George Farmer

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Hi all,

Some of you may be aware I'm setting up a new tank. Journal here - George's TMC Signature - The Hardscape Chapter | UK Aquatic Plant Society

8394875588_54840792ab_o.jpg
manzi situ by George Farmer, on Flickr

I'm really interested in trying out the dry start method (DSM), as discussed a few years ago by Tom Barr here.

The Dry Start Up Method for Planted Aquariums - Aquarium Plants

There's plenty of threads on various forums all over the net, but being a bit lazy, I figured I'd start a new thread here and ask a few questions to my fellow UKAPS comrades. :)

Of the main reasons I'd like the try this is so I can get various mosses attached nicely without having to use cotton/superglue etc.

This thread first gave me the idea here -
Moss Aquascaping | UK Aquatic Plant Society

I plan on using a lot of Riccardia and Fissidens so figured this is a good way to go.

Here's a full list of plants I'm planning to use, mostly Tropica 1-2-Grow.

Riccadia chamedryfolia
Fissidens fontanus
Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping'

Eleocharis sp. 'mini'
Eleocharis parvula
Ammania sp. 'Bonsai'

Hottonia palustris
Ludwigia sp.

Now the questions!

1. I'm using about 20 litres of TMC NutraSoil but its been used so may be lacking in nutrients. When wetting, should I use water loaded with nutrients? How about adding 100ml or so of TPN+ added to the water I'm soaking the substrate with?

2. Do I simply cover the tank with cling film after planting, or should I spray the plants first?

3. Do I need to remove the cling film to allow more CO2 from the air into the tank?

4. Do I need to spray the plants occasionally? If I do, how do I know when?

5. If spraying, should I use nutient-laden water? How much nutrients?

6. Should I use as much light as possible? What's an ideal photoperiod?

7. Do you foresee any problems with DSM and my chosen plant species?

8. Approximately how many days/weeks do you think it will need to run before the mosses fully attach?

I think that's about it for now. I hope some of you can help an emersed aquatic plant newbie! :)

Thanks in advance,
George
 

rolexbene

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Well I am possibly not the best person to answer all you questions as my experience is limited, but I will give you my opinion. I have tried this a few times and mostly it works ok, I just cover with cling film in order to keep humidly as near to 100% as possible, and open the top for a few mins every day to allow for gas exchange. The only problem I have had with this, is that sometime I get a white stringy substance I can only describe as some kind of fungus growing on the plants, looks a bit like spiders web. I think it is paramount to keep the environment very clean whilst doing the DSM, I'm not 100% but maybe a very dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide would help aid this. I also think that as there is no water in the tank, bright lighting is not so much of a problem as light will penetrate down to the plants very well. I normally just do an occasional misting of water, but I have herd of people using a week fertiliser as well.
 
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Hello George, glad to see you back, and getting into the swing of things!

Anyway, I'm no expert, but heres my take:
1. I'm using about 20 litres of TMC NutraSoil but its been used so may be lacking in nutrients. When wetting, should I use water loaded with nutrients? How about adding 100ml or so of TPN+ added to the water I'm soaking the substrate with?
If there was any doubt, I would as this cannot cause any adverse effects, rather allow the substrate to take them up and distribute them in the future.

2. Do I simply cover the tank with cling film after planting, or should I spray the plants first?

If you can get a piece of glass or acrylic or any clear plastic, this will make things a lot easier, and tidier :)


3. Do I need to remove the cling film to allow more CO2 from the air into the tank?

Removal of the cover Glass for daily spraying will be adequate for co2 to displace the oxygen build up inside the tank. 1-2 times per day should suffice.

4. Do I need to spray the plants occasionally? If I do, how do I know when?

Spray the plants as often as you can, while maintaining the water level below the lowest substrate level. Don't allow it to pool over the substrate level. Youll get to know how often the uppermost needs spraying, and this will be your limiting factor


5. If spraying, should I use nutient-laden water? How much nutrients?

I have used a weak mix for spraying before, as I was lead to believe too heavy in nutrients could possibly lead to precipitation on the leaves or moss themselves, and this would potentially cause burning.

6. Should I use as much light as possible? What's an ideal photoperiod?

As long as you see fit, with a normal period being between 10 - 12 hours. As bright as you want with your unlimited co2 :)

7. Do you foresee any problems with DSM and my chosen plant species?

I know for sure the eleocharis species and the moss will particularly love it, and do very well.

