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This is a discussion that comes up now and again. I read through the thread at Tom's site. I think this time I'll take Tom's position that allelopathy is possible, but as yet unproven.

Chemical warfare is pretty common in the world of biology. That's how penicillin was "discovered." A great percentage of the earth's population is around today because we or our ancestors were saved by timely administration of antibiotics.

If you really think about it, you must admit that there are a variety of possible explanations about what you're observing in that particular aquarium. A tank that has been full of crypts for 4 years will be LOADED with roots. The extensive root system would be expected to alter the local biology of the substrate, presumably in ways that favor crypt growth. This could include mechanical changes, nutrient or gas transport, and other factors that have nothing to do with allelopathy. It's also possible that water column conditions are not favorable to the particular stem plants that you've tried.

Personally, I'd try a variety of species - swords, vals, sag, bacopas, rotalas, etc just to see what happens. I'm guessing you'll see some pretty good success with some if not most of them. The "experiment" wouldn't prove anything, but it's pretty easy, and it might help you understand why certain things don't grow well in that particular tank.
 
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