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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve had my tank set up for a month and a half now and my mistakes have started to show. In the second pic, you can see sheet moss on a log. The sheet moss has been very demanding of water, especially since my ventilation gaps are at the front of the tank. I’ve been thinking of removing it, although my springtails absolutely love it, and it looks like a fern is starting to grow out of it. Would it survive if i tucked it back into the shaded area? In the second pic, you can see my dying Episcia cupreata and my larger two dwarf umbrella plants. I know now that umbrella plants are a terrible choice BUT i really like the look so I’m trying to think of how to keep one. I think I could manage the ones on the left side and they’ve already sprouted three new leaves. The middle ones haven’t grown as much so I think I’ll remove them. Although, I’m also thinking of removing the grass plant from its net pot so I could keep one umbrella plant there instead. Would that be better to address the umbrella plant roots? The Fittonia looks good but hasn’t really grown. My Selaginella uncinata died off a lot, but I found a small growth under a leaf, so I planted it in shade under the main log, you can see it in the background of the last pic. I replaced it with a baby toes(?) cutting, and then there’s another baby toes on the substrate.
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Discussion Starter #2
Still looking for help with this... what plant could I add that would add some vertical structure to my tank? Or should I let the umbrella plants fill that role?
 

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Assuming this is going to house dart frogs.... the substrate looks dry, like bone dry. With the sort of misting that darts need, the substrate will be moist all the time. It might be a good idea to run the viv at dart-ideal conditions (daily misting for >/=20 seconds, and enough ventilation that leaves and litter mostly dry off in a few hours) right from the get go, since this may help you determine what sort of plants are going to thrive in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Assuming this is going to house dart frogs.... the substrate looks dry, like bone dry. With the sort of misting that darts need, the substrate will be moist all the time. It might be a good idea to run the viv at dart-ideal conditions (daily misting for >/=20 seconds, and enough ventilation that leaves and litter mostly dry off in a few hours) right from the get go, since this may help you determine what sort of plants are going to thrive in there.
This is the NEHerp substrate. It ended up having a lot more chunks than I expected, which seem to make it retain less water. Would mixing in more coco fiber make it a more viable substrate? As for more structure, I’ll likely add a cork round and lean it into one of the front corners.
 

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If it was a water retention issue, the false bottom would be full of drained water. It is a matter of not applying enough water to it. Also, new substrate often needs a lot of water applied to it to wet it, and the it starts to behave normally.

No, I would not adulterate it. Dart viv substrate should drain well, and it would not be unreasonable for the false bottom to fill up at the rate of one inch of water in a couple/few weeks.

What is the misting schedule? Also, what is the ventilation? Looks like some open space on either side of the glass top? There are plans for screen, I assume.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
If it was a water retention issue, the false bottom would be full of drained water. It is a matter of not applying enough water to it. Also, new substrate often needs a lot of water applied to it to wet it, and the it starts to behave normally.

No, I would not adulterate it. Dart viv substrate should drain well, and it would not be unreasonable for the false bottom to fill up at the rate of one inch of water in a couple/few weeks.

What is the misting schedule? Also, what is the ventilation? Looks like some open space on either side of the glass top? There are plans for screen, I assume.
I mist by hand twice per day. I soak the whole tank in the morning and then I spot treat the moss and whatever else is dry in the evening. I don’t have lower vents in my tank so I’ve been thinking of adding an interior fan. I have a piece of glass that covers about half the top (which is centered) then the rest is covered with plastic wrap. I leave two gaps in the front corners, and I kinda adjust them depending on how dry the tank is/looks. Long term, I’m planning on a glass top with a few ventilation holes drilled in. Or I’ll just put a screen cover below what I have now.

I guess I just haven’t been misting the substrate heavily enough. I think a lot of my water lands on the leaf litter and slowly evaporates off without reaching the substrate.
 

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I agree that your tank looks very dry. The bark chips look very dry. If it were my tank I would give the tank a HEAVY watering. Like enough to have a half inch or so of standing water in your false bottom. Then I would top off the false bottom with another half inch of water by simply pouring water out into an unobstructed place and letting it simply drain through to the bottom. If in the process of your heavy watering you have excessive water standing on any of your plants I would leave some of your top open and ventilated so you don't melt the plant leaves from the excessive moisture standing on the leaves.

At this point you would have about an inch or so of standing water in the false bottom of your tank. This water will slowly wick into your substrate and the humidity down there will essentially also be absorbed into your substrate. Soon you will get some sort of equilibrium in your substrate where it always has some moisture and not bone dry between your watering schedule. It can take a while for bark and similar substrate media to get fully hydrated.

You don't want wet conditions, but you do want hydrated fast draining media media. Roots need moisture and air.
 

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Howdy howdy! As for a nice structural plant I really love my costus! It spirals in such a beautiful pattern but the foliage is very controlled as not to get out of hand and the leaves are broad and strong to support most darts! It does eventually grow to be 6 foot tall or so and seems to be as hardy as pothos so it tends to root new growths from fallen leaves but I’ve had mine growing for over two years and only have to maintain it periodically.

And for the dryness I think a thick layer of leaf litter would help retain moisture in the soil. Tends to create humid microclimates underneath that allows evaporation from the soil to condense and precipitate back in. I usually completely cover my floor areas with a few inches of small oak leaves once or twice a year. The larger plants will have a leaf or two poke out and the smaller plants will send new growth through the litter in a couple of weeks!
 

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Also I have noticed a tendency of vivarium substrates to be hydrophobic until sufficiently saturated and then assume their hydrophilic properties. Maybe adding an inch of water to the hydroton and dropping a thick cotton cord into the water level and burying the remaining cordage in the substrate (or beneath your thirsty sheet moss) until sufficiently saturated would help stabilization. Just a thought. :) good luck! (P.s. I like the umbrella plants, if you’re willing to do regular trimmings)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay I just gave my tank a heavy soaking. I misted about 20 oz in, just spraying all over the substrate, then I poured out some more water from my 5 gallon to top off some spots. I still can see some dry spots in the substrate but they should slowly soak in. Like Minkey said, my substrate is still hydrophobic as I could see drops of water rolling around it and going to the false bottom. I can now see about 3/4 of an inch in the bottom. I’ll continue with heavier mistings until all the substrate is darker in color. The spots with leaf layers are drier, so I think next time, I’ll move the leaves to soak the substrate, then replace them and spray it again. I think the dry substrate also explains why my moss dries out so fast, as it’d be the only thing maintaining humidity.
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Discussion Starter #14
I went plant shopping at a local greenhouse and picked up a Pilea glauca and an African Violet. I mainly bought them as houseplants, but could I introduce cuttings from them into the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sorry for spam but do I need to move my bromeliad? Looks like the back one is rotting up against the back wall.
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