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Old 11/21/2018, 06:00 AM   #376
Chasmodes
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Dirt! I love it. This is going to be awesome. What fish do you have left?

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Of course now my funds are getting low…
Happens to me this time of year too

I love the Pink Floyd references Although I like Pink Floyd, was from my era, my younger Brother was a huge fan. I'm more of a metal head...kinda weird, at my old age!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 11/21/2018, 09:20 AM   #377
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Yep, good ol' dirt. It really highlights the differences between seagrass tanks and reef tanks. Also, I guess it shows my confidence in this methodology. By the way, I didn't come up with this. I am following some folks much smarter than me.

When I started up v1, I thought it would be a good idea to incorporate dirt, to more closely replicate Nature. But I was persuaded otherwise, that the reality of aquarium upkeep necessitated compromise, so I used a much reduced amount of dirt, and waited. And waited. It took roughly a year for my substrate to dirty up well enough to support seagrass growth. I grew bolder and added black, stinky mud. My tank didn't crash or turn into pea soup. It flourished.

This time around, I have no fear. Seagrasses prefer to uptake nutrients through their roots, just like other higher plants. They prefer soft, muddy sand, and low nutrient water. I plan to give it to them. I expect the seagrasses will flourish much quicker. Keep in mind though, if I wasn't keeping seagrass, just macro algae, I probably wouldn't bother with dirt, since macros don't have roots, and take up nutrients from the water exclusively.

I'm convinced that, although our glass boxes are artificial constructs, Nature doesn't care, and is ready and willing to do most of the heavy lifting for us. We just need to provide the necessary ingredients and get out of the way!

Woo! You just never know when I'll whip out the soapbox and pontificate!

OK Kevin, where was I? Oh yeah, fish. I have six mollies, five barnacle blennies, one springer's damsel and one royal gramma left. Also I have a fighting conch, a cucumber and hundreds of mini strombus snails and spaghetti worms. I have a few red macro fragments and two shoal grass shoots, which I'm guessing are connected. Last but not least, I have one peppermint shrimp, that managed to wipe out hundreds of aiptasias in my holding tank.

Yeah, it sucks to run low on cash, just when I need it. But it will force me to be patient, and particular, and cheap.

Dark Side of the Moon was a brilliant album, and I enjoyed many a headphone session, but like you, my tastes went elsewhere. These days, I like to listen to music and stare at my tank!


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/21/2018, 09:39 AM   #378
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Great post Michael, thank you. It really gets me thinking about what I want out of version 2 of my system. I'd love to have some eel grass. If I decide to go that route, then I may do the same thing with my substrate.


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Old 11/21/2018, 11:53 AM   #379
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My husband also still loves 'the Floydster' as he likes to kindly refer to them. Me...I never was much of a fan. Too psychedelic for my tastes. I am just good old fashion classic rock. Now a days I listen to the likes of 'Skillet'.

Back to topic, I am interested in how the grasses will do. I wasn't planning on incorporating grasses in my future tank but ya never know. This whole substrate with dirt and mud really intrigues me and I am fascinated by it. Keep the conversation coming!


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Old 11/21/2018, 06:05 PM   #380
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hahahahha Sid Barret was a bit psychedelic i guess.
Michael a good thing about this time of year and money. Sales are everywhere.
Looks like its coming together. All it wants is water for xmas.


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Old 11/21/2018, 11:09 PM   #381
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Eelgrass sound awesome, Kevin! Can you collect it in your neck o' the woods? If you can get it with its native substrate that wood be sweet! The less disturbed the roots are the better.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/21/2018, 11:33 PM   #382
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Thanks Dawn! Diana Walstad advocates dirt in fresh water planted tanks in her book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium". Walter Adey recommends incorporating the substrate the plants are growing in, in his book "Dynamic Aquaria". These two books are my biggest influences, and I'm constantly referring to them.

It's a little counterintuitive to invite dirt in, when we've all been struggling to keep our tanks clean for so long, isn't it? Planting true rooted plants in a marine aquarium is a rather specialized niche! Since the grasses are a big part of the filtration, they are easier to keep than corals, in my opinion.

Ya never know…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/21/2018, 11:44 PM   #383
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True that, lapin! I can't remember the last time I paid retail…

Yes, I guess it is coming together. I'm psyched to get dirty and wet, very soon! I mean, um… never mind.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/21/2018, 11:52 PM   #384
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Que sam.basye's witty retort in 3…2…1…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/22/2018, 05:34 AM   #385
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
Thanks Dawn! Diana Walstad advocates dirt in fresh water planted tanks in her book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium". Walter Adey recommends incorporating the substrate the plants are growing in, in his book "Dynamic Aquaria". These two books are my biggest influences, and I'm constantly referring to them.

It's a little counterintuitive to invite dirt in, when we've all been struggling to keep our tanks clean for so long, isn't it? Planting true rooted plants in a marine aquarium is a rather specialized niche! Since the grasses are a big part of the filtration, they are easier to keep than corals, in my opinion.

