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Plants in funky packages... or new to the West at least  10/7/06 I have a reef tank, and a planted freshwater tank, so am not too limited in both these areas knowledge wise. <... okay> However, lately I have seen PetSmart selling live freshwater aquatic plants in "tubes" which have no water in them, but are sealed. They have a gel material in the bottom which keeps the moisture phases going,  I am guessing of course. <This and a bit of nutrient> I am wondering if these do well....on the surface, it seems like a nice idea, and an easier way to make sure there aren't any snails (well try to make sure anyway!). Regards, Mike <Have been merchandised/sold like this in W. European countries for decades. No problem. Bob Fenner>

Rotunda Gardens Dear Sir We Rotunda Gardens (Pvt) Ltd manufacture of TC Aquatic plants in Sri Lanka. We are registered company under export development board Sri Lanka as manufacture and exporter of T C Aquatic Plants. We understand that you are one of aquatic plants importer and we are looking for importer for our products. <Actually, we do not sell, distribute livestock, but will be happy to post your URL if you have one, on our site for others use. Bob Fenner>

Request for Expertise -- Establishing Aquarium Plants from Seed Dear Mr. Fenner: <Eric> My name is Eric Kraus. I am a research biologist for a technology-based environmental firm in Toledo, Ohio. My primary interests focus on the propagation and early development of aquatic plants from seed for purposes of conservation and restoration. I will do my best to keep this message brief, but I have repeatedly seen your name through my periodic literature searches and reviews, and I feel that we may have some common interests. I have been impressed with your breadth of expertise, so I want to share a bit about what we are up to. <Okay> That said, just a little about me. In my corner of the universe, I am working on the development of a technology that provides an alternative to traditional means of plant propagation in wetland/aquatic settings, especially when confronted with the challenges of establishing a favorable vegetative community in permanently inundated conditions. Below, I have attached a general spec sheet for the patented technology (SubmerSeed(tm)) as a PDF for your information, and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you in more detail about what we have learned to date. Our findings thus far have focused exclusively on native, emergent species. While these plants grow out of the water, we are finding that many of them can and do germinate and thrive under six inches of water, or more. What we have learned has been encouraging and exciting, but as always, it is a continuous process to learn more. <Mmm, what little I may be able to contribute is very likely been "learned" incidental to traveling in the ornamental trade. Visiting European tissue culturists like Tropica and Dennerle and with friends, associates in Florida...> You may be asking, 'What does this have to do with me?' As a life-long water lover and general aquatic enthusiast, I have maintained aquariums much of my life. I have always wanted to dig into the home aquascaping world, but limited time has always forced me to default to "plastics," and remain pretty much an overall amateur. <Ahh! Perhaps we'll see "real" freshwater aquariums in the U.S. soon/er due to your efforts!> This hobby background, coupled with the professional research that I am involved in, has gotten me thinking about the potential application of SubmerSeed(tm) as a means to establish live aquarium plants quickly, simply, and cost-competitively from seed. My thinking is that it may have application on two fronts: (1) casual hobbyists like myself who might not need tremendous diversity or too many 'bells and whistles,' just easy, attractive plants; and (2) devoted enthusiasts who are looking for novel, hard to grow varieties and who might be interested in an equally unique way to "plant" these varieties in their aquariums. <Interesting concept, and one I have not occasioned> To be completely candid, the purpose of this letter is to 'test the waters.' The last impression that I want to give is that I am proposing to have the next best thing since sliced bread. I do think we have a fundamentally sound technology, but finding its place in the aquarium industry would require dedicated research and development, and equally importantly, input from experts in the industry (like yourself). <I see> I have already written more than I intended, so I will leave it at that for now. Your input - both on the technology as a whole and maybe even on likely species that might be well suited for this application - would be greatly appreciated. I hope that we have the opportunity to speak soon. Please feel free to respond via email or phone if a convenient time presents itself. I truly appreciate your time and consideration. Regards, Eric Kraus Ecologist/Research Scientist AquaBlok, Ltd. www.aquablokinfo.com http://www.aquablokinfo.com/SubmerSeed/SSoverview.htm <The technology appears sound and there is a "gap" in western markets (indeed), though you would have to "make" the market here... over a few to several years (appropriately), rather then trying to force/spend your way marketing into profitability. I take it your co. is involved in aquatic environment restoration work in other countries as well? Selling to folks involved in the culture of ornamental aquatic embryophytes in the U.S. might also be a target for you folks. Will post your note on www.WetWebMedia.com in the hopes that others will come forward with their input. Bob Fenner>

