GWAPA Plant Workshop

Great Washington Aquatic Plant Association - GWAPA

On October 5, 2003 Greater Washington Aquatic Plant Association(GWAPA) organized its first aquatic plant workshop in Fairfax, VA. The workshop covered techniques on how to design an aquatic garden, choose equipment, control algae and select plants and fish. Since it was the first "big" event for this fairly new club, members' expectations were not too high. To their surprise, the event turn out to be a huge success with a number of attendees closely to 100. People from nearby states New Jersey (yes I'm crazy), Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware attended the workshop to exchange plants, spend some money at the auction, meet new hobbyists and participate in greate discussions.

GWAPA workshop's raffle had one of the best raffle prices club can provide. Ghazanfar Ghori, president of GWAPA, was generous enough to donate his 20 gallon planted setup as #1 winning price.

Ghazanfar Ghori covered techniques on how to design an aquatic garden using an empty 20 gallon tank, fluorite, locally collected rocks and various plants. He provided general information on different types of plants and shared tricks learned throughout the years. This tank was raffled as well as #2 winning price.


Robert T Ricketts and Rick Dotson spoke about various substrate (generic and brand products), equipment and its use in planted tanks. 

GWAPA workshop provided information for many newcomers who were taking notes while listening to the speakers. It looked like a college lecture with freshmens exploring their first class.

Locals were very generous with plant donations so I have yet to see such a plant selection at any of the fish club auctions/various events. Many newcomers were happy with Microsorium pteropus, various Anubias sp, Cryptocoryne sp and Vallisneria sp. For those who are always looking for something more exotic, members/outsiders provided: Eusteralis stellata, Lobelia cardinalis, Limnophila aromatica, Myriophyllum matogrossense v. "green", Pogostemon stellatus "broad leaf" and others.

* All the bags (~30) with yellow labeled were filled with various plants from my tank.


Some of us were able to meet for the first time. I had the pleasure to meet and talk to Cavan from Pittsburg, Jeff Ludwig, Ben Belton and Ghazanfar Ghori who I met before at our very successful Florida collecting trip.

From the left: Ghazanfar Ghori, Jay L (me), Cavan, Jeff Ludwig (THE EAST COST MAFIA).

Cavan brought emerged growth of Limnophila aromatica which was/is called Gratiola sp. Many were/are debating on proper latin name of this plant. Below are Cavan's notes:

I took a couple of stems out of my tank and put them in the cut in half plastic jug with some tank water. I put that outside on the deck in early June. It took quite a while for the plant to adapt to emerged growth. For a while, it would still grow up to 10 leaves per whorl even though it was emerged. After the plants adapted, two to 3 leaves per whorl. I've topped any evaporation in the jug off with tap water that had about .5ml per gallon of Flourish and the recommended dose of Shultz Violet Food. From time to time I added some fish mulm. I've been keeping it inside more often lately as the weather has gotten colder and may house it in a terrarium. But so far, it has handled house conditions pretty well. One odd thing is that since it has been inside more, the color of the flowers has faded a bit (they were a darker purple). I have no idea why that should be. It smells fairly strongly both above and below water. I think it's worth pointing out to anyone reading this that the plant pictured is one of several forms of Limophila aromatica !!!!. As Claus Christensen has pointed out, it is a very variable plant.


This was my first plant-enthusiast gathering and I deeply enjoyed it. I had the pleasure to meet and talk to people who have similar interest in this aspect of aquarium hobby. I also met few of those addicts who I frequently talk to on online forums. Entire event was very well organized with great performances by Robert T Ricketts, Rick Dotson, Ghazanfar Ghori and Andrew Blumhagen (president of PVAS) as auction host. I hope GWAPA can organize same event next year and bring even more members to their club.