Sunday 3 February 2013

Hemianthus Callitrichoides (HC) - Dry Start Method

This journal will document my successful growing of a Hemianthus Callitrichoides carpet (sometimes known as 'dwarf baby tears', or more commonly as 'HC') via Dry Start Method (DSM).

There have been numerous online guides by many other aquascapers over the years and i owe my success to all of them. In return, i'd like to thank the aquascaping community by sharing my experience using this method too, it has indeed been a very interesting journey. :)

Here are the tank specs:

Tank Size: 45cm x 30cm x 24cm (High Clarity / Low Iron Glass)

Substrate: ADA Aqua Soil New Amazonia (Powder Type)

Temperature: 27-28 °C

Lighting: Up Aqua Z-Series Pro LED Z-15 (45cm)

Light Duration: 14 hours

Flora: Hemianthus Callitrichoides


Initial Planting

The Hemianthus Callitrichoides were purchased from a local aquarium shop and they are packaged in "mats" secured to stainless steel mesh. I washed them well and let them sit in a plastic tub under shallow water for a few days to quarantine for a while under light (managed to find and remove some worms and snails in the process), then i proceeded to separate them into small bunches to prepare for planting.

I first filled the tank with ADA Aqua Soil New Amazonia (Powder Type), creating a gentle slope from front (2cm height) to back (6cm height). Some rocks of various sizes and shapes were arranged in the soil too.

The soil was sprayed with water until it was visibly moist (but not submerged), i took care not to allow any puddles or pools of water to form. The small bunches of Hemianthus Callitrichoides were then planted into the soil with tweezers, spaced out evenly from each other.

The large empty circle space on the right side is meant for a bogwood/driftwood feature that i'm planning to introduce in after the DSM. :)

Here is a front "landscaped" view of the initial planting.

I am using the Up Aqua Z-Series Pro LED Z-15 for my lighting. I've had good experience using it to grow other plants, so it was my first choice for this project. The light duration will be 14 hours daily throughout the DSM. Since the plants are not submerged, there is no issue with algae or lack of Co2, so they can focus on growing fast with long and intensive light durations.

For the next few weeks, the plants will be hydrated by a spray bottle. They will be misted a few times daily to keep the soil moist. I only use de-chlorinated water (no additional fertilizers).

The tank is not covered or sealed at all as the local ambient humidity in Singapore is high enough... it'll basically be like cultivating a mini garden within a glass tank. 

Week 2

So far, i have been misting the soil a few times daily, just enough to prevent it from drying out, taking extra care not to over-saturate the soil.

Growth is slow but steady, with some minor browning on some of the plants, this slower initial growth phase is likely attributed to the weaker ones dying out while the stronger ones work at establishing their roots.

I maintain them by manually removing the brown or dead plants with tweezers and trimming the odd leaves that grow vertically, hopefully this helps to encourage horizontal growth.

Week 4

Good progress! The roots have started to establish and they are now spreading very fast, the plants are growing into a dense carpet and the development can be seen on a day to day basis.

Here is a front "landscaped" view of the growth after 4 weeks.

From the side of the tank, the roots of the plants can be seen anchoring into the soil substrate.

And i also discovered that the soil has inhabitants too... earthworms!

They probably hitchhiked on the Hemianthus Callitrichoides but were too tiny for me to spot earlier on, now they have prospered in the rich soil and plants. At any one time, i could count 4-5 worms from the side of the tank, so there are probably dozens more hidden in the soil too.

I don't view the earthworms as pests though... after all, this is technically a mini garden, and every successful garden usually has lots of earthworms, they eat dead plant matter and process them into worm castings which make great fertilizer for the soil, and they burrow through the soil which helps aerate and allow water to flow though better. So i considered them as little helpers in my DSM project. :)

But i also encountered un-welcomed guests too... mold!

Luckily i didn't encounter that much mold issues amongst my plants though, only a few scattered spots over the weeks, which i promptly removed with tweezers, so it was just a minor annoyance.

Week 6

The plant growth has been progressing rapidly and i could already see them start to connect together to create a nice carpet!

Noticed the roots are growing even deeper into the soil and anchoring well.

At this point, i decided that the plants have established their roots sufficiently in the soil and the tank is ready to be flooded.

Flooding completed!

With the Hemianthus Callitrichoides rooted firmly in the soil, there was very minimal clouding when i filled the tank with water (the photo above was taken right after the tank was filled) and the slope stayed intact too. 

