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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

I just started my experiment with growing a dwarf hairgrass carpet using this method. My setup is pretty much the same as HoppyCalif's current setup for his experiment with emersed Glosso (http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...iscussions/49272-starting-emersed-glosso.html)

My tank is a 10 gallon tank with 2*15Watt CFL's (spirals) with not so great reflectors. I'm planning to have lights on for 12 hours during the day.

Substrate: 1/2 inch of diamond black (leonardite) and topped up with 2-3 inches of Flourite Black Sand.

Here is my starting pic:



This was just after planting. The glass has completely fogged up now.

I think I need to replant tomorrow...I probably need to separate the stalks out further. Some of my clumps seem to be too thick. Also I'll probably trim them down to 1/2-1inch height to stimulate growth and to make them send runners out. Does this sound like a good idea?

I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions. If you'll see anything wrong with what I've done, do let me know. Btw, do you think the java fern will be able to grow the way I have it? I made sure not to bury the rhizome.

For ferts I dosed the whole substrate with a mix of Seachem Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Flourish and Excel. Potassium should be here tomorrow so I can dose it then. I'm still waiting for my dry ferts from Rex...till then I can use up my stock of Seachem ferts. I'm also spraying now and then with a dilute mixture of all of the above.

Well wish me luck and I'd love to get some feedback from everyone.

PS- The plants were from my local petsmart so I'm not very hopeful about whether they'll survive. I did make sure to get the newly shipped batch...but some of the stalks had already browned.
 

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The Plant Finder says Java Fern grows emersed, so that should work fine. It may take some time to convert to emersed foliage, and again to convert to submersed foliage when you flood the tank. I'm not at all sure about that.

I think the substrate is a little too wet. It will dry some in a day or so, so I would not add back enough water to see any on the surface. The problem with even slight amounts of water on the surface is that the light can cause BGA to grow along the substrate/glass boundary, where you won't notice it until you flood the tank.

Given how easy it is to plant on nearly dry substrate I suggest spreading out the hairgrass to as near to single plants as you can. It takes an hour or so per pot to do that, but it is worth the effort. At least they can't float out like they do with submersed plantings. With my glosso, I could have "planted" them by just dropping them on the surface of the substrate. That might also work with hairgrass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Hoppy. Thanks for your comments. I did realise the water was too much. What hapenned was (and you probably experienced this when you set your tank up) that I didn't realise how much the sand would compact and lose height when I poured the water with ferts into the tank. As a result I got an inch too much of water in the tank. Then I had a horrible time syphoning it out...which ended up with me having a mouthful of black sandy water (delicious) :D.

It's dried out now...I left a little bit of the top open till I got some of the water to evaporate. I also used a lot of paper towels to soak up some of the water from the surface. I definitely don't want BGA on my substrate so I'll take extra care. Thanks for the heads up.

I have no idea about the Java fern. This is a little experiment really. I'm not too sure about whether the leaves will melt or not.

As for planting the hairgrass...I think I'm just a little paranoid because I keep feeling that I'm killing the plants everytime I tear them apart while separating them. I know it sounds silly...I guess it's coz it's the first time I'm dealing with plants. I've separated them a little right now. I'll give it a couple of days to see if the grass is doing ok before separating them out even more. Btw, what kinda ppm levels did you end up dosing into the substrate when you kept it wet? I'm having trouble figuring that out. My first dose was pretty high, so I might just "top up" the substrate with regular water for a couple of days.
 

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When I dosed my emersed glosso I used a bottle of premixed ferts I had made up for a non-CO2 tank. It was a very weak mix of KNO3, KH2PO4 and Equilibrium. It was weak enough that I could dose the non-CO2 10 gallon tank with 10 ml, once a week. But, I don't remember what the proportions were. I squirted about 10 ml of that on the emersed glosso about once a week. You could use about 10% of what the EI weekly dosage is, and very likely that would be more than enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey Hoppy, thanks for your reply. The confusion for me though is how to define heavy dose. For example, the mixture I put in to saturate the substrate was a mixture such that for 1 gallon of water (roughly what I used to saturate the substrate) it had 90ppm of Nitrates. However this same solution dosed for a 10 gallon (filled) tank would be 9ppm which is much more reasonable.

