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Journal An 'arium of some kind.

Myrtle

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28 Oct 2021
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119
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Basingstoke
So, I have no idea whether this would be classed as a paludarium or terrarium with water feature, but whichever arium it is it's progressing :)
This was the start:
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And this is as far as I've got:
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The plan is for a marsh/bog (obviously) with the wall and middle branch for epiphytes. There is space behind the waterfall for dryer terrestrial plants. I say dryer as there will be no avoiding wicking in this! The waterfall wasn't going to happen but I ended up removing it from a different set up that it was too big for, which at least means the water is filtered, albeit very slowly. This will be a slow grower as I work out what position each plant prefers but I already have Uticularia bisquamata for the waters edge.
 

Myrtle

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I can't find an edit function so I'll add it here: The water area will mainly be planted with Crypts which will, theoretically, grow emersed eventually. It's hard to see, but there's Anubias "Bonzai" and a buce growing on the waterfall. As the very front right will be planted with the Uticularia, which likes bright light, there will be an extra light coming in from the side, so I might try some stems emersed there too.

Edited to add, I spotted the edit feature!
 

Myrtle

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Brief update. The crypts and anubias had no issue moving from submerged to emerged given the relative humidity is running at around 80-90% right now. The mosses are already putting on new growth and the utiricularia (terrestrial) isn't dead yet! Inhabitants thus far are 2 ramshorn snails that hitched a ride in, some water slaters from my pond and a few daphnia. There is also a Dubia cockroach who came in on the cork bark as a stowaway who is now living its best life in there!
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My other attempt at growing crypts emersed is also going well and the C. beckettii has finished shrivelling and is sending out new growth. This one is growing on an open fronted drip wall so humidity is a bit lower (70-75%). You can just make it out to the right of the Phaleonopsis. Excuse the warts and all messy look!
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Joined
12 Mar 2022
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England
It's called Work In Progress! Much more interesting to see the creative way you're building the drip wall rather than just showing the finished display. I love the bark & roots, they blend together very naturally, it will be great when the mosses fill in & help hold the moisture.
Keep posting the photos!
 

Myrtle

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Basingstoke
I got bored waiting for the Dusk moss mix to germinate so I cheated and borrowed some moss from the edge of my pond. It's taken well to the transition, which I think has more to do with the fact that it was already growing partially submerged than any skill on my part.
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In an effort to get at least something from the moss mix, I've put some in a sealed propagator on capillary matting. The 100% humidity seems to be doing the trick and there's definitely green on it now and I'm sure it's not all algae!
In the main "arium", the orchids are now in! They're all on moveable mounts in case they objected to their position, but so far so good. Here's an overview of the orchids and aquatics so far. There is also Hygrophila pinnatifida hiding in there which will hopefully break the surface eventually...
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Following the orchids, I also added some terrestrial plants, though a couple will outgrow their allocated space they fill in the blanks for the minute. There are seedlings popping up here and there but as I've no idea what they are I'm leaving them until the true leave appear in the hope they're something better than dandelions... Here it is as of tonight following a hard trim of the stems:
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The drip wall is slooowly growing in, unsurprisingly the slowest is the Bucephalandra. It hasn't done a thing which I'm grateful for as it means it hasn't melted :)
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Additions are:
Venus fly trap (will have to be removed annually for dormant period) and Maranta leuconeura Lemon.
As expected, there's been an outbreak of both fungus gnats and drain flies breeding on the wet substrate but I have a plan to combat them naturally and it's currently in shipping... They don't bother me, it's all part of the ecosystem really. Speaking of ecosystems, I added live daphnia to all my tanks around 2 weeks ago. In the tank supporting the drip wall, they're happily breeding and building a nice colony but in the water inside the orchidarium, they've all but disappeared. I didn't expect them to take off in there as the water has more movement and is kind of filtered through the lava rock waterfall. I didn't truly anticipate them being so happy in the drip wall tank though, considering that the only biological filtration is via the drip wall and what the plants are using. Considering they're all pretty slow growers, the water quality is much better than I expected. I've done several tests previously and read no ammonia or nitrates but the daphnia are decent indicators. Following advice from here, I also added Tonina to this tank. Surprisingly, the bedraggled, mostly dried up bits that I received from an Ebay seller (packed in dry rockwool!) have survived and picked up so they'll add a bit faster growth and nutrient use.