Ya never know…
Michael,
PaulB had it right 47 years ago when he brought in mud from Long Island Sound. Bacteria are the microbial overlords that feed our systems. I consider detritus as food for the reef with bacterioplankton as the “little people” that start up the food chain moving carbon from one trophic level to another.


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Old 11/22/2018, 07:42 AM   #386
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Thanks Patrick! If I get it right, my new substrate will accommodate great bacterial diversity. To accomplish this, I will bring in a variety of live media, as well as multiple sand grain sizes, to encourage varied pore water oxygen levels throughout the depths of a pretty deep substrate. Welcome, Little People!

Where can I read Paul B's stuff? From what I've heard from you and others, he sounds like an innovator that I could learn from.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, everyone! Thank you all for reading and commenting. Enjoy the day!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/22/2018, 07:57 AM   #387
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Weeds

Quote:
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Que sam.basye's witty retort in 3…2…1…


Haha. I was asleep.

My unrelated witty retort: your gonna have to change your avatar photo...

My related witty retort: I’m starting a petition to get your tank shut down unless you bring the root back. Haha

All your dirty weed comments are inappropriate.

1. Sam.Basye
2.
3.
4.


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Old 11/22/2018, 08:28 AM   #388
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It was pretty late! As soon as I wrote that, naturally I thought of you. Maybe that one was too easy…

I was thinking that too, about my avatar pic. I don't want to change it! Let me get through this gauntlet of system projects and get the tank up and running. THEN I think I just might build a new root, mmkay?

I was thinking of sculpting the roots thinner and more delicate this time. I could do them without fillers, so they wouldn't be buoyant. With just the armature wire and clay, they should sink. Also, if I put the attachment points above the water line, I could avoid the awkward, visible seams.

So! There you go. Now I'm thinking about it…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/23/2018, 06:53 AM   #389
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I am going to attempt fake roots on my FW tank. My plan is to use PVC pipe shaped with a heat gun into the forms that I want, attach wire with air line tubing over top for the smaller roots. I'll wrap them with this gauze like stuff that has plaster in it, so that it will accept attaching other materials. Then, I'll apply the other materials...dyed grout, a small amount of foam (to hide seams and make the joints seem more natural), and coats of Drylok to get the colors that I want. The Drylok will seal in the grout, so no need to worry about pH issues. If I keep the foam to a minimum, it shouldn't float. Maybe these ideas will help you if you decide to take a stab at it?

As I typed the above, I forgot out your use of the clay. If you're out of clay, the grout/gauze might be a cheap option for you. Otherwise, the clay would be a good substitute for what I'm doing. Maybe you wouldn't need the gauze stuff either. I just didn't want to apply the grout directly to the PVC pipe, thinking that it might slip off or not hold. I got the grout idea from the planethx blog (by Hexisan). You can google it to see his work...awesome stuff that he's done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
Eelgrass sound awesome, Kevin! Can you collect it in your neck o' the woods? If you can get it with its native substrate that wood be sweet! The less disturbed the roots are the better.
That's my plan, to collect roots and substrate, if I can find it. If I can't find it locally, then I'll purchase it. I know that there are eelgrass buds in the Southern section of the Chesapeake, but gaining public access is a problem (like finding oyster reefs).


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 11/23/2018, 08:07 AM   #390
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Cool beans! Yes, I'd like to see what technique you're using for roots. I'll check out Hexisan. Also, could you post a link to your process? I need to see it. I'm having a hard time imagining the pic pipe manipulation.

Congrats on your progress!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/23/2018, 09:36 AM   #391
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I'll document the process of my root building as I go with pics and videos. I may do that in my RC build thread, and also in the DIY and NANFA forum threads. I have some pics in my NANFA thread of my first attempt, but it is different than my current plan. I was going to rely on spray foam a lot more.

Until then, I'll try and post a better explanation of how I'll do this. I'll focus on one section of the root... I'll use a heat gun to soften and bend the PVC pipe. In my previous attempts at this, I worked fast and had the pipes bend at sharp angles. This time, I'm going to go really slow, so I get the nice curves that I want, using heat to make a subtle bend, and then let it cool, and then heat again, repeating this until I get the shape that I want.

Since roots aren't evenly thick, like PVC, that is where the grout comes in, also, to add texture. But, to get the grout to stick to the pipe, I'm going to wrap the pipe with plaster gauze, to give the grout a rough surface to stick to, other than smooth PVC. If you do a search on the net for Craft Wrap - Plaster Cloth Gauze Bandage, you'll see a similar product to what I purchased from a local hobby store. You get this stuff wet, and it sticks to itself and hardens around the PVC pipe, kind of like when you break a bone and they put you in a cast. You can use more or less to also help with thick and thin areas of the "root" along the pipe. For example, if you use PVC junctions to branch off the pipe, the plaster gauze (and grout) can hide the connection joints, and fill in the Y to make it less of a sharp angle and more natural looking.

