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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My cichlids like to dig, problematic for plants like swords with massive root system. I am thinking of planting them in pots or bags so they can survive the 'diggers'. These are some ideas:

1. in some sort of mesh bags.
2. in clay pots, and cover the top inch or so with pebbles?
3. in tupperware with cover, then cut a hole for the plant.

I think 3 is most secured but don't roots need to breath? Even if I drill some holes in the tupperware, I still may not provide enough exygenated water for the roots.

All suggestions are welcome. thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Very temptin Jen! If I need to have say 2" of pebbles on top of the soil/substrate to prevent the cichlids from disturbing the roots, I wonder if those 2" of pebbles would sorta bury the crown?

Otherwise, what is the process of using soil?

1. Do I need to layer them or mix them? like soil + perlite etc.
2. How does one sterlize soil?
3. Do I just plant and drop the planted pots into the tank or should I sit them in water for a period of time before putting them in the tank?
4. Do I still need to add fert sticks to the pot?
5. Any suggestions for the size of pots? swords can have massive root system, do I need like an one gal pot?
6. I probably need to seal the drain holes right?

Ordered some swords from Orlando and trying not to have them destroyed by the cichlids before they get established.
 

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Dorothy Reimer gave a talk on this at the AGA convention. She generally used 4" pots - unless the plant was very big, then she used 6" pots. The soil you want to use is the cheapest topsoil you can buy at the store - something with low organics and no added fertilizer, just plain old good black topsoil. Trim the roots down to about 3" long, add a bit of soil to the pot and hold up the plant while you pack soil around it's roots - then fill up the last 1" or 2" with pebbles. Sink it slowly into your water and don't be surprised or worried if a little soil floats out as it is filling up with water. Might not be a bad idea to do a quick WC and siphoning afterwards. Dorothy changes out the soil about once a year. This lady has been growing plants for decades, so it sure seems like she knows what she's talking about. Give it a shot! :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is good knowledge, I would have picked a much bigger pot thinking that swords have massive root system. But I couldn't be more wrong though, these guys are growing mother plants out of a 6" pot:

 

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I realized I didn't specifically answer some of your questions...

1. Do I need to layer them or mix them? like soil + perlite etc.
Nope, just potting soil and pebbles.
2. How does one sterlize soil?
You shouldn't have to if you get just plain black potting soil.

3. Do I just plant and drop the planted pots into the tank or should I sit them in water for a period of time before putting them in the tank?
Lower them in slowly, realizing you may have a small mess to clean up (but it isn't harmful).

4. Do I still need to add fert sticks to the pot?
If you have aquarium fert sticks, this wouldn't hurt, but I'd avoid anything urea-based just in case your cichlids DO end up digging them up and give you an ammonia spike. Potting soil is VERY rich though, my guess is that you won't need them.

5. Any suggestions for the size of pots? swords can have massive root system, do I need like an one gal pot?
I said this before, but 4" or 6" terra-cotta pots would work nicely.

6. I probably need to seal the drain holes right?
I wouldn't, just so when you lower the pot in, it can fill up as it lowers instead of all the water rushing over the lip of the top when you finally get it down low enough and possibly making an even bigger mess :)
 
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