moss rope ladder - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb moss rope ladder

I devised my own crab climbable ornament by simply braiding three nylon ropes together and embedding them with Moss, thus stealing the least amount of light from my other plants while still providing an esthetically pleasing solution. I can alway remove the rock and increase planting space, I just have it there for now until the Moss fills in more densely.

a Month Later

this moss ladder idea is not just good for helping my crabs up above the waterline. vertically it can be used to help hide tank plumbing, hide ugly seals in tank corners, diagonally it makes a great growing surface for moss and Anubias. you can even go nuts and make a whole fishing net motif where a left behind net gets overgrown with plants and makes a nice home for fish to swim through and hide under. this "fishing net" hardscape idea is something I may attempt once I get a much larger tank.

this is also a quick way to see what moss you might like for a Wall project. using the rope ladder you can first see how your moss will grow in your tank, before committing yourself to the more ambitious project of doing an entire wall of the stuff. keep in mind the moss ladder you see in that picture is only a few weeks old and should fill out considerably over the next Month or so. virtually any plant that can grow floating or shallow roots (the assumption being that they get their nutrients from the water column), may thrive on this rope ladder with few exceptions such as Baby Tears aka Pearlweed, which for some strange reason will melt when in contact with nylon.

here's some information that helped me;

this company will sell you any width, type, length of marine waterproof rope imaginable. you can even buy one foot as there is no minimum order. they cut the rope with a high power torch that fuses the strands together at both ends. they might also sell you already braided nets by the square foot, but I did not inquire on that.

I just happened to have handy a few yards of soft 1/4" black nylon rope that I laid out ready to braid like this;

I following instructions on braiding from this sight. men who rarely braid hair should really practice this with the rope before putting the moss in. just keep it a bit loose while you are practicing.

when you practice whatever braid technique you like you will notice the total length of the finished rope ladder is at least 33% shorter then the loose ropes you started with, so if you want an 18" ladder you must start with a 24" set of ropes.

as you braid simply insert tufts of moss across the center as your braids naturally fold in and hold the moss in place. I prefer using Xmas moss as it's the least adhesive of mosses, is strong, and makes nice even patterns as it grows and fills out. I figure if any bald spots occur I can always undo the braid and shift the moss around. if you prefer using a thick rope and not braiding, and simply warp the moss around and tie it on with fishing line, then I suggest you use a more adhesive moss such as Taiwan.

I used a plastic coated fishing tackle weight on the bottom, and the top a large suction cup loop that's used for holding filter return lift tubes, but you can improvise and use anything including suction cupping the bottom to the glass under your gravel. you can use fishing wire or stainless steel picture hanging wire to attach the rope to the suction cups, or simply weave them right into your rope ladder depending on how skilled you are at lanyards knots and that type of artwork. you can suction cup to your tank glass, but in my case, I cup it to the light fixture lens only since mine stays cool to touch even after being on a few hours. I guess you can always suspend some fishing line across the top of your tank and attach the top of your moss ladder to that instead.

well, there you have it. if anyone has any ideas to further enhance this concept, or it's various applications, I hope you will share it with us here.

Last edited by spypet; 11-05-2007 at 04:52 PM. Reason: photo links fixed
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post #2 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 06:23 AM
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Thanks alot For the idea! i was going to ask what that was before lol .

- Fishlover .
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post #3 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 10:11 AM
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do the crabs instinctively know this rope is their only means of survival? i wanna do something like this too but i'm affraid the crabs will eat my fish
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post #4 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Storm_Rider View Post
do the crabs instinctively know this rope is their only means of survival? i wanna do something like this too but i'm affraid the crabs will eat my fish
they will occasionally crawl all around the tank looking for a way up. so eventually they will find the rope and use it. crabs will indeed lunge for your fish, but rarely be able to catch one. only reason i havent replaced my dead crab is because im afraid it may eat my plants. my last one loved to eat hornwort and sag. i wonder if it will touch my new plants or not. i also dont want to stress out my cories with having to dodge an attack like they had to with my previous one
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post #5 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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it's very important to only get;
Sesarma bidens aka
red claw crab aka
Thai red claw crab aka
Thailand red crab





Here is some Q&A with fish-lover some may find helpful;

do they like a land/water combo ?
yes, but they don't need land, just a small area to get out above water every few days. i have kept one totally immersed for a Month with no ill effect. I recommend at least having a few dense rigid plants growing to the water line such as Limnophila aromatica for them to climb, driftwood, or you can do my moss rope ladder.

what do they eat ?
plant debris, veggie pellet|flake food, cooked veggies.
recommended water supplements: calcium, *iodine, marine salt.
*iodine is thought to help ease molting. I have already lost one crab because he could not get out of his carapace,
so this is important. also make sure there are enough secluded spots in your tank where a crab can molt unmolested.

whats the minimum tank size they will be fine in ?
1 male per square foot of tank bottom, as many females as you like.

