Author: Simon Check
First published in Aquarium World August 2009
Cryptocorynes come from the rainforests of South East Asia and India/Sri Lanka, with approx 60 known species and probably many yet to be discovered. The name Cryptocoryne, comes from the Greek words “Krypto”= hidden and “Koryne”= Stick, referring to the hidden spadix.
They are a basal growth herbaceous perennial plant and a member of the Araceae family. With most species of Crypts, the only sure way to identify them is to observe their bloom. Few crypts will flower while fully submersed, and the actual appearance of a submersed cultivated plant can vary greatly from that of one gown emersed.
In their natural environment they grow in bogs and swamps or grow on stream and river banks, where they are seasonally flooded with the wet season. During the dry season is when these plants will flower, and the flowers can be described as nothing short of spectacular. After discovering the spectacular and bizarre flowers that this species produces, I decided to try and replicate their natural environment, and see if I could get them to flower.
Because they are from humid and warm rainforests of Asia, these conditions are required to be maintained, due to the fact of an adaptive feature of the plants known as “Crypt Melt”. If the plant is subjected to extreme changes, ie temp, humidity, the plant will start to turn brown, and the leaves and stems turn to a mush and disintegrate.
I have used a 300 litre Aqua One tank that has three built-in 30 watt T8 fluorescent tubes. Being covered, keeps the humidity up and temperatures pretty constant.
The crypts had their roots pruned and were planted in small terracotta pots with holes drilled through them to allow water to flow easily around the roots. Planting media is a mixture of general potting mix with sand, peat and Daltons Aquatic Mix.
The pots were then placed into the tank and water was added to the level just below the top of the pots. A 300 watt aquarium heater is the heat source, heating the water to approximately 27°C. A small powerhead and airpump with an airstone are used to provide water movement to prevent any uneven temperature. This also has the added advantage that it increases humidity due to the bubbling. Lighting is set on a timer and is running 12hrs on and 12hrs off.
Initially the crypts were kept in a smaller tank inside the main tank, until the size of my collection increased and they were then placed directly into the big tank.
For the first week or two, very little growth occurred due to the pruning of the root system. The reason I trimmed the roots was to encourage new healthy roots to grow, giving the crypts a good start. Most plants have now shown a considerable amount of growth, with lush foliage and even smaller plantlets shooting up be side the mother plants.
To date, only one of the crypts has flowered for me, Cryptocoryne Wendtii (this is also the one plant that has grown the most, almost tripling its size) and although this particular crypt does not have as spectacular flowers as some others, it still leaves me with a great amount of satisfaction, and also anticipation, to see what the other plants will produce. The wait continues.
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