Newbie Dry Start Method

CellarDoor

New Member
May 13, 2019
1
0
1
Illinois
Hi all! I'm totally new in the aquatic plant life and am totally in love. Now if only I can manage to not destroy my first plants.

Tank: UNS long 12G (35" long x 8" wide x 10" tall)
Substrate: UNS contrasoil
Light: Twinstar LED 600SP, 3500l, 44W

Desert Stones + UG (Ulticularia Graminifolia) plants

Planted dry start method 2 weeks ago Saturday, Saran Wrap top, opening 30 minutes a day, 12 hours lighting. (live in Chicago area)

All was growing in nicely, until I noticed mold in one of the corners of the tank last night. :eek::eek::eek:

I removed all visibly affected plants and substrate and removed the Saran Wrap, but this morning the mold was covering the edge of the substrate of the bit next to where I removed. So I took that substrate out, along with some more plants. Tried to clean that area of the tank, spraying a little h2o2/water 4:1 mixture in there..... but I'm fully aware that I've mold spores in my tank and am a little panicked that all of the UG is going to get wiped out before the end of this saga.

Check out my pics. Any and all advice, thoughts, and prayers appreciated.

healthy 2 weeks.JPG


moldy 2 weeks.JPG


newly planted.JPG
 

Tim Harrison

Lifetime Member
Lifetime Member
Jul 7, 2017
386
340
63
UK
I can only go by my own experience. I sealed the tank with cling film, and opened it up for 5 mins every day to replace old stagnant air with fresh air. At the same time I sprayed the plants (daily). Spraying also creates a draft that helps with the movement of the air in and out of the tank. This may help to prevent mould. I also kept the water level to just below the surface of the substrate, it's difficult to do with daily spraying and I often had to syphon out some water using an air hose. If that's not an option you can use a syringe or a sponge to absorb the water. This appears to be key, it perhaps allows the roots to breath a little.

So in short, the methodology is as follows...

1. Add water to a level just below the surface of the substrate; don't let the water level raise above the top of the substrate, which can happen with daily misting.
2. Keep the tank sealed, but let fresh air in for 5 minutes every day to replace the old stagnant air, this may help prevent mould.
3. Spray and mist the plants.
4. Reseal.
5. Repeat daily for between 2 - 6 weeks during which time your lawn should become fully established, and then flood.

The DSM works best if the substrate is relatively level. If it's steeply banked it becomes difficult to regulate moisture levels, i.e. too dry at the top and too wet at the bottom.
Condensation is usual and the aim is to create high humidity, most plants we like to use are from tropical wetlands and have evolved in high humidity.
Health wise the plants should be green and verdant and after a week or two should start to grow quite vigorously. Watch out for any signs of mould, if there is any you may need to let fresh air in for a little longer than 5 mins. It may also help to wipe the condensation off after you've sprayed.

36878142631_6eb19e74da_b.jpg
 

aibcarpentry

Member
Sep 23, 2017
49
15
8
37
Banbury, Oxfordshire
If it's steeply banked it becomes difficult to regulate moisture levels
I will testify to this 100%, the water will just sink to the lowest point and leave the high areas dry - tried it twice with steep banks and failed miserably.

HOWEVER it looks like you have fairly level substrate so this shouldn't be a problem.
My guess is it's down to the humidity being too high so as Tim describes siphoning excess water away is a great idea; you could dig a little hole in the soil so water will make its way there over time allowing you to get in there with a syringe or airline.
You can buy cheap little humidity displays but I can't remember the level you're aiming for. :rolleyes:
Trying to dry things up quicker is something you can do on a day you're around as you can half take the cover off, leave it off longer and just give the plants a little spray before they dry out.
I did also leave a corner of the cover open constantly when it was too wet to try and help things dry out quicker.
If you hear of adding Cinnamon to the area where there's mold I'd say don't listen from personal experience.

Good luck with it and let us know how it goes. :)
 
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Gabe Hayes

New Member
Jul 10, 2019
22
3
3
Long Beach, CA
I will testify to this 100%, the water will just sink to the lowest point and leave the high areas dry - tried it twice with steep banks and failed miserably.

HOWEVER it looks like you have fairly level substrate so this shouldn't be a problem.
My guess is it's down to the humidity being too high so as Tim describes siphoning excess water away is a great idea; you could dig a little hole in the soil so water will make its way there over time allowing you to get in there with a syringe or airline.
You can buy cheap little humidity displays but I can't remember the level you're aiming for. :rolleyes:
Trying to dry things up quicker is something you can do on a day you're around as you can half take the cover off, leave it off longer and just give the plants a little spray before they dry out.
I did also leave a corner of the cover open constantly when it was too wet to try and help things dry out quicker.
If you hear of adding Cinnamon to the area where there's mold I'd say don't listen from personal experience.

Good luck with it and let us know how it goes. :)

I did a dry start a month ago with the steepest of banks and had no problem. Sprayed twice a day and kept the saran wrap on except to vent while spraying (poked some holes in the corners too) -- The substrate was always pretty much saturated. No water pooling anywhere. That's what you want.

If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't. I mainly did it because I was itching to get started growing my carpet but I needed time to save for a co2 system. By the time my had the money for the GLA Pro-1 system I wanted the Monte Carlo carpet was mostly grown in. I'd day 85%. So this worked out. But there was a lot of melt that happened once I flooded even though I blasted the CO2. One other reason I went for the DSM was since I did have MAD slopes, I wanted the root system of the MC to grow in some to hold the slopes in place better--- which it did. So for that I am glad. But next time, since I have the co2 system now... i would probably just plant, flood, and bast the CO2. It was a fun expirament though.

1) I'm really sorry you got the mold. It didn't look overly wet so I dont know why. Maybe just bad luck-- mold spores are EVERYWHERE
2) That rock is awesome! I want it for my tank!

How is it going? Give us an update