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Emersed Plants


  1. Emerse Growable Plants?
    by jphealy-at-SYSCONN.COM (Sat, 25 Jan 1997)
  2. Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #135
    by dozenne/ (David Ozenne) (Thu, 12 Mar 1998)
  3. Emerse grown aquarium plants: Internet legend?
    by mark.fisher/ (Thu, 12 Mar 98)
  4. It's not a legend
    by "Merrill Cohen" <amc2/> (Thu, 12 Mar 1998)
  5. Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #135
    by Dan Q <dqallwet/> (Thu, 12 Mar 1998)
  6. plants grown emersed
    by "Shiao Y. Wang" <sywang/> (Fri, 13 Mar 1998)
  7. Emersed Plants
    by Deansliger <Deansliger/> (Fri, 13 Mar 1998)
  8. Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #136
    by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/> (Fri, 13 Mar 1998)
  9. Is Steve "wet"?
    by "Merrill Cohen" <amc2/> (Fri, 13 Mar 1998)
  10. Emerse Plants, Alternanthera, Nuphar
    by Erik Olson (e-mail) (Fri, 13 Mar 1998)
  11. Alysoun McLaughlin's; Emersed growth of Ozelot
    by boukmn/ (Tue, 08 Jun 1999)
  12. Making a rock wall
    by lifish/ (Walter Jeffries) (Wed, 24 Feb 99)
  13. emersed growth in sword plants
    by Ronnie <fedental/> (Tue, 19 Oct 1999)
  14. Fresh water reef
    by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/> (Fri, 15 Oct 1999)
  15. Paludarium Question
    by Karen Randall <krandall/> (Sat, 25 Mar 2000)

Emerse Growable Plants?

by jphealy-at-SYSCONN.COM
Date: Sat, 25 Jan 1997

Several months ago I had the good luck to be in Denmark and spend a day
with Claus Christensen touring the Tropica Plant facility. Many of
Tropica's plants are emerse grown and all of Tropica's plants are

I have since set up a tank (33 long) in which to grow aquarium plants
emersed. Setup includes 80 W of lighting, a spray bar that leaves no
part of the tank floor unmisted and a pump drawing warmed water from
the substrate and using that to mist the plants.

My question is, what plants do best emersed?

Among the plants I have in my collection that I could propogate are:
Echinodorus: bleheri, ocelot, and tenellus; Cryptocoryne: willisi,
wendtii, and balansae; Anubias: Barteri nana, Barteri barteri,
coffeafolia; Rotala macranda, Microsorium pteropus, Bolbitis
heudelotii, and Vesiucularia dubyana. (also several varieties of
undefined algae   :-(    )

Justin in spring-like Savannah where people don't like to think that
they came from "monkeys".

Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #135

by dozenne/ (David Ozenne)
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998

Steve Pushak wrote:

> Sword plants are so very easy to grow under good conditions that I 
> would be surprised if they are cultured emersed. Has anybody seen it 
> done?

Haven't seen it, but here's an excerpt from Apollo Aquariums in
Singapore: (

  "Let's look at the Amazon swords. They are initially grown
  with the leaves above the water level in aquatic planter
  boxes. When the Amazon swords reach a certain size, we
  pump more water into the boxes until the plants are totally

It makes sense, because if you have a large planter box filled
with swords, you are definitely going to run up against the CO2
diffusion rate into the water.  Growing them emersed will give
you much faster growth in this case.

David Ozenne
Berkeley, CA

Emerse grown aquarium plants: Internet legend?

by mark.fisher/
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 98

     >It's often repeated on Usenet that certain kinds of aquatic plants 
     >are actually grown emersed and then sold in aquarium stores. This has 
     >the ring of another Internet-legend to me. Does anyone know this for 
     >a fact?
     I've grown E. tenellus both submersed in my aquarium, and emersed in 
     my backyard pond (I took some out of my aquarium and planted them out 
     back).  The submersed form has long (3-4") thin leaves, while the 
     emersed form has shorter (1-2"), broader leaves, and blooms profusely. 
     Mine blooms from about April-October.  The submersed form has never 
     bloomed for me.
     I noticed E. tenellus for sale at my LFS.  They were definitely 
     emersed-grown, as they had the same leaf shape as mine, and some had 
     These plants had the earmarks of large-scale propogation (i.e., potted 
     in rockwool, with a colored tag listing growing information and a 
     picture of the plant).  Pricey, too--$3.50.

