Raising the Bottom - The Planted Tank Forum
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Old 10-11-2019, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Raising the Bottom

I have a 55 gallon that I want to set up with plants. I want some plants to grow up and out of the water. Since the tank is so tall, I am planning to keep the water level 5 to 6 inches below the top rim of the tank to create and ample air space for emergent plants. But I would also like to build up one side of the tank substrate to get some of the plants even closer to the water surface. What are some techniques to do this without creating thick, anaerobic areas of soil. If I build up some areas with hydroponics clay balls, then cover with thin layer of soil, will that work? What happens in the water-filled void under the soil in that case? Looking for ideas and wisdom.

Wayne

Bump: Maybe layer up some flat, slate stone?
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:51 PM
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Idea for you. Try the plastic square stuff that goes under ceiling lights. Think that they are cheap at the home improvement stores. Maybe covering them with window screen then add the substrate.
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Old 10-12-2019, 01:57 AM
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There are a lot of professionally built aquariums that will pile substrate more then halfway up the tank. If using sand this is a problem, if using the smaller sized gravel or aquasoil you will be fine.

If this is not acceptable then buy some lava rock at a big box hardware store and some mesh bags. Put lava rock in mesh bags and use that for your base.

Good luck!
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:28 PM
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I think I'd use a plant basket like they use for ponds on one side end with rocks on the aquarium side to hide the basket. Then I'd fill the basket with either clay kitty litter (see Dr. Kevin Novak's Anoxic Biocenosis Baskets) or gravel to about 3/4's full. Add a layer of landscape fabric, then fill with potting soil.


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Old 10-12-2019, 08:10 PM
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Somehow I missed the part about soil in the original post. So the problem with putting soil ontop of gravel (or clay balls) is that the soil will not stay put. It will filter down to the lowest point it can get to. If you want to go this route you could try the basket idea but honestly you would be better off using a professional aquasoil. You can much easier add it ontop of a cheaper gravel fill.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:00 PM
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People seem to use soil as a catch all term these days wether talking about processed soil balls or real soil. Not sure which OP is referring to at this point.

But either way put down 2 layers of fiberglass window screen, turning each layer at slightly different angle and it will make crosshatched mesh that’s tight enough to keep 95% of even real soil out of plenum area of buildup. Any tiny bits of organic material that makes it down there is not a issue unless your using to fine a sand cap layer which will suffocate even normally thick layers of soil.

Basically if aquasoil keep it to around 2.5” max regardless of buildup height under it or if real soil about 1” for that layer.

Last edited by DaveKS; 10-14-2019 at 07:10 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-13-2019, 03:12 AM
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Personally I'm not really convinced a deep bed would be realistically detrimental. But wouldn't just overturning a plastic storage bin and placing it under the soil to raise it up work? You just need something to take up some volume.
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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If you use garden soil and go more than and inch deep with a cap coating of gravel, you risk going anaerobic. Now having said that, I'm not sure what that means, but I don't want to risk it. I believe anaerobic soil areas can release some harmful gasses. Anyway, I know there are many ways to raise the bed up. Overturned storage bins etc. But what happens to the water left in the void over time if it is sealed in there? Can it go bad in some way? I don't know. Just wondering if somebody does.
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:20 AM
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Anaerobic activity is not bad usually. Its when it’s in conjunction with zero circulation and higher levels of raw organics that it becomes a detrimental bomb in your tank. Read Dennis Wong’s section about substrate, paying special attention to section about microbial actions and layers.

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...substrate.html

But plain simple truth is most planted tanks don’t need a dedicated anaerobic substrate layer. Anaerobic activity is hard to control in substrate layers, it really is better to design a specific filter just for it where you can prefilter it properly and control flow through dedicated anaerobic media.

Last edited by DaveKS; 10-13-2019 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-13-2019, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks DaveKS. The article was a good read with lot's of good information.
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Old 10-14-2019, 12:21 AM
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I'd look at shower caddys i.e. clear plastic pots with holes in and suckers to stick to your shower wall. Perfect for planting in and you can have plants near the surface without taking up loads of water volume with soil. Otherwise, you could consider drift wood that emerges from the water and has plants growing on it.
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Old 10-14-2019, 05:40 AM Thread Starter
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Having some wood emerge is part of the plan!
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Old 10-14-2019, 11:08 AM
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Emergent growth on stones. No soil at all, simply rooted to the rock.
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Old 10-14-2019, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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What kind of plant is that? Is it a water plant or a terrestrial plant. I know many people put Pothos roots, or other house plants in the water and let it grow above the surface.
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:06 AM
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Acorus gramineus "Japanese sweet sedge", the roots stick to the rocks. In the wild it is a marginal plant of wet lands and river banks.
It grows in the water or completely out of the water (it is sold as a garden plant) but if in water the leaves must be emergent. I also grow Pothos, Tradescantia and peace lilies in similar manners but this one is my long time favourite.
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