Starting Utricularia graminifolia with DSM

wolfewill

Member
Joined
19 Nov 2012
Messages
77
Location
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
I’m been attempting to grow Utricularia graminifolia as a carpet plant in an 15 gallon iwagumi set up. This led me to do an online search to see what conditions have worked for others. In addition to the usual specialty web sites I looked at various blogs as well. So what follows is the progress I’ve made to date, and what I’m going to do in the next few weeks based on the research. I’d really like those of you who have grown UG to weigh in on this topic.
I found good information from zozo here, who suggested that a dry start method would be the easiest and had worked very well for him on a number of occassions, so I started it that way. The substrate is Fluval Stratum (1-1.5 inches) on top of a layer of Seachem Flourite (1-1.5 inches). Next the tank was filled with tap water and dosed NO3 (10ppm), PO4 (1ppm) and Seachem Comprehensive (to 0.1ppm iron) and left the tank to soak for a few days. The tank was then emptied to the point where the water level was just at the top of the Stratum layer, and then I merely sprinkled the UG on top - no planting - and waited. It has been 2.5 months to date, and here is a photo to show what it looks like.
Next I did an online search, and here is a meta analysis.... of sorts, of what I found. Sources include Aquascaping World, bubblesaquarium.com, carnivorousplantnursey.com, UKAPS, aquazone.io, flowgrow.de, and heaquariumguide.com. Here is a summary.
Lighting: There was very little agreement among the sources. However, several sites suggested that starting with low light and increasing the intensity after 4 to 6 weeks to high light.
Carbon source: CO2 injection was universally suggested once the plant was submerged. Target pH ranges suggested went from 5.0-7.0, but an acid environment was universally recommended as well.
Fertilization: There was very little agreement concerning macro fertilization. Water column dosing worked for some but several suggested that rain water worked as well. Micro nutrients, particularly iron and manganese were mentioned as important by several sites.
Substrate: Substrates that worked went from none (on a log), to nutrient rich.
Water parameters: There was no agreement as to water hardness. Temperature ranges were from 64-77̊F.
Maintenance: Regular trimming was almost universally recommended. It seems that melting at the substrate surface was the most common problem and trimming to 1 cm seemed to control this problem. One interesting comment on the aquazone.io website was that melting occurs due to ammonia build up in the substrate/root zone. In a natural environment the ebb and flow of river/stream level removes this but in the aquarium regular trimming was necessary. Alternatively, a daily ebb and flow strategy, one to several times per day would imitate the natural processes and maintain the mat density.
So, here’s what I’m going to try. I’m a week away from filing the tank as the plant has carpeted much of the substrate. First I’ll test the light so I can duplicate the intensity after filling the tank. Then I’ll fill the tank with regular city of Ottawa tap water, and adjust the light intensity to compensate for the addition of water. I’ll add good filtration and flow using an Eheim 2213; add CO2 to drop the pH one pH unit from the baseline each day; fertilize the water column to 10 ppm nitrate, 1 ppm phosphate and add Seachem Comprehensive to target iron at 0.1 ppm. I’ll gradually increase the light level if there are any indications that it’s not intense enough, and of course trim to 1 cm regularly. Input would be appreciated.
P3244261 (800x512).jpg
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,390
Location
Netherlands
Researching Utricularia sp. life cycle in general might help to understand the conditions it prefers. In the aqaurium hobby there is little in depth information given about the plant sp. natural propperties and prefernces in general. And also why it is such a chalanging difficult plant to grow if one actualy works more or less counter productive towards prefered conditions and its natural propperties. :)

Utricularia is a carnivorous plant, the name comes from Utricle and means Urn (Small vase). This refers to the small bladders on its rootsystem hence the common name Bladderwort. These small bladders are actualy small sensory vases that are able to contract and expand triggered by touch. When the sensory organ is touched by passing micro fauna in the water, it expands in a split second and it sucks in it's prey. It releases enzymes into its bladder to swiftly decompose the protien rich fresh prey. This provides the plant with the necessary carbon source etc.

This way it evolved to survive in invironments that are extremely poor in nutrients in form of dissolved NPK etc. They evolved in such poor conditions for so long that high EC nutrient rich invironments macrophytes prefere work counter productive.

