March Meeting

The March meeting of the Madison Aquarium Gardeners Club announced. Click for more info.

Great turnout at Garden Expo 2008

Garden Expo

Great turnout at our Garden Expo booth, February 8 - 10, 2008. Many asked how to get started with planted aquariums. We shared this approach: MY FIRST PLANTED AQUARIUM, "keep it simple".

  1. Substrate: Freshwater aquarium plants are root feeders, primarily. Therefore, provide a nutrient rich substrate. A blend of 3 parts top soil and 1 part clay, like kitty litter or calcined clay is a good bottom layer. A topping of well rinsed fine grained red flint aquarium gravel, keeps soil from clouding up water column. Approximately 1" tamped down soil / clay with 2" of fine gravel on top will do it.
  2. Water: Many aquatic plants can grow well in Madison's hard tap water. When filling the tank, position a plate to deflect in-coming water stream. This prevents gouging into the substrate and messing with the soil.
  3. Planting: Gently tuck in plant cuttings and rooted specimens into top gravel layer. As plants begin acclimating, their roots will link up with soil nutrient depot. Starting with a fairly large number of plants will help assure reducing chances of algae problems. Healthy higher order plants will dominate over opportunistic algae.
  4. Lighting: A personal choice. Modest light levels with reasonably priced instruments can promote a moderate rate of plant growth. Very bright lights and more expensive ones prompt faster growth and some increasing chances for algae formation (algae love light). For first two weeks after planting, have relatively short photo period (4 to 6 hours lights on). This will help reduce chances for algae getting a head start before higher order plants kick in. After a couple of weeks, add photo period hours up to 12 - 14 per day.
  5. Temperature: Use submerged heater to maintain water temperature at around 76 degrees F.
  6. Filters: Simple and inexpensive submerged filter with removable pre-filter works. Many other types of filter designs on the market will do, as long as activated charcoal is not part of filtration media. Charcoal zaps ammonia and Iron. Plants get nitrogen from the ammonia form. Iron helps plants take in nutrients.
  7. Fertilization: Adding liquid aquarium fertilizers may not be needed, because plants will get what they need from substrate and from fish waste.
  8. CO2: Adding this to water column will enhance plant growth. Many beginners use an empty 2 liter cola bottle, introducing two cups sugar, 1/4 tsp dry yeast, adding warm water up to shoulder of container, then shaking to dissolve. As fermentation gets going, CO2 gas is created. Drilling a hole in cap allows installing a flexible air line tube, to route gas to "air stone" diffuser deep into tank water. Fermentation is strong for 2 1/2 weeks, requiring pH checks. Acid from CO2 lowers pH. One wants not to let it go below pH6. Periodically taking out defuser for part of each day during first week my be required so water doesn't get too acidic. After a week and a half, gas production begins tapering off. Maintaining reading of between pH7 - 7.3, is a good. Generally, after end of third week, it is time to redo the bottle.
  9. Fish: Yes. Hardy, small and gentle schooling species, along with algae eaters would be fine. Aggressive and cave dweller types that disrupt substrate won't do.
  10. Conclusion: While there are many approaches to planted aquariums, this one is elementary and suitable for getting a good start.

Great turnout at our last Club meeting, February 21

Record number of 38 compared with average of just under 20!

Shrimp in one of Warren Berg's tanks.


If you're interested in freshwater planted aquaria and reside in Madison, Wisconsin or surrounding areas, how about showing up at next meeting of the Madison Aquarium Gardeners Club?

Place: Science House, 1645 Linden Drive, UW Campus. Doors open 6:30. Events begin 7:00. Wrap up a little after 9:00. For more information, contact John Glaeser or 608 233-5182.

You'll enjoy chatting with Dave Watson and Gordon Hartmann. In the AGA's 2004 Aquascaping Contest, Dave received 2nd place in Paludarium category. Gordon gained 1st place in Large Aquarium category.


Garden Expo

Great turnout at our Garden Expo booth, February 8 - 10, 2008.

Turnout at Garden Expo 2008

At Booth 214 you'll see two 20H planted aquariums on raised stands built by Greg Stahl. Back wall picture gallery will display aquarium designs by MAGC members.

Some folks are interested in our organization and might show up at this coming meeting.

If you plan attending, please let me know, so we can prepare for a somewhat larger than normal group. Thank you.

John Glaeser <>




This beautiful flower is from the 125 gallon aquarium at Edgewood College.
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Crypt Rot!

 A variation? "This is what can happen to a crypt due to seemingly slight changes of environment."

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