Barkington's uneventful emersed setup - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2013, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Barkington's uneventful emersed setup

I accidentally bough more plants than I had room with and didn't know what to do with them. Being short on tanks and lights, I decided to set up a few emersed tubs with MTS and one of the lights from my 40b. I can honestly say this is one of the more fun problems I have had.

The goal of this set up is to grow out some crypts for my upcoming aroid tank.
Some of the crypts I got had been hit really hard by melt during shipping and they were sold to me as unknowns so I don't really know how much of what I have.

A rough guesstimate of what i have so far:

Red melon sword
echinodorus amizonicus
Sag. subulata
hydrocotyle 'sibthorpioides'
Some kinda moss...not sure if peacock, christmas, or what. It isn't flame or willow or java.
c. wendtii 'red'
c. wendtii 'bronze'
c. wendtii 'green' or 'green gecko'
c. balansae 'crispulata'
c. lutea
c. lingua
c. pontederifolia
c. parva (freakin' tiny plant!)
anubias barteri...a few leaf forms
anubias nana 'petite'
anubias lancelotta (unsure of ID)
pilea cardieri - aluminum plant
narrow leaf java fern
hygro 'brown'
mexican milkweed

The last four are growing in a bucket thats holding up the light. The hygro and fern are not actually emersed but they're apart of the setup untill I can find a place for them.

I'm running two ~2'x3' bins with a shop light resting on top. I'm using 3" plastic planters with a 50w heater, saran wrap, and potentially an airstone.
No hydrometer yet so I can't test for humidity yet.

I was lucky enough to have already been making some MTS that was finishing up the day I got most of the plants. I had used miracle grow organics as well as some other organic potting soil. Washed/rinsed in rain water to help maintain a lower pH. I'm on well water and it comes out as liquid rock or close to it.
I added some pantyhose filled with a few fistfulls of peat and some oak leaves to help lower the pH a bit more. Some of my plants are planted in 50/50 sand/worm castings as I ran outta MTS towards the end.

Anywho...any questions and especially comments/critiques are encouraged.

I'm especially curious to know if I should be running the airstone or not. I don't have a misting bottle until I can make the trek into town and I don't have a hydrometer so I've been wingin' it since I set it up. Most of my crypts seemed to survive well enough and a handful were already sprouting new growth after only two days. My red melon seems to be melting but I can't think of much else to do to try and preserve it.

Oops, forgot to mention, I only have one bin heated at the moment. Need to pick up a seedling heat pad or something in the near future. An aquarium heater is out of the question as there are no pots just straight up MTS and peat.

I suppose some pictures are in order.

Almost certain I will be investing in another two or three bins to start growing carpeting plants for all my tanks and of course more crypts. This is addicting.

Last edited by Barkington; 08-19-2013 at 08:43 AM. Reason: I'm bad at things
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2013, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Barkington View Post
This is addicting.
Ain't that the truth!! I've been working on expanding my emersed collection lately. So much fun. It looks like you've got a pretty decent start.

I think between a heater and an air stone you should have plenty of humidity. I didn't mist my 20L the first few months I had it, though I've seen a ton of new growth since I began misting. I can't say if this is because everything is finally adjusted to being grown emersed vs submersed or if this is due to misting. The 55 I recently set up only has an air stone at the moment as all my spare heaters are in use. I really think this is hurting the humidity.

Good luck with everything! Keep us updated as you go!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-20-2013, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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In my bin with planters I have water droplets and dew all over. Some of my crypts are practically exploding with new growth. As much as a crypt can explode, anyways.
The unheated bin had a bit more melting and and slower looking growth but I have spritzed water on them once and they seemed to perk up a bit after that.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2013, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Just got a new Erio Cinerum from Sbj1987 and it looks fantastic. I hope the conditions are suitable. My amazon sword seems to not be doing amazingly well at transitioning but my red rubin already has two new leaves as do a a decent number of crypts. A few are still struggling and are only starting to put out their first new growth but the rest are all truckin along.

