Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"The Tiny Mighty Cave"- Dry Start Method (DSM)

Have you ever heard about DSM before? That is not "Dover Street Market" as what you can see from the first Google Search. If you search the keywords "DSM Aquarium", probably you will get the right results for "Dry Start Method" for the planted tank.

This method starts with the emersed growth of plants in a high humidity environment. Once the plant root system is developed and plant healthy growth, water can be introduced into the tank and the submersed form started. It is quite similar to the nature of the river bank where water raises up and down and aquatic plants need to adapt to that. Emersed planting setup was mentioned in my other post on a small scale.


I finally decided to go for a super low tech tank in my outdoor corridor garden by using DSM. 

Since I already got a metal aquarium stand which is very sturdy, I just needed to hunt for the tank itself. It was no rushing at all. I normally enjoy the period of gather the equipment one-by-one. It is the joy of this hobby in my view. J I really enjoy the process of making something old/rusty/ antique becomes more aesthetic. It is like bringing a brand new life to it. 

And the chance came on Facebook Market. I found the aquarium size of 90cmLx40cmWx22cmH was perfect for my plan. I wanted to have a low-profile tank which I can enjoy it as an aquarium as well as a pond. J With this low profile tank, I can have a good view from the top and the fish still got benefits from the wide surface plus long tank to swim about. :) So I quickly arranged with the seller and the deal inclusive of delivery to my block with a reasonable price.


I bought a white foam matt from a LFS in Serangoon North as a cushion below the tank and it was ready for setup.
Low profile tank is just nice for my outdoor plan :)



It can be seen from the above like a pond :)
To create the "cave", a piece of driftwood which has an existing hole was used and laid horizontally on the bottom of the tank. Since I would like to create a bay of sand at the front of the tank, some granite rocks were used to create the barrier of soil and sand. Granite rocks does not have very nice characters as seiryu rocks/ elephant skin / manten stones...etc. but it works very well to separate planting area and sandy area in your aquascape. I planed to cover those rocks with moss anyway, so the looks of it was not so critical. :)

The bay was formed up with rocks and woods

Driftwood that create the " mighty cave" :P

Cave by The Bay. Haha! :P
To form the captivity and cave's dome, lava rocks were arranged on top to create the cave structure. Lava rocks is normally light and very porous which can house more beneficial bacteria for planted tanks. Since this tank was going for very low tech type, the more "in-house" bio media like those lava rocks in the tank, the better.

Forming cave dome by lava rocks
Next, some leftover left over plastic bio-ball media also put in to fill in the bottom layer of the tank.

Plastic bioballs were scattered at the bottom

Bioballs can be good for bacteria housing as well
 A bag of LECA balls was put at the tank bottom as well for beneficial bacteria housing. This tank would be the very low tech tank mostly running without filter, hence the more bio media placed in the better.
LECA balls were spread at the bottom of the tank.

LECA balls also filled in the gaps between the previous lavarocks to make the structure more solid




Garden soil was put on top of LECA balls layer to keep it down at the bottom and not floating up. Garden soil is very rich in nutrient and would be able to nurture the plants properly.



ADA Aquasoil was placed on top of garden soil to create a nice looking surface and also to contain the mess of garden soil after water being introduced into the tank.

ADA Aquasoil was placed as a top layer soil

The top layer was adjusted according to the desired curve of layout 
Sand was introduced in the bay and the hardscape is completed. 

Sand was added in the bay :)

The cave is now look quite nice by the bay ya?

The Tiny Mighty Cave is here. :)

Overall hardscape view
Planting would be the next step:





Lastly, the tank was covered with glassed to keep the humid environment for plants growing emersed. 




In order to keep the environment always humid, I used spraying bottles to spray on the plants once to twice a day in the morning and evening. The plants was then always kept in the fresh condition.

Progress of DSM from Day 1 to Day 30 before it was being flooded. ^^


After a month of DSM, all the plants had grown very well in the humid environment. All of that was so lush and enjoyable to watch them grow. ^_^












It's time to flood the tank! The plants roots have developed very well now! So it would be ready for the flooding submersed adventure! ^_^

Water was slowly added in the tank, by buckets lol 




A timelapsed video was recorded this big event after a long wait! Haha.


Tada! Flooding done!

All is well! :)

Plants looked lush



I hope that you enjoy the journal as much as I do. And here you go, the "Tiny Mighty Cave" is here :)

"The Tiny Mighty Cave" ^_^

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