Here it is today:
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I'm rather tempted to add a female Betta imbellis as, although I'm not a fan of male splendens due to the extreme fins, I've rather fallen in love with the female imbellis I have in another tank. Watching her hunt live food is brilliant entertainment and considering she was from Pets at Home (don't tell anyone) she's really healthy and very confident. Though if I do add one, I have no doubt that the daphnia population will be decimated!
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Myrtle

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Still very transitional in the 'arium, we've had a mouldy phase and we're into a fungal phase now. The camera wouldn't focus on the tiny red ones and annoyingly they're gone now, loving seeing stuff spring up from nowhere!
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Experimenting a bit and have rooted some Rotala rotundifolia, Hygrophila pinnatifida, Eleocharis, and some Bacopa to try out emmersed and so far so good. I'm not sure what the growth habits of the stems are grown this way so they may well need moving. The Masdevallia orchid is going great guns too. Numerous seedlings sprouting which I have a sneaking suspicion are watercress from the pond! Crosssing fingers for something else though.. Spotted the resident Dubia cockroach last night and she has reached another instar (she was a nymph when I found her on my living room floor!). Completely nocturnal so I only ever see her around 3am!
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The drip wall tank has had very little to report in the last few days (unsurprisingly) other than a rooted cutting of a tradescantia added.
 

Myrtle

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I threw a couple of Phyllanthus fluitans in here as what arrived when I ordered it was way more than I needed. I'd always read that it dislikes having water on its leaves so figured it'd hate being misted twice a day. Lo and behold, out of the 4 different water bodies I put it in, this is the one that it's flourished in! It's melted away to nothing in two of them (one rainwater and one tapwater) doing fairly well in another tapwater tank and loving the rainwater in this one. Contrary plant!
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It's even flowering in this tank.
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Myrtle

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I couldn't help myself - a water body needs inhabitants! 3 yellow shrimp from ProShrimp (7 into a different tank) can now call the arium home. I was hoping that the tannins in the water would bring out the colour and I wasn't wrong. Can't wait to see them once they're fully settled :)
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Apologies for the poor 'phone camera shot.
 

Myrtle

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The final batch of plants arrived this week so the 'arium is fully planted now, plus I can't afford any more!
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The final additions to the emersed section were Bolbitis heudelotii and heteroclita, and Hemigraphis Exotica which is often mis-sold as a plant for aquariums. Underwater I've added Cryptocoryne albida 'Brown' and Lagenandra meeboldii Red. Surprisingly, considering the amount of organic matter, there has been very little diatom action and zero algae so far. Typical really, as it wouldn't look out of place in here!
The shrimp have settled nicely and although I can't locate one at the moment, I found a shed exoskeleton so I assume it's in hiding for the minute. They aren't alone in there though, somehow a Darter dragonfly nymph has snuck in, probably when I was fishing for water slaters from my pond to go in there. That will have to come out when I next see it, it's tiny right now so it's OK for the minute but I don't want it getting any bigger!

As for the land and arboreal areas, the final additions were a couple of Pinguiculas, Selaginella martensii 'Jori', Marcgravia rectifolia and a nice little gesneriad.
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Unexpected things keep popping up, including more fungi
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and resurrection of the mosses which were on the cork bark
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So far, none of the orchids have quit on me, although the Masdevallia decumana has developed some sunken areas on older leaves which I'm monitoring closely! The biggest issue so far has been getting the misting schedule right and getting the nozzles in the right place and/or moving orchids that are getting too wet or drying out too quickly.
There may be a bigger problem developing though... Slugs. I've picked 3 out so far and I'm sure there are more. They've not damaged anything yet, but I don't want to risk it!
 