Here is the lil fella. Quite the beaut'!

I've also removed the anubias for now and planted them in my 40b. I didn't have enough soil or planters so I just strapped em to some driftwood for now. At some point I'd like to take a page from DogFish's anubias farm found: Aquaponics for Vegans/Anubias Farm

I need to go to the hydroponics store sometime in the next month or so and pick up some hydroton and 3.75" baskets along with two more shop lights and another bin.

At this point, I'm ready to tear down my fish tanks and turn them all into planted tanks plus a few swimmy things so the girlfriend doesn't get bored. Might end up just buying a few more bins and breeding my fishes in those instead. More room for my precious plants with no more caves.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2013, 03:01 PM
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Nice Erio! I've been thinking about adding a few Erios & downoi to my set up. They are just cool looking plants!

I too have been inspired by Dogfish's thread. I've been slowly collecting pieces and parts for my own aquaponics grow system. Just received 50 liters of hydroton yesterday. I ordered it through a store on Amazon for the lowest price I could find. My base aquarium is going to be one of two 55 gallon tanks that I found for free through Craigslist. The other is the emersed tank I just set up. I'm excited to see other people wanting to set up similar systems!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2013, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Would you be able to hazard a guess at how much cubic inches that would take up?

Downoi was one of the plants that helped foster the ideas that led to this setup. That and a handful of reinekii varieties are on my to-acquire list along with more crypts and buces. I'd like to add another erio or two as well now that I have gotten to see one up close. Quite the neat lil plant.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-27-2013, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quick lil update on some of the plants.
Going out to the hydroponics store in the next few days to grab a new light and some hydroton for some anubias and buces.

I got some spray bottles for ferts and misting but I don't think I diluted it enough. If I am understanding this correctly, I dose some water in the typical measure and fill up the bottles with that water + some rain water to dilute it by ~50%?

First new anubias leaf. Not sure if lancelota or barteri

Red melon wasn't doing too well at the start. I'm assuming humidity was too low. First pair of new leaves emerging nice and bright red.

New erio I got from a raok by SBJ1987. Came with gorgeous roots and is already pushing out a new leaf after only a few days.

C. Balansae. Had one leaf when I got it. This thing is exploding.

This wendtii has already put out 3 leaves. Most of the other wendtiis are doing pretty well. Not so much with the lutea. Most area struggling with their 1st leaf.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-10-2013, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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About one month in and everything is a truckin away. Growth is significantly faster than I thought it'd be and worlds faster than the growth I am used to in my low tech tanks.

My middle bin I have deemed a mistake. A poor choice of container and some funky soil conditions hace led this particular bin to be the runt of the litter. It has handles on it which makes it rather difficult to get a decent seal to keep the humidity in. It has also been rather cool the past two weeks raining 10 of the past 14 and has been chilly. With no heating element, the growth in the middle bin has been pitiful compared to the others. I need to do more research and restart this straggler.

I've begun misting with rain water in addition to my low-dose fert misting. About every other day rotating between micro/macro/rain. Since I've begun misting, growth accelerated even further. My anubias seem to have taken notice and have all been shooting out new leaves finally.

Can't decide if I want to keep my buce and anubias in the rocks that they're in now or switch over to mesh pots with hydroton. I'm only using the rocks because I had them laying around. With the pots, I'll have room for another pump and heater to help with the humidity.


This guy is trying to shoot three leaves out at once. Some small pinholes I hope to avoid from now on.

This one is not going so well. The crypts near the handles are all showing signs of drying out. I didn't fully mineralize the top soil and think some might be rotting. The feeling is almost like marshmallow fluff or meringue. Very light and airy but no strong odor.

New Erio leaves forming a pointy cone before they "blossom" and spread out I suppose? Glad to see it is putting out a decent amount of new growth.

My 2nd favorite plant, this tilly, is sprouting a baby with 4 tiny leaves. My ghetto milk container container for it seems to not be too bad. Been watering it along with my succulent after I lost a leaf last week. I think I had watered the tilly a bit too much. I hope hydrophyte has more of these bad boys to sell in the future because they're quite the interesting little plants and I'd like to pick up a few more.

