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My Mossie Wall

This 2-tier tank is sited along a corridor or common hallway receiving about 2 hours of direct sun and ambient lighting for the rest of the day.  The upper tank was originally densly planted with a garden soil / Lonestar gravel substrate, hoping that the soil will provide sufficient slow-release nutrient for the duration of the setup.  Alas, however, that was not meant to be.

In less than a year, the leached nutrient and whatever else that was decomposing in the soil, proved too much for the plants alone to handle and became a algae farm instead.  It was one algae to another and I think I've met the whole family.

Having had enough of the eye sore, the tank was cleared of everything to start anew.  It did remain empty for about 2 weeks throughout the Lunar New Year of 2003 and I decided to get off my butt on the eve of a public holiday, Hari Raya Haji, on February 12th.

My thoughts and inspiration came directly from my killie-buddy, Kwek Leong, and he has a 'Christmas Moss Wall' to die for.  His homepage on killifishes and planted tanks can be found here.

Ok ok... so I can't grow Christmas Moss even if my life depended on it... but hey, guess what... Java Moss don't die on me!  So that'll basically serve the same purpose... a nice backdrop of moss!!! Here's how I choose my plants.
A "standard 2-footer" tank, 24inL x 16inD x 16inH, with bevel-polished finishing.

At roughly 28 gallons or 128 litres, it'll make a very decent specie-tank for my killifish and I'll probably fill 'er up with Aphyosemion australe Chocolate or Aphyosemion poliaki 'Mile 29' if I can get my hands on some!

It's too soon to tell but likely coinhabitants will be some octocinclus sp., corydorus sterbai and other small sized, peace-loving fishes.

The bottom tier houses eight Aphyosemion bivittatum Funge but they're hardly sociable... taking flight at the slightest shadow!

Getting off-track here....
let's get on with "The Wall"!

This plastic-grid sheet was bought from a hardware shop along Balestier Road, the street where I work.

Measure up and cut the actual height but double the required length.  Then make a fold in the middle.

.... like this...
IMHO, an entire wall of moss is quite monotonous... so I decided to 'break up' the coverage by having coarse sponge to 'anchor' other undemanding plants.
Cable-ties are poked through at one end and guided out at the other (see pic).

The open ends are then guided through the plastic-grid and secured.

I continued the process until all the sponges are in place.

I couldn't decide whether to have a curved or flat background, hence the extra length.
Economic times is presently bad!... so to avoid spending too much on 'furnishing' the tank, I salvaged plants from my other neglected tanks.

In my Fundulopanchax gardneri N'sukka tank, there was alot of windelov fern plantlets, floating and growing from dislodged leaves.

Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov' was chosen for it's branched leaf tips, contrasting it from the Java Moss.... and also because it's a hardy and low maintenance plant.

In that same N'sukka tank, there was a lone Boblitis heudolotii, or commonly known as African fern.  Might as well salvage that....

The foliage was pretty shot but the rhizome seems healthy enough for the transfer.

This pic doesn't do the plant justice as a well-cared-for specimen has beautiful transparent green leaves.

To encourage it to grow, I've trimmed off the stem and leaves... only the rhizome is needed.

When conditions are favorable, new roots will form and anchor to whatever object it's tied down to.

The entire wall is submerged for final fitting and to get the sponge wet and ready to receive plants.

Oh ... and fickle-minded me has finally decided to lay the grid flat.  The curved ends will probably be a 'death-trap' for dumb fishes that can't get out.

A small tankful of salvaged 'Windelov' that has been pruned of decaying remnants, algae and other gunk.

Roots were also trimmed to encourage new growth.

In good daylight, this is a decent shot of young Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov' plantlets.
The wet grid is placed on damp newspaper and a thin layer of java moss (Vesicularia dubyana) is spread over areas without sponge coverage.
A even coverage will prevent a bald spot later on and have a spray-mister nearby to keep the wall wet.

Fold the grid, sandwiching the java moss, and secure the grid with more cable ties especially in the middle of the wall and around the seams of the open-ends.

