Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia – spathe

I came back from vacation and decided to check emersed setup. In all honesty, I look at the plants couple times a week since Cryptocoryne species are not the quickest growing plants. I scanned left to right / right to left / front to back … nothing. Bummer ! Just when I was walking away I thought I saw something “yellowish” between the leaves. I went back, looked closer and began smiling … finally another flower ! It “only” took 1.5y but hey, it is all about the patience after all.

If you are going to ask me what I did different, I really have nothing to say because I haven’t done anything to this setup since November 2008. I placed the plants inside, covered the top, mounted couple light fixtures and enjoyed it ever since. Maybe that is why I’m seeing flowers every ~6 months :).

Nevertheless, another spathe crossed off the list. Many more to go !

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia

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Emersed Growth – 4thQT 2008

Finally got around to do a little bit of trimming. Let me tell you this – 10G setup is way too small. This hobby, or I should say “sub-hobby”, is just as addictive as anything related to aqua growing/scaping. Although I’m not as successful as I would like to be when it comes to flowering, I’m growing most Cryptocoryne sp with very little effort. Plant -> Mist -> Fertilize -> Change Water -> Trim. That is all.

I pulled all the pots, re-potted with fresh substrate, re-planted with young runners, and placed it all in newly 75G setup that was sitting in the garage. I’m still running the pump to provide sufficient circulation and heater to increase water temperature and subsequently increase humidity levels.

Will report back in couple months. Until then, stay Green !

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Container Water Gardening – 2008

Container Water Gardening caught my attention in 2007 while browsing through garden section of Lowes. I have noticed a lot of interesting tubs and great selection of reasonably priced pond plants. Becoming a homeowner and having huge patio to work with, I dove into this hobby full force. In 2007 I purchased two tubs to “test” this hobby and I was very pleased with the outcome. I applied aqua/land scaping ideas into the design and was rewarded with flowering piece of “art.”

This year I continued with Container Water Gardening. I didn’t get a chance to purchase water lilies and completely forgot to add “red” splash into the equation but overall presentation should be pleasing to the eye. I kicked-off this year at the beginning of May and here is 1 month update. Plants took off just as easily as they did last year with very little maintenance. Yesterday I have noticed more flowers and figured it was time for a photo-session. I found Pontederia cordata “Pickerel Weed”, Myosotis scorpioides “Forget-Me-Not”, and Cana flowering. Obviously those flowers are still very small and this is just the beginning. I should report back in a month hopefully with a lot more … Enjoy your summer !

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C. wendtii ‘Green Gecko’ – spathe

And the “flowering game” began. I’m the proud owner of C. wendtii ‘Green Gecko’ ~2″ flower. I photographed most of the plants few days ago and did not notice the flower. Last night I looked closely and saw what I thought was melting leaf. I pulled the plant out, separated the leaves and viola – first flower. I hope to report soon with another update !

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green Gecko'

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Emersed growth – 2ndQT 2008

Update 2 months later … Plant growth has been excellent in last two months. Leaves look and feel extremely healthy and there are multiple runners in most of the pots. Since last update I moved entire setup into 10G aquarium with glass lid hoping to increase and control humidity levels. In addition, I placed a heater set at 76F and air-stone to introduce some water circulation. Looking at C. wendtii ‘Green Gecko’ and C. undulata I can tell that those changes are working. Despite all the improvements, I have yet to see a flower. Somehow disappointing but I have learned to be patient. Today I did another water change, removed the heater due to “springish/summerish” temperatures, removed air-stone and placed a small pump to further increase water circulation. I’m trying different fertilizer so I hope to see some flowers soon !


Emersed growth – 1stQT 2008

I think many of us, aqua hobbyists, get this “emersed growth” itch at some point in our life. I always had few zip-lock bags floating around the fishroom filled with Anubias sp. or various Ferns. This part of our hobby is a bit different because you don’t get to enjoy the progress like you would with rapid stem growth in hi-tech setups. Process is extremely simple. You place a bag on the shelf and you open it again next month to check on the progress. Those bags get weekly spray misting if lucky, otherwise they are just laying back, catching occasional sunlight and grow. Nothing beats a bag full of healthy and algae free Anubias nana “petite” when you are setting up a new aquascape. Enough about Anubias and plastic bags.

