Confused about dry start method

Aqua Hero

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I'm preparing to do a dry start method with both carpeting plants and mosses (since they will all come in their emersed form).

I literally spent the whole of yesterday reading articles, forum posts and videos on this method and there is a lot of conflicting information which is confusing me.

Question 1) If I'm using moss, do I have to spray the moss everyday?

Question 2) When covering to top of the tank, do I leave a small gap for air exchange and leave it OR peel back the film for 5 minutes and then cover it completely with no gaps OR keep the film completely covered and only open when I want to hydrate the moss and soil?

Question 3) has anyone tried rhizotonic with a dsm, I read somewhere that it's effective for mosses but I wanted to ask just in case. Is it any good?
 

Jayefc1

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Question 1
Yes you have to keep the moss damp if it dry out under the lights it will die

Question 2
I kept mine covered permanently and aired for ten mins when misting but this all depends on the humidity of which I guess depends on your light

Question 3
Sorry I cant comment as I've never used it I do know there are a couple of threads on here that may help you
 

Tim Harrison

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I can only go by my own experience. I sealed the tank with cling film, and opened it up for 5 mins every day to replace old stagnant air with fresh air. At the same time I sprayed the plants (daily). Spraying also creates a draft that helps with the movement of the air in and out of the tank. This may help to prevent mould. I also kept the water level to just below the surface of the substrate, it's difficult to do with daily spraying and I often had to syphon out some water using an air hose. If that's not an option you can use a syringe or a sponge to absorb the water. This appears to be key, it perhaps allows the roots to breath a little.

So in short, the methodology is as follows...

1. Add water to a level just below the surface of the substrate; don't let the water level raise above the top of the substrate, which can happen with daily misting.
2. Keep the tank sealed, but let fresh air in for 5 minutes every day to replace the old stagnant air, this may help prevent mould.
3. Spray and mist the plants.
4. Reseal.
5. Repeat daily for between 2 - 6 weeks during which time your lawn should become fully established, and then flood.

The DSM works best if the substrate is relatively level. If it's steeply banked it becomes difficult to regulate moisture levels, i.e. too dry at the top and too wet at the bottom.
Condensation is usual and the aim is to create high humidity, most plants we like to use are from tropical wetlands and have evolved in high humidity.
Health wise the plants should be green and verdant and after a week or two should start to grow quite vigorously. Watch out for any signs of mould, if there is any you may need to let fresh air in for a little longer than 5 mins. It may also help to wipe the condensation off after you've sprayed.

As for rhizotonic, I'm sure it'd work well, but you really only need to folia feed a dilute solution of fertz, I used 3mls of TNC Complete in 1 litre of water.

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37910271406_be553ae75a_b.jpg
 

Zeus.

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As above OFC

My DSM lasted nearly three months in a tank with glass lids, the first week I sealed the tank after that I just had the glass covers on and the condensation was just on the lower parts of the glass as air was able to get in through the cut outs in the bracing.
Towards the end I use to leave the lids open for long periods even days as it help control the mold. Plus would of maxed out the flow of the 400ppm CO2.
Had lights on max 12hrs a day.
 

Aqua Hero

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I can only go by my own experience. I sealed the tank with cling film, and opened it up for 5 mins every day to replace old stagnant air with fresh air. At the same time I sprayed the plants (daily). Spraying also creates a draft that helps with the movement of the air in and out of the tank. This may help to prevent mould. I also kept the water level to just below the surface of the substrate, it's difficult to do with daily spraying and I often had to syphon out some water using an air hose. If that's not an option you can use a syringe or a sponge to absorb the water. This appears to be key, it perhaps allows the roots to breath a little.

So in short, the methodology is as follows...

1. Add water to a level just below the surface of the substrate; don't let the water level raise above the top of the substrate, which can happen with daily misting.
2. Keep the tank sealed, but let fresh air in for 5 minutes every day to replace the old stagnant air, this may help prevent mould.
3. Spray and mist the plants.
4. Reseal.
5. Repeat daily for between 2 - 6 weeks during which time your lawn should become fully established, and then flood.

The DSM works best if the substrate is relatively level. If it's steeply banked it becomes difficult to regulate moisture levels, i.e. too dry at the top and too wet at the bottom.
Condensation is usual and the aim is to create high humidity, most plants we like to use are from tropical wetlands and have evolved in high humidity.
Health wise the plants should be green and verdant and after a week or two should start to grow quite vigorously. Watch out for any signs of mould, if there is any you may need to let fresh air in for a little longer than 5 mins. It may also help to wipe the condensation off after you've sprayed.

As for rhizotonic, I'm sure it'd work well, but you really only need to folia feed a dilute solution of fertz, I used 3mls of TNC Complete in 1 litre of water.

