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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
You can see how it's developed over the past months here:
Vivolution Pt II - Imgur
Sorry for not posting photos directly to the site, but imgur is so much easier to use than the forum's uploader. Last 3 pics are all from today.

Given that the setup is just over 5 months old, I'm not entirely pleased with how much (or little) growth has occurred. I have had a lot of issues getting things to take on the clay background, have scrapped any hopes of getting things to grow directly on it, and just started planting on cork slabs that I then push into the clay. It doesn't dry out, and I haven't had any issues with cracking or sagging, but the stuff kills plants/mosses like nobody's business. I think this has to do with going too light on the organics when I made the mix, as well as not adding any peat moss (only milled LFS and some dead pillow moss that was also milled). Could this have led to pH or hardness issues? I went for about 25% by volume of organics to cat litter (doc elsey, blue bag), and literally everything that has been planted in it, or pinned to it, even with live moss in between, has slowly languished and died (cyano seems to love it though, hooray!). Got some cuttings and pilea glauca from another member on here, and those I've taken somewhat of a different approach with. Some have been planted directly into the substrate (abg), and others are either wrapped in sphagnum before pinning to the clay, or planted on cork. We'll see how this goes. Recently switched the lights to those 14w LED screw ins, and you can already see how much color is returning to the cryptanthus at the bottom. Growth rate has not improved significantly, but that's probably due to some other shortcoming on my part, lol.

TL : DR - I hate cat litter, please help make my background suck less.

Also, can I use aquarium filter squeezings as impromptu fertilizer? What about aquarium specific ferts? Still not entirely sure I'm ready for frogs, and worried about nutrient deficiency developing in the plants in the absence of their sweet nourishing poops.

Finally, for those of you who've made it this far, a gallery of my Lepanthes telipogoniflora slowly blossoming over the past week. Sorry for the blurriness, my cell phone is seriously not up to the task of capturing this little gem.

Lepanthes telipogoniflora - Imgur
 

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I see plenty of growth! Honestly, we are usually our own worst critics when it comes to our own builds.

It looks really good. How have you got that M. Steeri (blue fern) mounted? I got one recently but it doesnt seem to be liking its new conditions.

Ive used water from water changes out of my aquarium to fertilize plants, I dont see why that wouldnt work.

I wouldnt use aquarium fertilizers though, they are expensive and are formulated for a different type of foliage
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Well thanks! Honestly, looking at some of the other builds on this site, it's hard not to turn a critical eye towards my own. I would happily live in anything Grimm builds. The Microsorium (thailandicum, steeri, whatever) was actually potted in only LFS when I bought it, so I just planted it directly into the ABG mix. Honestly, it sat there and did nothing for the longest time, dropped just enough leaves to make me feel really uncomfortable, and only very recently, started putting out a flush of new foliage. Not the same beautiful blue as the old leaves, but bright green with a similar iridescence. As long as it's resuming active growth though, I'm super pleased.

Any suggestions on something foolproof for the top sector of the viv? That tillandsia is fading fast despite being directly in front of the circulation fan. I tried out some of that ficus 'lance leaf' from BJ, and love that stuff to pieces, but it seems to especially hate the clay. Moved it into a pocket of abg mix, but it's still just barely holding on.
 

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Let me tell you, thats an awesome build and I love mini orchids!
That Lepanthes telipogoniflora is so beautiful, never seen one before. Would you mind telling me where you got it from?
 

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nice tank! what is the plant with the long, slender green leaves?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Frogface! Honestly though, all of my ideas for the back wall have ended in dead plant so far. Creeping fig, maybe mounted on a long branch with sphagnum, (would this work? I'm running out of cork pieces, and don't have enough to cover the dead area at the top of the viv) is my next move. At this point, there's not a lot I won't do to rectify that strip of brown moss at the top. Still crossing my fingers and hoping that the things mounted on cork will actually take and start growing.

Thanks, Antonio! That telipogoniflora, I picked up on Ebay.

Thanks to you too, Dfr! If you're talking about the one coming out of the left side of the tank, it's Microsorum thailandicum.
 

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yes, that one! thanks man.
 

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The only concern I'd have about creeping fig is that it is a light hog and can spread throughout the tank. You could keep it trimmed back, though. I bet you can find something cooler, more exotic. I'll keep an eye out. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you think the columnea would eventually spread over the clay? Not sure I'm sufficiently expressing the rate at which stuff dies when planted on/in it. Honestly, I love the look of oak leaf ficus, and wouldn't mind terribly if it started taking over large swaths. I'm thinking I should just go with something super weedy, get it established, and just trim to keep it under control. The occasional manicure is definitely more pleasant/cheaper than constantly having to replace plants. Thanks so much for all the insight, folks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
And, a little over a year later, this is where I'm at. Still a few problem areas on the BG, but the Cissus amazonicus and Ficus radicans have covered most of the worst spots. Although the BG is still holding up well, I doubt that clay will be my medium of choice for future projects. Really couldn't get it to sustain the sort of growth I was hoping for.

 

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Hmmm... It's really strange if you are right in that you are getting less growth from clay than from other background methods.

For me clay caused all of my plants to go into overdrive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah, I don't think I put enough organics in the original mix. Things tend to die when they touch clay, and even a year later, there are places where moss/plants just won't grow. You can see a big patch of dead oak leaf ficus in the top left corner. It's doing great on the glass, and will only spread over pieces of wood or cork that have been imbedded in the clay.
 

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Very cool & lots of grow out! Guess lighting really makes a difference in a short amount of time/ Your frogs will have a good time in there - if you can find them hiding in the background.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks! The tank is actually edging up on 2 years old at this point. By now I've got most of their favorite hiding spots figured out, lol.
 
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