So when you used your premixed doses for your emersed glosso tank, I'd imagine that the ppm with respect to the much lower amount of water in the tank(substrate) would still be relatively pretty high? So I guess what I'm asking is that should I be aiming for dosing the normal ppms, relative to the amount of water in the substrate, or relative to the tank capacity once it is filled?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I spent a good couple of hours separating strands of hairgrass and replanting. This is what it looks like right now:



I noticed a few stalks seem to have browned some more which is not very re-assuring. Hopefully the plants will take root in the next week or 2 and then start to grow well.

Also the Java fern doesn't seem to be too happy in this emersed form. Well I guess I'm going to be testing just how hardy it can be :D
 

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I haven't had any luck with java fern emersed, hopefully it works out better for you. my tank where I managed to kill it had humidity around 70% which may have been too low for it (though it was great for everything else I tried).
 

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I have grown full thick carpets of emmersed Hc and glosso with flying colors however. I have tried emmesed dwarf hairgrass before with little success. IME it grows way faster in ideal submersed conditions. high light/CO2. hairgrass didn't respond like glosso and Hc did to emmersed conditions. try cracking the hood just a little bit to allow a little circulation. that will help more Co2 to become available and circulate stale/ dead air out of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It sucks to hear that :(. Being a planted tank noob, I was hoping I could have the easy way out with establishing my carpeting plant before flooding the tank. In any case, I'll still give it another month. I'm in no rush to submerge the plants yet. Thanks for the info.

PS- I like your avatar. I'm a huge Betta fan myself. In fact, this 10G tank is going to be for my sorority of betta girls :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Things seem to be going pretty well with the hairgrass. Although some have mentioned that they've had trouble trying to grow hairgrass emersed, so far I think I might be able to pull it off! I can definitely see new shoots popping up from the little plantlets, even from the ones whose original leaves have turned completely brown (probably the transplant shock).

I also noticed today that some of the plantlets have sent out runners as I can see a few new shoots sticking up from the sand in places where I hadn't planted any hairgrass. I'm really excited and I can't wait to have the hairgrass grow out. I ended up buying another pot of hairgrass at petsmart since it had just shipped in 2 hours before I got to the store and it was in an amazing condition (surprisingly).
To document what I've been doing for my setup:

Lighting:2x15 Watt Spiral CFL lamps for 30 Watts on my 10 Gallon (with terrible DIY reflectors), lights on for 12.5 hours daily

Substrate: Flourite Black Sand

Initial flooding: Mixed N, P, K to levels recommended by EI for a 10 G tank...but obviously this was dissolved in less than 1 Gallon of water which was used to flood the substrate. Thus the substrate was saturated with fairly high levels of nutrients. I also used 5ml of Excel in the substrate. I poured in an EI equivalent mixture of traces on the next day.

Planting: Separating the hairgrass into small plantlets is definitely the way to go. I can definitely see the smaller plantlets being more healthy and sending out more shoots. Also, from what I see so far, I think it might help to not stick the hairgrass in too deep. In fact the interesting thing is that I dropped in a couple of hairgrass horizontally (no planting involved) to test out whether they would still take root. (HoppyCalif managed to plant some of his glosso this way). 2 of the Hairgrass strands which are horizontal have taken root and have now sent up little shoots. So you could possibly get away with just tossing the hairgrass onto your nutrient rich substrate. Another thing to note is that you should take the pains to separate out your hairgrass leaves before planting. To achieve this, with my newest pot, I separated the rockwool in water, then while having a fan blowing at me and the plantlet, I separated the leaves. This dried the leaves out letting me separate them easily, and then I planted the hairgrass. If your mist sprayer is fine enough, it shouldn't cause the leaves to stick together post misting.

