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FAQs on Hemianthus for Aquariums 

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lighting for dwarf baby tears 7/29/11
Hello Crew it has been a long time since I wrote to you. I've been keeping reef tanks for a long time and thought about switching it around. I recently bought a Fluval Edge aquarium (6 gallons) for my office and wanted to keep dwarf baby tears, moss balls and a Crowntail Betta. The tank is equipped with 2-10 watt halogen bulbs and I was wondering if 20 watts is sufficient lighting for these plants to thrive? I'm adding Flourish and a liquid CO2 supplement as well and have the lights on for 12 hours. The substrate is sand for now, but I have a bag of treated gravel that I haven't added yet.
Thanks for your help.
<Hello Lawrence. Hemianthus callitrichoides is somewhat demanding, and you do need fairly bright light for it to thrive. The standard Fluval Edge aquarium doesn't have very strong lighting, a lighting system that has been designed to display fish rather than grow plants. Some success has been had with undemanding plants including Java moss and Cryptocoryne species, but I'd be surprised if Hemianthus callitrichoides did anything more that survive. Do remember that leaving lights on for longer DOES NOT substitute for light intensity, because for a plant to photosynthesise, the "push" of light, its intensity, needs to pass above a given threshold. Lights below this threshold can be on all day and they'll never get the photosynthesis system started. Mineral nutrients are likewise only useful once a plant is synthesising food and has the necessary organic compounds in its cells it can further process with nitrogen, magnesium, etc. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: lighting for dwarf baby tears 7/29/11
Thanks Neale. I do have a 70 watt metal halide fixture that I had thought about using. I just wouldn't know how much wattage is too much wattage.
<Ah, yes, too much light will promote algae. It's a tough needle to thread.
You probably want, what, at least 15-20 watts of good quality light in a Fluval Edge, and the spectrum needs to be plant-friendly rather than generic indoor lighting. There are any number of web pages and blogs about Fluval Edge systems, so you can probably get some idea of what's doable by spending a little time searching through them. The tricky part is that a tank can look very spiffy immediately after it's set up; the tricky part is finding photos showing the tank three or six months on, so you can see the plants have settled in and started to grow. A bit of direct sunlight might be helpful, if all else fails, though this will of course bring other problems, including water temperature rises. As for your 70 watt fitting, that's probably overkill, and you'll have problems getting sufficient ventilation inside the hood for that lamp to stay cool. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: lighting for dwarf baby tears   7/30/11

Thanks for the lead. I did check it out and found it very interesting and something I could tinker with without a lot of cost. Cheers to you.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Plant identification 2/4/2010
Hello crew, I'm very, very new to aquatic plants, but was reading aqua-scaping tutorials online and saw this very beautiful tank, demonstrating the "convexity" setup... I was wondering if you could identify the plant used? I'm thinking Hemianthus Callitrichoides, but like I said, I'm very new, so I'm not sure.
<Correct, the plant in the image you sent us is indeed Hemianthus callitrichoides. This is a difficult plant popular with aquarists creating Amano-style aquaria. It needs very bright light and invariably CO2 fertilisation, and usually needs some sort of regular mineral fertilisation as well. It is notoriously difficult to get established, but once settled
can be very beautiful. Because it is a small, delicate plant it is essentially impossible to grow in tanks with anything other than tiny midwater tetras and the like. Catfish and loaches will just uproot the stuff. So, of minimal value in a community tank, but a very popular choice for tanks where plants are the focus, and a few, small fish added just as
the finishing touches.>
<Cheers, Neale.><<Is someone else's pic, so not posted. RMF>>

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