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Newbie Dry Start Method

Discussion in 'Journals' started by CellarDoor, May 13, 2019.

  1. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor New Member

    May 13, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Local Time:
    1:56 AM
    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
  2. Tim Harrison

    Tim Harrison Lifetime Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jul 7, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Local Time:
    7:56 AM
    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.


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