After that dries, the grout will add weight, texture, and form to the root, as you would using the clay. You can sculpt it, add wood grain look, etc. For smooth areas to simulate where bark might break away, you could sand it down and glue something smooth there to get that texture.

Drylok, with dye, will serve two purposes. One is to add color, of course, and the other is to seal everything inside the root. Since I won't have any fish that can wear the Drylok away, I won't need epoxy.

Below is a pic of my last attempt, using different types of foam to get texture, etc.
Although it started to take shape, I wasn't happy with it at all. Also, my plan then was to rely more on foam to get the texture that I wanted. But, I want my roots to be removable for tank maintenance, and I don't want them to float. That is why I am changing to the grout method.



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Last edited by Chasmodes; 11/23/2018 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 11/23/2018, 09:42 AM   #392
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Just looking at that pic makes me want to cringe. It's tough to visualize a root from that structure. I didn't think it though enough.

This is something what I'm shooting for:



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Old 11/23/2018, 10:03 AM   #393
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Very interesting! I'll be curious to see if you can get what you want, going slower with the pvc. Don't get discouraged. It's a process. You'll figure it out. You did figure out how to make what's probably the best fake wall ever!

My first reaction is that it looks a bit too complicated, getting the varying thicknesses of the roots. Is there a simpler way to get the thickness of the foam parts, down to the thinner, wire parts? My tin foil wrapped in duct tape worked, but I bet there is a better way you could come up with.

One other thought: have you considered using real wood? A short hike around a local creek or river could reveal a treasure trove of candidates. Maybe bring a small saw with you. It's a thought. I had my wife and daughter hiking around Boulder Creek, for my fresh water planted tank. There was more than enough to choose from.


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/23/2018, 10:48 AM   #394
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Thank you Michael for the wonderful compliment. I agree that the first go round was way too complicated. I will simplify things the next time. I think that my plan is a solid way to do that. I don't need an exact match to the picture, just to function and fill a need. I won't rule out using foil and duct tape. I've seen your results with those materials and am willing to give them a try if need be. Also, foil might be just the right thing for that barkless texture.

As far as real wood goes, I won't rule that out either. If the fake roots don't pan out, that's what I'll do. I need to be picky with how they look, because I want them to be sycamore roots, and I need the right shape to fit the space that I plan to use them for, and to accomplish the main purpose of having roots at all, to hide my large, powerful powerhead. The DIY concept gives me the ability to get the exact shape that I want. Also, I don't have to worry about soaking them forever or having them float.


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Old 11/23/2018, 10:57 AM   #395
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Right on, Kevin. I forgot you were hiding a powerhead. Are you putting one inside of a root, or behind it? Matching sycamore roots is very specific! DIY is probably the way to go. Soaking does take forever! It's better to start that process waaaay ahead of time. Like a year!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/23/2018, 11:22 AM   #396
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Real roots are my back up plan! I'll hide the powerhead behind them, but sort of in them, if you know what I mean. Not completely hidden when viewed from the left side of the tank, but will be hidden from the front of the tank..


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Old 11/23/2018, 03:09 PM   #397
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Today I got dirty. I took some pics along the way, so I can show the steps I took. Enjoy!



The first step was to pour sugar sand around the perimeter. This gives a 'clean' look against the glass. The chunky looking stuff is also sugar sand, but in the wet, 'live' form. I don't really care much for this type of sand, that supposedly has live bacteria, but it was cheap(ish).



Next I added the silica sand. It's kind of golden colored, and lighter than I expected. I think it looks darker wet. It's a cheap way to bulk up a sand bed, and I wanted a baseline source of silica, for sponges and snails.



Here's where I added my yard dirt. Looks kind of insane, right?



Next I added the wet garden soil I've been soaking for months. It had a good, organic funk to it. You can't really see it because this pic shows how I mixed the dirt and sand altogether.



And here we can see the coarse stuff on top. I've got another bag of sugar sized sand that will be added, along with some real, live sand later.



Here you can make out the fine, medium and coarse grain stuff.

Another step! Woo Hoo!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/23/2018, 04:55 PM   #398
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Nice. I like the layers. Reminds me of sand painting.


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Old 11/23/2018, 08:08 PM   #399
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Thanks lapin! It's funny you should mention that.

Looking at the tank from the couch, I realized those water spots on the inside of the lower glass were too visible and very annoying. So I had to pull back the sand from the front, to clean it. So the layering will get muddled when I push the sand back.

On the other hand, I may go with it and slope the sand front to back. That gives me a better viewing angle from the couch. I know that it won't stay that sloped without any terracing, but letting it evolve with the current should be pretty cool. I love how the strong current sculpts the sand!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 11/24/2018, 06:33 AM   #400
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Outstanding. Things are progressing nicely. Thanks for the step by step with pics. BTW, the mud wall bank looks terrific!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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