Starting a wholesale aquatic plant biz Great site! I always enjoyed your articles in FAMA. <Ahh, there are a few of us who have been published there> What is your opinion of starting a small aquarium plant wholesale biz, raising plant species for resale to wholesalers, etc. <A time that has, or will (should have IMO) come to the U.S. by now! Do check out Tropica and Dennerle's sites on the WWW... I encourage you to investigate further... there are places that do, and have done such work in Fla for years> Got the water, greenhouse, etc.  just want to see if it's feasible. <Important to do due diligence here... develop "strong" business AND marketing plans... with spreadsheets taking into account monthly expenses... for power, labor (even if you consider you and yours "free"), income... perhaps some possibilities for polyculture... the production of valuable standard animals (like freshwater angelfishes, callichthyid catfishes, Ramshorn snails...) to supplement the enterprise's income> Thanks, John Rowe <A pleasure to serve, share. Bob Fenner>

Re: starting a wholesale aquatic plant biz Thanks, Bob.  Solid advice. You got the best wet site on the web that's not porn! <Hey! We've got naked fishes!>   Glad I found ya! Probably have more questions, so I'll write. <Real good. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Re: starting a wholesale aquatic plant biz Has anyone ever written articles specifically about a wholesale plant startup? <Not that my files show. There are a few "trade magazines" (other than the hobbyist ones am sure you're aware of) that are produced in English... but these are very general in their content. It might well be more valuable to look into "greenhouse/terrestrial" sources for business information that can be applied to aquatics here. Much of the tissue culture, grow-out, packaging... technology employed in underwater plant business is borrowed from terrestrial/ornamental endeavors. Bob Fenner>

Articles and Photos needed Hello Bob <Hello> My name is Guy Upfold from Amatikulu Aquarium Plants in South Africa. We produce aquarium plants here mainly for the South African market. I have found a need to educate pet store owners and the public here about setting up planted aquariums. I would like to create a brochure type CD with help and instructions on doing this in the hopes that it will help the industry in my country. <I salute your effort, goals here> You have written many very good articles on lighting, substrates etc and I wanted to know whether you would be interested in Writing articles that I could use on the CD. I am also looking for quality pictures of aquariums and particular a sequence of setting up a basic planted aquarium. I hope you can help. Regards Guy Upfold guy@aquariumplants.co.za <Am quite busy presently. Allow me to survey our Crew, others to see if they can assist you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Articles and Photos needed Hello there Thank you for your reply. A very big help would be quality photos. They are for screen use so they would need to be 72 to 96dpi and at least 800x600 pixels. I am looking for sequences of a basic aquarium being set up as well as complete aquariums or show aquariums or other material that may be of use. I would also like to have info accompanying some of the photos for credit to the aquarists and how they did it. I am also open to any suggestions. <You've seen Dennerle and Tropica's recent printed materials? Excellent, and much of it online. Bob Fenner> Sincerely Guy Upfold guy@aquariumplants.co.za

