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RE: plant filter and a plant for any tank.

> Hi,
>  There has been some discussion on this list regarding fresh water reefs and 
>terrestrial plants as filters. I have decided to setup a 10gal test prior to 
>a 40gal main tank later on. I am thinking of using Spathphyllums as the 
>filter plant in the outside container and have found a sm
> grained fired clay product used for growing hydroponic orchids to use as the 
>medium. My question is the exchange rate to and from the outside container. 
>Should the water trickle in and out like a hydroponics system via a lift tube 
>arrangement or pour in and out from a powerhead like
> an outside filter? If the latter, can the Spaths tolerate having their roots 
>constantly submerged? Or would a bog plant like Marsh Marigolds be a better 
>choice as the filter plant. I would think that you would want a plant with a 
>fairly high metabolism as the filter plant. Anyone
> have any experience with this? Thanks much.
> ------------------------------
Oh yes,
 I have/had several such  tanks and have played extensively with this before
the days when I could keep a nice planted tank. Using the clay Coco pebbles,
as I call them, is a good move. Clean and easy to move and great bio
filtering. Spath's can handle lots of flow and are an ideal choice for such
an endeavor. Needing less light than most plants, they seldom need any
additional lighting for good growth. A good rule of thumb is: if you can
comfortably read a book in the available light, then the plant will grow. If
you have supplemental lighting, you'll have more choices using higher MET
plants. I used ABS and PVC 4 inch tubes in a sump and hanging off the back
of my aquarium. Boxes and other arrangements can be constructed. Pennywart,
Clematis vine, watersprite, most tropical foliage you can buy at the
nurseries will do well like Prayer plants. Many Anubias do super and other
commonly kept aquatics. Spath's seemed to be the best for most tanks in the
set ups I did. Careful that they don't take out too much out and deprive the
plants in the tank. Having higher MET plants can cause problems here so be
sure to achieve a "balance" so just because the plant can grow fast with
light doesn't mean it's the best plant for your situation. Faster is not
always better. Water flows didn't matter to much but I found the airline
3/16" did great for most plants trickling over the roots in the coco
pebbles. This allowed lots of flexibility with a system to  move water were
ever I wished. Spray bars do good also. Slow flows are also preferred due to
water surface turbulence when the water returns to the tank. The flows were
kept low to  better filter the water in one shot rather than constantly
filtering the whole tank at higher flows. This slower flow allows some
nutrients to have a chance at being absorbed by the aquatic plants and not
have it all sucked up by the hydoponic system. I'd say about 20-50
gallons/hr is good for a 40 gallon. Maybe 10gallons/hr for a 10 gallon tank.

The clematis vine grew over 4 inches a day of dry growth. Dry growth is
equal to far more wet growth also. 

Using timers, you can play around with reverse photoperiods, on/off for 15
minutes cycles(this worked very well), only on during photoperiod or when
the sun was out etc.
Once these plants get going they will take off like you won't believe.
Spath's handle massive prunings well and you'll be thinking of selling the
plantlets off to the nurseries.

As far as FW reefs go, I haven't heard of any decent successes with the
substrate plenum and guess what? The goals of a SW reef is different than
that of a planted tank. Zero nitrates is not a goal of plant tanks but it
would be great for a Reef. Water changes, water changes, no one wants to do
them.  Folks will spend 500 $ on a piece of equipment so "I don't have to do
as many water changes" and the add 200$ worth of additives to replace the
ones they've been losing. Sure, salt cost bucks, but water changes take care
of so many problems and folks don't seem to get it. Throwing more $ at a
simple problem is the solution for many folks. 

I tried using a bunch of Driftwood as my "live rock" and a very deep bed of
sand with a plenum. It was OK and the Nitrates went down  to >10ppm after
several weeks. Nothing I found to get all excited about. A water change did
the same thing as did good growing plants or/and plant filters. Do you want
to grow plants or bacteria is another concept to consider.

In such set ups, you can have a plant in any tank and reap the benefits of
plants for filtering.
AF cichids, Arrowanas, Clown triggers, Moray eels, whatever you want to
have. Mangroves will grow in many types of saltwater set ups and there are
many types of suitible salt water plants too! 
There is no tank that couldn't use a plant...........is something I like to
say. Often, we'd like to put a nice house plant by the tank and this is a
logical set towards that idea. Palladiums are gaining popularity as are nice
plantings all over near the tanks. Why not get the plants involved in the
tank set ups too? Seems only natural.
Enjoy and plant away, 
Tom Barr