Exploration of the Iberian Aquatic Plants
When I was 6 years old I arrange my very first tank in spring vacations, I was in a small village in Galicia (North East, Spain). In a tiny pond with all borders covered by a variety of beautiful aquatic plants I found the fascinating boscai and marble newt. Then, I took a couple of each newt species along with a selection of lovely aquatic plants to arrange my first aquarium. I arrange the tank with gravels and rocks and put the aquatic plants roots inside tiny pots with pond mud, today I understand that I did a kind of handmade Aqua Soil. I introduce the newts in my new tank and surprisingly the females started to lay eggs one by one by carefully folding one plant leave at a time to hide the egg inside. It was fascinating! As I child I observed and understood the symbiotic relationship between the newts and the aquatic plants. The plants provide refugee for the adults and plants were the natural protection to hide and protect the eggs!
Since then, I have been fascinated by water life. But, in life there are some paradox, as a child I used to do my aquariums with local species and today as a professional I do all my nature aquariums with imported species. This year I decided to go back to the roots and discover the world of Iberian aquatic plants that are suitable for Nature Aquarium.
The Iberian Peninsula is a nature paradise as it has all possible ecosystems, from desert areas to wetlands and from semitropical climate to snowy high mountain. All over the Peninsula there are many humid areas with a variety of ecosystems:lakes, lagoons, streams, rivers, ponds, reservoirs… Today I will talk about my aquatic plant trip to the area of Calatayud in Aragon, in the interior part of Spain. This is a very special place for me, my father was born there so sine I was a child I expend many holidays there looking for frogs, fishes, crabs, shrimps… It is a region very dry with extreme climate, from very hot in summer to very cold in winter. This area is full of contrasts, as it has some desert like areas with beautiful rivers that bring live back to the shores. I focus my plant research in the Rio Piedra (Stone River). The river goes through waterfalls, lakes, reservoirs… with different conditions in terms of waterflow, temperature, depth…so you could find a huge variety of different aquatic plants.
As there is no much information on aquatic plants on the region it was a true adventure of discovering and also it was hard work to identify the species. I started my research on the reservoir. I found the beautiful Polygonum amphibium with plenty of flowers covering big areas. By my surprise the samples I took were more than 4 meters of length! Also few meters away from the shore came to the surface Potamogeton trichoides. On the shore I identify Elocharis palustris like a big matt of tall grass.
Then, I move to the river area with plenty of waterfall, shallow areas, lakes… It is a true paradise of nature. I found Marsilea strigose, Callitriche lusitanica, Ceratophyllum submersum, Myriophyllum alterniflorum and big matts of beautiful Groenlandia densa and Potamogeton crispus. Also, other species that I couldn’t identify and now I am doing my research on Iberian aquatic plants bibliography to know more about the unknown Iberian species.
This year I plan to design a Nature Aquarium with Iberian species but this story will come in another report…
(From Aqua Journal #252)