Does anyone have some legitimate factual information regarding aquatic plants and water movement? I have been reading a lot of information arguing for both stagnant and flowing water. None particularly convincing or based on anything other than anecdotal evidence. I'm not the best with google either, though.

Noticed a whopping one new leaf on my c. parva. That thing grows SLOW.
I think my next step is to buy a kiddie pool and start a field of it.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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These buces are planted in some exo-terra terrarium substrate that is simply expanded clay balls. Also picked up some Mother Earth Hydropebbles. Neither had the same uniform-ish look that hydroton has, but for less than 1/3 the price, I'm not complaining. Spent only $25 including shipping on 10 liters of the hydropebbles and 3.5 lbs of the exo-terra stuff. The hydropebbles seem to be much better made for hydroponics as they're a bit lighter and porous feeling.

Starting to look a bit more dense. Giving away a few to make room for the others to flush out a bit more.
Was dealing with some mold or algae issues...some kind of blueish green film on top of the soil. I've begun keeping a small hole open in the corner for more air flow as well as manually removing large patches. This seems to have solved the problem with additional misting to keep the plants moist. The riccia is growing quite well...wasn't expecting it to look as cool either. Almost like a moss.

Added some humeric acid (think thats what the product was called) to my clay pebble bin and this anubias has added added 7 new leaves in two weeks. I have some crypts in one of my other bins that could really take a page outta this guy's book and grow...any leaves at all really.

This guy has only been in here for a week or two all but 4-5 of those leaves are new. This guy is growing insanely fast thanks to the enormous root system it had when I received it.

Have two of these bad boys that already have as many leaves as the mother in my 40. Only about 1/3 as tall though. My two red rubin swords are not doing nearly as well in my emersed setup. I might have to move them back into a tank after they recover from the transplant a bit more.

It still blows my mind a little how fast these lil guys grow. I'm happy to see an inch of growth a week on some rotala in my other tanks but I see several new leaves a week on many plants and sometimes even my anubias and crypts. My girlfriend is already getting upset that I've taken over the spare bedroom with plants and fish but I can't help it. I need more plants! I'm sure her sister will understand why she has to sleep on the couch.

Last edited by Barkington; 08-03-2013 at 02:24 AM. Reason: Buoyancy protocols.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Got some new buces in from Centromochlus. Also trimmed up some anubias and clipped off large portions of leafless rhizome. Do these things have a chance of recovering?

One has put out two new leaves in about as many months and they're both tiny...I suppose thats not a bad thing.

My 'mini' still has plenty of room to fill in. It is a tough choice with the cool venation(? veins) on the new buces, but I still love me some anubias.

Been experimenting with my one bin a lot lately trying to get some better growing conditions and to stay away from too much sc2. Stuck in a (too small) powerhead I'm going to grab some milkcrate when I get around to it. I'm going to use some sort of plastic box type device and either make a great many holes or swap out large portions of the walls for plastic mesh. Seems easier for a large amount of space dedicated to only 2, maybe 3 types of plants. That'll free up some pots for my 1st bin as well.

Not sure if the powerhead is helping at all but the conditions of the bin seem slightly more stable. Only time will tell if this was an actual improvement.

Also, these hydropebbles I got, while incredibly cheap, seem to not be very much like higher dollar stuff. My exo-terra pebbles float for a good 10 seconds and then sink which I believe indicates it is absorbing the water rapidly. These Mother Earth pebbles, on the other hand, float for a good hour or so before I removed them. Not convinced they were worth the money. $12 for 4lbs of exo-terra (maybe 4-5 liters?) vs $20 for 10 liters of the pebbles. I might just spring for the legit stuff if I can find a hydroponics store in the area. Was pondering GrowStones but had concerns about roots grasping them too tightly and damaging the plant.

Anywho...back to watching grass grow enthusiastically
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