Fertilizing the Riparium?
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:25 PM   #1
miniherp
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Fertilizing the Riparium?


Hi everybody! I've been a lurker here for a long time but this is my first post.

I'm improving some terrarium/aquarium/paludariums at my workplace. There are several different setups and up till now, the attention given to the plants has been from a very "horticultural" background - but as you know, taking care of landscape plants and taking care of a closed system like an aquarium are worlds apart. I have experience with planted tanks and I have experience with reptiles and amphibians, but I haven't had a chance to put the two together until now. I'm going to have lots of questions as I learn and research, but here's the first one.

I'm working with a riparium that has been established for several years and currently houses salamanders. It has an insert/background with planter pockets which presently contain mostly ferns; the base of the riparium is moss. are native to southeast coastal North America, but my background is in mountain ecology so I'm not sure exactly what I'm working with here. New plants (ones that fit the mountain habitat of salamanders more closely) are in the works.

What I'm most concerned about is the soil quality and how you guys would go about fertilizing these little plants in little planter pockets. I'm pretty sure that nothing in this riparium has had any fertilization (other than salamander poop) for a LONG time; they definitely aren't on a regular schedule of supplementation and they don't look very good - I mean, lots of room for improvement here.

I currently don't have any means of testing the dirt and my access to the best fertilizers may be limited...so if there is a nice low-tech solution - even a temporary one - that will help make these plants perky, that would be the best bet. I have access to 20/20/20 fertilizer but was nervous about using that without asking you folks first. Whatever I use has to be salamander-safe - whatever works best for a tank with sensitive animals (what do the guys who keep tree frogs/dendrobatids use?). I'm hoping that when these systems start looking awesome and people start noticing, I'll be able to get more advanced lighting/fertilizers/etc and really have a groovy thing going.

Okay, long first post! But I guess it's better to have more information than not enough. Thanks for reading through and any advice is appreciated!
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:57 PM   #2
Fishies_in_Philly
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i use this in all my vivs and i'll be planting with it in my 125 palu....http://www.planetnatural.com/site/ocean-forest.html i know it goes against all the rules of frog keeping to use something with perlite in it, but i cover it with about 1" of coco fiber (so the frogs can't accidentally eat the perlite) and my plants grow nice. another option is to use what is called abg mix. abg stands for atlanta botanical gardens. you can buy it premixed or you can mix your own. the recipe is out there on the web, just do a google search on it and you should find it. you should post some pics so we can see the before and after and other questions, feel free to fire away.
oh, and the use of springtails and isopods as a cleaning crew are essential. they are the snails and plecos of the "emersed world"....lol they will eat and break down waste and turn it into fertilizer in their waste. not really a viable solution for planters on the background, but good for any land mass in the tank.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:52 PM   #3
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Thanks a bundle for the info - I will definitely check those out!

Funny that I never thought about using terrestrial "cleaner-uppers" in the system. When I work with aquatic setups, I'm very big on shrimp/snails/etc, but somehow when I got into these salamander enclosures, having detritivores in the tank completely skipped my mind! I really love cultivating small but intricate and beautiful plants and mosses in aquaria/terraria, so adding isopods and other little critters is a fantastic idea. The salamanders will nibble a few, but if anything, that's great nutrition.

Now off to source some tiny native inverts.
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