The establishment of a strong root system is indeed one of the main keys to getting healthy and sustained submerged growth from these type of plants.

Hope this journal is helpful for those looking at using DSM to create their own HC carpets too! :)


  1. Really useful information and nice tank! Thanks for sharing your experience :)

  2. What happens to the earthworms when you flood the tank?

    1. I manually removed most of the earthworms before the tank was flooded.

      What i did was just fill the tank with water until 1-2cm above the soil substrate, then switched off the room lights and left it alone for an hour. When i came back to check, most of the worms have popped out of the soil, then i used tweezers to remove them from the tank (counted almost 30+ earthworms removed)... the large ones i moved to my potted plants (good for the soil there too), the small ones i kept in a plastic tub and fed them to my fishes over the next few days.

      I wasn't keen to leave too many worms in the tank once its fully flooded 'cos if they were to die while in the soil, i wouldn't be able to find them and they'll end up contributing to increased ammonia levels.

      But many weeks later, i'm still seeing worms burrowing underneath the soil substrate, so it seems they can survive for quite a while in underwater conditions too. :)

  3. any problems after filling with water? did u supplement with CO2 during the transition?

    1. I didn't supplement any additional Co2 injection during the transition, the HC carpet plant mass and roots were already well established so they could handle the transition without issues.

      You can read about the progress of this tank in my blog posts. :)

  4. I got my HC from LFS like C328 and Seaview... they come packaged in plastic cartons and bags, usually tied to steel mesh or in loose mats.

  5. Hello, i have been following your progress on the HC tank and i loved it!

    Im actually beginning my adventure in this hobby and im making a HC carpet too in my 54 liter tank,
    The method will be like yours, im using sera floredepot and i hope it runs smooth as with you :)

    Azores is a high humid place too(always more than 90%) so i hope i will have a nice green effect in my tank :)

    1. That's great!

      With a nutrient rich substrate, good light and high humidity, your HC carpet should grow fast. :)

    2. Well tomorow i will finally start the DM with my HC :)
      But i use Sera Floredepot beneath a inert substrate, of black gravel, is it going to be a problem?

      I ask it since it appears that you only used fertil substrate, and in my case the rrots wont touch the fertil soil in the beginning, is it a must?

    3. For substrate setups with an inert layer at the top, the HC will need more time to grow its roots deeper to reach the fertile layer, so you may need to wait abit longer before the HC starts to show growth and carpet.

    4. That i dont mind,
      the only concern i have is to get them to grow well,
      but the main dought i have is if i need to dig a little hole so i place the small bunches with the roots in contact with the fertile substrate, or if it doesnt matter if they touch it or not,

      Im asking this because today im intending to place more inert substrate on the back and if the HC needs to be in contact with the floredepot soil, then i wont put more on the middle, where the HC will be.
      For better view of my question, check my aqua :p

      Btw, thanks a lot to help me :)

    5. Looks good!

      Just try not to make the inert top layer too thick (make it as thin as possible), or else the newly planted HC roots might take too long to reach the fertile layer and end up melting before they can establish properly.

    6. Thank you :),
      I understand and i think 2 cm is too thick then?
      I will leave it as it is in the pic and only put more inert substrate on the other places,
      seeing the roots as they are, i could do the hole as i said before, and burry them so the leaves are just at the gravel level, sounds good?

      Also, when you said you put it on tap water to quarantine it, is it really necessary? im afraid i will put the plant in a debilitaded state before bury it :/

    7. Maybe reduce the inert gravel layer to 1cm (or even just a few mm) will do, the thinner the inert substrate layer the quicker the HC roots can reach the nutrients in the fertile layer below.

      For my quarantine procedure, i actually wash the plants with tap water, then keep them in a shallow container filled with tank water (not tap water) along with light on a regular schedule. The container water is changed everyday with water from my other established tanks so that there are ample nutrients available to sustain the HC.

      Quarantining plants does require abit more work and time to do... though if the source of the plants is trustworthy and pest-free, then i guess it can be an optional step. :)

    8. With such small amount of inert substrate, wont the fertil one be scrambled into the water column?

      The HC really gets tiny roots when we remove the whool out of it, is kinda scary how it survives such procedure and im really scared to harm the plant when removing the whool :/

      But if i take care to remove it gently, wash the plants with water, dig a small hole and place them evenly(will buy 3 pots of HC), then its just the matter of having a moist soil and enough light for them right?

