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Old 10-06-2010, 06:58 PM   #1
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Wy Renegade's 20L Bog Tank

Little back history first off. Too many years ago to remember exactly when it was, I had an opportunity to attend a workshop on carnivorous plants. I got so excited during the workshop about the plants, that I immediately began to plan a bog terrarium of some kind around them. My initial schemes included a plastic terrarium partially full of sand/peat moss mix with holes drilled in the bottom sitting over a aquarium/sump of RO water with a powerhead on a timer pumping water to mist the carnivorous plants.

Over time however the plans began to change into more of a 1/2 terrarium and 1/2 aquarium tank. About the time I was making that decision, I walked into the LPS and came across a 20gal Long turtle tank. Of course, it seemed perfect for the task; so I purchased it and brought it into my classroom. I started out by sectioning off a portion of the tank using aquarium-safe silicon and river rocks to create a barrier. The left side of the barrier (about a 1/3 of the total area) would be the terrarium (or bog), and the right side would be open water (or pool). I of course didn't worry about getting the barrier water tight, as I wanted to create a boggy environment - my only consideration in using the silicon was to insure that the rocks did not move. I then created a mixture of 50% peat (sphangum) moss and 50% play sand, which I used to fill in the terrarium portion. To ensure the sand/moss mixture didn't erode into the water portion, I used two layers of industrial weed barrier against the rock wall.

The right-hand portion was then filled with a very shallow layer of aquarium gravel, and RO water. I added a piece of cottonwood bark to transition between the terrarium and the pool, thinking I might add some salamanders or newts of some type eventually and they might like to crawl back and forth.

Filtration was the standard hang-on-the-side filter that came with the turtle tank and I used a standard 29" strip light as the light.

I then proceeded to fill the bog portion with assorted carnivorous plants - I ordered Venus Fly Traps, assorted Sundews, and assorted Pitcher plants. As you might expect, they proceeded over the course of the next year to slowly wither away and die out. Evidently failing to seal the rock barrier had been a mistake, and the bog was simply too wet to support the carnivous plants.

Disappointed by the failure of the carnivorous plants, I never the less plunged ahead, as the bog tank had captured my interest. Over the years the tank has changed considerably. I've added a second double bulb strip light, and a second filter to the tank. I added some moss plucked from alongside the school building, a native fern removed from a wet area on our local mountains, various plants purchased from the local nurseries as well as a number of "bog" plants purchased on line and from school suppliers. A variety of aquatic plants and animals have also occuppied the pool area over the years, including Betas, guppies (both feeder and fancy), hermit crabs, pond snails, stoneflies, damselflies, caddisflies, scuds, crayfish. Some of the plants I've grow include a swordplant, ascaris, muskwort, and sometype of grass.

I don't have any older pictures of the tank, but below are some that were taken back in '07 or '08. You'll have to excuse the quality of my photos, I didn't have photoshop back then.

Close-up of the whole tank;

this was shortly after I'd added the native fern (you can see it as the taller plant on the left), and the moss, also have some Baby's Tears mixed in as well.

The bog;

Little better picture of the bog area and the plants.

The log;

Shows the transition from the pool to the bog, with the log creating a transition piece.

Waterfall;

I used river rock and slate to create a waterfall effect around my filter.
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:19 PM   #2
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In 2008, after using the tank for several years to show things to classes; moss sporophyte vs. gametophytes, freshwater hydras and daphnia populations, hatching stoneflies, etc. I rekindled my interest in the bog portion of the tank. I ordered in a group of "bog" plants from one of my biological supply companies. We planted em up and let em go; by Feb of '09 only a single plant (sometype of fern I believe) was still alive and mixed in with my other plants. But I still felt the tank looked good overall, and was still pretty happy with it.

Full bog in Feb '09;


Here you can see the new plant;


Moss in both the sporophyte and gametophyte stages;


The native fern;

A picture of the bog from the back side;


A close-up of the pool plants;

you can see the sword isn't doing well - some type of filamentous algae is kind of strangling it out.

The pool;


And of course the waterfall;

the waterfall has been restructured many times.

