dry start method, HC melting


Junior Poster
Jul 2, 2006
i just started a 10G tank with HC with the dry start method.
AS, seran wrap.
it seemed like the HC was doing ok for a few days, yesterday it started turning brown and mushy, dying. the AS is saturated, i get good humidity with the seran wrap.
what could be the problem?
i was thinking the heat maybe?
my room gets about 80+F during these hot days, so the inside of the tank is probably a lot higher with the lights on top.
could the high temp be the cause of the melting? and what can i do about it? i was thinking a small computer fan, but wouldn't that dry out the plants then?


Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
Seems like it had too much humidity and not enough cooling.
Keep it drier and mist often with tank water.

Tom Barr


Guru Class Expert
Mar 5, 2009
I'm dry starting a 11 gal, 2 weeks old now

I don't have HC, but some P. Helferi, Tenellus and C. Parva

I followed Tom directions, earthworm castings + Flourite Black Sand
I also googled a lot on "tropical terrarium" and I advice you to do so

I think the key factors for success are:

- choosing plants that just arrived to the shop, that is emerged growing. Despite what's ususally said, it is more difficult to adapt plants from submerged to emerged than the opposite

- as Tom said: dry but humid. You can't compensate air humidity by misting the leaves for example. I acclimated the plants slowly, misting once a day, than every other day and now 2x/week. I use a hygrometer, they are very cheap but accurate if you buy one that you can calibrate (google for how to calibrate them). Air humidity must be absolutely over 75% and ideally > 80-85%. You can improve the overall humidity buy putting a recipient, with a large opening, full of water some part in the tank. It will give a great addition to air humidity

- plants need CO2 and oxygen. So aeration is important. Never close all the tank, keep small openings to provide some air moving. It will also reduce the heat issues. Despite a 80°F these days, I kept with a 82°F inside tank (putting a thermometer with the hygrometer is a real plus). Monitor humidity to adjust the openings. Closing all the tank is a very tricky technique used in what's called "green house" that I would really avoid

- Using water from a mature aquarium (even better if it is an EI dosed tank) is of a great help as it will provide all the needed macro+micro. Without them, the plants will melt. So keep in mind that you need enough micro and macro added regularely. When I first immersed the substrate, I used only water+mulm from my main EI tank

- Never let water above the substrate. I use a sponge every time I mist the tank. I apply it on the lower part of the substrate, press a bit and be sure that no water traces remain on surface

Personally, I'm happy with the result of mine. Especially having the C. Parva not melting at all and the Tenellus still green. Still waiting for more emerged leaves from my plants to claim success