It's not a legend

by "Merrill Cohen" <amc2/>
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998


I would estimate that 90% or more of the plants are grown emerse!  I have
visited Tropica in Denmark, Florida Aquatic Nurseries and various places in
Singapore -- and most of their plants are grown emerse in high humidity.  I
have even seen and gotten Ambulia that has been grown emerse.  In fact,
many plants are discovered on and around streams, lakes, ponds, etc. that
are already growing emerse.  It's not a legend and the plants adapt to the
submerged state in short time -- perhaps, by Nature, rainy season and dry
season.  In fact, many take on a different leaf form after being submerged.
 Not a legend, but an advancement for the hobby -- disease free, snail
free, etc.

Aquatic Gardeners Association

Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #135

by Dan Q <dqallwet/>
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998

> From: Stephen Pushak <>
> Subject: Emerse grown aquarium plants: Internet legend?
> It's often repeated on Usenet that certain kinds of aquatic plants are
> actually grown emersed and then sold in aquarium stores. This has the
> ring of another Internet-legend to me. Does anyone know this for a
> fact?

  I've been to many plant farms and I can assure you that it's not a
legend. The problem in answering your question is in it depends on the
plant, the grower, or the collector. I've been meaning to write about
this for my own web page, so this is a good chance for me to put
together a little preview.
  There are many plants that are available both submersed and
emerged. Some major growers such as Oriental (in Singapore) offer the
same plant both ways with the premium being for the submersed
types. There are other growers that grow everything emerged
hydroponically. Still others are grown in greenhouses, some in pools
and there is still a lot collected. In the USA, almost all Egeria,
Fontinalis, Banana and Cabomba, is collected in the wild. Also some
Sag., Ludwigia, Val., Riccia, and Mayaca. There is also a lot of
imported plants that are from the wild, including some swords,
Aponogetons and Anubias.
  Back to the topic. There seems to be pros and cons to both methods
of growing.  The advantage to emerged grown plants are they ship
better and are almost always algae and snail free. The down side is
that most will loose their leaves in a few weeks and be replaced with
new (usually smaller) leaves. In my mind this is fine and a somewhat
natural happening in the wild. Fortunately plants go from emerged to
submersed quite easily. Going the other way is often very difficult.
  Plants that are grown submersed are generally going to acclimate a
little quicker and some plants, like many of the swords, will be
smaller submersed. A large submersed Amazon sword for example, is
often the the size of a medium emerged grown one.
  Although I can't make up my mind if one way is better or not, I do
think that certain plants should be bought emerged, if possible, for
no other reason than to marvel at the dramatic change some can
make. Rotala indica, Hygro difformis and H. corymbosa are some that
make some very interesting changes.
  Many of the stem plants are grown in shallow water. Most of the part
that is cut off for sale being the emerged part. Ludwigia, Bacopa,
Hygro, some Rotala, Cardamine, Water Oak, Alternanthera come to mind.
  Plants that are most often grown emerged are Liliopsis, Hairgrass, Anubias,
Eustralis, Samolus.  Sometimes Sag., many of the swords and Crypts.
   Many of the plants that are grown outside in Florida also have some
very obvious seasonal changes. The magnificent Rotala macranda is
quite ugly when the water temps cool down (like now) while other
plants such as Lysimachia may have leaves that are 3 times as big as
the warm water version.
   There was a time that if you saw a net pot on a plant you could be
pretty sure it was raised emerged. This is no longer the case, as many
pet shops (the biggest collective buyer of plants) will often prefer
and pay a premium for potted plants because they display better and
are easier to move around.  Repotting is somewhat lucrative for many
suppliers and I think it would be safe to say that nearly 1/2 the
potted plants you see were not grown that way. I have recently seen
even Hornwort potted. Although that seems kind of dumb, I must admit
it probably sells better that way than floating.
  Perhaps the question of emerged vs submersed is more academic than
important, because for those suppliers that try to offer a large
selection, including the biggest growers in the country, they must buy
a large portion of their plants from other growers, exporters or
collectors. Generally, you don't have a choice, so you take it either
way it comes. 

plants grown emersed

by "Shiao Y. Wang" <sywang/>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998

> Stephen Pushak asked:
> It's often repeated on Usenet that certain kinds of aquatic plants are
> actually grown emersed and then sold in aquarium stores. This has the
> ring of another Internet-legend to me. Does anyone know this for a
> fact?

