In the last couple weeks we’ve made a number of changes to our aquarium/plant wall setup. We moved our plant wall outside for the summer and swapped our original 28 gallon aquarium for a larger 50 gallon one.
Yesterday I swapped our fairly large plecostomus for a scaled down model too small to eat new hatchlings and sleeping fish. I also got two more catfish and five neon tetra about the size of the tetra babies we already had. I think that brings our tetra count to 10. Wadly will have to buy some more guppies to round out the pack.
I’ve still got a lot to do to the new aquarium. I need new air hose for one of my stones, I still need to find/build a sump and I need to run plumbing through the wall to connect the plant wall to the new tank.
When we moved the plant wall out we hung it on the horizontal beam on the east end of the sun porch. To leave it outside and still connect it to the aquarium inside the living room it was necessary to move it to the north wall. Rather than remove the gutter and disturb all the plants again, we fastened a 2×4 to the back of the plant wall and moved it with the tractor. It was a little time consuming but very easy nothing damaged in the move.
There’s no way to get it back into the house using the tractor but I wish we could. This last move was incredibly easy.
I’m planning the changes I want to make to our aquaponic system when the wall comes back indoors.
This time I want the water level in the aquarium to be fixed, so I’m planning to install a sump. In reading up on sumps I ran into a good tutorial on one of the salt water aquarium sites. What I found delightful, beyond how clear and informative the information was the author’s style. “I once had a zebra goby that, despite my lectures, would make the trip several times a week before I finally managed to find an effective way to enforce the height restrictions on the ride.” Part 3, sump tutorial
Wadly’s changing to a bigger tank. The new tank is the same depth front to back but is 4″ taller and 18″ longer. That’s a fairly significant increase in water volume. The addition of a sump bumps the volume even further. I will be able to have the tank heater and small circulator pump in the sump along with the larger pump required for feeding the wall. Moving the pump and heater out of the tank will really clean up the inside which will make Wadly even happier.
Wadly’s current tank has been very successful. Having it attached to the wall keeps the tank’s inhabitants fairly healthy and clean with little work on our part. The tank’s health and stability are supported by the baby catfish, baby guppies and, most surprising of all, baby neon tetras we’ve had since the tank was established. The baby tetras were jousting last night. They’re so flashy it’s easy to see their antics from across the room.
I’ve moved the plant wall into the sun porch for the next two months. Terry wants to change his tank to a larger one and I need to solve my recurring aphid problem, so the wall’s out!
When I move the plant wall back in I’m going to make a couple changes. I am going to mount the gutter on the room’s wall instead of attaching it to the plant wall. Moving the plant wall with the gutter attached was not a productive act. The way I’d built it, the gutter couldn’t be removed from the plant wall without taking the plant wall off the room wall. The only way to set the wall down was on the gutter. Yeah, it was ugly. There was no permanent damage done but it was beyond messy.
The mounting system is a success. The plant wall was easy to lift off the mounting bracket. I’d definitely recommend using that scheme. To hang the plant wall in the sun porch Terry used deck screws to fasten a beveled 2×4 to the horizontal support beam in the sun porch. The wall slipped right on it with no fuss.
I’m using a temporary gutter right now made out of billboard vinyl. It’s not bad! The hydroton is light and takes up enough room so when the gutter is full of water it isn’t too heavy for the quick and dirty support assembly I build using 2 sticks screwed to the ends of the wall frame holding up a metal rod taped and rolled into the vinyl at the front. The vinyl trough ends are folded up and stapled to the wall frame. It doesn’t leak and it doesn’t add to the weight of the wall. It’s not a permanent solution but it is a quick and dirty temporary one that works. The drain is a threaded bulkhead fitting with a piece of plastic water pipe inserted in the top. The water pipe has holes drilled to allow the water to drain. The closer to the top of the pipe, the more holes I drilled. It’s just enough to let the gutter flood to the right depth and slowly drain when the pump shuts off.
I’ve got the pipe for the new gutter ready to cut and mount but I’ll wait until the new aquarium is in so I know where to place my drain hole. The new aquarium is 18″ longer so I have some good options. I won’t be able to use a hard plastic threaded bulkhead because of the curve of the pipe but I have some Uniseal bulkhead fittings. If I don’t have the right size I’ll order some more.
To keep the fish in the aquarium happy and healthy, I’m doing the water changes via buckets. I siphon 5 gallons of water out of the 25 gallon wall receptacle and I siphon 5 gallons of water out of the aquarium. Then I dump the aquarium water into the plant wall receptacle and the plant wall water into the aquarium. It doesn’t take long, isn’t messy and isn’t very tedious so I’ll continue to do that twice a week until Terry gets the tanks swapped and I can move my plant wall back in. We’ve got lots of baby fish right now and the catfish has just laid eggs again so I don’t know how he’s going to manage the swap without disturbing everyone.
I got my new begonias in the wall yesterday. They arrived in rough shape, which I think is to be expected when live plants are shipped. The box was a bit smooshed.
In the wall I’ve got two angel wing, two that are pale silver (Napoline and Snow man) and a couple that have curly leaf edges (Curly Annie and Curly Eyelash). There are even two that are a combination of all the above . . . okay, maybe not the Angel Wing bit, but a pretty green spotted or ringed in silver. I’ve also put two small plants that broke off from the parent in the gutter to hold them over for LouAnn’s wall.
I didn’t put all the new begonias in the wall. Of the dozen I received I still have four in pots. I’ll put those in LouAnn’s wall as well.
Now that all the other plants have been moved out for the summer, I can get a good picture of the gutter begonia in all its glory and litter. This is the dichotomy of prolifically flowering plants indoors. The litter is non-stop but so is the beauty. Click the image for the full impact.
The Cape Primrose has started it’s continuously blossoming cycle. After the initial single blossom stalk, each new leaf will produce at least two stalks with two blossoms per stalk all the way through the summer. Unlike begonias whose blooming period comes and goes, the Cape Primrose will just keep producing gorgeous blossoms.
The plant showing the single blossom is one of two or three. If you click on the second image you will see a new stalk starting on another plant. If you look closely you can see the base of the blossom stalk comes out of the base of the leaf.
The wall has gloxinia in it as well. I don’t know if or when it will bloom. The fun is in watching to see what happens.
The wall is doing really well. The gutter begonia is ridiculous and the floor is littered with discarded pink petals. The flowers are appearing in a slow wave from the bottom of the cascading growth to the top.
The avocado all have multiple roots, though no stalk has appeared. I am expecting to see that feature shortly.
The hoya has finally started to grow. This is a very promising sign.
I got an email from Keith at Rex Begonias. My plants should be here today or tomorrow.
I’ll be filling in some of the empty spots in the next couple days.
Here’s a great thing to share with you, a video of Patrick Blanc giving a presentation on vertical gardens at the California Academy of Science. The video is an hour and a half long and is broken into parts. I didn’t have any trouble with buffering, so give it a try. He talks about all his walls, what was good, what was bad and includes maintenance, inspiration, plants he used, insect control, maintenance . . . it’s well worth watching at least once if not more.