New Emersed Setup

August 6th, 2009

Last year, I posted about my previous emersed setup, which consisted of a domed tray and a 10G aquarium. I have recently retired that configuration, upgrading to dual terrariums that I picked up for a great price at an out-of-business sale. The nice thing about these ZooMed terrariums is that they have doors on the front of the glass, so you don’t have to fuss with moving the light over-top to work inside of the tank.

Emersed Setup

Out of the box, the terrium comes with a aluminum screen top for ventilation. Since I want to keep some humidity inside, I had window glass cut at the hardware store to fit the top. I didn’t cover it tightly because I don’t necessarily want 100% humidity.

Emersed Setup

I’m growing the plants with their roots/bases sitting in water, without any soil in the pots. I have mesh pots filled with clay balls, which are used in hydroponics, and a small powerhead to circulate the water. I also have a heater in the water to maintain a consistent temperature, and dose fertilizers into the water like I do my aquariums.

Emersed Setup

There are a number of reasons to keep an emersed setup, but I’m largely interested in two things: 1) Store plants that I want to keep for future use, but don’t want to take up valuable space in my aquariums, and 2) Attempt to flower unidentified plants to help my very knowledgable friend try to identify them.

Lindernia dubia

I’m already getting a few flowers on my locally collected Lindernia dubia. I’m just hanging onto this plant. I am currently only using one of the two terrariums I picked up, but I suspect that in the fall when I shutdown my pond, I’ll use the second terrarium to overwinter many of those plants. So far, the only problem I’ve experienced is a little bit of mold on some of the leaves. I’ve manually removed those leaves, but would welcome any experienced grower’s advice on preventing it in the first place. Comments welcome!

8 Responses to “New Emersed Setup”

  1. Xema Says:

    Really nice set up…

    I think you should try with crypts emersed culturing.

  2. guitarfish Says:

    Xema, I have no doubt that a Cryptocoryne (or similar) plant will end up in here eventually. I’m not as interested in growing out a lot of the crypts, especially the ones not suitable for aquarium use, as others are, but to enjoy the challenge of trying to get them to flower. Thanks for the comment, Xema!

  3. Chris Todd Says:

    Kris, neat setups! Wish I had thought of using a terrarium, instead of a 40g breeder!

    Is that a standard kitchen sponge I see acting as a pre-filter under a mini-jet 404 powerhead? Another clever idea, I’ve been having problems with my 404 getting clogged up with detritus (and, gasp, duckweed. I know, duckweed in an emersed setup! ugh.), but this might really help. I’ll have to try that!

    I’ve had fuzzy white mold/fungus on some of my emersed plants as well, but I think that was because I had the humidity too high. When I increased the gap at the back of the glass top to the point where condensation no longer formed on the sides and top of the glass, the mold has entirely disappeared. Now I’m having problems with yellowing leaves on many plants, but I think that’s because I’m not fertilizing often enough, or fertilizing correctly. Do you ever change the water in your emersed setup?

  4. James Says:

    Those tanks are really sweet. I’ve never seen one like that. I would love to be able to try that someday.

  5. hydrophyte Says:

    Nice work. I have grown a lot of crypts, swords and a few other aquarium plants like this. I see that you are using coarse Hydroton as substrate, so your plants are essentially getting their nutrients right through the water. You must be maintaining good fert levels. I have seen descriptions of a number of similar setups for which just regular potting soil was used with great results. I mostly fill my pots with clay “kitty litter” type gravel, just because it’s easiest for me to manage.

    Those plants of yours look happy. I have never had much luck with aquarium stem plants. Perhaps I do not maintain nutrients in a consistent manner. I have found crypts and certain Anubias to be trouble-free in emersed setups.

  6. tnguyen Says:

    Great find! So is this a high tech emersed setup? 🙂 Make my bucket method look low tech now.

  7. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments! Chris, yes, I just placed a “Skippy Sponge” under the powerhead to prevent the intake from getting clogged. You could use an sponge that doesn’t compress real easily. I do change the water occasionally, but not as often as I do water changes on my other tanks. Usually I just top it off.

    Hydrophyte, I am dosing the setup regularly, and am in the process of setting up an auto-doser so I don’t have to mess with it much. Potting soil is definitely one way to do it, that absolutely works. I seen folks use various mixtures of potting soil, leaf mold, compost, aquasoil, etc… There’s many ways to do it.

    tnguyen, I’m not sure if this is a high-tech setup or not. I don’t really think of emersed setups that way. Basically, my philosophy is to put as much light on top as possible since algae isn’t a concern in an emersed setup, and go from there. CO2 is in the air, and so I just need to make sure the nutrients are available.

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