Since emersed culture is so closely related to aquatic plants, but strangely so terribly neglected by most people who frequent this forum (just look at the low thread postings in the emersed culture forum!!!) I am making this guide to help anybody who has ever wanted to create their own emersed setup but didn't know where to begin. First, why make an emersed setup at all?
Probably the best reason is to de-clutter our show tanks!! I'm sure everyone on this site has been through the infamous "collectoritis" stage at some point. By planting all those interesting and odd species in the emersed tub you can free up your existing tanks and really aquascape them properly.
Another great reason for making an emersed setup is to keep plants that we like but don't necessarily need at the moment in our scapes for future use. This saves time and money when it comes time to replant since we don't have to post wanted threads in the for sale section, pay shipping and handling or risk getting unwanted pests like algae, snails, diseases etc... Not to mention the emersed tub will produce prodigious amounts of plants so when it comes time to plant (or replant after a tank crash etc...) an entire scape all the plants are right there waiting. There is very little grow in time and conversion to submersed growth takes much less time since the plants are healthy and didn't sit in a dark box for three days in the mail.
Did I mention emersed tubs produce prodigious amounts of plants??? You will have enough plants to trim and sell on a weekly basis which can really add up and help fund more ambitious aquarium plans. Care
Emersed setups need VERY little care. A simple light timer will take care of day and night rhythms so all you need to do is add water every 2-3 months when it evaporates. Materials:
1 Plastic tub - $11 (from walmart or home depot)
4 plastic shoe boxes - $4 (from walmart or home depot)
1 light - $30-70 (from online, walmart, around the home, home depot, etc...)
1 light timer - $6 (from walmart or home depot)
1 piece of plexiglass (not necessary - depends if the plastic tub has a clear top) - $3 (home depot)
1 bag of top soil - $1-3 (from walmart or home depot) The first step:
Take a thick nail and use fire to heat it up. Then poke the nail through the bottom of the small plastic shoe box many many times. You will want to do this so the soil that will later be placed inside the shoe box can soak up water from the main tub. It is critical to make holes in the bottom since this is the only way water can get to the soil. I advise against cutting holes since the plastic shoe boxes crack rather than cut. I used a blow torch since I had it conveniently lying around the house from another project (not to mention any excuse to use it
I used plastic shoe boxes of this make since they are cheap as heck and come with useful plastic lids that can be cut up and used for plant name tags. The second step
Then you will want to put the four shoe boxes (with holes melted in the bottoms) into the larger tub in a way that they will fit. The third step
Then you will want to add the top soil to the shoe boxes. The fourth step
Since I have a plastic tub lid that is not see-through I had to cut a hole in it so the light can sit comfortably on top.
After the hole in the lid is cut this is what it should look like: The fifth step
Add name tags so you don't forget what you planted!!! I thought I would rememeber what I had planted, but a few months down the line I opened one of my tubs and found that I couldn't remember what plants I had in there! The emersed growth is COMPLETELY different from submersed growth for most plants making an ID very difficult unless you are a seasoned emersed plant grower! The sixth step
Plant your plants, write out name tags, add about 2 inches of water to the larger tub (you want the water level to be below
the soil level by about 1-2 inches otherwise it will be too wet). The last step
Close up the top and set your light timer for 12 hours a day. The tub is now ready for 3 months of maintenance free growth!!
Here is a picture of emersed grown hygrophilia polysperma 'sunset' after about two weeks of growth.