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Re: Immersive Marginal Areas?

> From: "Chuck Lawson" <lawson at junglenet_com>
> I'm in the process of setting up a new plant tank; it's a 9', 150 gallon
> setup with 750 watts of 5500K metal halides suspended around 20 inches above
> the surface of the tank (1 250 over each 3' section), to allow for an open
> area for plants to grow out of the water.
> I'm trying to figure out a way to rig an immersive / bog planting area
> around the rim of the tank, on the back and on the sides.  What I'd like to
> do is have a margin of around 2" of suspended substrate in some sort of
> channel that has holes so that tank water can keep the substrate wet.  I
> want to plant some of the shorter pond marginals in this area (I'm thinking
> some of the shorter varieties of Taro, and I'm looking for any other
> suggestions for plants in the 3 - 12 inch height range).

Chuck, I offer this suggestion with reservations.  I've had success in
paludaria with bogwood.  It looks attractive, is easy to work with, and
is readily available in many aquarium stores (if slightly expensive).

If I were to work from your tank idea, I'd get some bogwood and cut it
in such a way as to make two wedges per piece of wood.  The wood itself
would wind up with one flat side as a result of the cut that could be
placed directly against the glass.  A piece of plexiglass (vinyl
releases toxins that affect the liver according to ABC News) could be
secured to the flat surface using plastic screws if desired, and could
be attached to hangers for easy addition/removal.

With wood, you can hollow out a planter box that will hold some form of
substrate for bog plants.  In my tanks, I placed Java Fern, Anubias, and
Java Moss on the wood and allowed them to attach themselves.  Duckweed
also covers my bogwood, but may or may not be desirable in your tank.

My reservation about wood:  Wood rots.  During the first few weeks the
wood is in water, it will undergo various forms of relatively rapid
decay.  The by-products of this decay can cause problems with sensitive
fish.  Frequent water changes may be a good idea for the first several
months until the wood settles down to a less active state, and until the
plants growing in the planters and on the wood establish themselves
firmly enough to remove the wood leachates from the water.

David W. Webb
Live-Foods list administrator