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Old 08-12-2012, 12:04 AM   #1
Cobfreak
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Emersed Setup help and suggestions


I began a first attempt at an emersed setup today. I'm looking for some help/guidance/advice on it. I've got a single picture here, more may follow, depending on how it goes (ie if I don't get tired of it tomorrow and throw the plants back into my aquariums.)

The basic setup: I've got a plastic tote-type container with about 6 to 8 inches of water. There's a small fountain pump inside, and 4 bricks on which I've sat potted crypts. Right now there are 6 pots with crypts. The bricks are there to keep the pots high enough that water flows through the sides without going over the tops. The water has to be that high to keep the pump submersed.

For substrate I started with something like mineralized topsoil, mixed with osmocote pellets and vermiculite; on top of that I added peat moss, and then I planted the crypts in there. I topped the dirt with play sand.

First question - does this substrate sound reasonable for emersed crypts? I took some of the idea for this substrate from this article here: http://www.aquascapingworld.com/maga...s-Emersed.html
Although the topping with sand was based on something I read somewhere else.

My plan was that the fountain pump would keep water sort of splashing and spraying around inside the container, as an aid to keeping the moisture high. This sort of worked at first: I think you can see that in the picture. I covered the container with a piece of thin plexiglass, very clear. Sat a 2xT8HO light on top of it, with one 6700k bulb and one 10,000k bulb.

Second question - does this idea of having water spraying from a fountain inside the container make sense, or would this be too much water for an emersed setup?

Shortly after I took the picture, and then left the room for about 5 minutes, things started going south. One problem is that I think the holes in the clay pot coupled with the consistency of the substrate I'd come up with allowed too much of the stuff to get out into the water. I have never worked with vermiculite before, so I don't know if maybe this is part of the problem. The substrate might be too... fluffy. That was the intention, but I don't know if it will work with these clay pots. The holes in the clay pots are only less than half an inch diameter, but stuff is escaping and it looks like that might keep going.

Third question - for anyone who works with clay pots in this kind of setup, how do you keep the substrate from leaking?

Another problem is that the pump slowed down significantly and started making noise. I think it's probably got particulate matter in it. The water got dirty very quickly. I could see that a significant amount of sand had splashed out of some of the pots, from water hitting it from the fountain. This seemed far from ideal, so I went about emptying the whole thing and replanting, skipping the sand.

Unfortunately when I refilled the tub with water more of the substrate immediately got into the tub from the pots. So the water's still dirty, and the pump is still noisy and not flowing as rapidly as it did at first. This may be okay - I really just want water flow. This is only a 20 dollar fountain pump from Lowe's. If anybody thinks the original idea of water sort of raining onto the plants is a good one, though, I will continue to try to resolve things.

Any information or help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:32 AM   #2
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Default Update - full "tank" shot

The water has settled somewhat and is slightly less cloudy. The pump isn't making the bad noise anymore. The flow from the pump right now is tame, but nice - it doesn't spray at all or hit any of the plants, though.

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Old 08-12-2012, 01:10 AM   #3
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Hi Cobfreak, Looks like you're off to a great start!

Here are my thoughts as I set up an emersed grow-out tank about 2 months ago or so and by trial and error found a few things that seem to work. the plants are for a paludarium I am setting up, that of course is taking longer then I expected.
Anyway, please note I am no expert and this is my first set up.

1) Substrate sounds just fine. Be prepared for melting and lots of it. give it a few weeks and you'll be very happy. There were several times I was just about to give up and bam... little leaves started to appear then the took off! I have crypts set up in two ways - netting pots with hydro balls sitting in about 2 inches of water and then the rest are actually floating in the water propped up between few pots (totally ran out of space) They are just fine floating in the water as long as they are propped up.

2) Personally I think you could get away with less water but I also think the set up you have is fine to start them off, as they grow actual emersed leaves I don't think you will need the spray but it would seem the humidity would help for now.

