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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you have read my blog, you know that the bog above our 240g tank has gone through multiple re-builds. While it isn't leaking this time, I think it's time to tear up the substrate and redo it.

This is more or less what it looks like today:
https://flic.kr/p/3092094622
The original idea behind it was to simply pump tank water up into the bog, let it flow through the substrate there and back into the tank. Unfortunately, most of the neat plants on the terrarium sites, etc. need "well drained soil" and this doesn't qualify. At the same time, terrestrial plants in my house don't survive due to the lack of water (ironic considering the 800 gallons of water in containers throughout the apt.)

So my current line of thinking is to build terraces so I can heap the substrate up fairly high (12-18") in the back and slope toward the front. I would start with a coarse stone for drainage purposes then follow with either plain top soil or perhaps this sterilized soil from the sunshine miniature trees place which doesn't have any real nutrients I don't think. I would plumb in water lines for drip irrigation and connect it to a solenoid valve on a timer so I could water them automatically but not have to keep track myself. Separately, I would create a water feature like I have now of constant flowing water that goes into the tank, but doesn't actively water the plants. Ideally I would water the plants with tank water (fertilized using EI) since I have a ready source of it and don't have to worry about other fertilizers contaminating the tank.

So my questions are:

- Does this sound like it will work long term? Think it will drain ok and watering all plants more or less equally often (though possibly at different rates via mini-valves) will be ok?

- I don't have good access for pruning to that space as the tank itself is 30" deep and then the bog consumes another 24" to the wall. I have access on the ends, but not to the middle of the 6 foot span. So I can climb up on a stool and carefully lean over the tank to work, but it's not something I like to do often. Given that, what plants should I consider that would be interesting, and mostly self-managing? Plants I have now either take over/strangle other plants/suffocate themselves/etc.

- Any ideas on how I can tie the bog to the tank somewhat? I'm not going for a biotope and the aquascape is ever changing as it is, but the judges comment from the AGA contest was that it was a "nice dish garden behind a tank" not really a vivarium which was sort of what I was going for.

Michael
 

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Michael,
Tropicals are my world!! Colocasias, elephant ear likes water or wet feet. They have a cousin call Alocaisas. Alocasias like water, in their native form and habitat they grow under damp wet conditions. Unlike colocasias they have a more upright quality than it's cousin. There are many sites that offer cultivator's that are of varying heights, texture and variations of colorations. Ferns would accommodate the existing site you have. When we were at your home I was drooling over that type of environment. You have so much to work with that is there. If memory serves me you have ML lighting over the entire area? Not sure the look you are trying to achieve but it is really a nice set up you have. Terrarium plants are high humidity not necessarily high water so possibly looking at really thirsty plants that are both small with varying textures. Mosses would be great along the edges.
Think river banks. The edges of the Turtle Creek in Dallas are covered in Elephant Ears.

The Alocasias are waking up down in the Greenhouses. Most of mine are of the larger variety, but several I could see as a taller background plants for the bog. I could see increasing the soil height to allow more rock matter on the bottom layer. An easy fix for terrestrial plants plant issues is just simple humidity. You have fantastic light above the bog. Lack of humidity leads to insects in a home/office environment. Add a humidifier to the loft and see if that helps. One of the GH's is very tight and if I do not keep it watered well and often we wilt and get red spider fast!! That house has electric heat and it dries things out way to fast. Just zaps the air.
One thing that a lot of us in the tropical community use is lava sand and charcoal in our soil mixes. If you want I can chat with some of my tropicals friends and see what might work best for your environment. See if they have any suggestions. Most have ponds some even in their greenhouses.
Karen
You Bog is great I could spend the day discovering it.
 

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Michael,
a misting system and fogger will increase your possiblities for plant selection. It seems that even though it is sitting above a large amout of water, the lights are drying the plants out.

Instead of using a course stone for drainage you might consider using LECA (AKA Hydroton). This is a light weight fired clay pellet that is PH neutral. It is used in hydroponc systems. Also, you might look into some of the 'soils' use for hydroponics. We use a lot of the components in the hydroponic soils for our substrate in the dart frog tanks and have been very happy with the results.

For the area that is hard to reach, you could use some epiphytic plants such as bromeliads, or orchids. Using some tree fern panels as background on the lattice will help to accomodate the epiphytes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I do have an arrow root plant that I got from the last big auction that is slowly taking over the bog. It looks nice, but is pretty aggressive.

I'm originally from upstate NY so parks often looked like this:
https://flic.kr/p/2857164193
But most of those environments are heavily shaded, cooler places. They're not the tropical stuff I need to grow in the environments I'm going to have. Still, inspirationally, these were of interest:

https://flic.kr/p/2838014327 https://flic.kr/p/2873003422 https://flic.kr/p/3001031266 https://flic.kr/p/3154414895 https://flic.kr/p/3106884118 https://flic.kr/p/2672784312 https://flic.kr/p/2966436050 https://flic.kr/p/2946186930
 
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