They rather grow in conditions very low in EC and high in organic matter such as decompossing leaflitter, peat and or even free loating alage that again atracts micro fauna etc. helping it decompose and or feed on the free floating algae cells. <Recent studies revealed even Utricularia feeds on algae>

All preferences we actualy try to avoid as much as possible in the aqaurium hobby. We want, crystal clear water, preferably a minimum of decompossing organics and if CO² is used we want a hell of a turn over that filters out anything free floating on the fly.

That makes succesfully growing Utricularia in such conditions for a longer term walking a thin red line. Strugling to compensate an almost absolute unnatural Utricularia invironment, with loads of CO² and artificial dry salt fertilization. Th eload of CO² likely compensates a bit, but unfortunately not enough for long term succes.

Personaly i had most succes with UG in high tech, growing it in semi epiphytic conditions in reduced flow, like this. With the bladders free in the water able to catch anything passing by. With the bladders in the substrate is not a natural UG invironment,there is to little to catch. Obviously even worse if poissonous ammoinia comes to play in the substrate killing off or preventing micro fauna to thrive.
dscf5485-kopie-jpg.jpg


dscf5538-kopie-jpg.jpg


And still, somewhere along the line i made a mistake and it dissapeared on me one day.
 
Last edited:

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,390
Location
Netherlands
I also think there is a major difference in preferences between Juvenile UG and Mature UG.. The biggest issue in the aqaurium hobby with an UG carpet is rejuvinating it constanly. The high tech invironment is no good for mature UG.
 

wolfewill

Member
Joined
19 Nov 2012
Messages
77
Location
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
zozo: What do you mean by 'EC'?
This is very good to know as I understand it. The article(s) to which you refer are great. Thanks.
But, what do you propose I do with respect to water column ferts. I've read at least one article that said it did well in a nutrient rich substrate. We have very soft water here so I could leave the macros out and just provide enough CO2 to lower the pH into the high acid range and dose the water column with Flourish Comprehensive?
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,390
Location
Netherlands
Hi,

Actualy i have no proposition other than my personal experience always failing with UG without the use of rain or distilled water. :) Even my tap water tho it is relative soft, it always kills UG in the long run.

EC is Electric Conductivity, in other terms also called TDS as Total Disolved Solids.. By itslef it doesn mean much other than if water contains a lot of it, it has a high conductivivty. In general fertilizers are elements bound to salts. Salt makes water highly conductive. Also Calcium Chloride is a salt and all other metal chlorides that can be disolved in water (Magnesium).

If you have tapwater even is it is soft it likely contains some calcium and or magnesium reflecting in a EC value.. Than adding salt based fertilizers to this water will only boost the EC even higher.. Than there can be other elemenst accumulating in the water boosting EC without beeing a fertilizing element.

Anyway, a plant like UG or actualy carnivorous plants in general, are evolved in very nutrient poor invironments, hence they are carnivores and depend on self caught protien to make there own nitrogine source etc. :) It doesn't uttilize ferts via it's root system as a macrophyte would do, it has also a very different rootsystem especialy Utricularia. thus if it isn't utilized very much but still put in it only accumulates to a degree that it becommes harmfull to the plant.

What it actualy is what kills the plant i do not know.. I guess it's the same as for macrophytes, also these can recieve a to high EC and it burns the plant. Whit carnivours this happens a lot sooner. I think it has to do with osmotic pressure between cell and invironment. If it's off balance it harm the plant. A to high EC negatively influences this osmotic pressure.

But as said my tap water does kil it, even tho it is soft. In my low tech aqauriums i never could make UG live longer than 1, 2 or mauybe 3 months, than it disapears on its own. In the high tech and i can only guess but it's a pretty confident guess it was the extra CO² helping it to utilize the added ferts a bit and live 6 or 7 months. But also here it is a thin red line one mistake and what ever it is, i never found out, (Could be 2 day water change to late and a fish with diarrhea hence i realy don't know but than the UG days can be numbered and suffer.

