Many aquatic plants can be grown emersed rather than submersed. The main reason to grow a plant immersed is faster growth. The air around us has an abundance of CO2 which greatly accelerate plant growth. Hemianthus callitrichoides commonly known as HC or Dwarf Baby Tears is an excellent example of plant that can grow both submersed and immersed.
I decided to try out the Dry Start Meathod (DSM) in 6 Gallon fluval edge tank with the top removed. HC originates from Cuba and loves a humid environment.
Tank: 6G Fluval edge (topless)
Lighting: Finnex Planted Plus
Substrate: Fluval Stratum
CO2: Paintball tank with Aquatek mini regulator
Filter: Zoomed 501 with 9mm glass lilly pipes
HC loves a soft smaller grained soil, this ensure the delicate roots can make they way down with minimal resistance. In my case i used Fluval Stratum due to local availability. For lighting I decided to try out Finnex’s new planted plus led light.. which so far is yielding fantastic results. If HC does not have enough light it will grow vertical rather than spreading across the substrate to form a lush carpet.
To start you will want to find a foal point (either rocks or driftwood) and play around to find your desired look. This can be a interesting process.. i know i tried at least 20 different combinations of rocks and layouts until i decided on this one.
For the 6 Gallon tank i used 2 pots of HC.. three would have been nice but two is doing the job.
You ideally want to plant small plugs about an inch apart for maximum spread. You can get quicker spread the more you break up the bunches.. this can however be a time consuming process.. so get comfy!
Insert each mini clump with long tweezers and ensure the roots are within the soil. I try to leave just the top leave above.
I also randomly inserted about 8 root tabs to aid in future growth once flooded.
I filled a spray bottle with distilled water and a bit of Excel (metracide 14) to help prevent any mould or algae from forming.
Spray your HC so that all of your substrate and leaves are moist. Next take a chunk of clear cling wrap and cover the top of the tank… Covering the tank with clear cling wrap will let in the light and hold in the humidity. I opened up the syranwrap for about 20-30 min every 2-3 days. re misted and let it air out. Its important to get good air exchange in your tank… alternatively you could leave a corner or two not fully sealed to allow air exchange or lower humidity if there is any sign of mould. (Distilled water is more pure and will bring in less foreign bacteria to the tank.. using excel or metracide in the water also acts as an anti fungal)
Photo update: 1 week into my dry start (DSM)
Two weeks into the HC DSM
Three weeks into the DSM
Three weeks into HC DSM – Top view of spread
DSM does work very well.. how ever it does require patience.. but that seems to be most thing when it comes to aquascaping. After another week or two i will flood the tank.
Once flooded the HC will be starved for CO2. I plan on injecting pressurized CO2 at a high rate for the first 4-5 days to allow the HC to adapt.. then i will slowly lower the CO2 over the next week or two until it is at a low steady ammount. I plan on using this tank for fancier shrimp (who generally dont like high CO2 or PH swings..) so I plan on getting the CO2 as low as possible while still keeping the the HC happy.
Just over 4 weeks in we have a lovely carpet of HC taking over the tank! IT looks so nice its time to flood it.
When filling i used a tuperware lid to pour onto so i did not disturb the HC/substrate
Since i have such a shallow tank I decided to burry the ceramic co2 diffuser into the carpet to to partially hide it and give the bubbles a little more time to float up.. The output of the lilly pipe is aimed so that it pushes the bubbles across the tank allowing more diffusion time.
I set the CO2 to 3-4 bubbles /second for the next 4-5 days then turned it down and added a few CPD’s for the next 1.5-2 weeks while still slowly lowering the CO2.
The HC looks happy and is pearling!
Once i got the bubbles down to 1 ever 2-2.5 seconds i decided it was time to add in my shrimp. One of the OEBTs enjoying its new home!