Misting: Initially I was probably misting with too strong a mix of ferts. Now I alternate between misting traces and macros ever 2 days, but these are very dilute to the levels of what would be in tank water. I also have a very small amount of excel in my macro ferts solution. I mist atleast 4-5 times a day if possible. Basically I never top up my substrate manually, I use the misting to keep the substrate damp and "topped up". I also make sure never to have water showing above my substrate. If I do, I leave a bit of the hood open for a couple of hours to let the substrate dry out a little.

Well that is pretty much it for now. No pics since you won't be able to see any changes just yet. Maybe in a weeks time if all goes well I should have some encouraging results. This method does look promising!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Time for my weekly update. Things are progressing very well. A lot of plantlets have sent out runners now, some are visible on the surface of the substrate. I think the hairgrass might prefer the sand like substrate. Growth for the smaller/newer shoots is around 1-2mm a day. I have no idea if this is fast or slow. In any case, it's very exciting to see the plants doing well and sending out runners. I'm also trimming down the plants to try and encourage runner growth.

Also, the new batch of hairgrass which I purchased from petsmart last weekend has been doing amazingly well. I think the key to having success is to have a good specimen to start with. I also didn't do the bleach dip on the new batch. All the new plantlets have adjusted very well and some have already sent out runners in a weeks time. I can hardly see any browning/withering away on this new batch. In contrast, the older batch of hairgrass which wasn't in the best of conditions to begin with, and also underwent a 1 min bleach dip (1 part in 20) is still alive and sending out new shoots and runners, but the old leaves have mostly all withered and browned away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Hoppy. Yup it is looking good so far. I'm seeing new runners everyday now so I think in another 2-3 weeks I should have a much denser hairgrass growth. Now I'm trying to figure out the rest of my aquascaping plans. I wish I had more space than the 10gallon tank!
 

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I think the major benefit to planting the hairgrass as you did is that they can't float out of the substrate, so you could plant them at the right depth very easily. Nothing gets more irritating than spending hours planting individual tiny plants only to have half of them float out when you add the water. This way they develop good roots to anchor them before they have the opportunity to float.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You make a good point there Hoppy. I can only imagine how frustruating it would have been if I had to do this submersed. However I have noticed that some of the plantlets are sending their runners out in an upward arch so they are above the substrate for a bit. Other plantlets are sending them under the surface, and all I see are new shoots coming up from under the substrate.

I think there is a correlation between this behaviour and how deep I planted the plantlets. The ones whose roots were tucked in barely 1-2mm under the substrate seem to have sent out more of the surface runners while those which were tucked in 4-5 mm are probably sending the runners under the substrate. However for submersed, especially with black sand I think I'd have had to plant it even deeper and that might not have worked very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well it's time for an update. Things have been going fairly well for me. It's been a month since I added my 3rd healthy pot of hairgrass which hadn't gone through the bleach dip. I found that all 2 pots of hairgrass that went through the bleach dip had all their old blades of grass turn brown and die. This set things back by a fair bit as it took a lot longer for these plantlets to grow out new blades and then send out runners. I guess I might have had much better results if I hadn't done the bleach dip.

Here are the comparison shots.

Tank about a month back:


Tank currently:


All in all things seem to be going well. The only annoying thing is that a lot of the plantlets are sending out runners which come up to the surface and then loop around. Doesn't look very nice and it seems like it slows down the actual spread in surface coverage of the hairgrass. I think I made a bit of a mistake with not planting the plantlets too deep. I was worried about killing it by burying the crown too deep, but the few plantlets that I planted this way seem to be doing fine and have sent out most of their runners under the surface.

I'm going to continue with this for another 3-4 weeks and then submerge the whole setup. I plan to have Manzanita driftwood, anubias nana, anubias coffeefolia, java fern and rotala rotundifolia. Keeping my fingers crossed. It shall be my first planted tank =).
 
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