Plant Box for Semi-Aquatics - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2012, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Plant Box for Semi-Aquatics

Have you ever been bamboozled into purchasing an "aquatic" plant from a store? It's completely submerged in the water, so you think, okay, it'll work in my tank. It has what I want or need.

But then you find out it's not aquatic at all. It likes water but it needs air. It's a bog plant, semi-aquatic. For example, Dracena. It will be fine in a tank as long as its leaves are exposed to the air. Which is usually the case with most other plants like it. So you have three options:

Take it back.

Take it out and plant it in a pot in your house.

Just let it drown in the tank. It'll live a couple months. It'll be cool. Just a plant.

But I wanted my plants still IN the aquarium. I saw how to make Moss Walls, which I intend to do at a later date but I'm leaving my Java Moss alone for the juvenile shrimp to hide in until they grow larger. Anyway, this inspired me to have an idea: create a plant box.

So I did.






















My plants kept falling over each other in the box so I LOOSELY secured them via zip ties.

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2012, 05:36 PM
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You sir are a genius! So simple yet so effective... Get this man an award!
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2012, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Haha, thanks! I've been thinking about putting some kind of substrate in the box that will still allow water flow and help the plants grow better. I think dirt would seep through too much and cloud up the water.

Any ideas?
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Come on, guys, you're the experts with plants. You've got to have some ideas for substrate...
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 08:07 AM
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They really shouldn't sell it in aquariums shops. It's like they are setting you up for failure, no matter what. lucky bamboo a really big thing here, like more popular than flower arrangements. It's very hardy and usually does completely fine in a jar of inert pebbles and water. I don't think that that mesh will hold super well, but you could try hydroponics substrate. It's generally lighter and meant for this kind of thing. They are little clay balls a bit smaller than a marble. It's prob. better than nothing at all, anwyay. worth a try, I'd say.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Will that have any nutrients at all? I'd like to have other semi-aquatic plants than just lucky bamboo.

I suppose it would at least hold root tabs...
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2012, 07:38 AM
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Hey- good job of making the most of a bad situation.

I tend to use this sort of thing as a bit of an acid-test for stores, if they sell something like dracena, pothos, 'peace lily', or some other sort of terrestrial/bog plant as 'completely aquatic', I'm very unlikely to buy anything from them.

As to substrate; I think pretty much anything would work, with the plastic canvas basket you made, gravel would be great, cheap, and easy. If you want something finer like soil or something, consider using some sort of porous/permeable holder like a terracotta pot, coir(well rinsed) basket/pocket, or really fine mesh (pantyhose would be pretty cheap...).

Also, check out various forums/websites for info on paludariums/ripariums, as they tend to deal with a lot of bog plants, and growing things with the leaves in the air and the roots in the water. I've been out of the loop for a bit, but from what I remember, I think the trend is towards chemicaly inert, larger-particle substrates (gravel, hydroton, etc.). Most of these plants are seen growing in vases on people's office desks, just getting an occasional top-up of tap water(and it seems that many of these (dracena, pothos, etc.)can live for years at a time in these conditions), so pretty much anything in an aquarium/riparium setting would be orders of magnitude better for the plant.

For a lot of paludarium/riparium set-ups, having emersed plants is pretty much the de-facto filtration method- the plants don't seem to need the CO2 infusions, or even as much fertilization/supplements as the fully aquatics, and can strip the ammonia from the water about as quickly as it is produced.

Oh- also, it looks like you may have gone overkill on the zipties. I think they are great for applications like this, but if you don't have an excess of them, just using them at the corners, or every couple of inches or so would probably work pretty well. It may be a bit more effort, but fishing line, or possibly even polyester thread could be used to 'sew' the baskets shut on their seems. though, this probably won't matter unless you are producing these on some sort of large scale...
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2012, 07:41 AM
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You could try AKADAMA which is a bonsai soil in that basket, the grains are pretty big and shouldn't slip through the mesh. You can buy it from nilcog here or weetree.com.

You could also put a root tab in it as a bonus.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2012, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm going to look into all of the suggestions, especially the AKADAMA.

Do you have any other suggestions for bog-type plants that would like this?
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 01:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeZ View Post
Come on, guys, you're the experts with plants. You've got to have some ideas for substrate...
You could use hydroton or another version of expanded clay aggregate like they do in hydroponics setups. They are fired clay balls that are inert in the water but act as support for the plants root system.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 08:11 PM
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Why not just something like Eco-complete? shake out the small stuff, but the bigger peices would have a high CEC value and hold onto a lot of nutrients that are otherwise floating around the water. The other idea is make into a slight Bio-Filter. Fill the mesh box up with that ribbon floss stuff that looks like easter basket filler. I dont know I am sure there are all kinds of things you could think of here.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-01-2012, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ulupica View Post
You could use hydroton or another version of expanded clay aggregate like they do in hydroponics setups. They are fired clay balls that are inert in the water but act as support for the plants root system.
I second Hydroton. You are essentially creating an Aquaponics style growing box in your aquarium. The hydroton allows for water to move decently around the roots of the plants.

Many riparium equipment sellers have similar products. Yours is just home made ... Well Done.

Google 'Hydrophites Blog'
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2012, 03:01 AM
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I'm working on a similar setup.

How about "biosponge" material or used/spare aquarium filters, or cotton foam (available as pillow stuffing at Arts & Crafts stores) packed into it instead of gravel/Hydroton?

It should also make it easier to reposition container if suctions give way to extra weight, in adding to holding extra nutrients/air.

I also placed an airstone strip underneath it (submerged in subtrate gravel, not container). I'll post a pic soon.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Just wanted to put up a note that this also works great as a separation box for fish. I got some dwarf puffers and I couldn't put them in any of my tanks so I used this and they're doing great in the box until they get sold.

Heck, if I built a bigger box, I might be able to keep a betta in there or something.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-01-2012, 09:46 PM
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Cool idea, nice work.
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