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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm putting together an 80 gal tank (48"x18"x23.25") to house a group of chocolate gouramies. I plan on using a soil base (probably with a little peat) with a gravel cap and use almost solely crypts, and even then just 1-2 different species. My hope is to create a nice, overgrown swamp. I'm thinking of having the tank only about 2/3 full to promote some emergent growth as well.

Now, chocolates are found on the Malayan peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. I have been doing a lot of reading from field reports that local hobbiests from these areas have on their websites, as well as looking at the Crypt Pages. From what I can gather, the only two species I really have available to me from these areas are C. ciliata and cordata (v. blassii). From what the Crypt Pages state, it seems that ciliata is predominantly found in brackish and tidal areas--does anyone know if it has a broader habitat preference than that? Also, I know that these plants can get fairly large, but I plan on pretty much giving them free reign over the real estate in there. However, never keeping crypts before, I can't really envision how they will end up growing out--any shots you might have of them would be greatly appreciated! (i.e. do they lose submerged leaves once they break the water, leaving only stalks, etc?)

A couple questions:

1. Does anyone have any other suggestions of decently available crypt spp. from these areas?

2. Does anyone have any suggestions of good online vendors or sources for crypts (Aquatic Plant Depot and Aquabotanic are all that I'm aware of)?

Thanks!
 

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I am not sure about blassii, but I've caught chocolate gouramis in various locations, some with crypts.

I caught several specimen in Mersing (Malaysia) with huge culture of C. cordata var cordata. And the fishes tend to hide under the leaves. So you need to scope into and upward. Also another location in the same area, but there aren't crypts.

I have a (old man) friend who have experienced catching chocolate gourami in Singapore, 30+ years back. I would think the crypts choice is C. griffithii.

Look at the cryptocoryne website, most malaya crypts can be used.
 

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Your best bet is C. cordata. C. ciliata does not grow very well for me submersed. Per plant I get about two working leaves at any one time. Old leaves die off as soon as new ones are produced. I think it does a lot better emersed, but prepare for a plant over 1 foot tall. Most of the rest of the crypts from the area are difficult to grow submersed. C. longicauda, if you could get it, might be nice. C. affinis comes from Malaya, and that is not hard to grow according to some.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks lorba, your suggestions are greatly appreciated, especially since you have caught them in the wild. I would be up for other plants besides crypts, but I don't think that many found in those swamps are available over here in the states...unless you have suggestions about certain plants you've found chocolates among?

Heypk, my tank is just shy of 24" in height...so water level could probably be around 16" or so, maybe even a little less. Do you think this would be too deep for emmersed growth to take place among ciliata? From what I read, I assumed that the leaves of this species would easily break the surface in that depth?
 

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There are two forms of C. ciliata... a squater form with broadly cordate leaves (gets to about a foot tall) and a tall, thin form which reaches over 3 ft. Some pics of SEA crypts are shown here. Ciliata grows in full sunlight though, and I don't see it as suitable for chocs (totally different biotopes). Chocs are found with species like griffithi, cordata, pontiderifolia/moehmanii, possibly nurii, purpurea..... but don't fret if you need to substitute with Sri Lanka species (wendtiis, undulatas etc) as the SEA crypts are usually much less hardy (or common). If you want a swampy scene, try to layer your tank so that there are 'banks' where the plants have their feet wet but leaves in the air. And keep the tank well-covered to retain humidity. If you are growing just crypts (and co-existing species like hygrophilas, barclayas, mosses, ferns), I would say do it without CO2, use a rich base and make sure there is good water circulation. I find the best wild growth to be in streams with strong currents.
 

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Not forgetting blyxa japonica, which i found in several (fast flowing) streams and drainage. Other species could be hairgrass and what budak mentioned. The easiest is probably pontederifolia.

Griffithii can be found in many parts of Singapore, but they, melts easily. I notice several different color form at different pools and puddles.

There are also many streams that I found baboras and barbs, but some tend to be very acidic (ard 4.5 ph). Not much aquatic plants.

One of the big swamp with clear water that I found chocolate gourami (also red line rasbora) has grassy plants all over , that looks like saggitaria to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys--that info is a big help. I didn't realize that there were two froms of C. ciliata; I assumed they all grew to around 3 ft. tall.

I've been doing a lot of looking around, and I think I will probably go with some Sri Lankan species to at least start off with. They'll be hardier, like you said, and MUCH cheaper to stock my tank.

Last night I was also thinking of mixing in some species of Hygrophila as well--any suggestions for specific species?
 

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You can use H. corymbosa 'Aroma' to get that grassy-look which would also help the less dominant fish to get away from the alpha male.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've been doing a lot of thinking and looking around, and I may take this in a bit of a different direction. In all the field report pics I see, the banks of swamps and streams seem to have some kind of large bunch grass, like this:





I would like to try Blyxa spp., but this tank won't have enough light or any CO2 to really keep it going. So, I'm thinking of using some Sagittaria platyphylla to simulate those larger grass colonies, maybe interspersed with some S. subulata or similar plant. Granted, neither of these plants are native to the Malayan peninsula, but I think I'm going to try more for replicating the type of growth and environment found there using similar plant growth styles, rather than specifically indigenous plant species.

This setup http://www.greenchapter.com/view.php?pg=0&tp=0&id=28 (maybe lorba can help me out with the details) has what I'm thinking of: in the 1st and 2nd pics, look at the plants on the left growing at the waterline. From what I can tell, S. platyphylla tends to have this sort of look...until it starts growing emmersed.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this?
 

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those at the water line (left) are pandan, a type of plants we use to keep pest/insects away with its aroma or use it to cook some speciality rice. Its bog plant, but I am not sure about the scientific name.

The big cluster behind are java ferns grown emersed.
 
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