As you can tell, I'm no expert with the planted tank, so any thoughts or suggestions for improvement are always welcome.
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:25 PM   #3
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In the spring of '09, we brought in a mixed assortment of aquatic macroinvertebrates to place in the bog to see what we could watch occur.


Couple different types of Plecoptera (stoneflies);




a free-swimming Trichoptera (caddisflie);


and a Diptera (Cranefly);
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:37 PM   #4
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In October of '09, a couple of other new additions prompted some additional revisions and pictures.

Full Bog;


The plants (you can see the dendrobium orchid that was added to the log);


And the waterfall;


Those shots don't allow you to see the tank's other new resident, an American Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina);


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Old 10-07-2010, 07:00 PM   #5
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Long story short, last summer (for the first time ever), I allowed the student who had found the baby snapper to take the tank home over the summer, and my bog tank came back devistated. The snapper is MIA, the moss and Baby's Tears are dead, the orchid disappeared, the aquatic plants are all dead. Looks like the tank was allowed to dry up and left sitting outside - it was full of grasshoppers and ants.

So we cleaned it all up, and reset it, and I'm looking at getting some plants going again. I've replaced the orchid, and the native fern is still going great guns, but I need some additional suggestions. I don't want something like ascaris, which would take over the entire water area and block out all visibility in such a small tanks. Also looking for suggestions for the peat moss/sand portion. Anybody have any bog pimpernel? Or has anybody tried creeping phlox in a similar tank?
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:06 PM   #6
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The 1st of October I reset the tank. As you can see, I replaced the orchid, added both a sundew plant and a pitcher plant (I've tried carnivorous plants in this tank before, and they didn't do good - but what the heck). Still would be open to suggestions for the aquatic area or other suggestions for the sand/peat moss mix). Also had to reset the waterfall area again.







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Old 10-07-2010, 07:13 PM   #7
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Throughout the course of this last week, I've had the aquatic students out on field trips, and we've collected quite a few interesting aquatic invertebrates to add to the tank. I didn't get any pictures, but our list so far includes: damselflie and dragonflie nymphs (Odonata), free-swimming, rock-encased, and stick-encased caddisflies (Trichoptera), a large predacious diving beetle (Coleoptera), freshwater mussels (bivalvia), and a bunch of freshwater scuds (Amphipoda). We also added some hornwort and floating duckweed.

Early next week we'll be out for an entire day, and I hope to add some stoneflies (plecoptera) and maybe some mayflies (ephemeroptera) to the list. If I get a chance over the weekend I'm going up the mountain, so I'll see what I can find for some more bog plants to add as well.

In adding some of the stuff to the tank, I noticed that the dead moss is still forming a layer on top of my moss/sand soil mix. Anybody know if I should remove the dead moss or leave it be, and simply try to get another population going over the top of it?
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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Added some fish yesterday. After all what tank is complete without fish? Decided to go with some natives this time, which I believe are Sand shiners (Notropis stramineus), although they could also be Emerald shiners (Notropis atherinoides). Added a nice little school of five.





This shot shows the duckweed effect;
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:20 PM   #9
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Wow; tough crowd - nobody has any inputs or comments?!
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:24 PM   #10
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Got some fair pictures of the some of the invertes today as well. Nothing spectacular, but kind of cool in my opinion.

The Beetle;




One of the stick-encased Caddisflies;




And one of the dragonflie nymphs;
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:10 PM   #11
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Hey, I dunno why nobody has posted, but this is way cool!

Those fish are native to Wyoming?

Did you ever end up adding any amphibians?

Thanks for posting
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorodw View Post
Hey, I dunno why nobody has posted, but this is way cool!

Those fish are native to Wyoming?

Did you ever end up adding any amphibians?

Thanks for posting
Hey taylorodw, thanks for both looking and posting a response. Actually the Emerald shiner is a fish imported by the Wy Game and Fish as a feeder fish (usually acquired from other states by trading trout eggs which are in pretty high demand), which is part of why I'm more inclined toward the Sand shiners which are native.

