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Connecting to Our Food Web

Dedicated to educational resources towards building and sustaining viable food webs and ecosystems
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Welcome to My Jungle - January 2018


You know, one of the inherent problems with hanging out with other plant fanatics is that they tend to suck you further into your own fascination with and addiction to plants. Case in point, I was recently enjoying a night out with colleagues when one fellow plant enthusiast mentioned she was planning a workshop on marimo moss balls (Aegagropila linnaei). My ears perked right up. Marimo balls? What are they and where I can get my own so I can see why they are so fascinating? Turns out I don't spend enough time in aquarium shops. My plant fanatic colleague explained that Marimo moss balls are a highly unique and rare form of algae growth that can only be found growing natively in a few lakes throughout the world, which are located in Japan, Iceland, Scotland, and Estonia. As the algae grows in these lakes, the movement of the waves causes them to gradually form into spheres of soft, green algae with a fuzzy, velvet-like texture. In nature, marimo balls can eventually grow larger than a soccer ball, but aquarium suppliers usually carry the more user friendly golf ball-size and smaller. Small-sized marimo balls are perfect for aquariums and aquatic art; just check out Pinterest and you will see some really creative design ideas. My story continues with ordering online ten marimo balls for my own evaluation and sharing with others. They arrived in perfect condition and I followed the simple instructions on how to care for them. After looking at them in a glass bowl for a few days, I decided I would prefer a small aquarium with gravel on the bottom to display my marimo balls, so off to the local pet store I went. As luck would have it, the store was having a special. With every aquarium purchase over a certain dollar amount, you got a free beta fish. So far, the marimo balls appear to be providing good enrichment for "Herald" the veil tail beta fish; mostly for resting on, providing hiding places and for catching food that drifts down from above. Their temperature requirements are compatible, plus they look good together.

Winter may have just officially started, but I am already working on plant orders for spring 2018. The thrill of the hunt is one of my favorite past times. I usually keep a running list of plants that interest me, from those that I might have seen them in a garden or nursery setting, featured in a magazine or recommended to me by a fellow enthusiast. 'Lemon Splash' burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) is such a plant and was featured in the February 2018 edition of Fine Gardening. It is already proving hard to find even though it is not a new introduction. I find that plants featured in magazines attain somewhat of a celebrity status which results in suppliers selling out quickly. When this happens, I take advantage of mail order nurseries who provide a free online service that notifies via email when something is back in stock. I also love online wish lists because you are free to add every single plant you think is neat, plus there is the thrill of seeing that heart attack-inducing grand total should you actually buy every plant on your wish list. That just might be a bucket list item for me, but unfortunately I would have to win the lottery first. But in reality I use the two features together. Usually when I get an email notice about a plant being back in stock, I jump on it right away because everyone else who wanted that plant got the same email. After adding the back in stock item to my shopping cart, I then check my wish list to see if there is anything I might want to add to make the best use of shipping.


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