      The bad news for me is that i dont have any tank water hehe, im really fresh in this world.
      But the store is a trusty source and the major problem would be algae and since im gonna have snails and shrimps, its good food for them:)

    9. Well, i'm not familiar with the Sera Floredepot that you are using, but with ADA Amazonia aquasoil it does release alot of nutrients into the water column, which is what makes it so good for growing plants... the offset is that there is also very high ammonia levels released during the initial period of tank start-up so it takes longer to cycle (ADA aquasoil is mainly designed for aquascaping anyways, so its supposed to focus on boosting initial plant growth, fishes and shrimps are only added much later once the plants are established).

      For the HC, its best to retain as much of the original roots to give them a better chance to recover. Separating the HC into smaller bunches of a few stems each is also better (though its alot more tedious) as it reduces overcrowding which can result in sections melting before they can take root.

      Otherwise its just a matter of maintaining good light and moist soil for them to grow. :)

    10. Now i see what you mean,
      If we have little inert soil, the HC can suck the nutrients right away, and if we allow the tank to cyle for some time after flooding, the nutrients should have been used by the other ones,
      Also, the HC acts as the carpet as it should be, so not much water flow should disturb the soil :)

      My idea is really to separate them in small bunches, its me and GF so its not as tedious!

      Wish me luck and ill keep you posted :)

      Thank you again for the help!

    11. Well they are planted, it was difficult to go stem by stem so did bunch by bunch,
      I just hope the soil inst too hard for them, and had to remove a layer of substrate so the plant could be on contact with the fertil soil,

      I had to buy an extra Led fixture, so now i have about 1400 lumen,
      The aquarium window is already moisted and the inside is getting hot so i guess its a good indicator of nice moisture :)

      here is the pics :)

    12. Looks good, now its just to mist regularly and monitor the growth of the HC.

      Once you see roots appearing under the plants near to the tank glass, that's when they start to carpet. :)

    13. Thank you :)
      They already start to put the leaves up to gather the light :)
      The soil is misted regulary, not a chance to leave them dry lol

      I dont know one thing, its about the greenhouse effect,
      Since the aqua is closed, should i open the hatch when the lights are off?

      The farmers when have greenhouses, they do open the hatches daily, but i dunno why they do it or if i do it,

      In your case, u didnt needed it but since i have my aqua covered up, i dont know if i need to do it..

    14. Yes, if the tank is covered and sealed, you'll need to open it daily for a few minutes to allow for fresh air exchange and reduce the build up of too much humidity.

      Alternatively, make a few small holes or gaps in the tank cover so that it can create some natural ventilation.

      The main issue with keeping the tank sealed too long is the risk of the enclosed environment becoming too humid and then mold or fungus may start to grow.

    15. Alright, its specially important now that yesterday i had to put a blanket on the aqua so the light wouldnt reach the living room lol

      The temperature inside is 25-26ºc, humidity i dunno but its warm inside, so i would guess a little higher than outside(75-85%)

      The cover has a rectangular part that lifts, but since i spray it a few times, i will keep it open for a bit :)

      With all your counceling, the only way the plants would fail is due to the substrate being too hard, wich im guessing it will make the growth harder,
      Again, thank you for your help, i have been reading your forum post on this project you made, also helped a lot, and i hope i dont have the fate of Patrick, poor guy :/

    16. Hello, quick update on something thats its bothering me,

      For the 1st week, i didnt expect so much melting, well..i didnt expect any melting lol
      Some of ht ebigger chuncks are getting melted inside and i had to remove some small bunches, but im afraid that tomorow more will have to come off..

      And there are these kind of spider threads that are forming all over the leaves, the brown and the green ones alike, going through the leaves to the ground and even the glass lol
      did you ever saw that?

      here are 2 pics to show it,

      The temperature is about 25º, 16 hours of light(5am to 21pm) with 1400 lumen
      they have 3 times spray so they never get dry onthe soil, only the leaves get dry i suppose, after some hours since im at work..

    17. The initial melting of newly planted HC is expected, this is because the plant roots are still not grown into the soil yet, so its basically running on "reserves", hence the weaker ones will melt.

      Melting will stop once the HC roots grow into the soil and reach enough nutrition to resume growing. How fast that happens depends on the availability of the nutrients.

      I guess with your top layer of inert substrate, it'll probably take abit longer for the roots to grow deep enough to reach the fertile base, so hopefully enough of the HC survive long enough to rebound.

      The white web-like growths are usually fungus or mold which thrive in moist humid conditions... most likely with your sealed cover and more frequent misting, the tank humidity and soil moisture is too high, so it allow these things to grow.

