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Dry Start Method & Shrimp Tanks

20389 Views 34 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Teacher104
Hello Everyone,

My book's website now has a 9 page article Small Planted Tanks for Pet Shrimp. It can be downloaded (for free) from the website. I wrote it to further promote my book and help beginning hobbyists.

The article describes my shrimp bowls as well as the more recent DSM setups (Tom Barr's method). I am very pleased with the DSM tanks. They contain carpet plants, plants that I never thought I would be able to grow.

Website for Ecology of the Planted Aquarium
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I wouldn't mind seeing the results of some DSM NPT's. I've found low light setups are always a pain to get carpeting plants rooting on; it's harder to provide good spread.

You could probably get an NPT growing in faster with some very high lighting, back it off for a while to regular levels, then fill.
Going from high to low light won't exactly simulate DSM. Not having nutrients in a column for easy uptake through the leaves usually means mind-blowing roots to compensate (at least that's my guess as to why). I'd say emersed HC has double or triple standard length of healthy submersed growth.
Hi Diana,

I like to drop the lighting down before hand because I've found some plants melt or take on undesirable growth patterns with severe light/CO2 alterations when submerged. I've found glosso to be the best example with its alternate, vertical growth form and teardrop leaf structure. This issue doesn't seem to exist when emersed; leaves may change size, growth may slow, but there's no melting or frantic upward growth. I figure it's better to shorten the light cycle before filling, let them adjust to it, then deal with the stress of filling.
Glosso is trickier than people give it credit. I've found HC easier to keep by far, it just has some inconvenient CO2 demands once the water gets in.

What happened to it?
I gotten browning and melting after exposure to cold with my emersed glosso. I definitely agree that there's some sort of chemical that it releases though. I've had it melt simply from transport and the chain reaction killed already healthy, established glosso nearby. Whatever it is, the concentrations don't seem to be able to hold very well once submersed.

One bit I've noticed is that it seems to die from the bottom up, and if you leave it long enough sometimes it will re-establish from surviving lateral buds. Perhaps it's meant to be for the purpose of autofragmentation as a stress reaction?

I'll take a look over your article later tonight or tomorrow.
Seeing HC work in a DSM NPT is encouraging; to me it signals a very big advance in the hobby. I've found my HC growing phenomenally better with DSM, but I haven't tried it without CO2 post-fill. The roots are vastly longer, there's no melt on introduction, and it seems to change growth patters within a matter of days.

Perhaps getting it established is more the issue than having enough CO2 long-term. Adding tons of CO2 would definitely help the stuff to root/grow better in a traditional planting method, and getting good distribution to the bottom of a tank at those levels would require compressed CO2. When people use compressed CO2, they tend to push their light levels higher which would also contribute to it. Even then, HC is a pain to plant and establish in a filled tank compared to most species.

It may be that increased CO2 triggers rooting as well. I've noticed that plants on the high CO2 demand list are usually found in rivers, they're smaller, and they tend to grow near the water line. Getting caught along the side of the river bank, especially during low flow rates, would be a natural time for them to successfully establish roots.

Maybe it's some of both; the two concepts aren't mutually exclusive either.

Then again maybe it's neither and I've missed the point completely.

Either way, I think observing what happens over the next few months to year will say a lot. I'm wondering if the generally mulmy bottoms of an NPT are the sort of thing HC will do well with. There may need to be some adaptations as NPT tends to recreate more of a lake than a stream.

The plus side with all of this is that HC is very easy to grow emersed. Emersed growth trays are also incredibly cheap and easy to maintain. You can grow a big mat of HC from plugs inside a few months with minimal care. I think HC is something that everyone should try out if it's making it through DSM and no CO2.

Either way, nice work Diana. I'll be very happy if HC can be separated from compressed CO2.
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I posted about your findings over on Tom's site, and he said the exact same thing about CO2 competition. I didn't realize that it was such a sensitive thing in non-CO2 systems.

While I haven't done HC without CO2, I've found an air stone helps when CO2 appears to be limiting in a non-CO2 system. I'm guessing the ppm's may be lower, but the supply more constant; perhaps this would be acceptable enough for HC to coexist with more demanding plants? I'd hate to see NPT go through an iwagumi fad like high tech did.
I was kind of hoping that rapidly adding more air would replenish it at a far higher rate than plants could uptake. When working with compressed CO2, there's no real need for a mid day break; the plants don't take up more than 3-4% of what's offered by the most generous estimations. I was thinking at 1LPH per liter of column with air being 380mg/L CO2, there'd be plenty of turnover.

My own little experiment (with a drop checker; try not to laugh too loud) didn't seem to show fluctuations with an air stone either. It definitely didn't get as high of a level of CO2 as what builds up after a couple weeks of low surface disturbance, but it didn't do the mid-day dips that you've outlined on graphs related to the entire siesta method. When I turned off the aeration, the drop checker indicated a profile closer to what you've given for NPT's.

I really need to join up with AGA. The journal alone has been tempting me for far too long.

I'm also going to have to try some low tech DSM/HC tanks and try to push their limitations.
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While I've found most anubias aren't very great for DSM (they seem to survive just fine, but grow even slower) they definitely wouldn't compete much. The round leaf shape tends to compliment HC and the color contrasts.

For a long time people were under the impression that HC is a high light plant (proven false now), and anubias doesn't tend to get along so well under high light. As such, HC and anubias typically haven't been thought of as an easy pair to put together.

What I'm wondering is why HC would suffer from low CO2 if it's a low CO2 demand plant. Wouldn't it be more resilient than most other plants to a lack of CO2? Looking at its natural habitat, the stuff spends a lot of time emersed or near the surface of rivers. you'd think this would mean a high CO2 environment, and perhaps inefficient CO2 metabolism given that other nutrients would be constantly limiting by comparison.
If anything this shows that HC is demanding of CO2 because it's not efficient in its uptake; other plants that are more efficient can out-compete it unless compressed CO2 is provided. The fact that it doesn't need high light has been established for some time now, but for some reason the myth never seems to die.
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