Where did you get yours ?

How much were they ?

Do they bite ?
no, and they have never pinched me either.

can they climb on glass ?
no, but on larger tanks with wide lines of glue in the corner, they have been known to climb up the glue.

-they will use tall plants against the glass, and your tank plumbing to climb out and escape, so plan your tank accordingly. i do not cover my tank with a canopy, but I do have a broad tightly fitted Plexiglas guard all around where my tank tubes and wires comes over the tank lip, and I keep my water line at least an inch below the tank frame, and keep waterline high plants at least an inch from the tank glass.

How big do they get?
2 inch square

regarding these crabs alleged aggressiveness. I have timid African Dwarf Frogs, Ottos and Farlowella. I have repeatedly seen these crabs climb OVER my frogs and fish without so much as a pause to inspect what was under them. these crabs NEVER grab at nearby fish nor do they sit with their claws up and open hoping to grab something. I have a gang of endlers that like to eat the plant debris my crab kicks up and they buzz around the crab claws without the crab even noticing. the crabs will often hang around up and inside my plants looking for debris, and other fish swim right by them without a care in the world. males will briefly battle with each other when they meet occasionally disturbing a fine plant in the process, but so far after 2 Months none have lost any limbs (which is more than I can say about my crayfish). People who keep writing on the threads about aggressive crabs probably do not have this species. these crabs have a stubborn streak in them to hold their ground, so if a fish such as a pleco would push the crab out of the way, the crab may try to pinch the pleco in defense, but that's as nasty as these crabs will get. if you have other bottom feeders such as corys, loaches or eels, these crabs won't bother them, and even if the crabs in a foul mood those fish will easily get away. just be sure your tank bottom does not have too many inhabitants already competing for limited space and hidey holes do not mix these crabs with larger crayfish as the crays will pull the crab's limbs off and eventually kill and eat the crab

Last edited by spypet; 11-05-2007 at 04:54 PM. Reason: photo link repair
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post #6 of 111 (permalink) Old 01-01-2007, 03:35 PM
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thats the type of crab i had. when he went about exploring the tank and would come close to one of my cories he would always lunge at them. maybe he was just an a-hole lol
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post #7 of 111 (permalink) Old 03-09-2007, 04:03 PM
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Very interesting idea! I love it. I have made wrapped moss 'ropes' for a wall around craft plastic, but when i put it in heavy bubble flow some would come loose. Braiding it in really should keep it in place.

Thanks for sharing!

Something so expensive and addictive HAS to be illegal. I'm just waiting for the police to break down my door and confinscate my fish food.
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post #8 of 111 (permalink) Old 03-09-2007, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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I'm glad you like the idea, and I really hope people will use this thread to post their own moss rope progress. here are some additional observations I have made since starting this thread;

an added bonus to using a braided rope instead of a single rope is when any moss clumps break loose, it is very easy to simply push any loose moss back in between the gaps between each folded braid, and to also use this technique to evenly redistribute moss growth along your rope.

it's not necessary to suction cup the rope to your fixture lens. as you can see they are doing just fine adhering to the top back glass. because I have a mirror back cabinet I don't have to turn them to the light, but others may want to consider rotating their rope every two weeks if it's up against the glass like that.

moss ropes are a great idea for people with Nano tanks wanting to enjoy moss without it taking up too much valuable space. for people who dislike having moss migrate all over their tanks, a braided rope is a great way to keep it contained in one area.

in the photo I'm now trying Fissiden on the left and Taiwan on the right. Because Taiwan moss is sticker than the Xmas moss in the center, I decided to try a single rope and tie the moss on by wrapping .04mm clear fishing line around the rope. by April I hope to add a Subwassertang rope as well. I will post a progress photo in a Month or two.

to further encourage moss growth I'm keeping my water temperature in the low 70's at least till the summer comes.

