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Dry-Start Method

Get your plants ready for their new aquatic home by starting them emersed.

By Tom Barr |

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The start-up phase is often the most difficult stage for planted tank aquarists. The new planted aquarium is typically very low in plant biomass. The plants are not established, and the roots have not grown into the sediment. No bacteria colonization has occurred. Algae plague the aquarium at this stage prior to the plants becoming established. Aquarists often have to clean and maintain the aquarium much more to stay ahead of algae in newly planted aquariums. Plants often become uprooted and need to be replanted.

Is there a better way to do this? Is there a method that does not require so much labor? Can we devise a technique that allows the plants to fill in and carpet the aquarium without having to buy a lot of plants initially? How can we get around the initial algae stage in a way that doesn’t cost much or take much time? These are questions that many planted tank hobbyists have asked for a long time — and the answers are surprisingly simple.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the December 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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Reader Comments

Kathleen    Moose Pass, AK

1/2/2012 2:30:53 PM

Great article. I successfully established a DSM nano using organic potting soil with small smooth pebble cab on top. Worked great and is still thriving since May of 2011 :)

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