Marine plant field trip, Florida


Active member
I have done a Fresh water aquatic plant field trrip here in Florida for hobbyist looking to see and collect plants. It is a 3 day trip and full of activity from sun up till after dark.

I am considering doing the same for Marine plants in either Long Key or Key Largo for 3 days with a day in between the FW and Marine shedules.

Disney, Space center, Busch Gardens, Key West etc is not far but the trip is fun even if you are not "into" plants, most folks like reefs and tropical islands.

Florida is not far away, flights are cheap etc. You need permits for other animals etc, but Seaweeds are fine.

Some folks may opt to hang out and do the FW plant trip also.
We do several swamp visits in North Central FL, and travel down a few FW springs to see and collect plants with a nice dinner at Cedar Key.

I do suggest cheap nice places to stay for the trip(Eg Marine Lab for aboutn 70$ for 3 nights), we split the cost of the carpooling, dinner/food and one to two boat trips out to selected sites.

The trip is based on more science and identification of marine plants in Florida. We will also do herbarium plant presses of various species.

If you are interested in a June date doing this, please state so on the list here.
The cost beside the out of pocket cost if 40$ per person for the three days.

Flight, carpool, boat, food will not be provided but I am trying to keep the cost down as much as possible while allowing individual preferences. I have good arrangements for sleeping and labs, good boat, close to markets/dining to get food, etc.

This worked out very good with the FW plant folks last Aug.
I would like to extend this to the Marine Plant folks also.

Snorkeling and swimming are required for both.

There is no other way to collect 40-50 species of marine plants and still keep the other half happy.

Tom Barr
Depending on timing and finances at the time, I feel a long road trip coming up :D

BTW I'm going to make this a sticky ;)

You can click on the names.

This was the FW version, the SW version will have cheaper rooms available(unless you want your own private hotel etc) at a Marine lab(75$ for 3 nights), and we will have a "community" Boat ride to chip in on" for one day(should run about 15-20$ for the day per person).

The FW version had folks staying in Gainesville at a Hotel for around 35$ a night or 20$ per night per person for two.

Tom Barr
where do you folks usually collect to carpool from? Will it be a place with a major airport like Miami?
It'll be at the Marine lab, most likely in Long Key.

From there we will all take off in the AM.
I'll try and arrange things so folks can carpool/rent a car from Maimi etc together.

I can meet some people but I do not have a large truck that can handle more than a couple of folks, unless you like riding the bed of the truck:)

BTW, I'll post a tank I've done with plants/fish critters from this region.

Tom Barr
I'm interested, and as once the dates are firmed up I may be able to commit. A few more questions:
Can seagrass be collected?
Can a substantial amount of soft substrate be taken with a specimen?
I'm curious how the specimen are held for the days before we depart.

I'd very much like to see your tank.
I do not think they would miss a few sprigs, this is not a commericial venture etc. Ripping up the beds it not permited but a few plants taken should not be a cause for issue provided you do it judiciously etc.
You can have all the mud you want:)
Plants can make the 3 day trip etc since we can change water at the lab in holding buckets etc and also keep stuff in the water.

Plants cannot handle temp variations, anaerobic conditions for very long.

A bit over a year old.

Tom Barr
The calcerous greens in the center foreground of your tank, along with the seagrass, is what I envisioned the sandbed of my tank would look like when I started it 2.5 years ago. Can you give a relative feel for the type/intensity of light (bulb brand and watt, fixture, depth of tank) that you are using? Are you adding nitrate, phosphate, iron, etc to the tank? Thanks.
I use a few different foreground plants, I really hate the foregrounds in reef tanks that are left bare and also those 4 inch deep DBS layers in the front of the tank, heck you spend all this time, $ and you want to see gravel in this small space?

Not me.

I use panasonic lights, 165 w( 3x 55w PCs 2x 8800K and a 5000K), a skilter with no skimming, a Magnum HOT micron cartiage, a 200GPH powerhead.
I dose the following but I am not sure it will help you unless you have a similar tank and routine:

KNO3, 1/4 teaspoon weekly, iron/traces 2x a week(4mls), CaCl2 1/4 teaspoon weekly, Kalkwasser for evaporational top off.
If I see anything going funny, I do 40-70% water change right away. Feed fish well(my source of PO4 for now).

I have been able to dose the KH2PO4 and the KNO3 together or the KH2PO4 and traces together, but not all three at the same time without serious blooms of diatoms and melting of Caulerpas.

So there's a fair amount of work to be done still on a routine folks can live with.
It takes a lot of work compared to slow growing coral, so there is no fast and easy trick I am doing here.
You just need to try it and see, I suspect the failure rate will be very high for awhile.

