Java Fern Question
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:17 PM   #1
uncskainch
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Java Fern Question


My 29 gallon tank (lightly planted from Petsmart before I knew that I needed better light) is limping along with the 15w bulb that came with it until I save up the cash for a 65w Coralife fixture. In the meantime, nothing is (predictably) growing very well. The cabomba is tall and leggy, and the water wisteria, while nice and green, is growing at a glacial pace. I have a swordplant with a nice rosette of new growth in the center, though, despite the unhappy elder leaves (which, truth be told, looked pretty rough when I first brought them home).

The only real unqualified success story is my java fern (planted in the gravel at the base of my driftwood again, because I didn't know better at the time!). It has put up one new leaf from the rhizome and yesterday I noticed that the tip of a leaf has formed a plantlet touching the driftwood.

My question is, will this plantlet attach to the driftwood on its own, or do I need to eventually cut it off and tie it to the driftwood? Also , should I leave the fern where it is at the base of the driftwood for now, or should I move it? The rhizome is covered only shallowly and I had thought about moving it, but since it seems so happy growing where it is, I'm torn about what's best for the plant.

Also, I assume there's no real point in dosing Excel or getting CO2 going until I have more light? I am lightly dosing regular Flourish and I have a Flourite substrate. I've assumed that dosing Excel or using CO2 wouldn't make much difference until I get more light in there, but if I'm incorrect, please let me know!

Thanks for any tips. I may pick up a couple more java ferns or other ultra-low-light stuff while I wait to buy my new lighting -- I'm trying to at least have SOMETHING planted while I limp along with 1/2 a watt per gallon! Of course, my java fern seems to be trying to help me save for the new lights by reproducing itself without me having to buy more!
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Old 03-16-2005, 04:25 PM   #2
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Your java fern will attach to anything that is close enough for it to grab. If it is touching the driftwood and you want it to attach there, just let it be and it will take care of things itself. Otherwise, you can just pinch the plantlet off and put it where you want it to go. I have even just placed small weights on java fern to hold it in place til it grabs on.
As for the Excel, I am not entirely convinced of it's effectiveness, but I add some to my one tank that doesn't get CO2 just to make sure there is some kind of carbon source for the plants. Ironically, it's a tank full of java ferns, which I call my Java Jungle. In that tank I have a tall, central stack of rock, which is held together by java fern roots and rhizomes.
Just make sure to dose the Excel lightly. I have heard of people overdosing with it and having bad things happen, like dead fish. The same goes for ferts in a low light tank. Dose very lightly and cycle regularly to prevent buildup. You probably still won't get fast growth in your plants in a low light tank, but slow growth is better than none.
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Old 03-16-2005, 04:43 PM   #3
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I use cotton thread to attach Java fern to wood and rocks. By the time the thread disintegrates, the roots will long since have gotten hold. It seems like all the fern that I've had only sends out new branches from one end, so if you tie it on to the end of a piece of wood, make sure the business end is pointed toward the middle of your wood so it doesn't grow out into your substrate or wherever. (I hope that made sense...)
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Old 03-18-2005, 11:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice. I need to trim and replant some cabomba when I do my water change this weekend -- I'll relocate the Java fern slightly so that the end of the rhizome that is growing will take on the driftwood and not the gravel, and I'll tie the plantlet to the wood with some cotton thread, just to help it attach where I choose. And I'll be careful with the ferts while I wait for the funds for new lighting! I'm excited that at least the java fern is doing well while I wait!
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