted in Cryptocoryne & Lagenandra on February 11, 2009 by Bhushan Dalvi

The genus Cryptocoryne consists of  60 plus species of plant which can be found from India all the way to Papua New Guinea. I have been fascinated by this genus ever since I started in this hobby. About eight months back I started my emersed Cryptocoryne set-up just to save the extra plants I had from a tank I had taken down. Over the time my collection kept growing from a few odd pots in a small 10G to over 20 different species.

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia flowered for me approximately four months after planting. The spathe on this plant started developing after I spotted the spathe on the C .usteriana ‘Red’ but the C.pontederiifolia spathe opened within a span of week.  The  collar and limb was beautiful yellow with a white throat.

C.usteriana ‘Red’ spathe took about two weeks to open up. The spathe was 8cm in length. The limb of spathe was deep yellow with a brownish uneven edge. This plant has be growing rigorously for me  putting out plantlets regularly.

This plant was simultaneously putting out another spathe when the first one flowered. It is visible in the picture above.