Myrtle

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A small update for the drip wall tank. Some time ago, I came home to find the tank with a much lower water level than when I left and a very wet cabinet. It hadn't occurred to me when I built it that it would swell :rolleyes: (hindsight and all that) and the side of the tank had finally quit and pulled apart. I made some adjustments by cutting the side of the frame off the drip wall and bodged it back together the next day but was constantly worried it would go again. Perfect opportunity to upgrade the tank to one that would be large enough to support fish.
After a fair bit of searching, the only tank I could find with the right dimensions was a Blau one on Amazon. I had reservations about ordering a tank from there and it seems I was right to as the first one arrived smashed. The replacement came within a couple of days and was in one piece so it wasn't a total disaster! I'm really pleased with the tank too, considering it's something of a budget option, the packaging left a lot to be desired though so it was a miracle the second one wasn't broken too.
This is how it looks now (warts and all!) having dried out for several days while the tank swap took place.
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The fly traps have been swapped out for Drosera whilst they move out to the porch for a chill off. Hoping the Drosera make short work of the drain fly outbreak! That's the downside of constantly wet growing media...
I had spent some time debating livestock for the tank but in the end part of the decision was made for me. After taking delivery of 4 more Betta imbellis, supposedly 1 male and 3 female, it turned out to be 3 males and 1 very harassed female so the drip wall tank is now housing a trio of them. I ordered the imbellis knowing that I had back up tanks for if things didn't work out (they are splendens complex after all!) and it was a good job I did. One male is at the top of the scale of aggressive/territorial so he's on his own and clearly I can't have 2 males in one tank so all my back ups are being used. This also mean rehousing the shrimp into the main arium...
Plant wise, the Crypts are growing as crypts do - slooowly - but growing nonetheless. I've added a bit of albida 'Brown' too, to see how that gets on up there.
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I've also stuck a sprig of Bolbitis heteroclita Asiatica up there to see if it's humid enough.
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As far as the main tank goes, it is all growing in slowly. As a whole, it looks little different from last time:

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There has been new growth on some of the orchids, including the Masdevallia which I was a bit worried about after the development of sunken patches and dropping leaves
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All the emersed plants are doing well too, including the Hygrophila pinnatifida and Eleocharis

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Top down view of the water section
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You may be able to spot the Monoselenium tenellum which I'm experimenting with on the waterline. I've still not got a shot of the resident Dubia cockroach but she's still in there, it's just normall 3am when I spot her.

I must admit to being slightly surprised by just how well this water section is doing, considering the massive amount of organic material there's been zero visible algae. Not a spot. Not even diatoms. I'm not knowledgeable enough to hazard a guess as to why that might be, I just wish I knew so I could replicate it!
 

Myrtle

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Well, this wasn't in the plan, particularly as the female is a splendens/imbellis hybrid ... well, off to set up another tank for when/if I need to take her out. I suspect the eggs will be eaten or something else will befall them. We don't really need more hybrid bettas...
 

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Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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Nottingham
Love this set-up - I'm going to have to have a go at one myself one day. How do you keep the from glass from misting up with condensation? Is that what the two computer fans are for?
 

Myrtle

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24hrs later and the eggs in the drip wall tank are still being scrupulously tended by the male Betta imbellis. Every time one becomes detached he swoops down, picks it up and reattaches it to his somewhat poor bubble nest. I was half expecting the eggs to have been eaten or the nest abandoned but he seems quite good at it... If I'd wanted them to breed you can bet they wouldn't have! The female has now been moved for her safety while he does his thing and I'll reintroduce her once he's finished daddy duty. As much as I didn't intend for them to breed, I feel kind of responsible for ensuring they can live now, even if they will be 1/4 splendens...
 

Myrtle

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After two failed/abandoned attempts (I blame poor bubble nests!) he built a bubble palace earlier this week and now I can see free swimming fry. Surprisingly, the male has been much calmer with the female this time so she has stayed in situ. Even more surprisingly, she is tending to a small batch of fry that drifted away from the bubble nest and accumulated (or were placed?) in the part-emerged moss and bucephalandra on the opposite side of the tank. I use the word "tending" in the loosest sense but she does spend some time sucking them up and spittig them back into the moss. She mainly ignores them though which is better than actively hunting them I guess.
The female's "nest":
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Awful photo of fry, but gives a sense of scale next to the duckweed.
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If there are any left in a week or two, I'll transfer them to a little growout I've set up. It's only 12 litres but I don't expect to have more than a couple of survivors, if that, once the parents both stop parenting. Luckily, I'd already set up a microworm culture and the daphnia tank has plenty of infusoria. It's a good job I live alone as that's now 6 tanks in the living room!
 

Myrtle

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Well, somewhat surprisingly, there are surviving fry! There are at least 2, only one of which I've managed to catch and transfer to the safety of the tiny tank. This was the first time I've seen them, brazenly swimming out in the open and waiting to be eaten.
Fingers crossed that this little one survives my care...
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