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Dry Start Method & Shrimp Tanks

20391 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 am trying this with a 3 gallon pico at my office; though I did not wait quite as long before filling it up with water. QUOTE]

I waited 10 weeks, because I didn't want to fool with any tank problems over Christmas holidays. Otherwise, I probably would have added water a couple weeks earlier.
Hah! Makes good sense. My problem in NOT waiting 10 weeks was that I'm like a little kid staring at Christmas presents under the tree several weeks before Christmas and simply can't wait any longer. Ahhhhhh!!!! :rolleyes:
Such energy and enthusiasm! I envy you. In contrast, I was dreading adding water to the tanks. ;)

Philosophos, I'm not sure why you would want to decrease lighting levels during the emergent phase. Emergent plants can use all the light you can give them (my book, p. 146). Once plants are submerged, you can decrease light levels. However, I didn't. I just added floating plants and they automatically decreased light intensity.
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.
Thanks for your explanation. Since my Glosso died out 3 days after purchase, you're way ahead of me here!
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?
The purchased Glosso arrived (via mail) in okay shape. I planted the largest portion emergent-- in the two Dry Start Method Tanks. Neither tank was filled with water for 10 weeks-- as I wrote. The Glosso turned brown and died within 3 days. I submerged another portion from the same shipment in another tank filled with water. It didn't last much longer.

I wasn't all that surprised that the submerged Glosso died in ordinary NPTs. However, I was surprised that emergent plants in DSM tanks quickly turned brown and died.

In the Discussion section of my article "Small Planted Tanks for Pet Shrimp" I speculate that a plant hormone may have caused Glosso's death and leaf browning. I welcome comments on what I wrote in the article.
Thanks for your comments.

I measured CO2 uptake in my DSM tanks versus the 1-gal bowls. Attached is the figure with measurements.

CO2 uptake was very little for the DSM tanks (red lines) in comparison to the shrimp bowls (green lines). The main difference between these tanks is the plant species. The shrimp bowls have robust submerged growers (Sagittaria subulata, etc) and the DSM tanks have only carpet plants. I predict that if carpet plants were in the bowls competing with S. subulata, they probably wouldn't survive.

I believe that HC and other carpet plants just aren't very competitive with other plants for taking up CO2. They don't seem to need that much CO2, as they seem to be doing fine with just 7-8 mg/l (see graph).

When you give them a good start (DSM) and then keep them by themselves as I have done, they do very well (they're currently thriving in both DSM tanks).


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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.
My opinion is that without CO2 injection, HC would have a very hard time co-existing with more robust plants.

An air-stone might help by facillitating leaf CO2 uptake. However, more robust plants nearby would just remove the increased CO2 (and grow faster), so the HC would be no better off.

BTW, the latest TAG (The Aquatic Gardener) (Jan-Mar 2010) has my article on measuring CO2 in my tanks.
The other rooted plant species that are growing well (but not too well) in the DSM are:

Marsilea quadrifolia
Eleocharis acicularis
Hemianthus micranthemoides
(Baby Tears, a bigger version of HC)

I think that HC and these plants take up so little CO2 (from the CO2 pool available) that you could add other slow-growers. Just make sure to keep the plants in check.

On that note, I'm not sure how to prune these plants. I've been just pulling them out. The Eleocharis acicularis (dwarf hairgrass) is threatening to take over one tank. As I discussed in my book (p. 45), this genera actively secretes allelochemicals into the substrate to inhibit other plants. I don't trust it. ;)
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