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Discussion Starter #1
I've had a vivarium going for 6 months now and its just kind of doing so-so. I'm not sure why some of my mosses are growing this high or if that is typical. What really agitates me is that so many things are browning. A lot of the brown showed up within the first month. Does anyone know if this is because of a watering issue or lighting? Even still, there seems to be a decent amount of growth.

I'd really like to spend some more time focusing on this again. I let the decline deter me and I shifted focus back to my reef tank. Now that the tank is doing great I'd like to improve the vivarium. I would love any advice that you can give.

Humidity is still about 85-90%, lighting is by JungleDawn Led Bar, and misting via MistKing twice a day, right after lights on and again right after lights off.

Here is 6 months ago:
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Here is today (tried to take it from the same angle):
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Given the rampant moss growth and the ferns browning, I'm going to hazard that it's too wet/not enough air circulation. Do you have ventilation and a circulation fan?

The mosses could also be really leggy due to insufficient light. What's the wattage of your LED bar and the height of your tank?
 

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Looks like a Davallia sp on the lower right. That’s not a genus that likes to be perpetually wet. Same with the other poly podium on the ground left.

If your moss is growing on its own, it’s very unlikely you need to use any sphagnum in mounting plants.

There’s not a whole lot of plants in there that would make it look less brown.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This is great help @Harpspiel and @DPfarr
The light is a Jungle Dawn 22 Watt and the tank is an 18x18x24 inch. I don't have a circulation fan because I was worried about it drying out. The substrate does seem wet rather than damp, but I don't have any accumulation of water above the mesh separator. Do I need to add a second light or is this one enough? I do have it sitting on the top of the tank rather than suspended a few inches above. I'll look into getting a small fan to add to my ventilation area at the back.
 

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The PAR looks good on the 22 Watt so I don't think it's low light, unless your glass is tinted or has something in it that is blocking some wavelengths of light.

A circulation fan will not dry the tank out, especially if you place it inside the tank, rather than mounting it to the ventilation strip. That should help reduce rot and mold in the tank. I also think you're keeping the substrate too wet, so if there's any way you can keep up humidity in the higher section while allowing the substrate to drain or dry out more, that would be ideal.

By the way, it looks like you have Spyra or Hygrolon lining your walls - without a constant source of moisture (i.e. wicking from standing water in the bottom, and that will only work for about 12 vertical inches) that Hygrolon will dry out really fast and nothing will grow on it. If you spend a lot of time spraying it by hand, you might be able to get some mosses or a vining plant established, after which the mass and roots of the plant will help keep the Hygrolon moist.
 

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Where did you get the moss and plants? They look like a number of temperate things to me. If so that would explain what you seeing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The PAR looks good on the 22 Watt so I don't think it's low light, unless your glass is tinted or has something in it that is blocking some wavelengths of light.

A circulation fan will not dry the tank out, especially if you place it inside the tank, rather than mounting it to the ventilation strip. That should help reduce rot and mold in the tank. I also think you're keeping the substrate too wet, so if there's any way you can keep up humidity in the higher section while allowing the substrate to drain or dry out more, that would be ideal.

By the way, it looks like you have Spyra or Hygrolon lining your walls - without a constant source of moisture (i.e. wicking from standing water in the bottom, and that will only work for about 12 vertical inches) that Hygrolon will dry out really fast and nothing will grow on it. If you spend a lot of time spraying it by hand, you might be able to get some mosses or a vining plant established, after which the mass and roots of the plant will help keep the Hygrolon moist.
You're good! Haha, I've made posts before trying to figure out what to do about half of this. You must know what you're doing because you've hit so many nails on the head with just a picture! I'll definitely try that with the moss, because you're absolutely right, it dries out very quickly in most areas. So moving forward I'll make it a morning and nightly routine to spray the hygrolon and see if I can get some moss going along that. I do have some marcgravia that is really starting to take off. I'll try the fan inside too to circulate air inside rather than replace. I have been getting mold, so good call on that. Any suggestions on how to better drain the soil or should i spray for shorter durations less frequently?
Cheers and thanks a million!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Where did you get the moss and plants? They look like a number of temperate things to me. If so that would explain what you seeing.
Yeah, these are all terrestrial mosses, some I ordered online through etsy and others I took from the nearby stream here in NC. Should i replace them with another kind to get rid of this growth in height?
 

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You're good! Haha, I've made posts before trying to figure out what to do about half of this. You must know what you're doing because you've hit so many nails on the head with just a picture! I'll definitely try that with the moss, because you're absolutely right, it dries out very quickly in most areas. So moving forward I'll make it a morning and nightly routine to spray the hygrolon and see if I can get some moss going along that. I do have some marcgravia that is really starting to take off. I'll try the fan inside too to circulate air inside rather than replace. I have been getting mold, so good call on that. Any suggestions on how to better drain the soil or should i spray for shorter durations less frequently?
Cheers and thanks a million!
Thanks! Trial and error mostly. James Wong, botanygeek on Instagram (he’s kind of my hero) has a 60 cm tall Hygrolon wicking wall, and apparently has a creeping fig that grows up into the drier section higher up. It probably doesn’t get saturated but a plant covering it will absolutely keep some moisture in the fabric, so the Marcgravia could do the trick, albeit slowly. There are other vining plants that would be faster.

I don’t really know about keeping your substrate drier, my substrate is always a little wet and it limits what I can grow - begonias, jewel orchids, Sinningias do well, but most Masdevallias can’t handle it, although I use ABG which can work for either epiphytes or terrestrials. You can aim the nozzles toward the walls and away from the bottom of the tank, and also spray in shorter bursts, which is what I have done. You can make sure your substrate material is very fast draining and has minimal moisture retentive materials (like Sphagnum). And if all that doesn’t entirely fix it, you can get plants that will be happy in substrate that’s on the wet side - I have an extensive list if it comes to that.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks! Trial and error mostly. James Wong, botanygeek on Instagram (he’s kind of my hero) has a 60 cm tall Hygrolon wicking wall, and apparently has a creeping fig that grows up into the drier section higher up. It probably doesn’t get saturated but a plant covering it will absolutely keep some moisture in the fabric, so the Marcgravia could do the trick, albeit slowly. There are other vining plants that would be faster.

I don’t really know about keeping your substrate drier, my substrate is always a little wet and it limits what I can grow - begonias, jewel orchids, Sinningias do well, but most Masdevallias can’t handle it, although I use ABG which can work for either epiphytes or terrestrials. You can aim the nozzles toward the walls and away from the bottom of the tank, and also spray in shorter bursts, which is what I have done. You can make sure your substrate material is very fast draining and has minimal moisture retentive materials (like Sphagnum). And if all that doesn’t entirely fix it, you can get plants that will be happy in substrate that’s on the wet side - I have an extensive list if it comes to that.
He's got a another new follower now! Its been so long since I've messed with my vivarium I didn't even consider changing the substrate. Would I be able to do a bit of both where I have some fast draining soils alongside this one? I've got some freshwater plants that are actually doing pretty well in the soil, if I can't mix I may just stay wet and just add more of those.
 

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You could try... I suspect that if some of the soil is really wet, water is going to wick from it into the faster draining stuff and it will all be pretty wet. Not sure though.
 
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