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Thread: My path to a Display Refugium

  1. #1
    DIYFK member ubotbuddy's Avatar


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    My path to a Display Refugium

    Hello everyone,

    I thought I would share my long term plan for building a 90 gallon display refugium containing the right plants and living occupants. I would like to base it on Bottom feeders but that is down the road.


    Right now I want to learn how to start plants for such a project. I realize it is not an overnight transition but rather an investment in time and more time with ALOT of patience mixed in as well.


    I would appreciate any guidance towards this learning process.


    I have accumulated some extra 10 & 20 gallon tanks. Since plants will take a considerable amount of time & patience I will start this first.


    In this 1st tank (20 gal) I am going to save the water that I remove from my current display tank for initializing, including the gunk that I vacuum from the gravel.


    Any recommendations for substrate? My whole system will be freshwater btw.


    I am not opposed to spending money but I do want to be smart about it. CO2 is out for now. It's not that I am opposed to it but I figure these are baby steps at this point.


    I am thinking rocks and wood for structural objects. Maybe some gravel. Basically, anything that would look good and simulate bottom life. I am not a fan of the surface grass/algae it looks hideous to me. I know it serves a purpose so I will likely place an Algae Scrubber before the refugium.


    In terms of inhabitants, suggestion would be appreciated as well. So I can study up on them. I believe this will be an Ammonia rich environment at the beginning so I am hoping to tackle this with plants. Any residual stuff will be dealt with in the next stage of the water movement.


    Hopefully, my documentation & images will keep me on track in this process.


    Thanks for your time and any comments you throw my way.


    Buddy

  2. #2
    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    I think one of the first things to nail down is they type of substrate based on the type of plants and how you want to plant them...

    You can go all out with a 'soil' aka 'dirt' bottom capped with gravel and rooted plants will thrive, on the other hand you can go with a gravel and sand substrate and for rooted plants that need require a more soil like substrate you can pot them, others can simply be weighted down and tucked into the sand or gravel...

    Right now in my new setups, due to 'doing it cheap' I went with black blasting 'coal slag' aka black sand, I figure if I want to do some rooted plants I will simply pot them and build the sand up around the pot to hide it... I also have a bag of black lava rock on hand to create build ups in the sand and add texture if I want...

    Don't have much to show right now as progress is slow and I had some issues with plants thriving recently but so far I'm liking the coal slag, especially the price...

  3. #3
    DIYFK member ubotbuddy's Avatar


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    Hey Meep,

    I like the idea of black sand and what you have described as using pots. Question. By using pots won't you have to replace the soil at some point after the nutrients are consumed? Are the plants getting their nutrients from the roots or the leaves?

    I have read quite a bit about different substrates plus sand. There are some that raise a stink about sand. I know I am exposing my ignorance in regards to under water plants but I assumed the roots were for nutrients.

    I guess since I am going for the look and feel of an environment for bottom feeders then I probably need to stick to something in the brownish color range for the visual effect. I like the idea of your larger rocks.

    Is there a good source for aquarium plant information for determining nutrient needs, rooting process, potential damaging factors and best practices?

    Thanks

    Buddy

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    DIYFK member HillbillyHomer's Avatar


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    i like a mineralised soil substrate caped with cheap "NEW!! As in not used!!" cat litter.
    But with this set up you will need to be mindful of the fish and their habits.
    E.G. You dont want fish that pull up plants or dig in...Click here to enlarge

    P.S. Do you have a tank up and going?

  5. #5
    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by ubotbuddy Click here to enlarge
    I like the idea of black sand and what you have described as using pots. Question. By using pots won't you have to replace the soil at some point after the nutrients are consumed?
    No matter what kind of substrate you use the nutrients will need to be replaced as they are consumed, with the pots for ease you can simply plug in aquarium fert tabs or sticks, or you can add liquid ferts that since they are in the water they will obviously be in the wet soil as well...

    Are the plants getting their nutrients from the roots or the leaves?
    Depends on the aquatic plants, they can get nutrients both was or either or...

    One thing to remember the 'substrate' with aquatic or terrestrial plants is there mostly to anchor the plant and possibly concentrate the nutrients around the roods... The nutrients are actually delivered to the roots by water, without water the roots can't uptake the nutrients in the soil... This is why plants can be grown hydroponically with no soil and why plants die when you don't water them Click here to enlarge

    I have read quite a bit about different substrates plus sand. There are some that raise a stink about sand. I know I am exposing my ignorance in regards to under water plants but I assumed the roots were for nutrients.
    Some people like sand others don't... I was never a fan of it until setting up these new tanks, now I actually like it... The only negative I have found is that when 'vacuuming' the sand it's best to turn off your filter as the sand will poof up into the water and be sucked into the filter... These poof'd sand wreaks havoc with impellers, especially the magnetic HOB ones where that sand will find it's way into the small gap by the impellers magnets...

    As I said the roots don't actually tank in nutrients from the soil they absorb the nutrients that are in the water that is in contact with the roots, a rich nutrient soil will concentrate those nutrients around the roots and some plants thrive on this, but you can also put the nutrients into the entire water column if you want...

    Is there a good source for aquarium plant information for determining nutrient needs, rooting process, potential damaging factors and best practices?
    It varies by plant and like all 'green' thumb gardening there is no right or wrong way, people tend to find something the works for even though others will say it doesn't work for them... But there is basic generalizations like lighting, nutrient level, water temp, still or flowing water, high or low fert needs and/or CO2 needs for many plants to be found on many sites that talk about aquatic plants or sell the plants...

    I'm far from an expert on aquatic plants most of my knowledge is for terrestrial plants, but I'm using the PPS Pro fertilizers system for my aquatics, and so far I like it, at least for the plants that have survived... I lost several new clippings for some unknown reason, but I doubt the ferts were the issue...
    https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...r/home/pps-pro

    I got the ferts for it from green leaf aquariums
    http://greenleafaquariums.com/produc...ispensers.html

    Just for clarification the 'black sand' I use it coal slag that can be found at many hardware and farm stores as 'blasting sand'... The brand I used was US Minerals Black Diamond 20/40 but the same coal slag can be found from several companies under similar names...

    https://www.ruralking.com/medium-bla...sive-50lb.html

    My biggest caution with the coal slag is rinse well, out of the bag there was a measurable amount of 'dust' that floated to the top, I left the stuff sit in a half full 5 gallon bucket with the garden hose shoved in there for about 15 minutes to flush out the powder... Then I emptied out most of the water and filled the bucket with literally boiling water and stirred it with a piece of wood, this produced an ever so small hint of an oil like film on the surface, I repeated the boiling process twice pouring off the film between each treatment... After that I put it in the tank and just ran the filter with polyester filter floss in it for a day, this seemed to pull out the rest of the floaters...

  6. #6
    DIYFK member ubotbuddy's Avatar


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    @ HillBillyHomer


    It might not be for me. I like the diggers so I might avoid that (at least for now). But Thanks for the suggestion.


    I have a tank I am going to use so I am literally at the first stage; picking the substrate. Since this will be my refugium tank I want to have bottom feeders. I do know that. So as I plan this out I will strive to build an eco system for the fish I do put in it.


    @ Meep
    After thinking about what you shared it actually does make sense. I guess I was overthinking the whole process.


    It is looking like I am going to use a mix of a lot of things for the substrate just so I can build the visual effect of a lake or river bottom. I will just plant them and if something happens then we'll MacGyver a fix for it.


    Lots of great info here.


    Thanks again for sharing guys.


    Buddy

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