      Perhaps you can try reducing the misting frequency and amount (just a very light spray coat will do, and only once or twice a day), and try opening up the cover partially to allow more ventilation to prevent the buildup of stagnant moisture.

    18. Seems its a mold/fungus indeed, i have been searching and some people reported the same problem and that kills the HC if not treated..

      I will try to leave the aquarium uncovered, and misting only when i see the soil dry,
      Also i will swab H2O2 on the HC to help it..the light period i will leave the same since mold doesnt seem to need light
      (the area i have the aquarium has a mold problem due to the telephone conection to the outer wall and it rarely gets natural light there)

      Do you aprove the uncover the aquarium and the H2O2 attempt?

    19. Uncovering the tank can help reduce the humidity buildup issues, just have to find the best balance.

      I've not tried using H2O2 directly on HC before, but it seems people usually use it to kill algae as a last resort (not sure about mold or fungus though)... seems it could be too strong for more delicate plants and could end up causing more melting.

      You'd probably have to dilute it well and only apply very lightly. Best to test on a small bunch of HC and monitor the effects first, before treating the rest of the plants.

    20. I hope not to get to that point lol
      i arrived home, and uncovered the..well, cover lol, but seems that the air inside my house is dry and the moist is almost all gone ( i see it since the substrate is almost dry on the surface but moist on the lower layer..
      Must be a bad ideia to go without cover all day, but its like you said, have to find the balance..maybe with some saran wrap..

      Did you always cut the yellowish parts and brow parts or did you leave them until you were sure that they could not be recovered?

    21. Yeah, try leaving some gaps in the cover to control humidity in the tank, its okay for the upper layer of the substrate to dry between mistings, as the water from the lower substrate will naturally wick upwards through the soil granules to feed the plant roots.

      I usually leave yellow leaves as they could be newly grown ones or weak ones that might still recover... but brown leaves should be removed as those are already rotting, can't save those anymore.

    22. Today is the 7th day of the HC, and here is a new pic,
      I think there was some kind of groth specially in the big bunches,
      I removed the dead stems, but there are some that i dont know if i should or shluld not remove, if they rot a little more, i will do,
      I happy with the one on the upper left, its a nice bunch that only has 1 or 2 yellowish leaves :)
      The mold seems to have gone away at least the biggest part of it since there is less moisture and spraying.

      Seems like some roots are forming on the last pic :)

      How do you think that is the overall aspect of the HC?

    23. Oops, sorry, the 1st one was the pic taken on the day i planted lol, here it is the one i took today :)
      The last pic was today too.

    24. Looks like the roots are developing well, so just have to wait for the plants to start growing horizontally.

    25. Well this is hard m8..
      Yesterday i got the hole day away from home and today when i got there, the HC where going dry..the humidity is too low and i cant tell when its balanced or when its too much humidity :/

      I had to remove a bunch of HC that were growing well but then i saw that the fertil soil was just too far from the roots..1st error i guess.

      I digged a little and moved some of the small HC to a inert-free part in hope that it still has energy to grow..

      TBH i dont have much hopes now, im thinking in ordering 3 more HC pots and removing the hole zone of the HC, putting some ADA Aquasoil or something!

      Do you think 16 hours of light is unhealthy for them?

    26. I guess the extra inert layer poses as an additional challenge for the newly planted HC to establish... looks like its still better to use fertile soil substrate and plant the HC directly in them to get an immediate kick-start in root feeding.

      So far, i've only used 14 hours of light in most for my DSM setups... though i'd guess 16 hours should be okay too.

    27. The only reason i didnt plant the HC in a fertile soil was because of the Cory's and the Red's shrimps that im gonna have,

      I think i saw some posts that you had some shrimps, so i guess that it should be ok to only plant the HC in fertile soil since the HC doesnt allow the fauna to touch the soil?

    28. Yeah, ADA aquasoil is definitely okay for shrimps... in fact, many shrimp keepers use ADA aquasoil specifically for their shrimp breeding tanks as it creates favorable conditions and parameters for their shrimps. :)

      Corys can be kept with ADA aquasoil too, but you'll need to make sure that the plants are rooted in securely before introducing them as they can sometimes uproot the plants while digging around the substrate.

