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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
first let me present my terrarium/orchidarium. It is about 90 liters and I started it in the mid July. The tank is closed and temperature controlled (I've built a cooling system that is attached behind the tank) and the day temperature reach 23.5 C (up to 24.5 in the top most parts of the terrarium, less at the bottom), and 17C at the night. There is a ventilation system consisting one 80mm fan which rotates the whole air volume through the cooling/warming box behind the tank and one 40mm fan above the front glass. So in some parts of the tank there is a considerable aif flow, but much less in other parts.
In the beginning there was no exchange to the outside air, but about 2 weeks ago I made an opening in the cooling box and now there is some exchange.
The humidity stays between 100 and 80%
Misting system consists of 5 sprinklers and runs for 45 seconds once per day.


The substrate consists of coco peat and red volcanic rock with size 3-5mm. It is over a false bottom (something similar to egg crate) and there is about 2.5mm of water in the bottom, which overflows through a tube in the glass.

The walls are built from foam coated by tree fern particles glued with silicone.

Plant Green Leaf Wood Vegetation


Ok, so now for the plants - what grows well and what not.
The best growing plant is Hydrocotyle tripartita. There is also Hydrocotile vericilata, but some of its leaves are yellowing and seems that is not growing so well, maybe just surviving. Peperomia prostrata is growing well too. Some of the mosses - temperate ones - mostly hypnums and brachytheciums are growing well for the moment. There is a Tilandsia, maybe ionanta which grows well too, despite of being soaked every day (it dries out in few hours). Also the orchids are doing well - there are Pleurothallis corniculata, lateritia and grobyi or picta, Lapenthes calodiction, guatemalensis, telipogoniflora, montezumae x posthon, Aerangis calantha, Psygmorchis pusilla, Schoenorchis tixieri, Trisetela triglochin, Haraela retrocala. Some of them are longer inside, others are introduced more recently.

There are 3 temperate ferns - Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, which grows new leaves, but they are smaller and sometimes deformed. This is somewhat expected, as I grow it in sphagnum and I suppose it misses calcareous soil which is his normal substrate. Asplenium trichomanes, which grows new fronds and looks fine for now, but it is in soil taken from it's natural habitat. And Polypodium vulgare, which is growing new leaves, but they are smaller and deformed. I suppose again the reason is not suitable substrate.

Plant Plant community Terrestrial plant Organism Spring


There is a barely surviving Marcgravia in the bottom.

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Groundcover Leaf vegetable


A Pyrrosia nummularifolia, which tries to grow new leaves, but at some point it fails. It is in sphagnum under living moss.

Plant community Plant Natural landscape Terrestrial plant Watercourse


There is another fern, maybe some kind of Nephrolepis which I try to grow in two places - in the bottom substrate and in sphagnum - it grows, but at some point the fronds tips are browning.

Plant Plant community Botany Terrestrial plant Organism


Also I tried with Bolbitis heteroclita difformis, but its leaves turn black. It doesnt matter if its in the bottom substrate, in shagnum or othersubstrate on the wall. I suspect that it doesn't like the aiflow (despite that all the places are not very ventilated). The same plant grows well in closed plastic bottle with some soil.
Plant Terrestrial plant Flower Bedrock Groundcover


Tried with Microsorum pteropus (two variation - a normal one and Vindelow) in sphagnum and the bottom substrate. The vindelow leaves turned black, then tried to grow new leaves, but they did not open, staied for long time unopened and turned black. The one in the substrate that is in less ventilated place seems to dry too, but very slowly. This plant grows well in a soil in plastic bottle too. With opened cap.

Leaf Organism Terrestrial plant Plant Grass


Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Groundcover Annual plant


I experiment with a unidentified tradescantia, but the older leaves seems to go rusty.

Plant Flowerpot Houseplant Terrestrial plant Flowering plant



And now the ficus. I have both minima and quercifolia. Tried them in the substrate, tried them in sphagnum, also in different places. In all cases the leaves are going rusty, then yellow and fall. It tries to grow new leaves, but they have the same fate even before they get to full size. And I just cannot understand what is wrong. Is the humidity too high, is the airflow, or it doesn't like water on it's leaves?

Plant Terrestrial plant Groundcover Grass Fungus


I know a guy with dart frog vivarium who mist 3 times per day (but it has ventilation to the outside air) and his ficuses are growing like mad. Also he grows Microsorums in sphagnum.

What is your oppinion?
 

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Hi there.

It looks very wet in there I know you mentioned you only mist once daily and have a fan, but you also mentioned you use coco peat as a substrate. This will prevent any dry out period from occurring in my opinion.

