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Thread: My 75 gallon SE Asian ‘crypt garden’

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    Default My 75 gallon SE Asian ‘crypt garden’

    I know, this isn’t a vivarium or paludarium build. (Being a mod has advantages, nobody will move this on me lol) It ‘almost’ was. I was going to recreate my Madagascar tank in a taller, 60g tank, but I decided I wanted to do a project that has been on my mind for about a decade. And since I have very limited room, I decided to go with the 75. Mainly because I got an awesome deal on the tank lol. The reason I decided to add it here as a build, even though it is an aquarium, is because there may be some things I did with it, that people might find interesting.

    Now, anyone who knows me well, knows I LOVE plants. I don’t care if they are aquatic, terrestrial, or marginal. I love to garden, both indoors and out. My favorite aquatic plants of all time come from South East Asia; the cryptocoryne genus. Actually, I love the whole family, including belucephelandras, lagenandras, homolamena, piptospatha, etc. and they will all be represented in this tank, eventually.

    With that being said, if you are unfamiliar with these plants, a little bit of info on them. They grow in slow moving bodies of water. They live both under water and in the margins. They are truly incredible plants in the respect that they are tough to kill. Not impossible, mind you, just difficult. See, they have this wonderful and amazing survival technique. When the dry season comes, they ‘melt’ and waste away, leaving only their rhizome in the mud. When the rains come again, And conditions are right, they spring back to life. It the aquarium hobby, we call this crypt melt. As long as you are patient, they will grow back. Sometimes they recover in a few days, sometimes months. Enough of my rambling, on to the build.

    Crypts are heavy root feeders. Like, really heavy. Normally, when I keep a plethora of crypts, I use a soil substrate. When I only have a couple, I use root tabs to feed them along with dry fertilizers in the root column. But this tank is going to be heavily planted with root feeders, so I elected to go with soil, capped by sand. The main problem I have had with dirt tanks, it that they create pockets of ‘dead space’. Little pockets where anaerobic bacteria grow and multiply. Anyone who has ever broken down a dirt tank that has been running a long time knows what I am talking about. They are pockets of dry soil, coated in white slime. Imagine soil being under water for years, but still being dry. It damages the tank in a couple ways. One is that is creates small pockets of methane, and methane is bad for everything in the tank. But if a root enters into that pocket, they start losing leaves. When I had a crypt suddenly melt for no reason, it was an anaerobic pocket that melted it. So, to combat that, I used some of my vivarium building knowledge and decided to hook up my beastly canister filter (it pumps something like 800 gph, I forget the exact number) to a custom undergravel filter.

    Now, I wish I could, but I cannot take credit for this concept. I ran across it years ago on the Planted Tank forum. I would credit the originator, if I could remember who it was. I am, however, one of the few, I believe, that incorporates the design with soil. I experimented with it at that time, and it worked excellent, but my lack of knowledge and experience at the time with dry fertilizers just made it a mess. And I hooked it to powerheads versus the canister version I built this time. The idea is that the water is forced to flow through the soil, much like a false bottom vivarium. This should prevent anaerobic pockets from forming. This was the tank with the filter built to a point

    There are holes drilled in the pvc pipes in the bottom. The space in between the pipes were filled with all natural lump charcoal. I would have used lava rock in there as a matrix, because it has excellent surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow on, but I decided on charcoal because I wanted a bit more to combat tannins in the water from the woods. Then I covered it with some polyester matting to keep the soil from clogging the pipes.

    A layer of peat moss, then sifted, moistened top soil, more peat moss, mixed it together and started forming my hardscape

    I then capped it with 100 lbs of Black Diamond Blasting Grit that I got from Tractor Supply for $8/50lb bag. If you have never used this stuff, it is awesome. It’s basically granulated volcanic rock. It has zero nutritional value for the plants, but has a great color. I grabbed some massive red lava rock boulders at a garden center. If you have never gotten rock at a garden center, I highly recommend it. I got 3 large boulders, 44 lbs total, for less than $40. Score! My foot is a size 10 for reference. Lol

    Next I broke up those boulders, and scaped the tank. I just got a huge order of plants in yesterday, and while I had every intention of planting the tank, my old body said ‘Nah, just get the plants in water, we can finish this over the weekend’.


    And with most of the plants in

    As you can see, even after a week, I am still coping with tannins in the water. But after a couple more water changes, it should clear up. I still have a bunch of plants to add to this tank. I have a couple tissue cultures of crypts and some rare crypts in my 40g to move over.

    I hope you enjoy my crypt garden build as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. And if you are looking for an interesting plant to grow at the bottom of a vivarium with high humidity, I HIGHLY recommend the crypt family. If you’re not sure where to start, just ask me and I can either head you in the right direction, or can send you some starters.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

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