    29. On friday i changed the substrate, i buyed the New amazonia from ADA and its really a better substrate,
      the HC sustained the transition and seems to be healthier now,
      I keep the soil wet/moist and spray it everyday without any cover besides the light fixures,

      The ADA soil gets wet but the rest gets dry in a matter of minutes/hour,
      Even like that, i found this morning to have 1 HC piece to be filled with that white web mould again, and this time, it was from the inside so i coundlt remove it with the tweezers without hurting the HC :/

      I think there isnt much i can do i suppose since i think i already have low humity since the HC gets a little dry in the leaves lol

      Whats a good indicator that the hc are getting enough hydration? wet soil only, or does the leaves have to be constanlty wet too?

    30. The HC leaves should be dry most of the time and the top layer of soil should ideally be just slightly moist in between mistings, even if it dries abit also okay. Only the bottom layer of soil needs to have enough water that the roots can reach to absorb it.

      I guess mold tends to grow if there is moisture that stays stagnant in one area for long periods of time... same effect like in a roof or basement with water leak.

      In its natural habitat during the dry season, HC actually grows emersed in between rocks in small pockets of soil situated high above the river water level, so it leaves are usually dry too. :)

    31. Oh, i asked it since in your pictures, the leaves are always so moist and when i look at the ones i have, they look so dry that i feel they are dying, until i spray it a little lol

      But if you say that its supposed to be like that, than i will try some days without spray, since the ada soil keeps moist even with all the rest gets dry lol

      I really think i should buy a humidity meter lol

    32. Got a update, 1 week after i put the ADA substrate,

      Im starting to think that the mold comes when the roots are melting and are rotten but im not sure if the mold is the cause or a result of the rot, since it only appears on the ones that are weak,

      Some HC are melting as supposed, the roots filled with molt,
      others growing slowly, others are the same but healthy,
      Im avoiding to spray it more than once daily since the soil is always moist.

      This picture was taken the 7th of October:

      This one was taken today:

      Im spraying only once daily, sometimes once on 2 days since soil is always moist,

      After 1 week of ADA new Amazonia, how do you think they are doing?

    33. It looks okay... there usually isn't much growth during the first 2 weeks (they are probably still acclimatizing and expending more resources rooting into the substrate).

      In my case, i only started seeing my HC growing and spreading horizontally from the 3rd week onwards. I guess you'll just need to keep at it and see the development over the next few weeks.

    34. Must be and poor HC that had to endure so much already!

      But please tell me, your HC always looks so moist in the closeup pics,
      You told me that the only part that needs to be moist is the soil, so even if my leaves are not moist or wet, is it still ok on the growth?
      everytime i spary with the soil moist, i see more molt afterwards and that concerns me

    35. In the photos you see that the leaves are moist, it just happens those photos are taken after i mist it, the water usually evaporates after an hour or so... otherwise its usually dry most of the time, though the leaves still do have some natural shiny look to them. :)

      As long as there is water under the soil, the HC will be okay, not necessary for the leaves to be wet all the time.

      Not sure if mold spores are more prevalent in certain areas, but i guess in cool and damp conditions, they tend to grow. I also encountered it around the 4th week of my DSM, most probably because i mist it too much at that time. I guess you'll just have to remove as much mold as possible with tweezers to reduce them and allow the HC to grow better.

    36. Now that you say it, the temperature in the tank is 73º fahrenheit so its cool alright..
      There inst much that i can do to warm it up without water,
      the only thing i think of is turning on the thermostate so it gives some warmt inside the tank, but its a long shot,

      I sprayed H2O2 in 3%, yesterday night and today morning but seems it didnt do anything to the mold and the HC is getting fragile by the day..
      The only problem im having is this one :(

      In your case you had the luck to have a warm temperature, seems mold cant grow in such temperature as easy as cold ones :)

  6. thanks for sharing! this helps a lot! I've been using ur method for 2weeks now but some of my hc is melting(brown color) is it normal? but most of my hc, pearlweed, umbrosum, dwarf hairgrass establishing their roots already and it grows fast.
    here are my tank specs:
    9.35gal 18lx12wx10h.
    DIY 7w LED bulb daylight x 5pcs = 35watts
    light duration: 12hrs
    I used DIY substrate(mix of laterite, garden soil and BYM brand bio-fertilizer(its like a gardensoil but rich in NPK nutrients etc.) this is for my bottom layer and for my upper layer substrate is black riversand.) ADA aquasoil is very hard to find here in the philippines and its quite expensive to purchase online. esp. the shipping fee! double the price!;(

    thanks again!

    lenard from philippines!

    1. Your substrate and light should be more than sufficient to grow those plants, so no issues with those items.

      If some parts of the HC are turning brown in the first 2 weeks, its expected as those are usually the older emersed leaves which will die off while the newer leaves grow in to take over.