If you want to let UG realy thrive, than give it a mixed very loose substrate with sphagnum, peat and leaf litter and only distilled (rain) water.. :) Microbes and other micro organisme take decomposition for there part, eat the leaf litter etc and propagate, UG parties again on the micro organisme it catches, than the circle is round and that is all it needs. Can't actualy be more simpler than that. What obviously is difficult is to create a planted aqaurium that simple..
 
Last edited:

wolfewill

Member
Joined
19 Nov 2012
Messages
77
Location
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
Ok. Thanks for that. It sounds daunting. The TDS measurement from our tap water is 85 to 90 ppm. Does that sound too high? I think I'm starting to see how this may work. The peat or leaf litter decomposes and the UG uses the active organisms, or water borne algae as it's primary nutrient sources. If the balance is upset, or the decomposting bacteria die off, then so too will the UG. Perhaps the water parameters shouldn't be tailored for the UG and the conditions in it's natural environment, but to the requirements of the nutrient source, the decomposting bacterias. Many online sources relate success with water hardness up to 12, so there is very little agreement about that issue. One source stated that UG would need a steady source of paramecium. Perhaps this is the key?
 

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
7,390
Location
Netherlands
It sounds daunting.
Well it does even if it's not meant like that.. But is also can be seen as a verry educative challange to try to grow UG long term beautifull outside its comfort zone. Even tho i personale failed all the time growing it long term submered in aqaurium, i definitively enjoyed the short time it did grow it. As shown in the pictures above. But i can not advice on that regarding parameters as for most off us, i have my tap water and that's it, this gives a pretty induvidual experience that is different from yours and for everybody else. If i want something else i need t buy bottles or build an expensive RO installation. My experience with UG stops at Tap water that is no go and rain water that is not constant source and distilled water from the store. On the window sill with distilled water from the store i grow UG without prtoblems. Than it has only one obvious food source, as juvinile it likely feeds on the nutrients the nitrifying bacteria supply and when it matures it switches over the the bigger organism source.

And i can only reflect on and confirm what the growing carnivorous plants tutorials out there advice, all advice against using tap water. :) Because all that's in there is not fully utilized by the plant and accumulates crashing the EC at one point and likely killing the plant.

As i mentioned above there probably is a change in the plants morphology while it matures. After all nurseries keep providing us with healthy juvinile UG in most cases growing emersed on agar gelly. In this stage it yet has not developped any bladders and it obviously utilizes other nutrients from its invironment. I once asked the question what do they put in the agar to propagate UG. To no avail nurseries are secretive about their succesfull recipes and lab techniques. Than you have to find other ways to pick it apart and analize that stuff. To get an insight on what juvinile UG requires and how they grow it on gelly.

Mature UG indeed requires a good source of micro organisme, paramecium, rotifers etc. This definitively is a key. Thus providing your aquarium with a food source for this will definitively have positive effect. But this micro organisme food source, leaf litter, alder cones etc. will stain the water with tanins, that;s why it is avoided by so many people since they want the water crystal clear. I tried to give UG all i can in my aqaurium, one day i had it thriving and suddenly i still fail and it dies on me on the long run. For me it stays a big mystery.

Here is a journal you might find interesting notes in, this guy grew UG pretty succesfull for a while in this scape till he swapped it with another plant because he found it growing to fast.
http://www.aquascapingworld.com/threads/mystical-mountains-journal.9578/
I think his key was keep trimming and rejuvinating it and he definitively had beter parameters than i have.

Some more:
https://www.thecarnivoregirl.com/carnivorous-plants-for-beginners-bladderworts-utricularia/

A nice extensive site on cultivating aquatic carnivors.. For succesfull growing aqautic Utricularias they advice back to the same tutorial as for growing Aldrovanda. Both aqautic carnivor requiring simmular conditions. UG is affixed aquatic.
http://bestcarnivorousplants.com/aldrovanda/photogallery.htm# Cultivation:

http://bestcarnivorousplants.com/mineral_nutrition.htm
See: VIII. Mineral Nutrition of aquatic carnivorous Plants
 
Last edited:
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
A Starting stem plants floating? Plant Help 3
S Utricularia Graminifolia going white Plant Help 0

Similar threads

Top