I've never added any amphibians to the tank, in part because all our native amphibians get quite large. Tiger salamanders for example can get almost 12" long, much too big for this tank.

Glad you enjoyed it.
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Old 10-10-2010, 08:29 AM   #13
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Nice looking set up. Shiners look good. Pity about the turtle.
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Old 10-10-2010, 10:26 AM   #14
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really nice looking tank.
that snapper would have gotten way bigger than a salamander. i find duckweed to be really annoying. it rapidly covers the water surface and chokes out any light from getting past the surface. check out PlantGeek.net - Your Aquatic Plant Resource for suggestions on aquatic plants to use but i don't know of any that would be native and usable in water that shallow unless you let them grow out of the water.
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Old 10-10-2010, 03:24 PM   #15
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Thanks for both looking and commenting folks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattrox View Post
Nice looking set up. Shiners look good. Pity about the turtle.
Thank you mattrox. Indeed it was sad; I've got feelers out for another - we'll just have to see what happens. I do have to admit that while he was cool, he was pretty hard on everything else in the tank. While the shiners look good, I'm not sure how they'll do with the amphipod population (or rather how the amphipod population will fair with the shiners in the tank - LOL)

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really nice looking tank.
that snapper would have gotten way bigger than a salamander. i find duckweed to be really annoying. it rapidly covers the water surface and chokes out any light from getting past the surface. check out PlantGeek.net - Your Aquatic Plant Resource for suggestions on aquatic plants to use but i don't know of any that would be native and usable in water that shallow unless you let them grow out of the water.
Thanks FishEggs. Yeah, we already had plans for converting a 29 into a bog tank in a similar manner - not only would it have given us a little more room for the snapper, but it also would have allowed for a much bigger tank to work with and thus would have allowed for larger plants. The 29 is still in the plans, and if I can get it figured out in a way that makes things more waterproof on the "bog" side, I may repeat the thing with one of my 100 gallon tanks as well. I figure in the larger tanks we may even be able to get things like cattails, etc. growing.

I hear you on the duckweed, and that is kind of what I'm expecting and why I've kind of avoided it in the past. If it gets to be too big of a problem then it will simply have to go. I have no problem letting plants grow out of the water, but eventually, if it gets too tall, then it runs into the screen top - if you have any suggestions on ones that can grow out of the water and are less than 12" tall, I would be very interested. I will check out the plant guide as well.

Thanks again, for both looking and posting up comments.
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:32 PM   #16
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Well, since the previous pictures didn't work, and I can't now edit the post, here's some that should.

Got some fair pictures of the some of the invertes today as well. Nothing spectacular, but kind of cool in my opinion.

The Beetle;




Couple of the stick-encased Caddisflies;




One of the dragonflie nymph;


And a couple of the mussels;


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Old 10-11-2010, 12:35 PM   #17
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I also added a another fish to the pool (didn't add all these pictured, most of them went into the native tank). The dark one that stands out is the one I added, its a Black Bullhead (Ameiurus melas) fry. Over the course of the school year, it should grow from about 1" to close to 3". Once it reaches three inches, it will be large enough to add to the native tank (29L with sunfish, minnows, pond snails and eventually a bullhead).

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Old 10-11-2010, 12:55 PM   #18
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Do you still have all the shiners? I'd expect the dragonfly nymph to have one for lunch though i don't know the size comparison so it might not be quite big enough.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:04 PM   #19
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Do you still have all the shiners? I'd expect the dragonfly nymph to have one for lunch though i don't know the size comparison so it might not be quite big enough.
My dragonflie nymph is only about a 1/4", compared to the 1" to 1 1/2" of the shiners, so I don't expect him to have any for lunch real soon - more likely he'll go for the other invertes. I'm not so sure on the beetle though, as it may be a predacious diving beetle, and its easily as big as the shiners. As of the this morning, however, all shiners are present and accounted for.
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:11 PM   #20
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Got a few more pictures over the weekend, so I thought I would throw them up.

Pool area first

Top down shot of the pool;


A little more selective shot;


And one of my favorite rock in the tank;


Couple Fish shots;




And another one of the mussel with the fish in the background;
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