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Seedling Nursery Project

Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Hey all, I'll be editing and updating this post this evening as time permits.

Recently, I have come into possession of an old 55 gallon aquarium that once housed a massive tetra colony. As I'm not really into fish, I was drunkenly staring at it, and thought, nursery terrarium!

So In short, the idea is to turn it into a self managing ebb and flow nursery. The idea is to set a false floor in the tank and use the bottom as a water reservoir. The tank came with several pumps (a powerhead 301 and two Rio 200), undergravel pickup, air pumps, etc. I want to repurpose these into an ebb and flow pump system, and set a fan in the lid and ultrasonic humidifier in the reservoir so that twice a day, the flood table fills and drains with aerated water, and a fan and humidifier kicks on to purge stagnant air and draw in fresh air through a filter.

The point of this pre- post is to see if anyone can direct me to similar projects so I can learn from others. Today is going to be room prep day, as I have to run some new romex from my house box for power.

The room that the tank is going in is a fully underground room in my basement. If the door is closed to this room, it stays a constant 60-65 F year round. I figure with a sufficient mat heater under the tank with thermostat, I'll be able to raise the tank temperature during the day, and let it naturally drop at night. The reason for integrating the ebb and flow system into the tank is so that I do not have to drill the glass should I one day want to convert it to fish or something else.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
127
Location
Fairbanks, AK, USA
Here is my blog post about DIY compact ebb-flow system, based on plastic container:
http://orchidborealis.blogspot.com/2015/10/diy-compact-ebb-flow-system.html

If you have the reserver and the grow space in 55 gallon, the height of grow area might become kind of low?
Are you planning to siphon out to change the water? Maybe you can add a bulb to the pump, so it can be used for both circulation and water change.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Right now this is a planned Nepenthes Nursery. I'm looking at controlling the humidity and temperature through the use of a vivarium fogger and a series of airflow and vent fans to control heat and cooling.

The lighting utilized is a 4 ft four bulb T8 6500k shop light ($15 HD clearance, woot!)

The plan is to keep it around 65-70% rH, 75 F during the day, and 90% rH, 65F at night. Should be sufficient to grow a nice range of plants while staying away from the extremeophiles.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Here is my blog post about DIY compact ebb-flow system, based on plastic container:
http://orchidborealis.blogspot.com/2015/10/diy-compact-ebb-flow-system.html

If you have the reserver and the grow space in 55 gallon, the height of grow area might become kind of low?
Are you planning to siphon out to change the water? Maybe you can add a bulb to the pump, so it can be used for both circulation and water change.

Planning on using one of the old rio 200 pumps for a purge pump for water changes. Good call!

Thanks for the link! Read it through, and I'm going to keep it in mind when I work on this. Thank you!

And the grow space that is planned is to leave a 4 inch reservoir at the bottom, and have a 42 inch grow area at the false floor. It should give me a 10 gallon reservoir and a 7 gallon grow floor when empty. With the addition of net pots, should give me adequate room to have a few plants going :)

The plan is to only use this area for younger plants, and to gradually harden them off to houseplant conditions as they age. So, I'm hoping the total grow height of 12 inches shouldn't pose a massive threat. As I primarily have a taste that focuses on hybrids and easy care species, this should give me a nice nursery so that I may buy seed, and get the seedlings through their post-ziplock to young adult stage with (theoretical) ease.

So far my biggest concern with this is TDS accumulation. I do use Osmocote on my seedlings, and I am a bit concerned about TDS buildup, but it seems to be more of a cross that bridge when I come to it issue. However, Neps seem to love the stuff, and the only other plants I plan on adding in as co-conspirators are my others that I use Osmocote on, namely a few pings and D. Regia.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2016
Messages
64
Location
New Franklin, OH
I'm planning something similar, actually I just started cutting framing for it. Mine will end up being completely automated as well, so I'll be following this to see how it goes.

As far as the TDS with using recycled water my thought was if these Britta pitchers can filter everything out, why not buy the replacement cartridge and plumb it in the return line somewhere. This will require a dual line setup since those filters only allow a drip through at a time. My original plan was for a single line setup, allowing the water to drain back through the pump into the holding tank. That got shafted when I realized I would have to drain, and fill the holding tank every so often. With the filter and an air stone (I think that's what they are) to keep water circulating in the holding tank. I can't see any reason you would really need to change the water but maybe every six months. Yes, you'll have to change the filter too, but for the most part they last for awhile.