Steve, to convince yourself, try to locate a copy of a spiral bound book
entitled Oriental Aquarium, published by Oriental Aquarium Pte Ltd in
Singapore. It is essentially a pictorial catalog of aquarium plants
available from the company. It also provides short growing guides for
each of the plants. In the book are several pictures of their farm
operation and you can clearly see that many are grown emersed. Examples
of those shown grown emersed include: Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia,
Echinodorus bleheri, E. muricauts, Gymnocoronis spilanthoides,
Lagenandra ovata, Nomaphila siamensis. In fact, one of the pictorial
guides in the form of a drawing shows which species are suitable for
terrarium/paludarium. One of your local petshop owners may have a copy
if he orders/stocks plants.

- -- 
Shiao Y. Wang
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Southern Mississippi

Emersed Plants

by Deansliger <Deansliger/>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998

>It's often repeated on Usenet that certain kinds of aquatic plants 
>are actually grown emersed and then sold in aquarium stores. This has 
>the ring of another Internet-legend to me. Does anyone know this for 
>a fact?

It's hard for some to believe, but there WAS life before the Internet.  Most
commercial suppliers of aquarium plants have been growing the plants in the
emersed form for years and years.  There are several reasons, not the least of
which is that it eliminates the need for algae control.   Since most of the
plants that we grow in aquariums are not "true" aquatic plants anyway, the
plants generally grow better in the emersed state -- especially when grown in
mass such as a commercial operation.  But, as you say, the plants once in the
store and placed in a submerged state then have to re-grow new leaves -- the
plants probably think the spring rains have come at an odd time -- which is
why plants usually look so crappy in stores.

Dean Sliger

Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #136

by Loh Kwek Leong <timebomb/>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998

> >It's often repeated on Usenet that certain kinds of aquatic plants are
> >actually grown emersed and then sold in aquarium stores. This has the
> >ring of another Internet-legend to me. Does anyone know this for a
> >fact?

I've been to most of the aquatic plant farms in Singapore and I can
you that it's no legend.  Most aquatic plants are grown emmersed.
Most of the Echinodorous, plants like Anubias, Cryptocoryne, Tennullus,
Hair Grass and even some stem plants are grown out of water.
No CO2 injection, just sunlight and fertiliser, that's all the plants 
seem to need.

Loh K L

Is Steve "wet"?

by "Merrill Cohen" <amc2/>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998


With much respect, I really think that you are wrong here on the emersed
and submersed plant growing.

Over 40 years ago, Perry Slocum of Slocum Water Gardens (then in New York
state and now in Florida) grew Hygrophyla polysperma and Amazon Sword
Plants emersed and they were the best, most adaptive plants available at
that time -- clean, now snails and no loss.  Florida Aquatic Nurseries
followed with many other varieties, and to this day they supply the best
plants available in the U.S.  

Tropica from Denmark embellished on this; and with tissue culture of the
hardiest selected plants now grow the best plants in the World.  Horizon
Growers were originally connected somehow with Tropica (in the last 10
years?) and they grow nice plants. (They are no longer connected with
Tropica of Denmark.

If you are able to get hold of Alternanthera reineckii grown emerse from
Florida Aquatic Nurseries, you will find that it grows very well submerged
after you receive it.  Alternanthera sessilis does not!  I'm sure that
someone in Canada gets plants from Florida Aquatic Nurseries and I know
that Tropica of Denmark ships into Canada and will tell you to whom they
sell.  Florida Aquatic Nurseries does not sell retail. 

If you are not having success with emerse grown plants, you are not getting
the best ones.  They are better than ever due to the tissue culture of
hardier and disease resistant specimens; and the variety is continually
growing due to the expeditions of Claus Christensen and Holger Windlov of
Tropica -- just gorgeous adaptive varieties! 

A campaign to only buy submerged plants would be a giant step back in the
hobby of growing gorgeous plants in our aquariums.

Incidentally, just as a point of information, CO2 is added to the
greenhouse growing in Denmark as it is in so many terrestrial plant

You wrote:

> I prefer to get plants grown under water because then I know that the
> plant I buy is going to be indicative of how it looks after a few months
> under water. I also know that a specimen grown under water is going to
> be able to thrive right away from day one and not go through a setback
> period while it has to grow new underwater leaves in order to obtain
> nutrients required for new growth.

