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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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