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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Several of us like to keep cichlids of various types even though we admit that it does take a bit of thought and effort. One of the methods I have used and recommended is putting plants in pots as this will help to keep the roots safe from digging as well as let the plant be moved easily if you find another location might work better. But then several have objections to the appearance of the standard pot. I don't like the look of pots very much, so this is one method I use for potting without looking potted?
My definition of pots is pretty loose in that I just think of it as a way to keep dirt and plant together, not much else. That throws me over into using my favorite tank item---wood.
This is one of my projects that I'm starting for later use, so if the idea appeals to you this is one way I make my pot.

First the wood is one I picked up that has the start of being hollow.


With the inside beginning to get soft and rot it looked like a good piece to do some work to make it better.

First was the size of the hollow. Not really big enough to suit what I wanted. Only about three inches.


But with a little work on the soft inner wood, I got more space as well as opening the split a bit more to fit what I wanted to do.


First I filled the opening with the soil I use and added a small anubia. There is some question about how the anubia will like being low in the ground but it will let me know later, right? Maybe planted too deep but I tend to use the plants I have and see how they like it. :grin2:


After the anubia was in, I tucked as much soil in behind as practical. Something like heeling plants in in the garden to make sure they get good contact with the soil?
Then it was time for a bit of extra work to keep the next plant and dirt together since it was going to be near the hollow end of the opening. I find old tee shirts are handy material that works for me. They are enough to keep dirt in place while still letting the roots pop through as they grow. They also rot pretty quickly so that they don't restrict the roots very much.
I wrapped a red tiger lotus in dirt and fabric and used a dowel to stuff it in as far as possible.


With the plants and dirt in, I pressed some of my mix of sand and gravel that I use, into the slit to help in two ways. One is that it makes the dirt less apt to wash out to muddy the tank and it also looks more natural to me as this is what I find in the creeks, etc. At this point, I'm done working the project for a bit until I feel it has set the plants really well. That keeps my bully African cichlids from uprooting the plants if they decide to tug on them. I like to make it easy on myself if I find things not going well so I put this into a ten for a while to see how it goes. Way big for a ten and I had to wedge it in to make it stay down but I'm ready to set back and watch for a few weeks to see what the plants think.


At some point when the plants have let me know, I will move this to the main tank, add some more rock and gravel to hide the fabric and be done.
Mulligans are a part of my plan, whether it's golf or planted tanks!
 

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@PlantedRich As usual excellent ideas. It goes to show a little ingenuity can sometimes overturn conventional wisdom. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hope it can spur somebody to try a few different pieces of wood to solve some of the questions they have. It's not something that everybody will like or use but then we all have different needs/wants.
There are so many people who pass on trying cichlids just because there is so much info telling them it won't work. Sometimes we need to just plunge in and learn what it really takes. There are just way too many experts who tell us it won't work but then they may have not spent much effort to try it?

Part of what led me to try the anubia in the wood is the way I want to lay the wood and I wanted to have the anubia higher off the floor. Sometimes if you can't get the light to the plant on the floor, it works to take the plant to the light. It seems like a pretty simple way to put some plant that may need more/stronger light up so that the current light works. We sometimes get hung up on thinking how the light may reach the floor and forget that we can get the same result if we move the plant higher rather than the light lower.
 

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I am going to do some stuff to my altolamp tank and I may apply some of this there as I would really like some plants. I have a nice anubias I can use and a ton of java fern.
 