This is not entirely correct as submerged plants grow differently in
everybody's different waters.
> There are some emerse grown plants like Alternanthera which do not adapt
> well to submerged growth if grown emersed. I know this plant is commonly
> sold in aquarium stores that way and its not very good. I suspect the
> same is true for other aquatics grown emersed. I can understand the
> advantages for the cultivator; higher nutrient levels and faster growth
> rates can be sustained. No worries from algae. No need for CO2
> fertilization. But what is the impact on the purchaser of these emersed
> grown plants??? Perhaps we ought to be lobbying our supplies to stop
> this practice?? Or am I all wet here? ;-)

Yes, I think that I have answered your question. <VBG>

Aquatic Gardeners Association

Emerse Plants, Alternanthera, Nuphar

by Erik Olson (e-mail)
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998

> From: Stephen Pushak <>

> Yes, I'm very aware that many aquatic plants are able to grow emersed
> but I'm surprised to find that its a common practice of commercial
> aquatic plant growers.

> If I understand the physiology of aquatic plant leaves, the leaf forms
> which grow out of water are not very well adapted for growing under
> water. Is this not true? 

Yesbut... It's easier to transport and store the emerse forms from
grower to wholesaler, and most plants quickly drop their emerse leaves
and convert to the submerged form.  I agree that the downside I see
with this is that a lot of times someone buys a plant based on how it
looks at a store, and then finds it has totally different leaves after
a month or two.  Swords for instance.  Giant hygro.  But actually, I
find that most plants do OK converting to the other growth... they
have stored nutrients from their good days at the nursery.  It's the
second month after you get em home when they start feeling the strain
of the cruddy lighting, lack of CO2 and fertilizer. :)

> There are some emerse grown plants like Alternanthera which do not adapt
> well to submerged growth if grown emersed. I know this plant is commonly
> sold in aquarium stores that way and its not very good.

I think that Alternanthera is actually a different problem, which is
that one species A. sessillis is totally unsuitable for submersed
growth, while A. reineckii does well submersed, and I don't think they
actually sell emersed forms of it.  I have never heard of anyone
growing the former over the years (George, Paul K, etc).

> grown plants??? Perhaps we ought to be lobbying our supplies to stop
> this practice?? Or am I all wet here? ;-)

I suspect it wouldn't be profitable for those plants, or they'd cost a
lot more.  There's always hobbyist-reproduced plants (kind of our
equivalent to hobbyist-bred fish that have more color and spunk than
their wholesale counterparts). 

Going off-topic with that last paragraph, I would totally love to see
a grower or hobbyist sell pond lily (Nuphar) reproduced from seed, as
opposed to the ridiculous "lopped-off" tubers that rot away and die
within 3 months.  I'd pay real money for that.

  - Erik

- ---
Erik Olson				
eriko at

Alysoun McLaughlin's; Emersed growth of Ozelot

by boukmn/
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999

I would be very careful with your newly emersed ozelot. Down here in So.
Florida, our sub-tropical high humidity is very forgiving to emergent
swords. Maryland's climate may not allow you to do this for long. I would
cover it with an inverted ten gal tank to simulate a green house to be safe.

~David Boukmn.

Making a rock wall

by lifish/ (Walter Jeffries)
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 99

> Anybody got any experience to share in building a steep rock wall in a
> paludarium?  Specifically how to keep the rocks from collapsing?

I have built several palladiums now. In all of them I have used
natural rock that I have picked up on my property which I have then
glued together and to the aquarium glass using GE silicone GE012A
which comes in 10.1 fl oz tubes for a caulking gun. In places where
the silicone won't be seen I use just the silicone. Where it will be
seen I mix the silicone with sand to create a putty and then use that
to put together the rocks.

I work very slowly, a rock or two a day, much like doing bonsai :) so
by the time the tank is done all the possibly toxic chemicals are
done outgassing. Do work in a well ventilated space at it is stinky
and I would suggest wearing rubber gloves. I have had no problems
with fish, plant, reptile or invert deaths in any of the tanks so the
silicone seems to work fine. Prior to using it I did toxicity tests
with a number of species (brine shrimp, daphnia, guppies) to test it.

The trick of mixing the silicone with sand (blasting/play sand) works
very well and produces a very attractive, cuttable, finished product
that looks like dirt.

The biggest secret I find in making the palladiums is patience.
It takes me about five months to get one 'going' from a bare glass
tank to a beautiful slice of forest in a box filled with plants,
rocks, fish, animals, insects, etc.

One interesting note, the natural filtering capacity of the palladium
is significantly higher (will carry a much larger bioload) than the
same size tank filled with water and a good filter. I think that
this is due to the large amount of plant life, aquatic and terrestial,
the large amount of water movement, and the large amount of surface
area within the tank. Balancing the species mix of course is also
very important...


