Crypts (Cryptocoryne sp.)
Despite of a bit on an algae problem, these crypts grow very well in the front corner of my 240G Lake Tanganyika community setup. In fact, I believe they are the fastest growing plants in that tank. Plants in the top, right-hand side corner planted on the rocks are Java fern
Crypts are a very large family of plants with some of them being difficult to completely unsuitable as aquarium plants while others are ideal even for the beginner. Stick to plants that are readily available in the hobby, and you’ll be fine. For example, if you get some plants that grow like weeds in your friend’s tank, chances are they’ll work in your similar setup as well.
Crypts have long been a favorite of mine, and I seem to have surprisingly good success with them in cichlid tanks. Unlike Java fern and anubias, for example, crypts have fairly tender leaves, which one might think would look like a perfect snack for any plant eating fish. I have never tried them with tropheus, but I had some for years in my mixed mbuna/N. pulcher ‘daffodil’ tank. They crypts were lucky in that the daffodils set up camp in them, and kept the mbuna away, but I don’t recall the mbuna ever being too interested in them in the first place. The great thing with crypts is that once they take off, they are very fast growing , and they develop rhizome and root networks that can stretch through a whole tank. This makes it harder for the fish to dig them up, and if they loose a leaf, a new one is quickly grown in its place.
These crypts stay comparatively low under the conditions in this tank. It is a mix of different species and varieties
Shortly after setting up my 240G, I happened to be near Buffalo, NY, and took the opportunity to visit Pete Mang’s fantastic store (The Fish Place, 141 Robinson Street, N. Tonawanda NY). Pete’s wife grows most of their plants, and I have never seen a fish store that offers a nicer selection of them. Among other things, I picked up three Cryptocoryne Wendtii ‘green’ and three Cryptocoryne Wendtii ‘bronze’. I picked up three more crypts of different varieties (which ones I don’t remember) at a monthly meeting of the GAAS. By picking up different species I thought I’d have the best chance that one of them would really like my tank and take off like crazy – which is what I wanted. To my shock, a couple of days after introducing them to the tank, the leaves of all the wendtii and two of the other crypts looked like boiled spinach and were lying flat on the ground of the tank. I did some research and found out that I had experienced ‘crypt melt’. Apparently when crypts experience a drastic change in water conditions, they drop all leaves and go dormant for a while. They probably think the dry season is coming or some such thing. I was told to prepare for several months without leaves on these plants, but eventually they would come back. So I left them alone, and was pleasantly surprised when about three weeks later they had grown back virtually all their leaves and looked just as nice as the day I had bought them!