Great info, as always thank you for putting this together! I am totally new to riparium's and I think what prompted me to try my hand at one is the simplicity of setting one up. It's a whole new realm for me of plant possibilities. I have been trolling pond sites to learn more about marginal plants. Where I seem to get lost is lighting and fertilizing...
Maybe it is super simple as well and I am over thinking it? What does not appear so readily is what are the lighting needs of the various plants that can be used? Along with root tabs in the hanging planters what other dosing is recommended?
Sorry if this is off of your original intent of this thread but I am curious as to your thoughts on these two topics.
Hey you bet Duff. Please feel free to post any questions at all into this thread. Ripariums really are pretty easy to put together and manage.
There are a few different variables involved in lighting and individual situations might require a certain amount of experimentation, However I would say that it is pretty easy to illuminate a riparium setup for good plant growth and the plants might also require less intense lighting than underwater plants; since the plants are growing right in the air the light does not have to penetrate through water where it loses intensity more quickly across the depth of the setup.
For many of my setups I use 6700K HO T5 lamps in good aluminum reflectors. This is a very efficient way to light. Here is a good general idea of how many tubes will light up ripariums of various dimensions for good plant growth...
- Aquarium 12" deep (front-to-back) e.g., 15G, 29G, 55G - ONE HO T5
- Aquarium 18" deep (front-to-back) e.g., 40B, 50G, 75G, 90G - TWO HO T5
- Aquarium 24" deep (front-to-back) e.g., 120G - TWO + HO T5
In regards to fertilization it is my impression that ripariums are less demanding in this regard too. It seems as though the riparium plants are less susceptible to nutrient deficiencies than underwater plants. Riparium plants tend to grow more slowly than underwater plants and I think that their tissues also have a lot more cellulose. I usually only use very casual fertilization and the plants get most of what they need from the fish waste products. However in a few cases I have observed good responses to iron dosing. Whether other nutrients would be limiting would also depend on the kind of water used in the setup. Here we have very hard tapwater with lots of minerals and I ususlaly just use straight conditioned tap. For setups with very soft water it might be necessary to add extra hardness minerals.
The riparium planter gravel helps with the plant nutrition a great deal. It is made from a baked clay, and clays have the important cation exchange capacity
; they can chemically sequester nutrient ions from the water, then make them available to plant roots.
The plants that grow well on the trellis rafts (Anubias, Pilea, Fittonia, Alternanthera, Microsorum
) are plants that seem to be less demanding of nutrients, so they grow very well with their roots suspended directly in the water even if the aquarium does not have careful dosing.
There are a few riparium plants that seem to respond well to some extra fertilizer buried in the planter cup. Here is a quick list...
- mangrove trees (Avicennia, Langucularia)
- flowering bulbs (Hymenocallis, Zephyranthes)
Extra ferts are important for getting good flowering from the bulbs. All of these plants will respond especially well with a bit of real topsoil buried in the planter cup. Here is a Crypt. wendtii
'Mi Oya'. That really went crazy in a 55G high-humidity riparium that I set up...
If you look closely you can see that there is a layer of black topsoil in the planter cup. If you use topsoil or fert pellets or tablets it is important to bury them down in the planter cup so that there is planter gravel both above and below; this will prevent the ferts from washing into the aquarium water.
Here is a capsule fert that people have used with great results...
FOr your setup Duff I wouldn't worry too much about extra ferts right now. I would just concentrate on getting them established. The plants will actually root better if they are slightly nutrient-deprived. If later on it looks like they are limited by nutrients we should discuss that some more.