- -Walter

emersed growth in sword plants

by Ronnie <fedental/>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999

Ivo wrote:
> Is it possible to revert a sword plant growing submersed to its
> emersed state ? We usually do the opposite. If I move a submersed
> plant out of the water its leaves won't support themselves. Is there
> a special technique to deal with this ?
   I attempted various methods to grow aquatic plants emersed but failed
to prevent submerged leaves from wilting.  However, in a recent Tropica
seminar (sponsored by LFS), the idea was to contain the humidity until
the plant has assimilated to emersed environment.
   You can place the submerged-form plant in a pot and enclose it in a
plastic bag, effectively trapping the humidity.  Thereafter, as the
plant assimilate itself, gradually poke breathing holes to reduce
humidity.  Using this technique, chances of transferred plantlets
wilting is very much reduced.
   So far, the following plants did successfully revert to it's emersed
E.ozelot, Bacopa sp. and some Crypt sp.
- ---------------

Alfred Heng wrote:
> Will call you soon about the A. Crispus!
Looked around and found the last crispus but it looked pathetic... it's
yours ;-)

> About a 6x3x3 open top braceless tank...
It's a 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 and possibly with 20mm 'float glass'.

In this future setup, I lean towards PMDD fed sub-substrate PVC manifold
with plain gravel and thus my keen interest in the article mentioned by


Fresh water reef

by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1999

On Fri, 15 Oct 1999, Ron Bednar wrote:

> Hi,
> There has been some discussion on the list regarding freah water reefs
> and terestrial plants as filters. I have decided to setup a 10gal test
> prior to a 40gal main tank later on.

If I understand you right then this sounds very much like a setup I ran
for about 5 years, but I used a 20 gallon tank for the filter.

> I am thinking of using
> Spathphyllums as the filter plant in the outside container and have
> found a sm grained fired clay product used for growing hydoponic orchids
> to use as the medium. My question is the exchange rate to and from the
> outside container. Should the water trickle in and out like a hydroponics
> system via a lift tube arrangement or pour in and out from a powerhead
> like an outside filter?

My tanks were arranged vertically, main tank on top, filter tank on
bottom.  I dropped a line from the main tank to the filter and siphoned
down to the filter through a float valve.  I had an UGF plate under the
substrate in the filter.  One of the lift tubes was blocked off and I
siphoned through a 1/2" flexible tube from the other lift tube to a small
sump beside the tank.  I pumped water up from the sump to the main tank
using a small "minijet" pump.  A valve on the line from the pump to the
main tank regulated the flow rate.  I kept the flow at a trickle.

> If the latter, can the Spaths tolerate having
> their roots constantly submerged? Or would a bog plant like Marsh
> Marigolds be a better choice as the filter plant.

Spaths (at least mine) just loved that.  I also grew C. wendtii, a large
Anubia (congensis or lanceolata) and duckweed along with the Spathiphylum.
You could also grow some of the Echinodorus species in the same setting.

The problem is that most of these plants outgrew a 20 gallon tank, and
certainly they'll get too big for a 10 gallon tank.  If you want them to
grow out of an open top tank then this may be only a problem for
the lighting.  Some of the possible plants may need very high humidity
to keep from drying out so an open top tank might limit your choices a
little.  Spathiphylum will do fine with an open top.

> I would think that you
> would want a plant with a fairly high metabolism as the filter plant.
> Anyone have any experience with this? Thanks much.

Spathiphylum are probably a good choice.  If humidity isn't limiting, then
you might get good results with a big bruiser like Echinodorus
Cordifolius.  For rapid nutrient consumption and minimal size requirements
it's hard to beat duckweed.

Roger Miller

Paludarium Question

by Karen Randall <krandall/>
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000

A couple of people have asked for a low-tech/low cost solution to avoiding
condensation on the front glass.  Having kept a 55G paludarium for 9 years,
I am familiar with the problem.<g>  I found that the best solution was to
have the ventilation strip in FRONT of the lights, right over the front
glass.  This prevented condensation on all but the very coldest mornings
here in New England.  Even then, as soon as the lights came on and warm the
air in the tank, the upwelling of warm air past the front pane of glass
quickly dried it off.

Since my tank housed only fish and plants, I didn't have to worry about
escapees, and just left this strip completely open. (In fact, ivy started
growing out the opening, and draped down the outside of the tank, looking
very decorative)  I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard though, to construct a
screen piece to cover this opening and keep climbing critters in.


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