36878142631_6eb19e74da_b.jpg


37910271406_be553ae75a_b.jpg
Thanks Tim, I actually read all the pages of your journal for that tank yesterday as well and It was very helpful. Nothing short of amazing

I did read however that misting the plants, more specifically the carpeting plants actually causes the leave a to rot due to water droplets sitting on the leaves and thus result to mold. They say it's better to just mist the soil it's self if it's getting dry.

I'm thinking to do as you have but maybe just spray the moss on the rocks and wood directly and not the carpet plants since as long as the soil is moist and not flooded it's will stop grow. What do you think?
 

Aqua Hero

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As above OFC

My DSM lasted nearly three months in a tank with glass lids, the first week I sealed the tank after that I just had the glass covers on and the condensation was just on the lower parts of the glass as air was able to get in through the cut outs in the bracing.
Towards the end I use to leave the lids open for long periods even days as it help control the mold. Plus would of maxed out the flow of the 400ppm CO2.
Had lights on max 12hrs a day.
Right so then would it be a good idea for me to just leave a small permanent opening on the film to make sure it doesn't get to humid, while still opening the film every day for 5 minutes?
 

Aqua Hero

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Also guys, do I spray the tank first and then leave it open for 5-10 minutes OR leave the tank open first and then spray?
 

foxfish

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Good on you for doing your revision but there are many ways to achieve a successful dry start.
The same applies with a filled tank, lots of approaches and a never ending choice of different scapes, plants and equipment that can all effect results from one tank to another.

You will have to choose one of the many method and possibly adapt it to your individual set up.

I have been doing this for many years and always have at least one tanks on the go.
The very best results for me have come from completely sealed tanks, no spraying or airing at all.
Others have had problems with mould but I have not!

There will be many variables due to tank position and light, amount of heat, and how or if, you heat the tank.
My set ups are heated and therefor self watering as the glass covers drip with condensation.

There are documented cases of sealed bottle gardens going back to Victorian times so this is not a new concept.
Some bottle gardens have stayed sealed for 30 + years without ever being watered.

I also think that folk like to have something to do, so opening the seal and spraying feels better and makes you feel like you are doing something positive.

Regardless of my own success, I would have to say that Tim’s efforts were outstanding and obviously his method was extremely successful.
 

Tim Harrison

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I did read however that misting the plants, more specifically the carpeting plants actually causes the leave a to rot due to water droplets sitting on the leaves and thus result to mold. They say it's better to just mist the soil it's self if it's getting dry.
That's definitely not been my experience, and misting the plants allowed me to folia feed.

At the end of the day it's like Foxfish says, there are many routes to success, that's why I mention I can only go by my own experience.
The important factor is that you have many different ideas to draw upon if you need to do things slightly differently to say keep mould at bay etc ;)
 

sparkyweasel

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I did read however that misting the plants, more specifically the carpeting plants actually causes the leave a to rot due to water droplets sitting on the leaves and thus result to mold.
I think that's what happens when people spray instead of misting. :)
With a mister you won't get water droplets.
 

Aqua Hero

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Thank you guys so much for the advice and help. My small desk light arrived (which I'm using in a different tank) so I'm now able to use my old beamswork led unit for dry start.

Hopefully during the next 6-8 weeks my
Chihiros a-series unit arrive and ready for when I flood it. Fingers crossed.
Also thought it would be a good idea to have another tank running that my filter gets cycled as well. And once it's cycled, I will use the tank as a california blackworm farm for some very small interesting fish I'm planning to get.

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Zeus.

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Also thought it would be a good idea to have another tank running that my filter gets cycled as well.
:thumbup: I did the same when I did my DSM. Used the bin for garden waste filled it with water in the garage and added some fish flakes and bio waste for the micros to feed on.
 

Aqua Hero

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Well I've done it..sort of. I finished planting all the carpeting plants (took a good 2hrs but was nice an relaxing). I had so many plants that I couldn't plant them all so I have them stored in plastic containers near the window with the same substrate setup as my tank.

Unfortunately my proshrimp didn't send my mosses on time so I have to wait tomorrow to blend them and attach them to the rocks and wood.

I can see why people get into the habit of over misting the tanks because they don't look that humid to the naked eye. I'm just gonna have faith and see what happens.

Also should I make journal for this tank?
What do you guys think?
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Aqua Hero

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I have another question. After I flood the tank, do I start dosing darts right away or do I want for a week before i start dosing ferts
 

Tim Harrison

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I'd start dosing fertz straight away. However, if you're using a Gucci substrate that's high in nutrients like ADA it's not essential to begin with.
 

Aqua Hero

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I'd start dosing fertz straight away. However, if you're using a Gucci substrate that's high in nutrients like ADA it's not essential to begin with.
I'm using a combination of miracle gro all purpose pellets the bottom, 1 litre of tropica plant substrate and it's caped off with 4L of Fluval Stratum (Normally I would use ada Amazonia but my LFS that sold them cheap moved and I forgot the new address)
 
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