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Awesome idea! And the moving the plant up and down for lighting needs makes me think of coral in our saltwater tank. Some you can set in one spot and they do great, other you may have to move around 3, 4, or 5 times. Looking for the spot it likes the best.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
At some point, I'm sure that this will be moving to a larger tank and since that is likely to dislodge dirt, I will likely be using something like rock to hide the grey fabric. Kind of one of those things that need to set a bit and decide if it wants to work or not? The anubia may be setting down too far and they kind of like to be roots only in the substrate so that is one question that keeps me from going all out to make the final details fit.
Limestone is one of my favorite things. Since I have hard alkaline water and don't plan to fight it, limestone is a nice soft rock that is really easy to find. Being so easy to find, I can find one that fit in the hole behind the fabric and being soft, I can drill it to attach it. In this case I will probably use a plastic tie through the bottom wood and the bottom of the rock. That hides a lot of the fabric and also holds the wood from floating. When I get the rock in place, some clear silicone with gravel/sand mashed into it will hide the rest of the fabric.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have been waiting and watching this project to see what the plants think of the idea and they are now giving me some feedback. After 8 days, plants often have decided which way they are going and it is a bit mixed yet for these 3 small plants.
The one I was most concerned about was the anubia as it may be planted too deep but at this time it seems okay. The small red tiger lotus are giving me some lessons, though. I was not terribly concerned with them and one was planted in a cup just because it came loose from the bunch when I was removing the larger. I knew that I had handled them pretty rough as I was stuffing the rag in the hole but the rough treatment doesn't seem to be hurting them as much as the time I took to do it. I broke a few stems and expected them to die and fall off but the small plant has suffered the most. While messing with one, I et them both dry way more than I should have and they are not liking that at all.
Anubia looks okay!


The lotus stuffed in the wood suffered some leaf burn but generally looks hopeful.


But the little one in the pot? Not looking too good! Apparently the leaves were dried too much and they are going to die. But I still have some faith it will recover as there is one small red leaf coming out of the dirt!


Amazing how much I might learn if I just listen to my plants!! What it is telling me is that tiger lotus leaves dry pretty quick so I should take better care of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I love it when I get good reports from my plants. The type of report that says they want to live? I like it even better when they give me that report in a very definite and very quick way. This little tiger lotus is showing all the sings of what I like about the lotus. When it is happy it GROWS and QUICK.
In spite of my efforts to kill it, the tiny little plant wants to grow.
I trimmed off the dead leaves and stems and now look at how much bigger the new leaf has grown. From under 1/2" to an inch in three days. Not bad for a plant that looked nearly dead.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just got yet another lesson from this little project. Nothing that involves the plants but more about myself. I took a picture of a fun thing that is growing on the wood. Something that I call fungus for lack of a real ID on it. Somewhat different than some I see as this seems to like the underside rather than the top of wood. Maybe too bright on top? Who can say except it is one of those little things that has found what it feels is a sweet spot for it to grow and prosper. I have no plans to deal with it or fight it as I find these are mostly just passing through and not worth the effort to fight. What surprised me was how much it grew in what seemed like overnight.


What I thought to show was how it just grew "overnight" but it turns out it is teaching me a different lesson today.
What I really find is how bad I am at really seeing when I look at the tank. Yes, there is a lot of it there now but if you look at the picture of the small plant with wilted leafs that I took on 5-17-16, the fungus was already there. I was looking but not really seeing!
I wonder how many times we read about fish just dying suddenly when the truth is that they have been suffering for a long time?
Maybe we just don't see what is there?

Meanwhile the plants are still deciding who wants live and not. The little tiger lotus has now put out a second leaf and I feel good there but the larger one that I tucked into the wood is still not showing any progress and one dried leaf has fallen off. Anubia shows no change.
 

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I really love the design!

Maybe if i can add something to your design, it might help for the future. If you have the time and patience to, I'd recommend layering your whole peace of wood with some kind of dark bog you could: 1) get from your aquariums if one of them has a particularly high turnover rate (with a lot of biological decomposition) in order to give a darker color to your wood and have the crack in the middle be of the same color, thus hiding the crack.

A possibility?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I really love the design!

Maybe if i can add something to your design, it might help for the future. If you have the time and patience to, I'd recommend layering your whole peace of wood with some kind of dark bog you could: 1) get from your aquariums if one of them has a particularly high turnover rate (with a lot of biological decomposition) in order to give a darker color to your wood and have the crack in the middle be of the same color, thus hiding the crack.

