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Re: Dry Sphagnum Moss
Dry Sphagnum Moss is a product produced by picking like plants and drying them. Brad Higgins from ChiKA and others have used it successfully in "permanent" setups as a substrate. Sphagnum Moss covers the bottom half and Water Sprite the top half. He was very successful in breeding difficult Rivulus and Aphyosemions in this type of set up. I haven't tried it myself, but here's what I remember from his presentation to the club:
1. A bacterial bloom will appear when you first introduce the moss to the tank. (Make sure you boil the moss first) The water in the tank will turn a milky white and then clear again after the bloom is over. So don't add fish until after the bloom.
2. It's not "preserved" like peat so it can foul easily. Brad would feed only live food, such as blackworms, daphnia and BS. He remarked that he would often find surviving Blackworms in the moss when he broke tanks down. They apparently thrive and can colonize the tank (perpetual live food).
3. The water will get very soft and very acidic. You must watch the pH carefully AND DO REGULAR WATER CHANGES (I've heard that somewhere else before!). Otherwise your tank will crash.
4. The moss will eventually decompose into a mush, so you need to break down that tank eventually. I can't recall exactly, but I think he advised 6 months to a year max.
It sounds like a hassle, but in truth it's an easy setup to maintain once t's going. The moss provides protection for the females and keeps the water soft. The Water Sprite provide biological filtration and cover for the fish, as well as spawning sites among the dangling roots. He would use a spoon to dip out fry every now and then to transfer them to a rearing tank. No mops, no eggs to pick just fry.
It's been about 4 years since Brad gave his demo to the cub, so I may have missed a few details. Anyone s welcome to jump in and correct me or add to the technique. As I said, I haven't tried it yet, but I plan on it some day.
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