      Just keep at it for a few more weeks and you should see nice growth over time. :)

  7. nice the way you planted but i also planted almost 1and half mnth bk they florished but still havent covered the ground and there roots coming out like there grwing upwards.. so confused about it...

    1. can u also reply that comment plz

    2. What are the specifications of the tank? What soil and light did you use? The light period? What is the ambient relative humidity at your place? How much HC did you plant initially? More details will help alot. :)

  8. Umm I've recently bought one of those HC's as well and it came tied to a steel mesh, like yours, so I just wanted to ask how exactly did you separate the plants from the mesh, and if that is necessary at all for them to grow like a carpet? If yes, then is it possible to plant them in a flooded tank? My tank was flooded and planted by the time I bought the HC, and I have just put the HC (with mesh) directly on the substrate for a few days now...

    1. Just cut away the nylon strings wrapping the HC to the mesh, then carefully separate the HC into small bunches from the mesh (try not to damage too much of the roots).

      Yes, you can plant the small bunches into a flooded tank too, but they will need to be planted deep enough into the soil substrate or else they'll tend to float up.

  9. Hi am was wondering how your HC is going after you have filled the tank with water?
    Do you have enough light to keep it all alive? is it still growing? I hear you lose 20% light intensity after water is filled

    1. You can read about how the aquascape developed after it was flooded in these links:

      You can also read the various discussions about the aquascape and how its maintained in these tank journal threads at the Aquatic Quotient forum:!!

  10. how to maintain the temperature below 28' C? It is hard to keep my tank cool enough in the day.

    1. My tanks are placed in the coolest areas in my home, away from windows or walls that face sunlight, so it helps to minimize the heat around the tanks.

      I guess if the ambient temperature around your tank is high, then using a fan or chiller would help keep the tank temperature lower. The use of equipment with lower heat emission also helps alot, like more energy efficient filters or pumps (which usually also produce less heat), or light sources with less heat output (ie. LED lights).

  11. can I use reguler/ TL-D lights to planting HC with DSM?

    1. Its possible... as long as the lights are designed with the ideal range of spectrums for healthy plant growth, they can also be used to grow HC during (and after) DSM too.

  12. i have planted my HC and it is growing, but I am beginning to see a dark green film appearing under the leaves and slowly covering the leaves. How do I get rid of it and prevent it?

    1. That should be algae growth...

      If the HC is still in emersed state (ie. DSM), then there is probably too much water pooling around the HC, so algae can live and grow there. Make sure the top layer of the soil is only slightly moist between mistings, it should not be constantly under a layer of water.

      If the HC is submersed already (tank already filled full with water), then you have to clean away as much of the algae as possible, improve circulation around the HC, reduce light if its too much, increase Co2 injection (if you are using it), and introduce algae eating shrimps to help clear the algae between the HC leaves.

      Btw, do check online to identify the exact type of algae appearing on your HC leaves, as some types of algae (ie. blue-green algae) are due to other specific causes and may need other more specialized methods of removal.

  13. Hey,
    I just started my hc carpet with DSM.went well for the first two days and now I am seeing what looks like spiderweb and is killing my hc.spiderweb is all over the place but the melt is not....not yet at least...what do I do ? Please do reply asap

    1. What you see are most likely fungus or mold growth, could be due to too much water or moisture accumulating for too long around the HC. You'll just have to manually remove as much of it with tweezers.

      When misting the plants, try to only have the bottom layer of soil moist (let water drain down the soil), but allow the top layer of soil dry out abit in-between mistings (it should not be constantly wet), that will help to prevent mold or fungus growth.

    2. I removed a humongous load of my hc started after I cut my bigger 4x4 mats to smaller ones ....this is all I have left....wondering if I should buy a new batch and leave them in as they are instead of cutting them into smaller portions or wait for this to grow and carpet ....the infected ones are put in the sun in an enclosed bowl....if they jump back to life then good else I am screwed...

      The one I think is infected...please tell me if I should scrap this as well..


      All I have left...the rest were moved outside...should I buy a new batch and start over or wait to see if the ones left can fill in?

    4. The photos are a tad bit tiny (can't really see if the HC are infected or not), but from my observations, you could try cutting the HC clumps into even smaller parts and then plant them in a more spread out pattern (they will grow out more evenly that way).