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) Hi Bob, (Oh, Ralf Schmidt produces Knop's Reactors in Germany) how many of anubias nana he need per order? Is there any different paperwork for importing plants to the US (Health certificate) or is that the same procedure like hardware? I contacted Dennerle for the plants. No problem! ( We are producing the woods for them). Ralf <Great news Ralf. Will use your note here to introduce you two. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) Hi Bob, Thank you. I will send a note to Ralf. <Good> I have found a source for wood. In fact I may end up distributing the wood (rolling ideas collect lots of moss it seems).  <Well-stated> I new wood supplier is starting operations here in the US. The pieces that that are bringing in are very nice. A lot more variety than the standard 'Swahala' or 'Wallaby' wood. They are looking for customers. Right now they are planning on selling direct to retailers. I think that they should be contacting wholesalers to move containers of wood. <Am sure this has been well-considered... there are only a few factors to ponder here... the volume, price-point, net... going one way or t'other> They agreed with me to the point of signing me on to help develop that market. The really nice part is that I am getting the wood at a much lower cost than I thought that I would be. We will have the container sales proposal ready in a couple weeks. <Am interested in your overall reflection... pls do retain our correspondence... write me/us back in a few to several months with "what you have experienced, learned"> I also found a source for plants out of Nigeria. The prices are very reasonable. I am still checking references though. The only problem is that I will need to purchase plants 2500 at a time... more moss on the rolling idea, I guess I could be wholesaling bare-root anubias as well. <Careful here my friend... do make sure you have "all your ducks in a row" with the issues of the FDA here and trusting the folks there...> The Asian sources are trickling in. Most of them have the same issue though... they use Dolphin to tranship. <Yes... hence my encouraging you to deal with them straightaway> The prices are not as good as the African source, but I would not need to purchase the huge quantity. The African source has a much nicer variety though. <Other problems, as you will find> At the moment, the business plan has been pushed back one month due to the landing date of the wood. <There is time, remember this> However, if I use the African source for plants, I can tie twice the number of plants onto the wood for half the price that I was expecting to pay, effectively cutting production time in half. We are still on track for saleable product in November/December. <This year? Quick...> How many pieces can I pencil you in for...;) <A couple. Bob Fenner, with empty Eheim systems (well, they have water, substrate in them... and a bit of algae)> Thanks again,

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) Thank you, I will try to contact Dennerle and Tropica. Tissue culture would add a considerable amount of time and space to the operation.  <Yes... but fun to do. And there was an outfit of all places in our home town of San Diego, California that was doing just this (up in Ramona)...> There are a few plants that growing my own would be a viable option, (riccia, glossostigma), due to the fast growth and low space requirements. <Yes... or have we chatted re transhipping out of the orient? Do you have space for "recovering" such stock? Sunny Aquarium is a lead here... in Singapore... very reasonable cost per unit. Have you been to the international trade shows? Consider coming out to Aquarama next year... Bob Fenner> Thanks again,

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) I shot an e-mail to Sunny. I think the 'no order is too big or too small' is encouraging. The plants may be the last piece of the puzzle.  <Yes> I have a target date of no later than September 15 to have my first production vat 'loaded', followed by filling a new vat every 4 weeks.  <May I ask, will you infuse CO2? What sort of fertilization do you intend to employ? Will you grow the plants in a substrate of your fashioning? Soil added to it? What sort of lighting, lighting regimen? Water depth or will you grow in just moist soil> I am reasonably sure that I can produce a saleable product in 8 weeks, assuming the stock that I start with is in at least decent shape. If all goes well, I will be wholesaling to a few customers by November. <Sounds good. Perhaps Cryptocorynes next...> Your help is greatly appreciated. You mentioned that your wife was looking into importing pieces from Dennerle. I hope that when vat 'well done' she would be interested in having a look at my product. <I will cc her re here. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Ted