Im not sure about the other species listed




8. Approximately how many days/weeks do you think it will need to run before the mosses fully attach?

dry start method will require a good few weeks to break in and start moving. As long as you can stand, before you get an unitchable itch :)

Apparently if you talk to your plants, they'll grow faster. Or even faster if you get up close and whisper. ;)

I think that's about it for now. I hope some of you can help an emersed aquatic plant newbie! :)

Thanks in advance,
George


Cheers George,

Nathaniel
 

nayr88

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1. I'm using about 20 litres of TMC NutraSoil but its been used so may be lacking in nutrients. When wetting, should I use water loaded with nutrients? How about adding 100ml or so of TPN+ added to the water I'm soaking the substrate with?

I would of just soaked the substrate in a bucket before adding to the aquarium as in my experience have a fine puddle or standing water is not good. Maybe adding an EI Mix to the water in the bucket would add a little extra niceness to it but if it where me i wouldn't of done if I'm honest

2. Do I simply cover the tank with cling film after planting, or should I spray the plants first?

I would spray the plants with a mister that has a strong EI mix. Not a soaking just a light misting and then cover ASAP.

3. Do I need to remove the cling film to allow more CO2 from the air into the tank?

As mentioned once a day should be ok, i did this for angood week then i left a small gap so gasses could flow and nothing got 'rotty' or baked. if you can something stronger would be better then cling film, peeling back and replacing will have it all holey and manky in no time, or your wife's cling film stash empty just as quick haha.

4. Do I need to spray the plants occasionally? If I do, how do I know when?

I sprayed mine initially once a day and then as it matured and the planes looked strong and healthy I changed to once every other day.

5. If spraying, should I use nutient-laden water? How much nutrients?

Yes....errrrrrmmmmmmm mine was pretty random to be honest George :/ sorry man haha

6. Should I use as much light as possible? What's an ideal photoperiod?

I was doing 12 PP with HC ad that was ok with what I considered VERY high light for the size tank


7. Do you foresee any problems with DSM and my chosen plant species?

8. Approximately how many days/weeks do you think it will need to run before the mosses fully attach?

I've never done it with mosses but would throw a guess at a good month.


I feel like this has been a test haha!
I have done it a couple of times but I'm very poor with exact times measurements records ect and to be honest you know when I plant looked happy and when it doesn't and what the cause might be, so I'm sure you'll do great man...

Ghostsword does DSM's all the time so I'm sure he will have some good input .
 

Ian Holdich

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Mmmmmm, will be interesting to see if 1-2 grow can be achieved with a dry start? Does anyone know if this is possible?
 
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Hottonia palustris

Cultivation

Naturally a bog / marsh plant and most plants sold have been grown emerse and need to be submerged in stages in the aquarium to encourage it to adapt and form submerse leaf forms. Can be kept in the cool or tropical aquarium. Give a good substrate, light and if possible additional CO2. Can be grown in or around the pond. Considered a good oxygenator for the pond and its bushy leaves provide protection for fish and fry. Can be grown floating as well. Sunny spot.
 

Garuf

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1-2 plants are emersed grown plants so if anything they should be the perfect plants to do it.

I tried to do a dsm with fontanus and it didn't attach and just washed of rather unceremoniously when I put the rocks into my tank so good luck there.
 

Iain Sutherland

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Ive grown a few plants emersed george and had mixed results with DS.o_O The biggest problem ive had is keeping all the plants happy, some plants would thrive and others would melt away. Some dont like being too wet, others dont like their roots in water..
I'm worried you might struggle because of the slope though. The plants towards the top will have issues getting their roots into water.
Found spraying ferts a bad idea as some delicate leaves would 'burn', they make a mess too, spray ro when needed and no watermarks.
Letting the air circular is very important, even better if you can keep the humidity up then pop holes in the clingfilm.
Spraying ideally would be little and often all day, but in the real world its not really possible, so when you can. Its quite easy to see when it needs it, leaves should be glossy and moist looking but not dripping. Little hand squirters dont really cut it, get a pump up mister from a garden centre.
Strong light for a 10-12 hour day, when ive gone longer i see BGA pop up along the gravel edge.