3) I have a few clay pots in my set up and I used a small circle of filter media (black foam about an inch thick) at the bottom and a small circle of window screen on top of the foam then the substrate. My clay pots are out of the water now so the foam is to allow for good drainage.

I did find that I liked the netting pots better then the clay pots. I also lined them with window screening to keep the substrate in. was PITA to do but now I am happy that I did it. I also have a in-tank filter in my set up (that is in the far right back corner that keeps the water flowing under the egg crate and is rated for a 15g tank). All the plants on the right back side are just above the water line, the plants on the left are about 2 inches below the water line and the crypts are in the middle. I also have two pieces of wood half in and half out of the water with Christmas moss growing emersed. You can just barely see it but on the left I have a utensil holder with square holes (dollar store find) that I lined with window screening and used fine aquarium gravel in - I have crypt parva and HC growing in it. the plants along the front are high humidity terrestrial plants that are completely out of water and then vertical egg crate for vining plants.

Did my damnest to fit everything in a 20g and it all seems to be pretty happy now. I did add a 40mm fan to keep the air moving and it is on low 2 hours on 2 hours off. I also add ferts once a week to the water and change it every 2 weeks. I had a lot of floaties in the beginning but they finally setteled after about a week or so. Oh, one more thing, I have more submersed moss and fissiden growing under the egg crate in the front of the tank, that's why it looks so dark in the front left side.

Anyway - sorry for dragging on - I do think you are on the right track and keep fiddling with it, it will all come together suddenly - after you have cursed a 100 times!

Tank hidden under my work desk as I ran out of space else where in my house:



Egg crate over kill!


Close up


Good luck and keep us posted on how your doing!
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:29 AM   #4
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First, thanks very much for the helpful response. Second, I got a very big laugh here (though I don't know that you intended it) at the comment that says, "tank hidden under desk as I ran out of space else where in my house." My setup is out in my sunroom on a table we use for eating sometimes. Or, well, we DID use it for eating.

I love the look of what you've got there, on the inside anyway. Obviously with mine I'm not sure what I'm going for as far as looks - I just want to see what I can get to work. I may put some wood inside, I had thought of that earlier but then didn't do that yet.

I'm very grateful for your comment about the melting. As soon as I pulled these things out of my 55 gallon full-planted tank I immediately started regretting my decision to do this. These crypts I'm using all seemed healthier than I expected when I pulled them out. Have a little overcrowding going on in the 55 though. It's going to be hard to watch them melting.

As an update since I didn't include this info: I've got parva in one or two pots, crypt moehlmannii in two, and then a big healthy thing I haven't identified yet in at least one pot. (I should really go label these things, at least the ones whose identity I know now.)

I may order some of those net pots. Don't know if I want to mess with window screen - I actually considered that with the clay pots but decided I was in too much of a hurry to get started for that.
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:46 AM   #5
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Yes, It is funny where tanks pop up! never thought I'd resort to putting it under my desk! If nothing else you can always "gaze" your your crypts while you eat with plates on your lap

Yes, be very prepared for melt, it broke my heart to see them go one by one (leaf that is) they'd go brown at the edge, wilt, then melt... then the next leaf would go and in 4-5 days all were mushy. I trimmed them off one by one, down to nothing by day 5. By day 10 there was a glimmer of hope. I did mist 2 times a day through it all and about 3 weeks ago changes to misting every other day. Be sure to keep the lid or saran wrap on tight and don't give up. Once you start you'll end up trimming your tank and throwing things in the emersed set up just to see what happens! Good luck!
Oh, and yes, mark them now - I didn't and have no idea which ones they are now
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:56 AM   #6
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I have been starting to think that the location is going to be too warm for these things. As it is now with the light on top it seems pretty warm in the tub. I don't have a thermometer in there, but doing a little more research here leads me to believe that these things can't be kept at as warm a temperature as I'd thought. Do you know what temperature range your setup gets?