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post #9 of 111 (permalink) Old 05-05-2007, 07:38 PM
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I have 2 of these RCC's.
They like to crawl out, especially into Hob filters.
I put mine into a 10 g terrarium a while back, they love it, in and out of the water.
But, they are both male, they fight alot, but never hurt each other.
i got 3 videos of them fighting-

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post #10 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-10-2007, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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July'07 Update

since this thread's been getting a lot of attention lately
I figured it was over due for an update, so as promised
here is my progress with other plants on a rope;

this is about a foot long section of poorly photographed
xmas moss, Subwassertang, weeping moss, and fissiden
the weeping moss just got started 2 weeks ago, so it will
be a few Months till it fills out, and hopefully weeps down.

this is my third batch of Xmas moss up close that takes
2 Months to really fill in between harvests. Taiwan moss
grows in very similar, though noticeably denser than Xmas.
here I used 3 braded ropes and tucked the leaves inside.

this Subwassertang was touch and go for a while since
my tank probably does not have the best water chemistry
for it which is why it's more brown than emerald green,
but it ultimately took hold and filled out nicely after 3 Months.
here I used a single rope and fishing line to tie on the leaves.

the Fisseden was slowest to acclimate, but now that it's
used to my tank, it's filling in very nicely. the darkness
are not diatoms, it's just the shady way it seems to grow.
here I used 3 braded ropes and tucked the leaves inside.

When I take photos of my fish, they always run and hide,
but when I photograph my plants, my fish always seem
to get in the way! since my pearl gouramis insisted on
being in the shot; I figure he deserves 15 minutes of fame...

a minor update to my rope technique is to use the nylon ribbon
garbage ties typically included with electronic equipment, then
simply tie the top of the rope, then clamp the tie wire up and
over the lip of your aquarium. this makes it easier to shift the
ropes left and right when compared to using a suction cup.
as always, I use a simple plant weight on the bottom of each
rope to keep it pointing straight down. I experimented with
the ropes diagonally and horizontally, but I always return to
the vertical position in order to maximize other plant space,
and my 2-5" fish best enjoy weaving between them vertically.
fortunately none of my fish including SAE & Flag pull the ropes.

my ultimate goal is to get a nylon fishing net, mount it diagonally,
then infuse it with my favorite moss like plant, but unfortunately
I still cannot afford a tank large enough to pull this off properly.
For now I'm content to keep playing with different roped mosses.

I'm starting to experiment with aluminum wire to add rigidity to
nylon rope so I can bend it into any shape I want. I will update
on my progress with this in a few Months... stay tuned

Last edited by spypet; 11-05-2007 at 04:55 PM. Reason: refresh photos
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post #11 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-10-2007, 08:19 AM
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the fissiden rope looks amazing! the new idea seems interesting, shame it'll probably be months before we see full results
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post #12 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-10-2007, 10:59 AM
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Very Nice, Spypet. Great Idea. Hope the aluminum works out well--will make the entire concept much more versatile.....
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post #13 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-10-2007, 02:37 PM
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That's pretty freakin' cool. I can see an entire tank planted with just those ropes. It'd look like a freshwater kelp forest!

Another idea for connecting them...what if you used egg crate as the cover for your tank, then just tied them to that? Just an idea...
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post #14 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-10-2007, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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thanks Mickey, but what I do when I want to suspend a rope away from the tank sides and don't have anything above to suction cup it to, is to use acrylic rods similar to the 5/8" square rod shown in this photo. I'm using it here to suspend my 24" Orbit over my 30" open top tank. It looks classy and does not block any of the light. The only downside is if you have climbers like crabs, you are only making it easier for them to escape. when you cut the rod with a hacksaw to fit, always bevel it slightly and measure an extra 1/16" longer than the gap you wish to span. that way the rod will fit snug and tight in your tank frame, and won't shift around even when it bends under weight.

here are some examples where you can get cut acrylic rod on the web, but
I prefer to buy scraps long enough for my tank at a local plastic goods store.

I wish I could grow Subwassertang better as that "freshwater kelp forest" motif was actually what I was going for. I'm curious to see if the S-tang will continue to grow denser, or grow further away from the rope, since further away would really give the kelp forest effect I'd be looking for. I recommend anyone who's S-tang grows emerald green and pearling in their tank, to go ahead and try this rope idea, as it will look glorious!

Storm - technically I could take an existing grown in rope and simply shove the aluminum wire inside thus having an already grown out form, however the growing patterns toward my light source would not look as authentic as had I started from scratch.
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post #15 of 111 (permalink) Old 07-13-2007, 01:13 PM
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Are you still braiding the Subwassertang, weeping moss, and fissiden in the rope or are you attaching it by some other means? That is so cool and I may have to try it on my shrimp tank.

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