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Dark Lord Owner
2,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All!

In this tutorial i will show you over the next few months the DSM (dry start method).

This method involves taking a plant that is capable of surviving in a terrarium type environment which is humid and out of water, but when submersed back into water it will still live.

Because we are growing the plants out of water, all nutrient uptake will be done at the roots, so it's best to have a nutrient rich substrate. For my example i am going to be using Flourite. Depending on how they look i may add trace elements mixed with diluted water in a spray bottle.

You might wonder why i am doing this. There are a couple of benefits to doing it this way.

-No Algae
-Take your time to grow a nice carpet, giving you a better head start
-Not having to do water changes during this period|
-Only buying a couple of plants initially giving you time to save money to buy tons when you fill the tank
- Etc etc.. Understand?

So For my example i will be using the following setup

-75 gallon tank
-Flourite substrate
-4 x 54w T5 (i may start with 3 of the 4 and see how well it goes)
-Cling Wrap (to keep it humid in the tank)
-Plant of choice ( HC is my plant of choice)

I will start with the lights on for a 12 hour period and sees how it goes from there.

I started with my big mat of HC that a fellow BCA member sold me, thank goodness he had TONS to help with my big 75 gallon tank. It's better to have more then less. The more you have to work with the less sparsely you have to use it, meaning it will grow faster. Also you see my tool of choice my curved Tweezer

I made the substrate very damp, basically just below the substrate surface is the water level. This is fine for my needs at this point, i will monitor the growth and if it's still too much water i can always suction some out

Basically i took apart that big mat of HC from the first picture and seperated it into as many groupings as i think i needed. I was fortunate that i had alot so i could make decent sized clumps.

I started planting them 1 by 1, starting from left to right.

Just a side angle.

20 min later

45 min later

Little over a hour later

There was some pieces of dwarf hairgrass in with the HC so i was able to seperate a couple of them and use this same techique with them. I am unsure how well they will grow but i did it just to test. So we will see how well they do.

Dark Lord Owner
2,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
close up of the HC plant

You will need to cover the top of the tank with glass, or cling wrap. This will keep the inside of the tank Humid which is what this experiement is all about. this is very important. I have not found out IF you need to have a little opening at the top so gas exchange can happen, but i think that it's probably not a bad idea so i will leave a little 1 inch hole at the top open. If it does not get humid i will close the hole even smaller

Now we wait and see. I will Mist the plants every 1 day or 2 depending how humid it gets in there. This is the first time i am doing this so we will see how it goes, and what obstacles i will face.

I think a certain important piece of this is to have faith and try not to get your hands in there too much. Keep in mind the first 2 weeks you will probably not see too much growth as the HC is growing it's roots at this point. After the first 2 weeks, that's when we may see more horizontal growth.

I will try to update this every 2 or 3 days.

Dark Lord Owner
2,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It almost seems like you're going with an iwagumi look too moss tree and all?
To be honest i'm kind of winging it at this point, not sure what plant choices i want to make from here on out, this is where i will sit down and do a drawing or something to figure it out, maybe look at some pictures on the net to get some inspiration.

Looking good Shawn. I see you didn't use any of the Marsilea. It will also carpet and can be grown emersed.

Best Regards,

I have not used it YET :) i still have it in my bowl of water, just wanting to figure out IF i want to use it yet, and where. Will have to look at how it's been used before cause i'm not familiar with the plant at all

Dark Lord Owner
2,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I updated the first post to reflect day 7 but here are more posts and a little detail.

It's been about 7 days and everything is going great, i have not really noticed any growth but as i said on day 1 that during the first 2 weeks is when the roots establish themself.

I have noticed some of the leaves turning a yellowish but i believe it's due to the plants adjusting to being out of the water. In time they will go green again id assume.

I have been keeping the tank a very good humidy and have been just peeking on them daily to make sure the water i put in there originally is still there.

I made the water level just below the plants originally and it does not seem to be evaporating which is great.

I have NOT misted the plants at all during the 7 days as they looked great. I did however today sprinkle them with water and took the wrap off the top of the tank to exchange the air.

I have the lights on 12 hours a day currently and i'm using all 4 54w bulbs as i'm hoping for faster growth.

Here are pictures.

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