This is all just my experiences and will try these plants again as know it can be done.
Ammania grew like mad then all the stem that was in the 12grow jelly melted overnight to goo 2 weeks in with no survivors.
Fissidens, i cant get it to take. Ive tried it in a heated propagator, tied on and as a paste and both ways in tribute, i think it just takes a long time so most floats away once flooded.
Most other mosses will attach happily but not quickly, as 12grow i would think its likely to take quicker.
All being well, flooding after 4 weeks should be ok but longer the better, some of the best DS ive seen have been in the states run for months then flood, normally followed by a period of issues to fix :( majority caused by die off which often wont show itself for weeks.
My personal feeling for a planted scape is it wont be worth it, 3 weeks flooded with co2 will be more beneficial. It is good fun to grow plants emersed though and I will continue to do so. Just depends if you want to add more variables :)
 

foxfish

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As with most things in life, there are often numerous ways to achieve the same goal - I can give you my personal experience of growing dry start tanks...
I have found that heat really helps, maybe not a scientific fact but, it appears to me that by making the inside of the tank slightly warmer than the room it live in, you obtain a very humid environment & this seem to be the key to success!
I always seal the tank & leave it sealed unless I need to change something inside, there is no need to fertilise anything growing in the soil & I have never even sprayed the mosses, from my experience opening the seal just slows everything down.
The soil is wet but ideally the plants foliage are out of the water & here lies the main issue with dramatically sloped substrates as the upper levels can become to dry!
I also use lots of light for at least 12 hours a day, I believe longer lighting works better (14-16 hours) but it doesn't suit me or my living space!
Heating mats have been the best way to heat the tanks for me.
The down side of this method is you cant really see much due to the condensation running down the glass & even dripping from the cover, however the plants seem to love it. Aso some folk have reported fungus growths!
Lets face it our Victorian ancestors were doing this 150 years ago with sealed bottle garden that lived for decades without ever being opened!
 

George Farmer

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Hi guys,

Thanks so much to you all for the comprehensive answers and feedback. :)

I did suspect there would be conflicting advice, but this is fine, as it hopefully means I have more room for error!

I have also been doing a lot of reading elsewhere too, and it seems a common theme is ensuring the soil shouldn't be over flooded, as this causes rotting.

For this reason I think nayr's idea of pre-soaking the soil in a bucket is a great idea. Adding water to the the substrate in the tank would cause issue with it being so sloped, as suggested. I will probably add more nutrients to the soil, and not add any when misting the plants (with pure RO). It sounds like the risk of burning is very real.

The main area I'd like to learn more about is the need (or not) to regularly remove the cover to allow gaseous exchange. I like the idea of just leaving it covered, like foxfish suggests.

It's interesting to hear about the failures with attaching Fissidens. I'm hoping the complex texture of the Petrified Wood will help. I'm not planning Fissidens on the wood, just Riccardia and maybe weeping moss.

I'm guessing it would be a good idea to thoroughly rinse off the 1-2-Grow nutrient jelly to help prevent rotting?

I am going to phone a local glaziers today for a quote for a cover glass. I wonder if they'll do optiwhite!?

Thanks again for all the feedback. It's really appreciated and also very exciting to be on a new journey of discovery!
 
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For this reason I think nayr's idea of pre-soaking the soil in a bucket is a great idea. Adding water to the the substrate in the tank would cause issue with it being so sloped, as suggested. I will probably add more nutrients to the soil, and not add any when misting the plants (with pure RO). It sounds like the risk of burning is very real.

I am going to phone a local glaziers today for a quote for a cover glass. I wonder if they'll do optiwhite!?


Hey George,

Could you possibly, rather than stripping all this down, just tip a bottle of TPN+ into a spray bottle? And heavily mist the substrate to much of a similar effect to pre soaking? Without the need for total Annihilation and reconstruction?

All glazers should stock 'Pilkington Optiwhite' or something similar, as standard. But I imagine it will have to be ordered to size as it will need to be toughened.

Not sure on pricing though. You've always got the standard float to fall back on.

Ada cover glass is just clear float, believe it or not.

Cheers,
N
 

George Farmer

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Hi Nathaneil,

Thanks for the glass info.

I'm more than happy to strip this down and start from scratch. I'm a bit weird like that! Besides I could do with some decent step-by-step photos of how I assembled the hardscape etc.

Also the good thing about pre-soaking the soil out of the tank is that when I come to reinstalling wet, it's 'wetness' will be more equalised than by adding water to it now.

I may also insert some plastic dividers beneath the soil to help prevent it levelling over time. This would be impossible with the wood in situ.

