A Plant Aquarium Update

So, you read yesterday’s post about the aquarium melt-down…this post is about the plant aquarium, a five gallon aquaponics tank—with no live plants…

This tank (known as the plant tank, even without plants in it/on it) was stressed out, holding twelve+ fish, for a few days. I wasn’t entirely sure how long that many fish would need to live there…and the meltdown of the other aquarium actually happened at a point where I had already been thinking about what could live in that environment…with that many fish in there though, I wanted to have extra filtration and cleaning added as quickly as possible, without having to buy a new filter or whatever—because the top of the tank is styrofoam with holes cut into it where we put the mesh baskets through to the water. There is a space (now) cut off at one side in the back to accommodate the heater and the airline tubing. Until this weekend, there was no heater in the tank…because…well, no one had gotten around to cutting a space out for the heater…and the water temps weren’t that chilly that I thought the fish would be affected. But, since this was the week to upgrade all the aquariums here, and talk about bringing the tall tank back upstairs as well – it’s just talk…I have no intention of doing that for a long time…although the talk originally started because my youngest expressed a deep love and admiration of angel fish…right now, that whole process to bring the tank up, clean it, set it up—just the idea of it is too exhausting for me right now…so maybe in a few months…so, the spacer got cut out and the heater installed…and although the water is a might bit warmer than it was, the fish don’t seem much changed…we’ll see how it goes once winter hits though…

So, my original intention, even before we had to plop all our mollies and their sidekicks into the smaller plant tank, was to find a peace lily. To be honest, I’ve actually been looking for a peace lily for nearly two months. Maybe three at this point. Wherever I go, not what I am looking for…even when I switched and decided to try to find a diffenbachia…no diffenbachia…of course—it’s what I was looking for, in several different stores, in several different locations…well, this past weekend when we all went out to run errands, I actually found some peace lilies…about two feet + tall peace lilies—the HUGE peace lilies—the really expensive ones…and what I have been after were smaller ones…that would not look or be out-of-place on top of a five gallon aquarium.

This past weekend, when we went out, there was only one houseplant in the store we went to. The poor thing was outside in the ‘garden center’, dying with all the other sun-burnt plants. She was stuck out in the midst of yard plants and garden plants. She was in a six-inch pot, so root bound that the roots were curling out the bottom, the sides and over the top. She was bone-dry…when I got her home and rinsed off the soil, there wasn’t much soil to speak of. She was straggly. She was massively sun-burnt. I picked her up, looked at her, and walked away, searching for any other sort of house plant. Finding only tall tropical plants that were completely inadequate for my needs, I started to head back into the building…but as I walked past her again, I heard her plea to come with me…so I had to pause. I picked her up. I saw that she had a lot of life left within her…so…she ended up coming home with me. Not a peace lily by any means, but a pothos.

I was far too tired to do anything once we got home, other than take my meds and curl up in my chair to wait for the pain meds and sinus meds to kick in and rest rest rest. I did get a plastic bowl, drop the plant as she was into the bowl and fill it up completely with water. She sat in that water overnight, and through most of the next day…until I had the energy to work with her.

The plant tank has eleven holes cut into the top for the mesh baskets. You may recall we were trying to grow catnip from seed her in growth wool over the recycling glass stone we have. Yeah. Not enough light—which I why I went for a low light loving plant. We had many of the seeds sprout, but they never got much past the sprouted out of the seed stage…

I took the pothos outside and I dumped out the water. I gently worked her out of her pot and she did come out pretty quickly. I rinsed all the dirt and soil and particles away. It didn’t take long; she really was nearly all root. I kept rinsing her, even after all the visbile dirt had come away. I refilled that plastic bowl again and plopped her in there. Then we went back inside…and I had to take a break. The heat wasn’t all that bad that day…and there was a light breeze, but still…I am not well, just getting on the mend now…and I needed to rest.

Once I felt up to it, I took her to the sink and started to pull her apart. She came apart into smaller rootings, as I call them, very quickly. I filled ten pots with the pothos…I have to leave that other hole empty so I can feed the fish. I took one single rooted stem, dropped in the growth wool, topped it off with the recycled glass stones – and plopped them into the tank.

The plantings have been in the tank for a day or two now—and they are happy.

Now, this plant has a lot more than ten rootings. She probably has closer to thirty or forty little rootings in total…whatever was leftover after I finished filling the plant tank baskets went into a half-gallon mason jar full of water (with some added kelp fertilizer) and even those pieces look so much happier than when I brought her home.

We have an older pothos. It’s belonged to my partner for years. It was a gift from a friend. I have been eyeballing that plant since I had to repot our beloved diffenbachia – and she ended up in a jar full of water and is now growing quite happily, lots of roots, growing new leaves as we speak…I am thinking that perhaps giving her the water-bath like these new pothos may be a good thing to bring her back around. She tends to fade, come back, fade, come back—although she gets very little light. She’s been happier lately since I moved her to a shelf on the wall where she gets better light—I may just need to think about a new pot and fresh soil for her…I’m still debating…I am in no rush to start a new project as yet.

These guys on our tank top will eventually start to vine out…and that is not really a bad thing…but by the time they get long and leggy, I hope to have found some peace lilies to replace them so that the pothos can all be potted in soil and allowed to grow and live happily. But for now, they are helping the fish keep the tank cleaner and the fish are helping them recover from their sun-burnt desert-like experience before we brought them home.