Plant and Animal Care
Plant and Animal Care: Elodea
Background. Plants occupy the base of the food pyramid in aquatic systems just as they do in terrestrial systems. Inconspicuous single-celled algae that turn your aquarium green capture the sun's energy and provide food for countless minute animals in the water. If you want to stimulate an algae bloom (population explosion), put a goldfish in an aquarium, place it where it will get direct sun several hours a day, and provide the fish with plenty of food. When you see the water turn green, it's a sign that your aquatic plants are growing beautifully.
The popular aquatic vascular plant that looks like a green feather boa is Elodea (or sometimes Anacharis). In nature it is usually rooted to the bottom of a stream or pond, but in your aquarium it can just float around. It is a good food source for amphipods, fish, and crayfish and will contribute to the oxygen in the water as it photosynthesizes. It also provides crannies where small animals can hide from predators. Obtaining elodea. You can order elodea from Delta Education or you can pick it up locally at a pet store that deals with fish. If elodea is not available, try another inexpensive aquatic plant. A local pond might also have elodea, but check with the proper authorities for permission to harvest. What to do when the plants arrive. Open bag and rinse plants in dechlorinated or spring water. Keep elodea floating in bowl of dechlorinated or spring water to avoid drying out until it's ready to use.
What to do with them when the investigations are completed. Elodea can be placed in a permanent aquarium or offered to another teacher about to conduct the investigations. Aquatic plants and animals obtained from pet stores or biological supply houses should never be released into the local environment. There is always a chance that an introduced species might displace a native species in the environment, so releasing such organisms is never an option. As a last resort, you can put the plants in a bag and place them in a freezer overnight to euthanize them prior to disposal.