      You can definitely get more HC to plant, the more you plant at the start the faster you can establish a carpet. I have seen friends in the hobby literally buy enough HC to almost completely cover their entire tank substrate from the start (they don't have as much patience)... rather than plant a few bunches sparsely and have to wait a much longer time for them to grow out. :)

  14. Huge clumps I had were not infected with fungus when I started....the clump which is avsolutely(I think) not infected is one which was place on a hill(water level is several inches below) died off...and the one higher than this clump also died off from fungus but that's probably because they were smaller/weaker and I kept the humidity very very high...I dried it off a bit...don't know if the fungus is gone....but doesn't seem to be bothering this one clump...I'll keep you posted...just ordered 4 more packs of hc.....hope that doesn't go downhill.....

    Oh and I read about using kh2po4 as fungicide....concentration was not mentioned any where so I am testing it with a bunch of the infected ones which look healthy ( I literally sunbaked them..most of the hc died but some look healthy and i think fungi I free...) with a concentration of 1/4 teaspoon of kh2po4 in maybe 250ml of dechlorinated water....let you know the results tomorrow... if this is toxic,they'd probably end up melting tomorrow and I'll notice....I'll keep you posted on this experiment also...

    You have been a huge help...please do keep replying....I really need someone to volly my questions and feed me some answers...I literally have nobody helping me at this stage..... thank you...

    :D you are doing a great job here bud...

  15. Hey there....
    I decided to flood my tank when mold started taking over....the plants are growing well and some are even Pearling but I didn't plant them very deep..some time some do float around but I do push them back in with my hand and not tweezers.. the plants are growing but upwards...what do you suggest....I replant them stem by stem? Or let them grow as they are ??

    My tank has two day co2 bottles...(1.25L and 500mL)..I dose kno3,k2so4 and KH2PO4 every 3 days and daily excel doses...3.6 wpg for 8 hours...HOB filter...

    1. Sounds like the plants are growing well. :)

      For those HC which are growing taller, just trim them and replant the cut parts... you need to do regular pruning and maintenance to gradually establish a nice carpet.

  16. Very informative blog! May I suggest that you do a review on the UP AQUA lighting you were using. That could be great since you are using it heavily on your planted tank :) With your experience with the lighting, this should be an easy review for you I think :)

    1. Yeah, this light has been available for quite a while though, so there are already many reviews of it online, here is one of the earlier reviews by another user:

      Just to note that the light units that i bought in 2012 (and still currently use on my tanks) are the first generation versions that use individual 0.06W LEDs. There is a newer 2nd generation version which uses more powerful individual 0.5W LEDs released back in end-2013. :)

  17. how can i keep temperature 28c if its cold?My house is about 18c.

    1. I guess you'll just have to use a heater to adjust the room temperature.

  18. What's the optimum percentage of the humidity in dry start method ?

    1. My room humidity averages around 70-80% based on where i live in Singapore. My tanks are not covered during DSM so the soil moisture varies throughout the day. I usually just give it a light misting whenever i see the soil starting to dry out.

      In my case, its more to supply the plants with sufficient water, rather than maintaining a fixed humidity level (since its already quite stable in my room environment).

      Though if you have the aircon on often or live in a dry climate, then either have to cover the tank to trap moisture or just mist the soil more frequently.

  19. Hi.thank you for sharing the information its really Helpful .currently im living in Indonesia( jakarta) and ive beeen starting DSM methid about 2 weeks most of the time my tank covered and the light is 46watt LED temperature 28-29 .my question is do i have to cover the tank? (im living in Jakarta - Indonesia right now ).does the light too much? or should i lower temprature ?cuz the hc doesnt look happy

    1. Well, its not necessary to cover the tank during DSM in our tropical weather, the air humidity is usually already high enough. You just need to mist the tank 2-3 times a day to keep the soil hydrated (but not soaked).

      That being said, if the tank is kept in an area with low humidity (ie. air-con room) or you don't have time to mist it a few times a day, then covering the tank would be the alternative to retain moisture in the soil. If you do this, keep in mind that chances of mold growing amongst the plants and soil would tend to be higher due to stagnant humid conditions. Just have to open the cover regularly for a while everyday to enable some air exchange.

      The dimensions of your tank and the other LED specs of your light (ie. individual LEDs/spectrums) are not stated, so i can't really know whether its sufficient just based on wattage, but regardless of that, with DSM the plants can utilize alot more of the light over longer periods of time, so just maintain a long photo-period to encourage growth.

      If you want to speed up plant growth even more, its also okay to temporarily increase the light intensity too. DSM is the best time to boost plant growth, without having to worry about algae issues or Co2 restrictions.