The point I’m trying to make here is that growing plants emersed is very interesting and for some even more enjoyable then submerged scaping. To make it even more appealing, growing plants emersed is fairly simple with visually pleasing reward – a flower. Hobbyist needs a clear container, good soil mixture, occasional fertilization, light, water, pots and …. Cryptocoryne sp – favorite pick for many in this field. I collected few species from my own tanks, local club members, and more advanced “Crypt-o-Mania” growers and placed them in your typical Humidity Dome. Am I completely satisfied with the setup and conditions this Dome provides, probably not. Although it is 7” tall, hobbyist will hit that limit very quickly assuming good conditions. I would recommend 40G breeder setup but then again, do we all have that much room ?

Just to show you how hardy Cryptocoryne sp could be, below is a picture of a plant that was taken out of the tank in November 2006 and placed in bare / clear container. No substrate, no pots, no water. I had done nothing except occasional water misting. I finally opened the lid and took the plant out in June 2007. Look at the quality of those leaves !!!

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia

I plan on moving my Humidity Dome setup outdoor this spring/summer to see the impact of higher humidity and filtered through shade cloth direct sunlight. I will report back in Part 2 of this article. This current setup was extremely neglected due to different priorities. Water was changed approximately 2-3 times total, light wasn’t always on, leaves were left melting inside the setup, temperature and humidity levels were low. I finally got it all together and re-started it couple weeks ago. As you can see, quality is still there so its just a matter of time before I report back with some flowers, knock knock ! Below are few photographs from initial setup and current state.

Emersed Dome

Cryptocoryne undulata Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green Gecko'

Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae Cryptocoryne albida

If you are interested in joining the party, I would recommend the following links:

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How to photograph snow ?

Just when I thought 2008 winter was almost over, we got hit with another 7″ snow storm. My company closed so I shoveled in the morning, later grabbed the camera and took few photographs around the house. Lots of people who are new to photography always wonder why their pictures of snow come out gray and dull. Answer is simple, thank your camera’s auto-settings ! Even though we spend chunk of change on our photo equipment, our cameras are not smart enough to know that what our eyes are looking at, is actually white snow. Auto metering system will look at the snow to find it as an overexposed and/or brightly lit object and it will automatically attempt to “correct” the exposure by underexposing to get as close to middle gray as possible. This will “always” happen on overcast day since auto metering system doesn’t know the difference between white snow on cloudy day vs. gray object on sunny day. Photograph on the left was taken in Auto Mode. Photograph on the right was taken in Manual Mode.

* click on right picture *

snow_08_sm2thumbnail snow_08_1

Now the obvious question. How to successfully photograph the snow ? The answer is fairly simple – Manual Mode or Exposure Compensation. Either route will work like a charm. In Manual Mode, where you set your own Aperture and Shutter Speed, there is no clear cut formula since the outcome depends on what is actually in the frame. Take a sample photograph and check LCD if you are blowing the highlights (* overexposing whites). If you are, increasing the shutter speed will reduce the amount of light and subsequently eliminate blown up highlights. Keep sampling until you hit “the sweet spot.” Become familiar with Histogram – the greatest photo tool ever ! Simply put, Histogram is pixel location indicator. High peaks on the left of Histogram indicate that photograph is underexposed – dark. High peaks on the right of Histogram indicate that photograph is overexposed – bright. High peaks in the middle of Histogram indicate that photograph is “correctly” exposed.

“correctly” exposed photograph

underexposed photograph

overexposed photograph

The other route is Exposure Compensation which is even simpler. Exposure Compensation is a feature of a camera that allows you to adjust the exposure measured by its light meter. Usually, the range of adjustment goes from +2 to -2 EV in 1/3 steps. This means that you can adjust the exposure measured by the light meter by telling the camera to allow more light in (positive exposure compensation) or to allow less light in (negative exposure compensation). Now how this technical nonsense applies to snow ? Increasing your Exposure Compensation by +1 or so will deliberately overexpose your photograph and produce white and “fluffy” snow.

snow_08_2 snow_08_3

That is it for now. Stay warm and keep snapping ! Please let me know if there are any questions and/or comments.


Welcome to Greenstouch Blog

Welcome to another Greenstouch’s Journey. You can call this BLOG an extension of my primary website ( In order to keep the audience who is interested in Greenstouch’s aqua-photography in the loop, this dynamic blog will be updated with the latest articles, photographs, club gatherings etc. Stay tune and enjoy your browsing

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