Redecorating, Mud Flow

Subject: Redecorating

> Hi, it's the idiot with the 55g tank again. Right now I have all
> of gravel on the bottom of my tank, but am considering redecorat
> three tier setup, where one third will be two inches deep, anoth
> four inches deep, and the back wall will be six inches deep. I f
> put in stone walls to keep the tiers in place.

A 55G tank is awfully narrow to worry about terracing.  You'll 
take up even more planting space with the rock work.  It is also 
not so deep that there should be _any_ problem getting a tiered 
look just by chosing appropriate plants.  My problem in my 55G is 
keeping ahead of the taller "background" plants so that they don't 
shade the smaller foreground plants too much.

> thinking of keeping my water sprite towards either the two inch 
> depth since they are so tall and lanky, but if I crop them back 
> do better with more rootable (another word?) depth? 

Water Sprite is a _HUGE_ plant under proper conditions.  If you'r 
is lanky, something is not right.  The one that I kept in my 55G 
up until recently needed _severe_ whacking on a weekly basis, or 
it took over one third of the length of the tank, and went 
completely from the front to the back of the tank.  It also grew 
_out_ of every crevass it could find.  It also has much too big a 
root system for 2" of substrate.


Subject: Mudflow - Don't try this at home!

> My 29 gallon is inundated with plants, so tonight I decided to t
> herbaceous gwowth. First to be removed was a large sword, which 
> over half the tank.  I yanked the the plant out of the substrate
> large amount of the vermiculite and soil substate came up with t
> From what I can see (the visibility is about 1 inch) much of th
> around the plant has sunk as the substrate under the plant decid
> with the roots. I don't know if I'll have to tear the tank down 
> things clear up I'll know  more.
> I have two questions:
> 1) What is the best way to remove plants from a setup like mine 
> damaging the substrate?

That's why I like to keep soil contained in pots.  I recognize its 
tremendous value, particularly for some specific plants, but I 
don't want to risk just what happened to you.  So my soil needing 
plants are potted, and the pots are sunk in the substrate.  When 
the tank is fully planted, the pots are completely hidden.

> 2) What is the best way to construct a substrate to withstand pl
> removal? For example, what about using a plastic grid of some so
> the soil and gravel?

The trouble with that is that the roots will completely wrap 
around and through the grid.  You will not beable to remove the 
root mass without destroying the plant and/or the grid.  This is 
one of the hazards of using soil substrates.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Assoc.
Boston, MA