Friday, May 04, 2012

Introducing bamboo sticks

I really liked the look of something Dennerle came up with, a bamboo stick covered in java moss. However, a pricetag of 11 euros per stick kept me from buying them. Dennerle makes nice things but they're not cheap!.

So I decided to create my own version. In this country bamboo sticks are sold in garden centers as plant supports. The cheap ones aren't even treated with anything. I had some lying around in the garden unused for months. Continuous rain and some frost had weathered them nicely. I cut them down to size and drilled some 2mm holes to aid in water absorption. Rinse a few times with boiling water and leave them to soak for a few hours.

Now mosses are a relatively new addition to the aquarium hobby, many were introduced by the aquascaping community and the legendary Takashi Amano. Dennerle went for java moss because it sticks easy to objects and it tolerates tropical conditions well. I went for willow moss  (Fontinalis antipyretica) because it's grows abundantly in my dad's pond. Using any kind of plant from a pond is always a risk because you never know if you introduce any critters that way. To mitigate that risk I rinsed the moss well 6 times with cold tap water.

I divided the moss into portions and wrapped and twisted it around the sticks using 0.25mm fishing line to keep it on the sticks. Some people use cotton because it will eventually rot away, I use fishing line because it's invisible if you take care to trim the ends away.  In wrapping I kept the ends free because these went into the bottom.

The sticks are intended to hide the big juwel filter box in the corner of my aquarium. That may be a bonus for the moss since it likes flowing water. My tank runs at 23.5 degrees which should be acceptable to the willow moss (go over 25 and the cold water raised variety will wither away).

I planted the sticks and immediately the shrimp went nuts over it and are swarming all over picking off all sorts of particles. It's early to tell if this experiment will succeed but this morning I saw the first bright green tips already so it seems to be growing.

This is how it looks now:
Closer look at the bamboo sticks I wrapped in willow moss
And an overview shot:
Current look of my aquarium

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