A possibility?
As you can tell, I'm still doing lots of guessing with this little project but if the wood goes like most I find, it will return to the natural color in a month or so without me doing much. It was somewhat white from the sun but then as a normal routine I run all my wood through a bleach soak that also adds to the white color. the bleach is one that people often object to doing but I've been doing wood this way since nearly forever. I helped finance my first car selling guppies for a nickel and then discovered the shop would pay me a dollar for a piece of wood! In the day when guppies sold for a quarter retail and hamburgers were 25 cents, I thought I was making big money.
The car? I bought it for $25, changed the blown head gasket and sold it for 37.50! Different world.

But then I've not settled on how and where this wood will go, so there are still lots of questions left. First, I need to get the final word from the plants as to whether they want to live or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As things move and change, I need to adapt as well. this little project is telling me things. Things like the anubia is getting too much light, maybe? The top leaf is much closer to the LED striplight and may be getting too close as it is starting some algae. While there was no expectation for a slow grower to show much yet, the lotus is not doing as well as I might have expected either. Not dying but not putting out new leaves either. So a change seemed in order. As another motivation for moving, the small tank was beginning to show color. Since I'm pretty sure of the wood, I assume the garden soli is leaching quite a bit. Not enough to complain but more than I want to watch. Extra water changes could be used but it's more my style to avoid the work! The same amount of tannin will not show as much in 125 as in 10?
I scraped off the new fungus and moved things to a larger 125 tank where growing should be better. That tank has CO2, modified EI dosing and better, more uniform lighting. This tank has a dual T5 fixture with added light from 4 CFL twisties. We will see how the plants light the new conditions?
Meanwhile the wood color is coming back to the "normal" darker wood tone. It still is not in the final location as it is still floating so I tucked it into some of the rockwork for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, I just got another lesson from this little project. Not everything is clear until I try it.
I added the wood to a tank yesterday and was watching some fungus growing and debating how the little tiger lotus was going to go. It had three leaves and they were pretty damaged from drying too much while I planted.
I got the word from an unexpected source. I have a 3-4 inch common pleco in this tank and was watching him last night as he cleaned up the fungus. Boy, did he enjoy that. He was slicking it all up and I was really proud of him but then he didn't stop when he got to the lotus. Bang, here and then it's gone. Just a leaf part and some stubs. I'm glad that I was watching or I might have thought it was the cichlids!!
:nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I thought I might throw out a bit of info that I've learned on this idea. At the time I did this I was concerned about how the plant might do with the very limited amount of space for rooting..
But I got busy and this project kind of got lost in a tank and just kind of was forgotten but I now am setting a 75 and wanted to start with some wood so brought this little wood back to the front again. The tiger lotus was finished off by the pleco before I moved it to another tank but the anubia did well considering the lack of attention it was getting.
In the new tank:


My worries about the space for roots was something that turns out not to be a real problem for nature. It has a way to deal with not being able to go down! When you can't go down any more, turn around and go up over the sides!




For those who wonder if I swapped out the white wood for a dark one, that's just the way wood does when it gets wet again. So if you are choosing wood for the pearly white color, don't expect it to last!
 

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I'd like to save these images/post in my ideas folder for when I get my aquarium setup, but when I save one it comes up corrupted or blank.

is there any reason for that? It would save me having to keep a tab open. I don't want to post them anywhere or anything, just use them for my own personal reference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My post and do feel free to use any of it as you want with no objections from me. i consider most anything I put on the internet to be much the same as what I put out on the curb for Craigslist! To be used or thrown away as the person finds it.
But that doesn't help a bit with the saving part and I really am not a help when looking at computer problems. I'm still sorting my confusion on how to live with ten! Maybe a question for the forum admins?
 
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