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Creating a plant wall

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Pumpkinate, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. Pumpkinate

    Pumpkinate Prolific Poster

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    Greetings everyone.

    I have just finished building a 3500 liter aquarium and will soon get it filled and planted. I would like to create a plant wall on the back with Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Anubias Nana, and Bolbitis and have most of the floor covered in crypts. This design was both for appearance and also to maximize water circulation.

    I've read about the use of cork tiles (including by Tom Barr... which is how I ended up here) as the scaffolding for the plant wall. However, when I went to look at the stuff in a flooring shop I was advised that it is made of cork particles glued together with a bonding agent. So I am concerned as to the safety of the glue used, and also whether it will last long submersed. You can get unprocessed "virgin cork bark" but it is expensive and I have read accounts of it rotting and disintegrating.

    I guess my other options for the scaffolding would be window flyscreen or some other plastic mesh. I have used plastic mesh for moss walls but never for bigger plants.

    Has anyone any experience with cork/flyscreen/mesh? Are ordinary cork tiles safe? Do epiphytic plants grow well on plastic flyscreen or do they prefer a more solid base? Any ideas for other materials?

    With thanks,

    Steve
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    How about plastic eggcrate or similar and use Krylon black paint to finish it?

    Is that too easy?
     
  3. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    ...Of Sailing Ships & VOCs

    Hi,

    Cork flooring or wall materials should use water based, non-solvent adhesives with no VOCs.:confused:

    Translation, your plants and fish should be just fine.:)

    Cork itself is naturally resistant to most creepy crawly things… One of the reasons it lasts so long submerged in water. :eek:

    I have been using cork for more than a year now. Most is the art store, Michaels and Hobby Lobby sort.

    The natural properties of cork are such that it takes longer for epiphytic plants, anything using holdfasts to grab hold, I pin or staple plants too the cork.

    I also use peat cups (the little planting pots) and pin or staple them to the cork to give better plant holding ability. I flatten out the cups where I want things growing “out of the cork.”

    I have a pond/bog that I used a commercial wall board (I think it is sold mainly for acoustics) going for about four months now, it works great, I rather prefer the plain “art” cork for looks, but the commercial wallboard is far more “structural” and easier to work. So far no problems.;)

    My understanding is that the flooring cork tiles are sealed in pvc, I have not seen these and I don’t know how that might affect the aquarium application.:eek:

    Hope this helps, good luck,
    Biollante
     
  4. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I would be concerned that the eggcrate would flex too easily and flake the paint off. You can get black eggcrate though and a lot of the reefers go this route which would seem a safer bet.

    -
    S
     
  5. Pumpkinate

    Pumpkinate Prolific Poster

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    Cheers guys for your time.

    Gerry - the eggcrate would certainly be easy and safe! I wonder how well epiphytes would cling to it?

    Biollante - it's good to hear of your positive experiences with cork. After visiting the flooring shop I realised you wouldn't use flooring tiles because they are too thin. I think I need to search for cork wall tiles or hobby tiles. The use of those biodegradable peat pots is an interesting idea.

    shoggoth43 - the black egg crate sounds interesting. I wonder if its available here (Australia).

    I'm probably being a bit cautious but the bigger the tank the bigger the fix required when things go wrong. Here is a photo from the build process, you can see what I mean:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I think epiphytes would do well on the eggcrate....I can easily see java, anubias, bolbitus, hydrocotyle, riccia, etc all will do well.

    I think any plant can do well, rosettes, such as swords and crypts also. I look at it as if it were hydroponic in a way, as the roots will NOT be in the substrate....we KNOW that method works well. Look in any nursery or greenhouse....

    If eggcrate comes in black or a darker color already, that is just icing on the cake...

    I must have been high or something when I first read this and was not paying attention, but if you now have a 900 gallon aquarium that you built, you absolutely MUST provide details..:)

    What, where, why, how, who, etc, etc, etc....Filtration, lights, is that concrete?, did you pour it, where are the details?

    You must provide a build thread if any of this advice from this site, helps at all :)
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Having used cork tile and knowing other shops that have used it, and the European usage, I have over 10 years, so do many others, there is nothing toxic about those brown dark tiles.
    No worries there.

    The second option is the use a fan shaped piec eof driftwood and end up with something like this once grown in you prefer not gluing tile to the back ground:
    [​IMG]

    This is about 6000 liters.

