Pilea sp. Plants for Planted Ripariums

hydrophyte

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I have tried quite a few different kinds of plants in ripariums. Among these are some very useful selections. I have also encountered some that were unsuitable for riparium culture, either because they did not adapt to culture in water under artificial lighting, or because their growth habits and shapes were unsuitable for riparium layouts. One group that is especially useful riparium elements are the small herbaceous plants in Genus Pilea. There are several Pilea species that are used as houseplants or terrarium specimens, so they can be found in shops without too much trouble.

I have found that the most useful way to employ Pilea plants in ripariums is to plant them on trellis rafts and then position them in the layout midground. They are useful for this because they are relatively short and compact, so they fit well well in front of taller riparium background foliage. These plants have the important advantage of having modest nutrient demands, so they can grow with their roots suspended right in the water and use the nutrients provided in fish waste and modest water column fertilization.

Here is a shot of my new 200-litre setups that includes a few very nice little Pilea plants and other light emersed stem plants.

3-i-09-tank-i-m.jpg


There is also an Echindorus sword and some Cyperus umbrella sedge in there.

I have started a thread for this setup over in the Journals sub-forum, http://ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=8775&start=40.

Here is a close up that shows the two different Pilea in there.

6-i-09-pilea-florida-ditch-1-i-m.jpg


Each of these is growing on a nano trellis raft, a foam part that can hold the stems erect and with the bases in the water. The picture below shows the larger of these, which I am identifying with the provisional name, Pilea Florida ditch #1.

6-i-09-pilea-florida-ditch-1-iii-m.jpg


Here is the smaller plant floating right in front of that one in the tank, Pilea Florida ditch #2.

6-i-09-pilea-florida-ditch-2-i-m.jpg


This last picture shows better how the plants grow in the Nano Trellis Raft. The plant here is also a Pilea sp., variety 'Silver Tree'. It has attractive silver-patterned, purple leaves and is the fastest growing Pilea that I have tried.



'Silver Tree' grows so fast that it is necessary to crop the tops of the stems and replant in the trellis raft when it becomes too leggy. The new cuttings root readily when planted in this way.
 

hydrophyte

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Hi Mark, Yes it is really easy to plant the plants on the nano trellis raft. Each raft also has a pair of mushroom-head fasteners on the segment ends, so you can just snap the raft + plant into place next to other rafts or planter cups.

6-i-09-pilea-cardierei-ii-m.jpg


For planting in this way you just have to take care to select plants, such as Pileasp., that don't require heavy fertilization. Plants that need richer media have to be planted in the hanging planter, then trained to grow across a raft.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Ideal I would think, they are great Terrarium plants where you have a bit of room. Pilea "Florida ditch 1" is Pilea mollis, probably the cultivar sold as "Moon valley". Florida ditch 2 looks like "Creeping Charlie" (Pilea nummulariifolia), and Silver tree is a cultivar of the "Aluminum plant" Pilea cadierei. If you could find it the Florida native "Artillery Plant" Pilea microphylla would be a good one too.
cheers Darrel
 

Dan Crawford

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This is great, i love it all. I'm dying to set one up but i don't have any more space. I'd love to have a go in my four footer, some day maybe.
 

hydrophyte

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Thanks Darrel and Dan, Those species determinations are handy I should write them down before I forget.

These Pilea really are perfect for this particular application. I have tried a few different aquarium stem plants on the nano trellis raft but they all suffer with my less than consistent water column dosing. Pilea, on the other hand, can get along and grow well with little.
 

Mark Evans

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here's a question Devin.....

what kind of lighting periods do you use for these set ups?

I'm guessing algae issues are not at the top of list like normal set ups? longer lighting periods and less hazard? :geek:
 

hydrophyte

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Management of lighting and most other life support is pretty much the same as for regular planted tanks, except that they do not have the dense plantings of underwater foliage, so there is no need for CO2 injection. This tank has a photoperiod of eleven hours, which is working well.

There is algae development on the stones in this setup, but I rather like the way that it looks and those goodeid livebearers also appreciate it. Having the underwater portion largely free of plants makes it easy to clean up algae that might become unsightly (e.g., unwanted growth on the gravel).

In some of the other ripariums that I have put together the emersed plants have grown to throw a lot of shade on the underwater area, and in these cases there was very little algae.
 
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