Separating substrates by potting? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2008, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Separating substrates by potting?

I found a nice 110 tank to upgrade to and I have it all aquascaped already in my head. The thing is, as I've noted in another thread, I'd also intend to switch to sand. It's only a moderately planted tank and has eartheaters, so the lack of a nutrient-bearing substrate up front doesn't make any difference.

That said, my idea still calls for a wall of swords in the background. And they feed through the roots. So I would like to give them some flourite and root tabs to make them happy. What I'm thinking is that there's got to be a way that I can pot them, which would allow me to plant them nicely in the flourite and keep it mostly separate from the sand. (There'd be some transfer, but I'm OK with that.) I might want to elevate them a bit too.

Ideally I'd end up making two trough-like rectangular pots, roughly 2 feet long each and maybe 4 inches wide. Enough for planting but not so much that the geos can go back there and start rooting around (It'll also be guarded by some rock piles and wood). It's a five foot tank with a central overflow in back so I'd put one trough on either side of it. The question I have is what I should make these troughs out of? I wouldn't want them to be more than 3-4 inches deep, which probably rules out any kind of planter I could go buy at a florist or home depot.

Would I be better off just laying down some sort of thin vertical divider from the overflow to each edge and dividing it that way? What would work best in that case? Or is this just a stupid idea all around?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2008, 11:37 PM
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I was contemplating this also a while back and will do it next time I move. What I was planning on doing was using those plastic reusable ziploc containers and drilling holes in the sides then filling with topsoil covered in flourite then planting in there. This way you can save on substrate costs and just cover up the container with sand and no one could tell the difference. They come in multiple sizes and depths, seemed like a good idea.

Another option is to create rock barriers between the substrates, but where's the fun in that?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Well there will be some rock there anyway as part of the general aquascape (and possibly to serve as a bit of a breakwall between the higher plant height in back, if I end up with the multiple levels) and to block whatever trough/wall might be visible.

Ziploc/tupperware is a good idea though, if it can be found in the right size and depth.

I'm not all that concerned about costs, I have plenty of flourite in the existing 55, should be more than enough than I need for the back of the 110.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 05:05 AM
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I tried something similar in three different breeding tanks. Three tanks: 10g, 15g, & 20g long. Three different dwarfs: Apistogramma cacatuoides, A. sp. Masken & Laetacara dorsigera. Every tank same result: gravel (SMS, SAPS) knocked out of planting pot and scattered across white PF sand. These fish don't care if they've got the other 95% of the sand bottom to root around in, they've still got to check out those pots!!

And you're doing 'real' eartheaters?!!
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, crazy huh. It started with just one, who I had to put in the planted tank because he was too passive for the other one. Then a pair of orange heads, also got picked on, went in. And really, it's not so bad. They've never uprooted anything large - it's just the little new java ferns and anubias that won't stay down. I've never perfected the art of sticking them to something and tying the ferns to a driftwood once resulted in a flying fox tied in a tight knot. With this tank change though I'm going to be doing something more like Trackhazard's firemouth tank, which someone linked me in my other post. Which is basically a big rock pile with plants inside it. However, I do want to have the swords in the back. One guy on C-F has orange heads and some similar plants, which he just anchored with pea gravel under his sand, and that works out alright. I guess my thinking is just that as long as I've got the flourite, might as well use it instead.

It's looking like maybe just having a base of flourite with a good cover over top of it of the PFS may just be the way to go, as any other effort beyond that will be wasted.

(I have two pairs of dorisgera in this tank too, actually.)
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 04:10 PM
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I've heard some ppl have good results with that plastic boarder used on the edges of flower beds, you can trim it down to size.

I think regular cheap plastic pots trimmed to size would be easiest, personally. That's what I stick all my swords in till I'm ready to plant them, I just fill them with Fluorite.