Cheers,
George
 
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Hi Nathaneil,

Thanks for the glass info.

I'm more than happy to strip this down and start from scratch. I'm a bit weird like that! Besides I could do with some decent step-by-step photos of how I assembled the hardscape etc.

Also the good thing about pre-soaking the soil out of the tank is that when I come to reinstalling wet, it's 'wetness' will be more equalised than by adding water to it now.

I may also insert some plastic dividers beneath the soil to help prevent it levelling over time. This would be impossible with the wood in situ.

Cheers,
George

Ideal then.

I'd definitely of prefered presoaked too, but didn't realise you were wanting to strip down completely.

Will you be doing an article on this tank in the coming months for PFK? Or is it to be used as product advertisement for TMC?

Cheers,
 

George Farmer

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This set-up is for me and my own hobby. Like a reward for all my hard work over the years! But I'm happy to see it published if folk want to use it further down the line.

To be perfectly honest, I'm just really enjoying sharing the whole process with you guys and not have the pressure of deadlines etc. It is a refreshing experience! :)
 
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Thats what its all about, and the help from all the members on here make it a truly special place.
Theres no end to diverse knowledge in a range of subjects on here and coupled with a hobby approach as well as a real sense of togetherness.

I too am eagerly watching your tank progress.

Good luck with it all George,
Cheers,
 

nayr88

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It must be hard because I think no matter what you love doing when it spills into your work after some times I'm sure it can become hard to enjoy as much as you will when it's a complete separate thing....
I hope that reads right :/ I'm pretty crap at illustrating what's in my head haha.

Enjoy!!!
 

dw1305

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Hi all
I have found that heat really helps, maybe not a scientific fact but, it appears to me that by making the inside of the tank slightly warmer than the room it live in, you obtain a very humid environment & this seem to be the key to success! I always seal the tank & leave it sealed unless I need to change something inside, there is no need to fertilise anything growing in the soil & I have never even sprayed the mosses, from my experience opening the seal just slows everything down. The soil is wet but ideally the plants foliage are out of the water.
That one. If you want the moss to attach the best way is to chop it up really small and then spray it on <Moss Aquascaping | UK Aquatic Plant Society>, but Fissidens will take a long time to grow.
i think it just takes a long time so most floats away once flooded.
I'd be quite interested to see what happens if you used the agar from the 1-2 grow plants to smear the Fissidens onto the rock (my suspicion would be that this will work pretty well, but I've never tried it).
I'd use cling film for the tank seal and I would spray every day, you may need to individually wrap the petrified wood with cling film (or put it in an inflated plastic bag) to keep the humidity high enough for the mosses, and play about with the light to avoid leaf tip burn. I use a lot of these "pop-bottle propagators", and they work really well <Propagation-Cuttings>. I think a nice green bottle might be ideal for mosses.
here lies the main issue with dramatically sloped substrates as the upper levels can become to dry!
I'm not sure DSM will work for all plants with a sloping substrate, plants like Ammania sp. 'Bonsai' should do well in drier conditions, but mosses may struggle if not enclosed.

cheers Darrel
 

George Farmer

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Hi all

That one. If you want the moss to attach the best way is to chop it up really small and then spray it on <Moss Aquascaping | UK Aquatic Plant Society>, but Fissidens will take a long time to grow.
I'd be quite interested to see what happens if you used the agar from the 1-2 grow plants to smear the Fissidens onto the rock (my suspicion would be that this will work pretty well, but I've never tried it).
I'd use cling film for the tank seal and I would spray every day, you may need to individually wrap the petrified wood with cling film (or put it in an inflated plastic bag) to keep the humidity high enough for the mosses, and play about with the light to avoid leaf tip burn. I use a lot of these "pop-bottle propagators", and they work really well <Propagation-Cuttings>. I think a nice green bottle might be ideal for mosses.

I'm not sure DSM will work for all plants with a sloping substrate, plants like Ammania sp. 'Bonsai' should do well in drier conditions, but mosses may struggle if not enclosed.

cheers Darrel


Hi Darrel

Thanks very much for your input. I was hoping you would reply in this thread. :)

I'll try using the 1-2-Grow jelly to attached the mosses. I never even considered that before!

I never realised you could have too much light for the mosses. What's the idea behind the green plastic bottles? Is it simply to cut out light, or is there a spectrum aspect too?
 
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