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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,
It has been a long time since I have been on the board! Some of you might remeber my 65 gallon viv, probably not though since it was 5 years ago, well I built it out of plexiglass and it has seens it's last days and is not holding water any more. I have taken out all of the rocks and will be replacing them in my new Exo-Terra 18x24x36"tall, I have had exo-terras before and have loved them so I am confident that the new tank will last longer than 5 years. I have learned a lot about what not to do over the last 5 years and think I can make a better enviroment this time around.

I have decided to not use the large piece of wood stump in the new tank because it took up too much room, I am going to use a simple cork bark/tree fern interspersed with rock formations on the back wall and have the full rock wall on the left wall. I also am not going to use the water feature this time around because I want more open ground for leaf litter for microfauna culturing.

I have a few questions, which is better, cork bark or tree fern for climbing vines and epiphites? I did not have any luck with the plants covering the rocks, which I guess is probably a good thing since I put so much work into them. This time around I would like more green on the back wall. I would like to add some orchids but am worried that the climbing vines might overtake them? should I use corkbark for the areas where I want to put orchids and treefern for the climbing plants/moss?

I had ficus pumilio in the old tank and it eventually took over to the point that it just about killed everything else, so I am never using it again!

Will java moss overtake orchids?

I am going to buy a king Mist misting system this time around because I got really sick of having to hand mist 2-3 times a day. Is the no drip add-on a neccesity?

I know I am forgetting a lot so Im sure I will be asking more questions.
 

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I use the moss/cork bark mosaic background method almost exclusively, with some tree fern in there as well so heres my thoughts

All my plants are initially planted in the moss that fills in the mosaic between the cork or tree fern.
*Bulbophyllums ramble out from their planting area, and readily form roots on exposed cork, or penetrate into the tree fern, as long as the tree fern is not constantly wicking water via capillary action
*Pleurothallids seem to contain themselves to the moss between the cork, and due to the moisture requirements of their roots, never really establish roots on exposed cork, they DO readily establish themselves in the tree fern panels. P. quadrifida (longissima) is an exception here, and performs much more like a bulbophyllum for me, establishing roots on exposed cork and or wood
*Dendrobiums, with the exception of those in the D. limpidum complex, prefer excellent aeration and drying of the roots, and readily establish on exposed cork, as well as on tree fern if it has good draining capacity
*epiphytic ferns in the genuses Microsorum and Microgramma ramble over the cork and set roots where there are decent enough crevices, but establish a firmer hold faster on tree fern, and in the moss between
*miniature ferns like Davallia parvula establish in the moss, and move out into the tree fern, but do not colonize exposed cork
*Ant ferns- I only use Lecanopteris sinuosa- Are best used by putting their mount into the viv as part of the background, and allowed to spread out from there, I don't see a preference for tree fernover cork, as it just seems to do its thing regardless
*Bromeliads I plant in the moss mosaic, and allow the roots to expand from there. No preference shown, my broms seem to like forming roots that grow along the glass of the sides of my vivs, and readily colonize both tree fern and cork.
*Tillandsias like to be mounted directly to the cork or tree fern, not in the moss, and the minimal structural roots they form dont seem to show a preference for cork over tree fern

Just my observations. I always break up larger pieces of tree fern panel and cork bark into smaller pieces so I can create the mosaic and provide a lot of planting areas
I remember your viv well...its too bad it isnt holding water anymore
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for the info!!! This will be of great help to me. It sounds like tree fern is more versitile, but the cork will possibly allow some plants to be a tiny bit more isolated and therefore more likely to prosper?
I am thinking that I will do a little of both.
 

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I love the look of cork bark but the versatility of tree fern. Utilizing both gives the best of both worlds. Also, if you choose to fill the spaces between with sphagnum, don't skimp and buy the cheap Chilean shit. Get youself the AAA grade new zealand sphag, or collect and clean your own. I am having big issues with the cheap chilean stuff breaking down and choking roots out. The good stuff is like a nnight and day difference, and it more easily reenerates to boot!
 

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Hey, glad to hear you are going to salvage the artistic rock work - you seem to be one of the forerunners of that method on this forum and I myself have found polyethylene to be the perfect foam. Thanks for the contributions. Also, I understand your feelings about the plexiglass; my first tank was acrylic and the door warped so badly that the hinges broke in under one year...

Is there a good place to buy the AAA sphag moss?
Also does anyone know of a good place to buy tree fern pieces?
You can find both tree fern panels and the best sphagnum, plus they carry virgin cork bark (no branches though) and most ingredients required to make ABG substrate mix - minus the peat - at Calwest Tropical Supply for reasonable prices.

And if you are interested in trying out something that will last as long as foam rocks and glass walls, you might consider Ecoweb - it is less dense than treefern, which isn't a bad thing, but it lacks the organic component that makes it a nice host for some epiphytes. With a little work it can be made into vines, etc in addition to making a BG comparable to tree fern.


Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes I invented the ethafoam underlayment technique. It has held up very well and has aged quite nicely.

I have more questions.
My older tank was a little less wide so I used exo-terra hoods with 4 cf's.
I have been reading a lot about the T5HO lights and have looked around a little. Do I need a 2 bulb setup or a 4 bulb setup for T5HO's?

Someone recomended this vendor and these products look like they might work.
Sunlight Supply, Inc - Horticulture, Lighting, and Indoor Gardening Wholesale - Sun Blaze T5 HO Fluorescent Light Fixtures

I think I read that 2 T5HO's put out more light than 4 CF's

Does anyone have a T5ho fixture they would recomend for my tank? It is 36" high.
 
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