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Angs in a Tank

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by goods, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I am in the process of building an orchidarium to house mini Angs and Pleuros. I've always been intrigued by the Pleurothallid Alliance, but we just get way too hot to grow them outdoors here. I have a few already that are being housed in a temporary tank that I've already outgrown.

    I plan to use a 10 gallon tank (too small I know but its all I can fit right now) flipped on its side using a vertical conversion kit designed for arboreal treefrogs or thumbnail darts. I'm doing a vert tank because everything in it will be mounted and that't how it will fit on my rack.

    I'll put a layer of LECA on the bottom for some humidity control. I'm using a computer fan that I'll place in the center of the bottom (raised off the LECA) blowing up. The vert kit will also have a small area of mesh for gas exchange. I'm using an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier that I've placed two pieces of tubing into the output and siliconed the rest of the output closed. I plan to feed these tubes through the mesh on both sides of the tank.

    My main question with this whole setup is how often should I spray the tank (if at all) and how often should the plants be taken out and actually watered thoroughly. I would assume a good watering (soaking) once a week, but I'd like to know people's experiences and what they do.

    P.S. the title is for mrbreeze because I know he grows almost entirely in tanks and I'm growing similar species.
     
  2. Alexey

    Alexey Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Look at the plants condition. Also, if your setup will include digital min/max psychrometer (temperature & relative humidity - meter), you have more accurate data to adjust misting schedule. Happy growing!
     
  3. xmpraedicta

    xmpraedicta Prairie angraecoid nut Supporting Member

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    I grow in tanks and I think we're interested in the same kind of stuff. I never take anything out to water individually; everything is sprayed with automatic misters, 4 nozzles per tank. Because of this, I grow most things in a way that is conducive to this type of watering - e.g. not too much sphag, mostly mounted bare or potted in charcoal and fast draining clay pellets.

    Misting happens 3 times every 14 hour light cycle for 50 seconds in the morning, and then 20 seconds 4 and 8 hours in. Everything is dry by the evening. I'm trial-running this type of misting schedule (I was originally misting by hand twice every light cycle). I have about 1" of space open at the back of the tank for ventilation, and the tanks are 2' x 2' x 18". The pictures show only 1 fan, but I have added another to each tank. My hygrometer always gets too foggy to read properly, but looking at the roots, I see fine root hairs and active root growth, so I'm assuming they like it.

    afarm6.static.flickr.com_5024_5660216888_73ce89bd1b_z.jpg
    afarm6.static.flickr.com_5229_5660215208_636362ff88_z.jpg

    FYI - while Mr. B was certainly the one who introduced me to my first gateway ang and demonstrated the feasibility of growing these things indoors, there are a few of us now who grow almost entirely in tanks and have similar species to you...Jacob, for instance, has a huge incredible enclosure.
     
  4. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the replies, Alexey and Calvin!

    I knew there were others growing similar species in these tanks, but I knew Mr.B uses (at least at one time I know he did; not sure about now) the ultrasonic humidifiers similar to what I have and hand watered the plants. I don't have a misting system currently. I'd like to eventually get one, but it's hard enough to be a college student and afford orchids!

    I really appreciate your experiences and pictures and would also like to hear from Jacob and others who grow this way.
     
  5. Uluwehi

    Uluwehi angraecoids, dendrobiums and more Supporting Member

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    Calvin your tanks and plants are looking really good!

    Zach, in my experience with tank culture there is an important distinction between watering plants directly and adding water to the air of the tank in order to raise humidity. Folks with greenhouses can water/mist the floor 1m below their plants to raise humidity and that water never has to come into contact with the plants themselves. In close quarters in a wardian case, we don't have such luxury. To make matters worse artificial light is often harsher than sunlight - the artificial light is essentially both a source of heat and light, whereas with a greenhouse, most of that heat is blocked by shade cloth and the rest is up at the rafters. The greatest challenge of tank growing is keeping the air humid without over-watering one's plants. Roots of most angraecoids need to dry off properly between watering or else they will rot. Leaves and meristems can also develop serious pathogenic infections if they don't dry off fast enough. On the flip side, if roots and leaves dry off too fast or stay dry for too long, reduced vigour and dessication can occur.

    The schedule and frequency of watering and misting is really specific to one's unique conditions; it can even vary from one end of the space to the other. It also changes with the seasons both in terms of day-length and temperature. The only way to really know what will work for you is to pay close attention to your roots and to a lesser extent your leaves.

    My wardian case dries unevenly because some spots have more air circulation than others. This is a good thing because some mounted plants like to dry more slowly than others, however this means that all the plants cannot be watered at the same frequency. The plants closest to the lights and the wall farthest away from the humidifier dry out the fastes, despite humidity maintained at 85+%. The middle of my chamber stays the most moist. The more crowded your tank is, the longer roots and leaves will stay wet. My evaporative cooling system also has an effect; the more often it has to run, the faster things dry out, mostly because moving air dries things out faster then still air but also because its output has lower humidity (about 65-70%) than my chamber is maintained at (85+%).

    For those in the SF Bay Area who would like to know more about how I grow my plants in my set-up, you may be interested to come hear me give a presentation to the San Francisco Orchid Society meeting on October 4th.
     
  6. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks a bunch Jacob! This explains alot, and I think I need to provide more information in order to get closer to the answer I'm searching for. This is my first attempt at growing in any kind of case, aside from easy tropicals in my dart frog tanks.

