Last Tuesday, I ordered 1 × C. parva cup, 1 × Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Tropica’ pot, 1 × C. wendtii ‘Mi Oya’ pot, 1 × C. wendtii ‘green gecko’ pot and 2 × Rotala rotundifolia bunches from Wasserpflanzen-Freunde, which is owned and run by Roland Strößner. The C. wendtii ‘green gecko’ was an impulse buy: I had never heard of it before, so had a search for some images, which I liked the look of and after confirming that it was suitable for the aquarium, I decided to go for it. Today I received, as always with some freebies, 1 × Cryptocoryne beckettii ‘petchii’ pot, 1 × C. parva cup, 1 × C. wendtii ‘Tropica’ pot, 1 × C. wendtii ‘Mi Oya’ pot, 2 × C. wendtii ‘green gecko’ pots and 2 × Rotala rotundifolia pots from the seller. The Crypts are in excellent condition, although the C. wendtii ‘Mi Oya’ is much smaller than I expected, but the R. rotundifolia was melting and in generally bad health. The pots were packed tightly into tall bags, similar to those used for fish, wrapped in a lot of newspaper and placed inside a cardboard box, with more newspaper stuffed around them so that they did not move around.
I start preparing the plants for the aquarium by removing them from the bags, laying them out on my trusty white bath sheet. Then, I removed the pots and the wool, making sure I pulled off as much wool as possible. Some people don’t worry about leaving the wool on the roots, but I find that it is sharp and irritates my hands, so I expect it is likely to affect any fish that try to eat it, which is why I think it is better to always remove it. While I was doing this, I also sprayed the plants with water using a spray bottle so that they do not dry out. I found that I had to spray them at least once every few minutes to keep the leaves glistening.
Once all the wool was removed, I started separating the plant bunches into individual ones. I plant aquariums back to front, so I started with the R. rotundifolia, which was meant for the back right corner. Because I did not want to damage the stems, I floated the bunches inside the aquarium and gently agitated them to encourage the stems to separate. I estimate that there were approximately forty or so stems between the two pots, but most were rotting. Given the existing damage, I used a pair of “flat tip conventional” tweezers to push bunches of 2 – 3 plants, 3 – 6 cm into the sand, while trying to hold them (for the most part, unsuccessfully) gently.
Next, the Cryptocoryne went in: I started in the back right corner and worked my way to the left side of the aquarium. Normally, I would need to trim back the roots on the Cryptocoryne to be 5 cm or shorter, but these did not have particularly long roots, so I could plant them straight in. I did this by clearing the sand, pushing the individual plants in, covering them with sand and gently pulling the plant up from the sand so that the rosette is just barely exposed, which discourages rotting.
I had to pull up some of the Hydrocotyle sp. ‘Japan’ and Lindernia rotundifolia to make space for the new plants, so lastly, I replanted all of these. The L. rotundifolia is doing well and the H. sp. ‘Japan’ has grown so fast that I will soon have to start finding some of it a new home.
It took me about two hours to finish the planting, mainly because the aquarium is still on the floor, which makes it difficult to see into it from the front. If I had invertebrates or fish that are sensitive to copper in the aquarium, I would have soaked the plants overnight in a bucket first to remove any remnants of any medication or snail-killing solutions which the plants may have been exposed to. As it is, I added the plants straight into the aquarium.