It isn't easy for me to tie plants, not with those short fat fingers but cutting a slot in the sponge helps a great deal to keep a good plant down!

Think of sponges with elastic memory... it always tries to close up.

Pry open a cut slot in the sponge with the scissor and with a planting tweezer, pack the plant in.

In this pic, I'm securing down the rhizome of Bolbitis heudelotii.

A semi-completed wall...

The java moss is sandwiched, both sides of the grid is cable-tied and the 'Windelov' plantlets are in place.

I've also secured some young Java ferns (Microsorum pteropus) on the lower left sponge, while the lone Bolbitis is at the top left.

It's time to get my hands wet again...

The wall is in place and there's gravel at the bottom to pin it down.

The top of the wall is secured with this thingie... it's normally used to hold an acrylic partition in place... but hey, this's what I happen to have at hand ... so....

On the floor is a simple CO2 system that wasn't used for a while.  I'm sure it's happy to be back in action.

I don't think one can see much of the wall since the sun was pretty strong and this digital camera doesn't have a polarizing filter.

But on the brighter side, folks, you're looking at Singapore sky! ;o)

Still some glare, but better than nothing...

The happy little plantlets found a new anchor.

A simple CO2 diffuser (air-stone design).

Anchored to a small sponge on the gravel are some young Microsorum ''narrow''.

Top view of the tank.

Two such suction-clips were more than sufficient... that's 4 cups' worth of suction power!

There's 2 pieces of frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) floating on the surface, has long fine hanging roots and surface coverage will prevent skittish fishes from taking 'the leap of faith' (I hope!)

I'll put more in if these 2 don't die....

That's it folks!  Now I'll grab that beer and leave the moss to grow.

Nope.... I couldn't wait... had to get my hands wet again! ;o)

At the bottom right corner, I've planted some taller Vallisneria sp. and just in front of it are Vallisneria spiralis (the curvy vals).

The gentle slope of gravel is 'reinforced' with more Java and Windelov ferns on driftwoods.  030219

From the side, it shows a better view of the slope.

The driftwoods are partially buried and that's not recommended for ferns but with time (or me twiddling around in the tank), the wood will be exposed.

Surprisingly the temp read 24ºC today... without a chiller!  That's cool! 030219

Why those plants?? Here's my 2 penny's worth...
No maintenance
Amano-styled high-light setups are indeed works of art and a beauty to behold... but are generally turbo-charged for high growth and I simply don't have that much free time anymore.

No fertilizer
Aside from fish poo and the occasional diluted fertilizer solution meant for my herb garden, I'm not going to have additional nutrients pumped in... not even PMDD stuffs.

No bills
The tank will receive only what available light Mother Nature provide, both direct and ambient.  "Moonlight" is taken care of  from an overhead corridor light.  I don't need Metal Hallide, fluorescent lights or ballasts to chalk up my electrical bills!

No money ;o)
These are lean days and the economy hasn't seen the light at the end of the tunnel yet! and it'll serve me well to be frugal.  Most of the plants are either contributions or pruned from my other tanks.

Most importantly....
almost all the plants share the same water conditions, are hardy, slow growing and undemanding.

I need help!

This unknown Nymphaea OR Nuphar specie was courtesy of Kwek Leong.  He's got a whole bunch of these and are growing very handsomely in his setup.

Here's a closer look.

If any of you folks can identify the plant, do drop me a line and I'll put the name "here".

afterthoughts, afterthoughts.....

Since there was some extra plastic grids, I decided to make a moss platform to trap some CO2 bubbles to maximize diffusion before it hits the water surface.

A healthy moss platform will also help maintain small growing-out tanks!  hmm... wonder if fish frys will hang around this...

Wanna share an idea with me or check on my plants?
Drop me a note!

Things I do when my hands aren't wet!...
Spinnin' round n round n round
Slimey little fellas
Fat Crawlies

Created 030217/ Updated 030221  - Ronnie Lee 2003