I could be completely off in my thinking, and if I am please correct me.

Just my thought process.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2016
Messages
95
Location
SF Bay Area
my thought was if these Britta pitchers can filter everything out, why not buy the replacement cartridge and plumb it in the return line somewhere.
Unless they recently changed their system to reverse osmosis I think brita and others have ion-exchange resin beads that will probably release sodium and potassium.
It's usually not a way to decrease your TDS and I doubt your plants would like it.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2016
Messages
64
Location
New Franklin, OH
After doing a quick search it would appear that @ emc2 is correct about the Britta filter. It actually doesn't filter hardly anything. A filtered pitcher of water from it still reads around 350 for total dissolved solids. Now with that said the zero water filter could be a viable option, just based on the TDS readings I found in a comparison for water filtration pitchers. It's the only one that can produce zero TDS readings. It uses a 5 stage filter where Brita uses a 2 stage filter.

I was generalizing by using Brita because that was the first name that popped into my head. I apologize for generalizing. I should know better than to do that on the trusty Internet. Anyways, take the information for what you will.

Best of luck with your build!
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
127
Location
Fairbanks, AK, USA
Oh I see, for shorter plants, it should work. I personally prefer to have a relatively big reserve to slow down the EC hike (and probably pH stability). Even without much fertilizer, plants excrete chemicals to raise EC (a mechanism to uptake mineral nutrients). I haven't tried it with Nepenthes, so it may not be a big issue for them since they probably have less reliance on root nutrient uptake.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
So the Amazon order was finished. Picked up a humidity controller, and am building a 5 gallon bucket fogger for my humidity controller out of a pond fogger. The controller will kick on the fogger and a 90mm fan to pump it in. In order to avoid two fog setups or a $400 vivarium controller, the plan is to keep the setup at 65-80% rH at all times.

Temperature controller has an output for heating and cooling, so the plan is to have it control a mat heater under the tank for heat, and a bilge fan in the lid should the lights overheat the tank. Two 90 mm fans inside at low rpm just for circulation will run independently, one at all times, and the second one will kick on with the lights. Planned temperature control range is 85 lights on, 70 lights off.

One thing I did do is pick up two way mirror film. I'm lining the entire tank with it so the reflective surface is inward, that way I minimize light loss, and can still look in on them. They won't even know I'm there :p
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Well, I realized the complications and difficulties involved with using an old aquarium (read: I have a bicalcarata marudi, and its already outgrowing its enclosure).

So, I did some work.

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The top and bottom are built with the same style framing. Most of the lumber was cull or sourced from pallets, etc.

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Plywood is 1/2 in non-treated.

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Paint is some sort of absurdly heavy-duty deck stain I picked up from the blue big box hardware for a few bucks. Apparently resists water, mildew, rot, uneven tire wear, and discussions containing the word 'banal.' I can live with the color.

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Not pictured are the outlets. I ran a new line from my box to support two GFCI outlets on the legs, and two on the wall above the table. Maybe overkill with the outlets, but I have romex lying around, so why not?

The next step is to start framing the tank itself. The tank is going to be framed out of plywood and furring strips, and sealed with fiberglass and gloss white food-grade epoxy resin. Simple ebb and flow fittings in the floor, glass top, and light fixtures above. The overkill with the epoxy and waterproofing are for the future plans to add a MistKing. Food grade should keep it CP safe. Hopefully.

Oh, and glass cabinet doors on the front. Still planning on using a humidity-containing airflow fill-and-purge system. The airflow system will fill the tank with humidity filled air provided by a 5 gallon bucket humidifier, and purge the O2 rich air through the window, or just into the room. Constant airflow in the tank provided by PC fans.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Alright, so I'm at a decision point.

My options right now for construction are to build this enclosure out of plywood, fiberglass, and epoxy resin, or just plywood and epoxy resin.

As far as the resin itself is concerned, I think I'm going to go with the polygem zoopoxy. Seems like it has been formulated for what I want.

Does anyone out there have experience working with this stuff? I know I want to dye it bright white for the reflective properties, but I don't know which one of their products to use, or which dyes to use to tint.

Anyone with any advice??
 
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