Plants in pots, Plecos and Anubias

Posted by Dustin Wunderlich on

What’s up Gold and Silverfish.

This weeks article comes as a reply to some questions Margaret had sent me.

NOTE: I am actually out of town this week until Friday on vacation so I might be a tad slow on replying back to you all. This is a cell phone off break…

Here is the initial email with my replies between…..


Hi Dustin,

I’m moving my tank and the inhabitants from a 55 to a 75 this weekend – due to space and weight constraints of living on the second floor there won’t be an option to upgrade to anything larger This time I want to set it up right and have been reading your dirted tank guide and online articles  I have three questions that I’ve been searching for the answers but I thought it would be best to check in with you…

The only problem with this move is I have some larger catfish and some small gobies who LOVE to dig and excavate. The main culprit is my nearly full grown L075 (~7″) – when he starts excavating sand and gravel go everywhere.  The gobies and the banjo cat make burrows every night but other than that they don’t make too much of a mess.  As a compromise to have dirt for the largest root feeders but minimize the risk of the dirt being dug and making a huge mess do you think it would work if I only put dirt in planters and buried the planters in the sand?  I was thinking to cut the bottoms off water bottles and plant the echinodorus, crypts, lilies and  sword plant in those planters?  I guess it would constrict the roots over time, but maybe the compromise of having the real dirt to grow in would be worth it?

I would say that you should certainly go for this. I would probably leave a few holes in the bottom of the containers just to let some gases exchange better.  I have never actually done this in a display aquarium, though in the greenhouse it seems to work very well. I think a decent height would be about 2 inches tall of a “pot”  The bottom of a clear Gatorade bottle would work well, or a water bottle.   The nice thing is that you can always remove it.  Make sure you add some clay in that mix like the dirt guide says…
My second question is some of the anubias that I’m moving over have black aglae growing along the edges of old leaves…is it ok to cut all these old leaves off and just leave the new healthy ones on? And I’d also like to trim the massive root growth off a bit as well – is that ok?  These anubias are glued to wood so the roots are completely in the water without contact with the substrate so they’ve formed massive ‘root forests’.

Anubias likes a hard cut.  I wouldn’t be afraid to hack off the leaves of it if they are bad. While a slow grower, anubias likes this.  I would also say that root trimming is completely fine. It won’t hurt the plant.  I would take the time to break up the anubias in general to create more plants. (My 125 is all anubias that I have spread out and broken up over time….no new plants added…ever really)

My last question is that I’m looking for a a floating plant to put in the refugium section of my sump. I’m hoping that with the sump I’ll eventually be able to remove one of the two large filters I have going at the moment.  I have two LEDs in the sump and as a preliminary test I put hornwort (the soft leaved tropical one)….it grew brilliantly for about a week and then melted.  Then I tried the tougher temperate version of it…that melted nearly instantly (didn’t last for more than 2 days).  I put the tropical one back and it also melted again creating a total mess.  I’m reluctant to try it again because of how hard it is to clean up the melted bits floating around decomposing in the fuge.  Is there something else you could recommend that is less prone to melting but would be a good refugium plant for soaking up nitrates?

I love this concept, though I haven’t ever done it personally.  One thing I have seen is actual “Marginal” plants growing out of the top of the “Filter”  You can use those big Toros (sp) or Elephant Ear looking plants.  Hostas  also like this kind of wet roots, dry leaves environment.   I would put them in some kinda fibers or little pots.  If nitrate removal is your goal…plants ABOVE the water will be a great choice for this.    As far as regular aquarium plants.  Totally try water wisteria, water sprite or yes- Java moss.  (Hornwort in my experience is  a weird one….either grows bonkers or dies in two days for me)

Hope this helps Margaret. I would love to see a picture of this setup!







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