I'll write an article later this month about the tank idea etc for TAG and perhaps another magazine.

Tom Barr
I'd like to see your tank featured as RTOTM some month. But those poor people trying to eliminate every scrap of algae from their display tanks (except a select set of prostrate reds) heads might explode, so the staff probably won't risk it. :D I've had far better luck with coral than algaes, so far. I have the notion that my tank is persistently N-limited, but have yet to do anything about it. I do add iron and believe that it does help.

I hope you get enough interest in this trip to keep you interested in hosting it.
Blasphmy in some circles perhaps, but if they are really good at growing algae, why not try that instead of failing with corals?

They will likely fail with macros if they failed with coral.

I add KNO3 it's cheap and easy to add and estimate ppm added(see Chuck Gadd's Calculator).
The estimatuion is better than a test kit(such as a Lamott, the only hobbyist kit sold worth the $ you pay for it).

I find it problematic for folks using a cheap kit and making assumptions when tested against standards, the kits are often way off, read low most often when in fact there might be 3-8ppm of NO3 in there.

You need to test your test if you want to be safe.

Tom Barr
Re: Marine plant field trip, Florida

Plantbrain said:
I have done a Fresh water aquatic plant field trrip here in Florida for hobbyist looking to see and collect plants. It is a 3 day trip and full of activity from sun up till after dark.

I am considering doing the same for Marine plants in either Long Key or Key Largo for 3 days with a day in between the FW and Marine shedules.

This is something that sounds interesting to me. But I have to be honest I have never before done such a thing. While your price is certainly inexpensive, what things must I bring (or aquire) to make for a successful gathering trip. Understand I'm a recent transplant in St. Pete after a life in Wichita Kansas. I will need someone to explain to me all the requirements vvveerryyyyy sssllooooowwwly. :lol: Perhaps this is best sent offline to me so not to bore the others.

Once the date is set and it appears I have the capability to gather all the neccessary 'things', I would be interested in the Marine plant trip and perhaps both.
Well, the ability to swim, snorkel gear, sun block for sure, camera etc.

There's the FW version.
It's easier for folks to snorkel in the FW springs for first time snorkeler's but the water is about 72F which might mean you'll want a tube to keep warm, SW run about 74-79F, shorty wetsuits are not a bad idea for both places. But I'm not much for using them at these temps, some might not be as comfortable.

Little kids go down these rivers everyday.
The waves on the reef can be choppy and being out 1 mile from shore inimidates some folks so it's best to get a feel in clamer places first.

But after coming down once, you can get a good feel for what it's like and what there is all to do here in the Keys if you have never been.

Tom Barr
Plantbrain said:
Well, the ability to swim, snorkel gear, sun block for sure, camera etc.

It looks like a lot of fun. Guess I better gather some snorkel gear. Do baggies and a few small plastic tubs suffice for holding collected items? Would collecting an amount of plants/driftwood for a couple of 20 or 30 gallon tanks be ok?

I think I saw a cheap underwater type camera somewhere. I need to trace my steps and see if I can find it.
They make the disposeable underweater cameras for a few $.
Snorkel gear can be had for 30-40$ or so here for decent stuff.
I use small grocery plastic bags for collecting. Ties etc will get lost in the water.
I will promise you much more wood than a 30 gallon tank, bring a pick up truck:) There is plenty and there is a large place that sells nothing but natural cured wood not far from here, so if you want a train load, we can do that.

Tom Barr
Plantbrain said:
so if you want a train load, we can do that.

Well, the 8,000 gallon acrylic train tank car aquarium I've ordered hasn't come in yet, so I'll just stick with enough material to fill a couple of smaller aquariums. :p
Drive up a ways to Yankeetown along the coast and drive out to boat launch. There's a lot of wood there.

Tom Barr
You can obtain all the macro nutrient salts from

Dry Trace mixes for iron that will last a lifetime.
K2SO4 for adding K+
KH2PO4 for PO4
KNO3 for adding NO3

K+ seems not to cause anyu issues when overdosed in FW plant tank to aboput 50ppm, 10-20ppm is fine for FW plants.

But most folks go to Homer Depot, stump remover, Grant's or Cooke's brand are good IME.
Close to 100% pure KNO3. 3-6$ or so.

Don't tell them you are looking for potassium nitrate etc, they will look at you like some terrorist trying to make a bomb.

So just tell em you have a bad stump:)

Tom Barr
Will you have more than one SW version? Say in May? I am tagging along with my wife to Miami around May 20th. She will be in Seminars the whole week and I will be looking for something related to SW aquariums of course! :D