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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been doing tons of research and given my end goal, I've determined I need to set up my planted tank using the Dry-start Method (DSM). However, I still don't feel comfortable getting started yet. There seems to be too much information, mis-information, and too many variables between the numerous online DSM write-ups and mine. I wish there was a more detailed primer in existence.

Here are the knowns for my setup so far:

Tank: ADA Mini M (approx:14"x8.5"x10"; 5.5 gal)

Light: Mingdak LED panel fixture w/30 white/6 blue LEDs

Filtration: Zoo Med 501

Substrate: ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia (3L Powder Type)

CO2: Nope

For flora, I hope to attain a carpeted foreground using Hemianthus Callitrichoides (HC), though I'm not dead-set on this, along with a medium size plant for a contrasting background such as Staurogyne Repens and/or possibly Rotala Rotundifolia for the color. To keep things simple, I plan to only dry-start with the HC.

Questions regarding my DSM regimen:

1. What nutrient concoction is recommended for the initial soak and daily sprays?

2. What schedule is recommended for lighting, spraying, and oxygenating (removing cover)?

3. What is the recommended method to successfully transition the plants from DSM to submersed? i.e. water change amount and schedule, nutrient additives with water changes.

4. Where should I expect to be with respect to a fishless cycle? I've read that the DSM effectively cycles the tank, but I have a feeling it's not so simple since the filtration with bio-media wasn't a player during the DSM.

5. What else am I missing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It might be a little tricky to get the HC living once flooded without CO2, but maybe... Normally when going from emersed to submersed it's nice to give as much CO2 as you can, plants emersed are used to using as much as they want.
Right. I plan to us Excel. What I'm asking above is not whether this will work, but how to go about it.
 

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In this case:
1. I would use normally flooded tank-like water. Mix water with nutritiens in planned doses and use it for spraying.
2. Light should stay for around 8-10 hours, spray at least once a day (if water evaporates quicker - more), remove cover for 10-15 minutes daily.
3. You need to bombard them with nutritiens, Excel, light - when flooding the biggest problem is to not kill plants with lower levels of everything.
4. The substrate will have enough bacteria to sustain the tank, but for water clarification etc. you should wait another week after flooding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In this case:
1. I would use normally flooded tank-like water. Mix water with nutritiens in planned doses and use it for spraying.
2. Light should stay for around 8-10 hours, spray at least once a day (if water evaporates quicker - more), remove cover for 10-15 minutes daily.
3. You need to bombard them with nutritiens, Excel, light - when flooding the biggest problem is to not kill plants with lower levels of everything.
4. The substrate will have enough bacteria to sustain the tank, but for water clarification etc. you should wait another week after flooding.
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I still need more details, so here are some replies to your answers:

1. Unfortunately I have no other tank water available. The best I could do is set up a pitcher of water with dechlorinator and ensure the right parameters are there before flooding and using in the spray bottle. What nutrients, besides the aforementioned Excel, would you recommend? I'm new to all the science and only knew about Excel from my research on doing this without CO2.

2. Great info on the uncover / cover and spray regimen. Do you only want to spray with light on or off, or does it not really matter? I've heard of light regimens which span the entire 24 hour day. Something like 4 hr ON / 6 hr OFF. That may be a pain in the ass schedule-wise, but I'd like to know the best way and then back off from there if I have to.

3. Same as #1. What nutrients, besides the aforementioned Excel, would you recommend?

4. Interesting. So basically I'm accomplishing the procedure we touch on in question #3 while ensuring the water parameters = complete cycle?
 

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When spraying the plants daily use just water not a nutrient mix. All the nutrients will be in the substrate. The purpose of spraying is to maintain as high humidity as possible so the plants have an easier time adjusting to the submersed form. Vent for at least a few minutes per day or leave a very small permanent vent and spray often. Make sure the water level stays below the substrate level. Lights on for 8-10 hrs a day. I don't see a purpose in splitting the lighting time since the idea of that is for algae control in a submersed aquarium. And I know you said "not if it will work" but all of the plants you mentioned really do like co2. When using excell increase the intensity of use slowly. It can be shocking to plants and kills some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When spraying the plants daily use just water not a nutrient mix. All the nutrients will be in the substrate. The purpose of spraying is to maintain as high humidity as possible so the plants have an easier time adjusting to the submersed form. Vent for at least a few minutes per day or leave a very small permanent vent and spray often. Make sure the water level stays below the substrate level. Lights on for 8-10 hrs a day. I don't see a purpose in splitting the lighting time since the idea of that is for algae control in a submersed aquarium. And I know you said "not if it will work" but all of the plants you mentioned really do like co2. When using excell increase the intensity of use slowly. It can be shocking to plants and kills some.
Understood. Thanks!
 

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When spraying the plants daily use just water not a nutrient mix. All the nutrients will be in the substrate. The purpose of spraying is to maintain as high humidity as possible so the plants have an easier time adjusting to the submersed form. Vent for at least a few minutes per day or leave a very small permanent vent and spray often. Make sure the water level stays below the substrate level. Lights on for 8-10 hrs a day. I don't see a purpose in splitting the lighting time since the idea of that is for algae control in a submersed aquarium. And I know you said "not if it will work" but all of the plants you mentioned really do like co2. When using excell increase the intensity of use slowly. It can be shocking to plants and kills some.
Understood. Thanks!
You're welcome. Be sure to post pics and updates!!!
 

