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Old 11-28-2018, 02:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default dry start - short plants in a sand cap

I am staring my first planted aquarium (newbie alert). I am starting small. I set up a 5.5 gallon aquarium with 1" of MTS with a 1-2" sand cap. I am using the dry start method. I ordered some Monte Carlo and S. Repens from a reputable vendor to start a carpet. I plan to add a few submerged plants after I flood the tank.

After breaking apart the clumps, the Monte Carlo sprigs were about an inch tall and have very short roots. The S. Repens was not much taller. If I pushed the MC down far enough to get the roots close to the MTS, these plants would be completely buried. The S. Repens would have submerged leaves and be almost buried.

I ended up pushing the pieces in about one half of an inch. My concern is that I am essentially planting in sand. Just how likely is it that these sprigs will survive until their roots hit pay dirt, so to speak? I'm anxious at this point and do not even know if I should be.

I thought, perhaps, I can nourish the little guys using a spray mist spiked with nutrients while they are living on sand alone.

Please, any suggestions or experiences you can share would, I'm sure, be helpful.


ps. Let me know if this is the wrong forum to post this to.
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Old 11-28-2018, 03:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: dry start - short plants in a sand cap

I think my setup is conventional but there are a few tweaks. Maybe a pic of my setup will help.

The vacant side of the tank is reserved for an HM filter sponge, a small pump, and a heater.

I went with a submerged pump due to it being quieter than the air pump that drives the traditional airlift tube.

The bottom of the HM sponge will not work as a filter. A glass plate prevents water from passing through it. In fact, I may cut it out and leave a void so that there is not stagnant sponge material.

The glass plate serves to contain the sand and MTS. This will make for simple maintenance on the HM sponge. Otherwise, removing the sponge would result in sand and MTS sliding into its place.

There is a small leak through the silicone holding the glass in place. This was not intentional. On the plus side, I can see the water level during the dry start.

I will be attaching Christmas moss to the driftwood and submerging it in another aquarium. The wood will return to this tank when I flood it.

This pic is on day 3. I welcome comments on the setup and, especially, advice on the plants (as per my original post).


https://photos.app.goo.gl/PH6uV3dq9zhCpcrAA
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: dry start - short plants in a sand cap

The plant roots don't need to extend to the soil in order to find nutrients. The water carries the soluble nutrients up into the sand cap. And, plants are very good at sending roots down to where there are plenty of nutrients.

I like the aquascape!
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Old 11-29-2018, 02:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: dry start - short plants in a sand cap

Thanks for the info, hoppycalif!

I feel better now. That thought crossed my mind but it was one of a hundred guesses that could have been wrong. With your help, I now know that I had one valid thought.

Glad you like the scape. I hope that the end result is what I am picturing.

I had the driftwood in place to help me place the plants. It was in there for four days. It molded or mildewed. I took it out and am boiling it before I attach moss and submerge it.

The other thing I am hoping to accomplish with the driftwood is to have some cycled material to add to the tank when I add water.

Maybe I should call this the "dry plus wet start method" or maybe "the hybrid approach". Or, maybe I don't call it anything unless it actually works. Based on my limited (non-existent) experience, it is currently the "throw stuff on the wall and see if it sticks" method.
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