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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 05:02 PM
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Maybe you could cut a piece of plastic mesh into a circle (or whatever the "pot" shape ends up being) with a hole in the middle (and a slit to that.) Plant the sword in the pot wit the fluorite, add the mesh around the stems, cover with sand. Even if the fish get through the sand, they shouldn't be able to get to the fluorite under the mesh. It might even keep the flourite in place if the pot gets tipped over You would punch a couple of holes in the side near the top and "sew" the mesh on with fishing line!

Does that make sense? I don't know if I explained it well... I could make an example and take pictures if you want

~Tori

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 06:43 PM
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what i have done was turn a piece of slate on its side
so it is used like a wall

the substrates hold it inplace

_____| |-----

^ if that makes any sense?

it works

good luck

please post pics when your done
I am currently scaping a 90 with a wall of swords
(for my discus)

However, there's always a however.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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That would work too. This mesh idea is a decent one too - I had actually been thinking about cutting up a broken window screen and laying it flat over the flourite, with plenty of room right at the base of the plants... just wonder if that might end up being a problem 6-12 months down the line. I may just lay the flourite down in small areas and make sure there is plenty of rock and wood to block them from getting back there.

I'm using a combo of this 2004 winner, Trackhazard's look, and yoink's 20 as the inspiration for this. I need to find a nice branchy piece of driftwood to block off the back swords on one side like that first tank. That might be a great idea source for you with your discus tank as well. I love that it has only the simplest of plants and still looks great. The fish help too, of course.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 08:34 PM
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You said you thought any kind of planter would be the wrong size, but you might want to consider getting a long planter, cutting it in half lengthwise, and then using hot glue to put it back together, overlapping itself so the end result would be a thinner planter. Then you could reinforce this with a slate retaining wall.

The nice thing about having two long troughs is that the roots can go nuts within the troughs, but not go outside of them. It would also keep any digging out of it except from the top.

You can protect the top with screening as already mentioned. I found some long, thin fiberglass screen material at Lowes (I think it's intended to be used to cover rain gutters). I use it for all sorts of things. The hole gauge is large enough for good circulation while still small enough to keep things contained. I think the hardest part of protecting the top is finding a way to insert the root tabs while still maintaining a protective cover.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2008, 10:50 PM
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In my Garden tank (see sig) I have a retaining wall and white sand. The cories, if they feel playful, can knock the gravel to the sand... I also knock it around if I'm messing with the plants.

If I were doing this larger scale, with fish that like to rearrange more (they don't, they're just playing with each other and knock stuff off on accident) I would FOR SURE use some kind of screen cover. It's small scale here, so individually cursing at picking up each rock isn't too much. of a PIA. If I don't keep on top of it it looks junky in no time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Complexity View Post
I think the hardest part of protecting the top is finding a way to insert the root tabs while still maintaining a protective cover.
Maybe this is a silly idea, but could you grind up the tabs, mix them with enough water to make a paste, and inject (via a tiny hole left in the screen) it in? You would need a big gauge needle/tube, but I think it would work... unless the tabs have to stay whole to work? (I've never used them, but I've thought about it, so I would like to know if this is possible)

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-15-2008, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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I think a retaining wall and some sort of screen/mesh over top will be the best bet. That way I don't have to have an extremely narrow area, meaning the roots will be free to spread out underneath. A light dusting of sand over the top of the mesh and then a bunch of rock and driftwood in front of it should look pretty good. I'll have plenty of time to experiment while setting it up too, which is good. The hardest part now is just going to be finding the right piece of driftwood. I'll probably end up sucking it up and overpaying at LFS. Which I hate doing. They charge like 50 bucks for the stuff.

Now for a rock pile in the center, should I just glue the anubias right down to the larger rocks that make up the pile, or should I try to mount them to smaller rocks (larger than pebbles, maybe like the diameter of a quarter) and wedge those into the gaps between the big rocks?

The other next step is figuring out whether there's a grassy plant that works in sand and without CO2. I'd love to have a small grassy area in front of the retaining walls and around the driftwood in the midground area of the tank. Like this one, except not fake:

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