    The flat pinwheel shaped wood works very well for a scaffolding for the plants.
    As you can see, there's java fern, bolbitus and anubias and moss etc.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    [​IMG]

    What I look like as a fish

    [​IMG]

    An 1800 liter tank, or a "small" tank for me:

    [​IMG]
    Ceasarhardatwork.jpg
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I did not chose the fish, but it is intense to see in person

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Since you ar ein Oz, which city, state are you in?
    Steve in Brisbane that likely could fix you up with most of the wood and scaping issues for you.

    On a much smaller scale, my ADA 60 liter:

    f7270730.jpg

    As you can see, I like wood.

    If you can give more details about the depth, I think it looks like 300cm x 100cm x100cm tank from the picture.

    Light is key for this tank's success.
    For the plants you have chosen, for them to grow well, you will need CO2.
    I'd suggest using a needle wheel here, they are the best ways to add CO2 to larger tanks.

    A sealed wet/dry chamber, the sump after this stage can be open...etc.....but where the water crashes down and into the filter needs sealed.
    I'd feed the outflow of the needle wheel into the return pump intake.

    I would also highly suggest using a larger course white gravel in the front, around 6-10 mm range sizing
    Use some wood, or perhaps some nice weathered black volcanic rock, as a barrier to corral the Crypts and make a nice transition between the plants and the sand.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Water change and removing water to the correct depths to work inside the tank and a quick draina dn refill are key, I assuem a plumber has added a drain and hard plumbed valve and then a cold/hot refill? If you add a carbon prefilter to the refill, then dechloriniator will not be required.

    This, the filter that's quite and easy to clean, the lighting needs to be somewhat adjustable(bulbs or the ability to lower and raise it and have it moved so access to the tank is easy)
    CO2......

    These are the main biggies/must haves. I will refuse to do a tank if these issues are not met or the client is unable to submit.
    It'll just look lousy later.

    You are correct, bigger tank: bigger hassle if something is not correct.
     
  11. feh

    feh Guru Class Expert

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    So the plants all over the back wall in the tank was done using cork board?

    This gives me ideas...
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, these are pinwheels of driftwood
     
  13. feh

    feh Guru Class Expert

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    Are these attached to the other pieces, the back wall, or free standing?
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Just leaned up against the back wall and wedged in good.
     
  15. Pumpkinate

    Pumpkinate Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Gerry, I think your idea of effectively growing the plants hydroponically is true.

    There is a detailed build thread on my local forum but as you are all so helpful I'll do a summarised thread here.
     
  16. Pumpkinate

    Pumpkinate Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Tom for your input. I'm pleased to hear that the cork tiles you have used sound like the same ones I had in mind.

    I am in Northern NSW, so closest to Brisbane. Who in Brisbane are you referring to as I am looking for driftwood now?

    You are close with the dimensions, but it's 125cm wide and 102cm high. However it will be filled to approximately 85-90cm depth.

    I'll show the details of lighting/filtration in a build thread.

    Do you suggest the larger white gravel at the front to minimize maintenance of the foreground?

    Yes, I have these things largely sorted (I hope!), I'll put them in the build thread and see what you think.

    Thanks again for everyone's time and advice, most helpful.

    Steve
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    They are about 1 cm thick, I use U shaped wire nails and attach plants onto the cork this way.

    Steve collected the wood out of the creeks locally outside of Brisbane. Just look for old well worn pieces. Find creeks that are higher in elevation than most farms etc. You should have ample wood after the massive flooding in the region in recent times.

    Any small country rural roads that cross creeks should be fine.
    Take a look, bring a truck etc or something to haul the wood. A shovel and saw might be of use.


    Yes, but it also gives you something to stand on when you are inside working on the tank, since the height is over 1 meter.......I know your arms are not this long......you will need to bend over inside the tank often to do any work on the scape.

    Either than or you will have to hand bat style upside down.
    This will lead to headaches. Tools will help some, but hands are by and large the best tool.

    It also will brighten the tank up some, particularly if you use a thick fully planted background. Give some space in the front and allow sand dwelling species some room.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Also, the drain should go outside to a collection cistern or rain barrel etc, or directly to the landscaping, this way you will have a high grade irrigation water for use.
     
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