Most people on here use airy substrate such as ABG or other well draining substrates like gravel. If the plants are getting yellow and ferns are struggling to get going it is more than likely a result of the substrate you are currently using being constantly saturated.

Ricky
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
it is coarse coco peat mixed with volcanic rock and it's airy. Actually, as I look the content of the ABG mix, I don't think it is better draining, as there is sphagnum in it. But yes, mine is constantly wet. I doubt that it will dry out even if it was something else, considering the daily misting and relative humidity above 80%. But there are only 3 ferns in this substrate. The Microsorum and the Bolbitis are actually an aquatic plants and prefer water in their roots so I suspect that they are not going because they have too much of air movement or too little water in their roots. The other is the nephrolepis, which grows more or less OK. The rest of the ferns are not in the substrate, they are either in sphagnum or in soil on the walls. And are temperate ones, that I don't actually expect to thrive in tropical conditions, especially in sphagnum.
 

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it is coarse coco peat mixed with volcanic rock and it's airy. Actually, as I look the content of the ABG mix, I don't think it is better draining, as there is sphagnum in it.
ABG almost certainly drains better than what you have. The sphagnum is only a small percentage of the mix.

The Pyrrosia nummularifolia looks too wet to me. If you look at the fuzzy leaves and rhizomes, they give you a clue that it likes to be drier than other similar micro ferns. Some of the other ferns, like Polypodium vulgare, may be suffering because they are not tropical ferns. I'll look closer at the pictures and think about the other plant issues later on today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Here is my mix when dry. As I said, the coco peat is quite course.
Plant Ingredient Soil Mixture Terrestrial plant


And here is wet inside

Plant Terrestrial plant Groundcover Flowering plant Annual plant


I have a pot with ficus pumila which stays over a tray of water. Some of the roots are grown through the pot bottom into the water and it grows very well. This is why I presume that it either doesn't like high air humidity or water on its leaves.
 

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The mix does look relatively airy with all of that lava rock, but you can see in the 2nd picture that your substrate is very wet. I'm not surprised that the Hydrocotyle tripartita is growing well, although I am a little surprised that other aquarium plants (the Bolbitis for instance) are not doing well. I have never grown Ficus pumila, but Ficus thunbergii (the current latin name for quercifolia) likes a lot of moisture and doesn't need much air flow. However, you do have a very new setup, only a few months old. My best guess is that due to lots of the plants never drying out and the very wet substrate, you have some sort of fungal or bacterial infection that is impacting the Ficuses and some of the moisture-loving ferns. Funguses, molds, slime molds, etc. can boom when a tank is new and usually balance out over time. Do you have springtails or soil mites that might help to keep the fungus populations in check? If you don't have a "clean-up crew" or other tank residents, you might try spraying with Physan a few times to see if that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
There are springrails since the beginning. I put there tropical (white), later some temperate got in there by themselves too. About 2 months ago earth mites appeared too. When I saw them in the first days I was afraid that they can damage the orchids, but it seems that they don't. For about a week or so they were so many, that they was roaming on the front glass. After that their population went down, but they are still present.
Water Liquid Fluid Electric blue Pattern


Yes, the substrate is quite wet. But I think that every substrate in a closed tank that is sprayed with a few hundreds ml of water every day will stay quite wet.
About the bolbitis and microsorum. I don't know if it's viral. Maybe they don't like airflow at all and just dry out.
About the quercifolia and minima (I called these pumila) - maybe they don't like airflow too, or don't like water on leaves for too long. Maybe I will have to experiment with these in some bottles to see what they like and what they don't.

The good think is that the orchids like the conditions and they don't have fungal or other infections.
 

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Honestly, I wish the plants in my new builds would look as “bad” as yours. I think after you get your misting schedule under control, possibly swap out your substrate for ABG and give things a little time, you’ll be good to go!

Most new plants look worse before they look better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It is expanding foam and XPS foam pieces here and there. Coated with tree fern particles with the help of black silicone. I don't know for how long the tree fern will last though.
 

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The bolbitis heteroclita difformis likely just needs time to adapt. I have it growing in both very wet and surprisingly dry conditions and in my experience it, and most other ferns, absolutely hate being transplanted into different conditions but often will eventually adapt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I bought it grown emersed, with bare roots. Then I planted it in a soil in a plastic bottle where it spent few months (and some part of it is still there) growing well, without turning black. Only after transplanted it to the terrarium it turned black. I will keep it there to see if there will be some progress.
 
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