I do have the plexiglass lid on there. there's a gap where the pump's power cord runs, aside from that it covers it. But I think I may need to move the thing into my basement, the sun room gets hot during the day in the summer.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:24 AM   #7
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I don't have a specific temp reading but the room is usually around 75 and with the lights it's a bit warmer but not by much. I have a terrarium/paludarium set up not far from it and the temps on that tank are right at about 78/79 at the hottest part of the day (darn Texas weather it's not been under 100 in over 3 weeks). I do think keeping it cooler will help them as well. Sounds like you've got good lighting so you should be to be able to raise the light off the plexi - that will also help with heat - even if its 1/2 inch or more off the plexi I also have a space where the cord comes out and I taped a small strip of saran wrap over it. You do want it fully enclosed during the next month or so, then you can back off a bit as they get use to being emersed. A basement, I am so jealous! I've never lived in a state where homes had basements - I'd so love one!
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:30 AM   #8
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One more thought, I bought plexi to begin with an in 2 weeks it was warping - I picked up the pre-cut glass at the big box store and am much happier with it. Well, actually I bought two 8x10 pieces and butt them up to each other so if needed I only needed i can move one at a time. Just be careful not to set it down on a chair and then sit on the chair. The glass does break with the weight on one hiney Thank god it didn't break the hiney - stupid lesson to learn...
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:34 AM   #9
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Yeah i had the plexiglass sitting around unused for... years now. I bought it when building a light hood for my 55 gallon but didn't end up using it. (Probably still should, but that's another story.) I might try something else once I figure out where to move the thing to. Thanks for the additional info - I'm going to add plastic wrap around the space caused by the cord now. I considered cutting into either the plexiglass or the tub. From experience I know I generally screw up attempts to cut plexiglass. Don't know about the tub, though.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:53 AM   #10
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Never thought of cutting the tub -I bet a small hack saw or even a serrated knife would work to make a small notch for the cord - sounds like the way to go.
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:10 PM   #11
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Another question for ya - where'd you get that little fan? How does it get power? It looks like a PC fan or something - is it battery operated?
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Old 08-12-2012, 01:39 PM   #12
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I posted this on another board to help someone out. If you have more then one fan set up to buy then by via internet is affordable but if buying one, I'd hit up your local Radioshack. I also tried out a 25mm fan in my small terrarium (12x12x18) and love it as well. Both are silent and provide great airflow.


Fan Controller:
Amazon.com: Zalman Fan For Case Fanmate-2 Fan Speed Controller Retail: Electronics

Fan:
Computers & Accessories Amazon.com: Scythe 40x40x10mm Fan 2 pin with 3 pin adapter.: Computers & Accessories

Power: 12V AC Adapter - Rapid LED
(I opted to go this route so I would not have the do any splicing and have a clean look, I also bought their fan controller but was not happy with it on the 40mm fan)

Adapter: DC Jack Adapter - Rapid LED

The fan is on a timer:
Amazon.com: Hydrofarm TM01715D 7-Day Digital Program Timer: Patio, Lawn & Garden Amazon.com: Hydrofarm TM01715D 7-Day Digital Program Timer: Patio, Lawn & Garden
(On for 2 hours off for 2 hours, I did add tape over the front lower vent and run the fan longer since their so much water in the tank. The humidity stays right around 80% or so with quick hand misting once or twice a day)
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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Might be off thread, but have you tried ludwigia and wisteria emersed from after being zip-tied to egg crate wall. I would like to try but don't know if anyone has had success with that method.
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:33 PM   #14
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Hi AirstoND - I have not tried wisteria but I have done ludwigia and sunset hygrophila and they do great. In the close up shot you can see the Hygro in a little pot just about in the middle of the picture. The color is washed out but in person, I'm starting to see very light pinkish tinge to the leaves. I put the ludwigia back in my tank as it was not quite what I was looking for as emersed. But it does work! Just need to give it time. Hope that helps
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:37 PM   #15
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PS, I'm sure it would work tied to egg crate, I've found egg crate to be a great tool for tying or propping anything against. but the initial melt might cause it to slip through it's tie an fall in the water. I also be wisteria would be fine emersed but I seem to remember that it gets big (?).
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