      Temperature at 28-29°C is fine for HC growth, my planted tanks all usually average that temperature too (the temperature does get higher during hot months though, but the plants can still grow well).

      Since this is the first 2 weeks of DSM, the HC is still establishing roots and adapting to the tank conditions, so you will naturally see slower growth and the weaker parts melting (same process occurs in my DSM guide too), its normal. From 3-4 weeks on-wards you should see faster progress as the new healthy adapted leaves grow out. Just need some patience. :)

    2. sorry i forgot to mention my aquarium size, its 60x30 x 40 high

      light is DIY LED x2 blue x2 yellow and x 44 10.000k white (so around 46 watt) it has remote control that i can reduce the light , is it too much? should i reduce to half?

      actually i had been covering the tank for about 2 weeks and didn't have good result most of the cuba were dead and doesn't look good also on some spots had mold issue so after i read your information i'v bought some more cuba and decide to open the tank and spray them few times daily

      should i mix the water with fertilizer for better growth?

    3. You lights should have more than enough intensity for that tank dimensions... my 2ft tank setups only use 15-20+ watt LED lights and its sufficient for most of the plants i keep.

      During DSM, you don't have to worry about algae issues, so its okay to run higher light intensity to grow out the plants faster. Later when the carpet plants are grown out and the tank is filled up with water, then you can look at reducing the light intensity if algae starts to become a problem.

      You can mix fertilizer with water to mist the plants during DSM, but test with lower fert concentrations first, as too much ferts sprayed directly on those small delicate plants can sometimes cause issues. Just have to experiment and monitor the effects.

    4. im using aqua soil normal type not powder .the light is 10.000k DIY i red that range is not effective for planted tank and mostly using for coral tank .do u think the soil problem or the light? should i change the light to up aqua U or Z series? cuz after 10 days cuba started to die again .

    5. I'm not sure about the effects of using marine spec lights on planted tanks, but i guess the plants could probably still use some of that light. Perhaps only a percentage of the light is used effectively, so growth may not be as optimal.

      Since you are using ADA Amazonia aquasoil, the substrate is not the issue as its a tried and tested soil that has been used successfully to grow a wide range of aquarium plants and create award winning aquascapes by users over the years.

      Maybe you could consider changing the lights to those with spectrums more optimized for planted tanks. It might help to make the difference in plant health and growth rate.

    6. already change it to up aqua Z series .thank you . so aqua soil normal type is fine for hc cuba ? by the way have u tried up aqua U series?

    7. Yes, ADA Aquasoil normal type is okay for HC too, it has the same nutrient content as the powder type. The main difference is aesthetics and its abit easier to plant in powder type.

      I haven't tested out the U-series yet, but seems its a good light too. Much higher LED wattage and light intensity though, can consider you want to push for even faster plant growth along with increased Co2 and ferts.

  20. hi again, Do u recommend chihiros Led? if yes which model do u think better (60x30x40 tank) E series or A series or A plus series

    1. I've used the Chihiros E and A-Series lights before and i would recommend the A-Series one, it generates higher lumens and intensity (and costs less than the E-Series). These lights come with 7 step dimmers so you can adjust the intensity to match your requirements.

      For my planted tank setups, the A-Series tends to be too strong at maximum intensity, so i actually had to set its dimmer to level 3 or 4 (out of 7) to moderate the light output and keep my tanks in balance.

      The A-Plus series is basically an even more powerful version of the A-Series (and costs more), so if you need even more light intensity can go for that.

      Btw, there is also another new version called the RGB-Series (saw it recently available from taobao sellers), it mixes different color and spectrum LEDs together to create supposedly better color rendition, costs even more though. I haven't tried it out yet, but you could also check it out and see if its good.

    2. thank you urban for sharing , do u think RGB will efect the same for green plants such as hc cuba and hair grass ? ive heard RGB is better for color rendition (for red plants etc.) im confused which one should i buy :(

    3. So far i have tried out other light brands that use RGB LEDs (ie. Up Aqua U-Series and Twinstar) but i didn't manage to see any significant difference in growth rate or condition of my plants over a period of time.

      Maybe there could be some improvement, but probably too little to be really noticeable.

      Color rendition can also be subjective too, i found some of them produce a more yellowish warmer tone (maybe i'm more used to a whiter neutral tone). I guess for these type of lights, you'll just have to give them a try personally and see if you like how they work. Its all up to individual preference.

  21. It a good guide with picture of each step. Thanks !