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) > <May I ask, will you infuse CO2? yes What sort of > fertilization do you intend to > employ? Periodic broad spectrum fertilizer and daily iron. Will you grow the plants in a substrate of > your fashioning? Directly on the wood pieces. Soil > added to it? The vats will have a layer of Fluorite on the bottom. Less damage to the liners if there is a substrate. (The entire operation will be portable until it grows large enough to move into a more permanent facility, at which time I will invest in larger, more permanent growing vats.) I am not sold on the idea that just the presence of Fluorite will be of benefit is the plants are not rotted in it, but putting it in from the get go will make propagating other plants around the wood easier if I decide to do that. What sort of lighting, lighting > regimen? Nice thing about Anubias and ferns is that intensity is not as important as specific light wavelengths that will encourage faster growth. No need for super bright halogens. There are plenty of good fluorescents that will provide the desired wavelengths. Water depth varies, but generally less than 10 inches above leaves. or will > you grow in just moist soil> no, I think that aquatic grown for aquariums is best. <<Agreed>> > <Sounds good. Perhaps Cryptocorynes next...> For now, the niche is 'live wood'. I will stick to Anubias and ferns for the time being. I will likely propagate some 'mossy' wood with riccia and/or glossostigma for the Amano enthusiasts. <<Good plan>> Tell me if you think the following logic is sound... I intend for this to be a wholesale product. If I can get the materials at desired prices (and they are conservatively high), I believe I can sell these pieces profitably at an average price of $25 - $30. (Less for small pieces, more for larger). I envision marketing a ten-pack that has a few small, a couple large and about half medium pieces, all with good plant growth, for $250. Air freight is the best way to move them. These ten packs, including box materials, should be less than 100 pounds. The local airport is an America West hub, which has decent freight charges. The suggested retail prices would be $25 - $30 for a small piece, $40-$50 for the medium pieces and $60 - $70 for the larger pieces. The idea is that the retail price for size/number of the plants and the retail value of the wood piece alone should be close to the retail price of the propagated piece. For example, a 12 inch (medium) piece of Swahala wood (retail ~$18), plus 3 Anubias barteri with 5 - 8 leaves (retail ~$27 for all three) would be a total of $45, but then the customer has to wait 2 - 3 months (under optimal growing conditions) to create this product. <Mmm, I'd do a bit of local test marketing (perhaps a friendly local fish store) before having labels, ads made up> I am hoping to capitalize on impatience... <You already have two customers. Bob F> Ted

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) <Mmm, I'd do a bit of local test marketing (perhaps a friendly local fish store) I have moved a few aquarium grown pieces through the 'friendly local pet store'. The pieces have ranged from small 6 - 8 inch Anubias nana pieces up to a couple huge 24" plus pieces. The longest any one piece stayed in the store was three days,  <Wow! Great.> and that was a huge piece with a set of A. sp. 'cofeefolia' plants that amassed to about 30 leaves surrounded by a ring of A. nana (about 100 leaves). That piece sold for $150. I cannot say that I made a dime on it though. I started that piece retail everything. The wood alone was $45, and I started with 5 cofeefolia and ten nana. It was in a 110 display in my home for a year. <Yikes... at least you enjoyed, grew through the process> Ted PS. Attachments are A)2 two-month grown A. barteri on a large piece of wood in a 110. The plants started with two - three leaves each This is actually hardly at all what I will be producing. I piece of wood this size would have a lot more plants arranged in a much more natural. B) Java fern on a medium (12 inch) piece of wood. Two pics of this. The tank is a 20H. This is more along the lines of the size and plant growth I am shooting for. Ferns take a bit more time than Anubias... this plant has been established for about 4 months at the time of the picture. The larger plant started with about 6 leaves. The smaller plant with about 3. <Very nice. Bob Fenner>

Re: searching still (Ralf, can you give me a reference to Anubias there?) Hello Bob, I chatted with you last week about working towards setting up a planted wood propagation business. I am going nuts. I am having a very difficult time locating import brokers, regardless of their size. I have spoken with Dolphin, and they will not do business with me since I would not be able to meet their $1000 a week minimums. <Mmm, this is a high regular minimum> I look all over the web and find small retailers and wholesalers who have managed to find their sources. Whoever these sources are, they do not advertise particularly well. <Not a high volume or due to back stocking, profitable part of their businesses likely> I have located a source of wood. I need to import the plants. How does a company who is seeking to start out in wholesale locate import sources for livestock? <By doing about what you are doing... asking, calling, faxing, writing. Are you interested in tissue culture yourself? The big deal here is time... and secondarily space. Have you tried contacting Dennerle, Tropica? I would... and ask if they have a liaison in the U.S. (these come and go) that would sell you plant stock> I have even tries the yellow page listings in the major port of entry cities. Many import/export brokers are listed, but the few I have managed to contact do not broker live goods, nor know anyone who does (at least not off the top of their head). <A tough part of the biz... due mainly to the U.S. FDA, other agencies concerns principally re soil nematodes... their import avoidance> If you can provide a hint or two, I would really appreciate it. Sincerely, <Do contact Tropica and Dennerle... they will know who you can in turn turn to. Bob Fenner> ===== Ted R. Judy Dry Heat Enterprises 1298 S. Monterey St. (480)821-4934

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