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What do you have so far?
Just the main components listed in my original post, plus hardscape (chunks of Pikes Peak Granite), Seachem Stability (bio kick-starter), Seachem Prime (dechlorinator), Seachem Flourish Excel, power strip with timer, and spray bottle.
Cellophane and plants for the dsm. Are you planning to put the flourish or any other nutrients into the substrate when you do the dsm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Cellophane and plants for the dsm. Are you planning to put the flourish or any other nutrients into the substrate when you do the dsm?
I'm not planning on anything unless someone points me in that direction, so that's what I'm asking here (ref original post questions). I'm new to setting up anything with successful plants.

I plan on ordering the plants from the sale forum here in the next day or two, assuming I have everything else ready first. So far I've decided to start with Utricularia Graminifolia and Staurogyne Repens. However, something I just thought of is I probably need to purchase plants that have been growing emersed. Is that assumption correct? If so, then I will likely have to order them elsewhere because I think most of the people selling here are selling from their own tank stock.
 

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Cellophane and plants for the dsm. Are you planning to put the flourish or any other nutrients into the substrate when you do the dsm?
I'm not planning on anything unless someone points me in that direction, so that's what I'm asking here (ref original post questions). I'm new to setting up anything with successful plants.

I plan on ordering the plants from the sale forum here in the next day or two, assuming I have everything else ready first. So far I've decided to start with Utricularia Graminifolia and Staurogyne Repens. However, something I just thought of is I probably need to purchase plants that have been growing emersed. Is that assumption correct? If so, then I will likely have to order them elsewhere because I think most of the people selling here are selling from their own tank stock.
Don't worry about buying anything emersed. Plants do pretty well making the transition. And you'd be surprised at how many people here have emersed setups. I have a bunch of stuff growing in my emersed tanks as do many others on here. You can always post WTB in the roak/wtb section for certain plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don't worry about buying anything emersed. Plants do pretty well making the transition. And you'd be surprised at how many people here have emersed setups. I have a bunch of stuff growing in my emersed tanks as do many others on here. You can always post WTB in the roak/wtb section for certain plants.
Awesome, thanks again for the info!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm up and running as of today. I'm half expecting to fail this first try because I don't feel confident about what I'm doing. Anyway, here are a few photos from setting it up today. I have a few questions below.











Questions:

1. I'm concerned about temperature. The tank is in my basement where it's a bit cool. What is the optimal temperature and what is the best/easiest way to raise it to that mark?

2. It's quite dry where I live at approx 7500 ft above sea level. Water evaporates before your eyes. What is a good range of humidity to maintain?

I think that's all I have questions I have for now.
 

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Did you push the roots of the grass into the soil? I would probably thin out the bunches / clumps a fair bit, this would allow light to get to all areas and avoid the parts not getting much light from dyeing off, could probably use half the amount of flora you have... im no expert tho!

Edit - also wrap the tank with cling film to keep the humidity in the tank! Let it breath every few days...
 

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I'm up and running as of today. I'm half expecting to fail this first try because I don't feel confident about what I'm doing. Anyway, here are a few photos from setting it up today. I have a few questions below.











Questions:

1. I'm concerned about temperature. The tank is in my basement where it's a bit cool. What is the optimal temperature and what is the best/easiest way to raise it to that mark?

2. It's quite dry where I live at approx 7500 ft above sea level. Water evaporates before your eyes. What is a good range of humidity to maintain?

I think that's all I have questions I have for now.
Generally I would agree to break up the grass more but you started with so much of it I think it will spread nicely the way it is. You want to maintain somewhere in the 70ish% humidity or higher. If you have it sealed with cellophane and you are seeing water droplets on the glass and cellophane that's not from spraying you're probably good to go. I'm not sure how you would heat it. Not a prob for me here in AZ. While my elevation is not as high our natural humidity is bone dry here so as long as you maintain droplets inside I wouldn't worry about the evaporation because the cellophane will trap it in. Vent it everyday or so for co2 exchange. Make sure you don't have any water above the substrate as this can lead to BGA. Nice start. I'm sure it will work nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Did you push the roots of the grass into the soil? I would probably thin out the bunches / clumps a fair bit, this would allow light to get to all areas and avoid the parts not getting much light from dyeing off, could probably use half the amount of flora you have... im no expert tho!

Edit - also wrap the tank with cling film to keep the humidity in the tank! Let it breath every few days...
I started with 5 2"x2" grass squares. The way they were shipped in wet paper towel, they came out fairly flat, so I simply cut them into 1/4s and when I set them in on the roots, I sort of mushed them around a little with my finger so that the roots would have as much direct contact with the soil as possible.

I will try thinning them out / cutting them down further. I bought probably more than I needed, as you can probably see, so I'm not sure how much more I can thin them out. I'm also afraid of handling them more and damaging them. I will give that a try though.

Also, I added cling wrap to the top after that photo was taken. Initially I've decided to seal it completely to help bring up the humidity.

Generally I would agree to break up the grass more but you started with so much of it I think it will spread nicely the way it is. You want to maintain somewhere in the 70ish% humidity or higher. If you have it sealed with cellophane and you are seeing water droplets on the glass and cellophane that's not from spraying you're probably good to go. I'm not sure how you would heat it. Not a prob for me here in AZ. While my elevation is not as high our natural humidity is bone dry here so as long as you maintain droplets inside I wouldn't worry about the evaporation because the cellophane will trap it in. Vent it everyday or so for co2 exchange. Make sure you don't have any water above the substrate as this can lead to BGA. Nice start. I'm sure it will work nicely.
Got it, thanks.
 
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