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Hi All,
Glad to see this forum~exactly what I need. I work at a local IL nature center and would like to populate our tanks with native IL plants and fish and amphibians via the El Natural methods. Our center is part of the forest preserve so we have permission to collect live specimens for display purposes.

Our first attempt was a disaster -- plants rotted within weeks (no fish in yet so that was good). We are not botonists but enthusiasts -- can anyone point me toward a source that IDs native plants and their habitat needs? Has anyone done a native midwest tank and can tell me how they did it?

Are there special plant handling rules when bringing them into a closed system or just trial and error? A local nursery sells commercially grown native species -- is this a better way to go?

Any advice would be appreciated -- we want to have a second go at it soon. I have a cat litter bucket full of plants and snails waiting.:confused:
 

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What type of plants are you collecting and which nature preserve. My son and I are also planning to put together a tank from IL also.

If you tell me where you are located, I'd love to come and give you any insight into what you can do. I've collected and grown many native while living in Connecticut and I see some of the same plants here as well.
 

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I'd suggest documenting the water conditions of each plant where you harvest it. Bring a notebook with you and a test kit and write down for each specimen.

Illinois has been very dry this summer, add to that a stretch of hot days and your recordings are going to be a bit skewed. You'll need to compensate a bit.

A. Ph
B. Water temp (my guess is mid-60s for average water temp)
C. water hardness - gh/kh. (There are some places with some reeeeally hard water)
D. Amount of water flow (pond? fast river? slow creek?)
E. Amount of light. (how much cover overhead? If you can't see the sky through the trees, or if it's pretty patchy then low-light. If you can see the sky above you but it gets thick to the east and west (like on a riverbank) then it's likely only getting 3-4 hours of sun per day. If it's in the middle of a clearing, then full sun)

Also you should examine the substrate where the specimens are collected, is it sand? Mud/Clay?

This information is pretty much required for any planted tank. The information you get will not only make your chances of success much higher, but can also be compiled into an informative display for your visitors.
 
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