Re: Redecorating & Mudflow

> From: (Dwight)
> 1) What freshwater arrangement would you all recommend with regard to root
> depth, cleanability, appearance, etc:
With a terraced arrangement, tall plants (stem plants) tend to interfere
with the effect you want to create (IMHO). I've tried creating a terrace
using slate and rocks however I'm not that happy with it. Instead I'd
recommend starting with an empty tank and siliconing the slate in
place. I've seen plastic bamboo style terrace pieces that would also
work well. If by cleanability you mean gravel vacuuming; my advice is
simple: don't. Mulm, soil, vermiculite or substrate fertilization will
all be disturbed by gravel vacuuming. Nutrients which should be in the
substrate get stirred up and can create a green algae bloom. For most
plants, the presence of a soil substrate is far more important than 
depth. Certain plants will do VERY much better with a rich soil substrate
containing for instance, composted manure or plant sticks.

> 1a) What short (less than 12 inches tall) plant would you recommend that
> would enjoy having 4 to 6 inches of rootable area?
Crypt wendtii. Most rosette plants such as Echinodorus spp will look
nice in a terraced arrangment.

> 2) With regard to the fish, should I take them out and put them in a bucket
> (I only have one tank) to reduce their stress during the "rennovation?"
Get the largest plastic tub or bucket and put the fish in there. I'd use
an airstone as well to keep the oxygen levels up. You can put the aquarium
heater in there too.

> 3) Can the rooted plants float while I remodel or should I design some sort
> of temporary home?
Just put 'em in with the fish. No point in planting them temporarily.

> 4) If I do all of this do I run a risk of going through "new tank" syndrome
> all over again?
With plants, you should not experience any ammonia spike. You can retain
some of the tank water to avoid pH shock and minimize the effects of
the new water.

> From: eis at alto1_altonet.com (Paul Nicholson)
> 1) What is the best way to remove plants from a setup like mine without
> damaging the substrate?
very slowly. Echinodorus and H. difformis can develop very extensive
roots. With H. diff, I just cut the stem but Echinodorus must be removed
intact. Why not use the Randall method and pot 'em up! ;-)

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

The only way to remove large rosette plants safely would be to use 
containers.  A plastic grid would tear the roots off when you tried 
to pull them up. I remove small Crypt shoots by pulling them up and
snipping off the rhizome. This is enough for swapping with fellow
aquarists. If I were cultivating them for sale, I think I'd use the

Steve in Vancouver BC