    For my orchids outdoors in summer, I water every day in the morning or no later than 1ish. Everything I have is mounted or potted in LECA, and they all dry out by nighttime because it is so hot here. I'm adding this because this is my usual regimen. I know this will not work in the tank.

    My lights are outside of the tank, and there is enough air between the tank and lights that I don't think it adds much heat or dries things out. I have the computer fan running 24/7 and I have an ultrasonic humidifier (basically a better version of the silver, round for generator designed for reptiles and amphibians) fogging while the lights are on. For the last 30 minutes or so of the lights being on and for about 30 minutes after, I vent the tank to make sure everything dries out before (or not long after) the lights go out and to create a temperature gradient between night and day.

    With all this being said, I am also trying to grow a totally new family of orchids which is the whole point of designing this case. I know the Pleurothallids like to be constantly moist, but I'm not exactly sure of the practical meaning. The few I currently have are mounted on tree fern with just a tiny bit of spaghnum to get them established. Should I spray these to make sure the moss is damp every day, or is the humidifier enough and I should spray every 3 or so days? (I'm just throwing out a number)

    I'm not as concerned about the Angs because I have grown these before and know their requirements. All of these are mounted on wood with a pad of coconut husk under the roots. The roots are allowed to choose whether to go into the husk or stay on top. All of the Angs either have active roots or are growing new leaves.
     
  7. Uluwehi

    Uluwehi angraecoids, dendrobiums and more Supporting Member

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    Like Calvin, I have found that under high humidity conditions in a tank, some angs to better without any fibre or moss covering on their roots. However, some species tend to prefer it and the only way to know which will or won't is to keep an eye on the health of the root system. It's time-consuming to take off the fibre periodically and then re-tie it, but it's worth it to see how the roots are doing.

    Do you have a light meter? I find it indispensable so that I don't burn or eltiolate my plants. Sometimes the frustrating thing about determining the placement of one's fluorescent lighting source is that sometimes if the light is far enough away to keep things cooler inside the tank, it may also be too dark. With that said there is precious little reliable information on foot candle levels specifically for artificial light culture. These levels are often lower than those required in the greenhouse. It has been quite stressful guessing with my Malala plants for example on light levels.

    As for Pleurothallids in tanks, you really should get Karma's adivce.
     
  8. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Most of my Angs in the tank have only a small pad of coco husk. When I grew them outside, they struggled being on a bare mount except for the Botanica plants which I left the coco husk on the mount. Because of this, I've added that to all the mounts outdoors and I have a small amount under the roots of the plants in the tank. I'll continue to watch them to make sure they stay happy though.

    I do not currently have a light meter. I spoke to mrbreeze about lighting one time, and he said he uses T8 lights. That is what I have available currently as well. I'm not sure how much light the plants are getting, but I have bromeliads that require fairly high light in the tanks on either side of this one currently. These broms have a red tinge to the leaves, so I assumed my lower light orchids would receive enough light if I placed the a little further away... please correct me if I'm wrong. I can always raise the tank a bit to boost the light.
     
  9. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I'm adding pictures of the tank to show moisture levels. I used a pressurized sprayer and hand sprayed the tanks this morning around 10 A.M. and the humidifier has been running on and off all day. These pictures were taken at about 8:10 P.M. All of the plants seem to have dried out except for a small amount of water on the leaf of Aerangis somalensis. Again, this tank is only the temporary setup. I'm in the process of building something bigger.
    IMG_0033.jpg IMG_0034.jpg
     
  10. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I have finally built the permanent tank for my plants. I used a 20H tank and built my own vertical conversion since I haven't heard back from the company I was planning on getting one from.

    It is made of two panes of glass (bottom and door) and a screen area at the top for ventilation and gas exchange. The tank has one computer fan funning 24/7 blowing air from the bottom to the top. I've also set up an ultrasonic humidifier with tubes running into the tank. The tank is under a pair of daylight T5 bulbs.

    I still have to get a feel for how long the humidifier should run per day and if I'm going to need supplemental lighting. Any critiques or tips are appreciated. Thanks for looking!
    IMAG0014.jpg IMAG0015.jpg IMAG0016.jpg IMAG0017.jpg
     
  11. gg68

    gg68 Angraecoid addict

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    Don't forget that A.somalensis doesn't live in humide forests but in dry woodlands...too much humidity and too much water will be a problem for it...
     
  12. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Gilles, do you think it would do better if I put it as close to the screen vent as I can? It would still get some of the mist but would be farther from the source and closer to the dry air in the house.
     
  13. Uluwehi

    Uluwehi angraecoids, dendrobiums and more Supporting Member

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    Your new tank looks great, Zach!
     
  14. gg68

    gg68 Angraecoid addict

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    Yes, I think it would be better for it!!
     
  15. EGOISTA

    EGOISTA Member

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    Oh thank you, that's important!

    Mine A.somalensis is positioned under fan air, it seems likes it!
     
  16. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Gilles and Egoista!

    I'm adding a second and maybe a third fan to the tank and my somalensis will be in the direct flow of one of the fans.

    Also, how often do you water your somalensis? Mine is mounted with a small pad of coconut husk under the plant. I would imagine with the fan blowing directly on it my plant should be dry in an hour or so.
     
  17. EGOISTA

    EGOISTA Member

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    I water it one time every day with a spray mist like all my orchids on slab, mine is mounted on cork. It dry fastly but I don't know how much time exactly, it should be probably an hour, but I'm not sure now, I will tell you monday or tuesday when I will stay at home during the day.
     
  18. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Ok thank you! I have mine positioned directly in front of one of the fans I just put in the tank.