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Orchids in/near the fish tank


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Posted (edited)

I am curious if anyone has found a good solution to combining the orchid hobby with the aquarium? Mostly interested in finding a good solution to placing an orchid on top of a tank to draw in water without getting too water logged.

I recently got into the orchid hobby (long time plant grower) followed by planted aquariums [MTS = 20 gallon & 3 x 5-6 gal tanks in my first two months]. However, I am trying to find an option to combine the two. Aquarium water is a great fertilizer, and several other plants do well grown partially submerged.

I am not new to the idea that orchids do not do well with wet feet for too long, so I know it is going to require some designing of a water wicking container to balance the hydration.

Has anyone come across a good solution to growing orchids along side an aquarium?

Edited by TioTeo
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@TioTeoI did hydrotherapy on a moth orchid I've had for a few years, the roots had rotted entirely leaving only the woody stub, thankfully it had some aerial roots that could be trained down.  I put it in the small trap door of the cheap hood on my 10 gallon Shrimp tank for about 2 weeks.  It drew the fertilizer from the tank, got some LED and natural light,  as well the shrimp gave the roots a good cleaning.  I was able to replant it in new bark and it's doing terrific.  So far my only problem is I'm only a "one bloom wonder".  

Using indirect light, water dip the pot for 20 mins once a week, and fertilize every other week with Miracle Grow as advised by a local orchid grower.  The small one has a new leaf coming and I'm guessing another aerial root instead of a flower stalk!   It was a most beautiful pink as in the photo I took below.  If they get flower stalks again I'll faint!   Welcome to the forum. :classic_smile:

Orchid Fish Tank.jpg

Pair of orchids.JPG

IMG_3393.JPG

Orchid Vignette.jpg

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Orchids (by and large) are epiphytes and would die if left in water for any period of time. They're used to hanging out on the branches of trees. The most common orchid sold to the general public are the phalaenopsis orchids. They're quite easy to grow. By and large, orchids like a cooler night than a day, so if your home is too stable in terms of temperature it may not trigger them to flower. Moving them outside in the warmer months in a shady location can provide them the temperature swing they need to trigger flowering. Many like a 20 degree swing from warm to cool at night and most homes don't have that large of a swing. Setting them outside for the summer can often trigger a reluctant orchid to bloom.

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Posted (edited)

I’ve also soaked dehydrated  Phalaenopsis for long periods as recommended by folks in the Orchid hobby, but haven’t heard of anyone growing healthy ones with the lower roots submerged. 
Now, somehow suspending them over the tank with some sort of wicking system would be so cool! I’m imagining  some driftwood poking out the top with the Orchids attached. 
 

Here’s a rando internet pic for reference 

46D7E31B-715F-433F-9A85-64FD9A627737.jpeg

Edited by Patrick_G
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Posted (edited)

I agree, as epiphytes orchids to do not love long periods of perpetually wet roots, however, in large part this is due to the lack of oxygen they are able to receive due to standing water. I imagine if you were able to construct an above tank system to allow for water wicking up and good oxygen flow it would likely be a good environment for orchid growth. Now, not every orchid is the same (some like hot and humid, others like cool and dryer climates), but I imagine the standard phalaenopsis orchid would quite enjoy this. 

I am envisioning a mostly above tank holder (driftwood would be great) but if a few roots end up in the tank it may not be bad. As long as the orchid decides to grow down and can acclimate the roots to the water (i.e. taking aerial roots and plunking them in water may not go over as well). 

Here are a few videos of a long time orchid grower that has done this exact thing. There have not been any recent updates, but the plants survived at least a few months form the span of videos he has done on them.

May, 2019

May, 2019

July, 2019

August, 2019

I have also heard concern on forums over possible smells associated with using tank water to water orchids, but honestly, I do not see this being an issue. We are all familiar with the nice healthy damp smell of fish tank water, but if it goes rank it is usually an indication that something needs to be adjusted. 

I may have to try some experiments here...

Edited by TioTeo
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My wife and I have combined our hobbies, aquariums for me and orchids my wife. Many of her orchids are growing in LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate), think eco-complete in marble form. She sets it up so the roots end up dangling in about 2-4 inches of water and suspended in pots of LECA. Currently none of the orchids are directly hanging out of the tanks, but she does have some pretty exotic pothos varieties growing out of her 55. I save all my water changes for her plants.  I built a long plant table that is next to her tank, and the combo of added humidity from the tank along with the tank water for fertilizer works pretty well.
 

I added an image on one of her plants sitting on the  top of her light. I think it's a Hoya, not an orchid but it illustrates the LECA/water set up she uses.

orchid.jpg

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  • 4 months later...
On 5/12/2021 at 2:15 PM, TioTeo said:

I am curious if anyone has found a good solution to combining the orchid hobby with the aquarium? Mostly interested in finding a good solution to placing an orchid on top of a tank to draw in water without getting too water logged.

I recently got into the orchid hobby (long time plant grower) followed by planted aquariums [MTS = 20 gallon & 3 x 5-6 gal tanks in my first two months]. However, I am trying to find an option to combine the two. Aquarium water is a great fertilizer, and several other plants do well grown partially submerged.

I am not new to the idea that orchids do not do well with wet feet for too long, so I know it is going to require some designing of a water wicking container to balance the hydration.

Has anyone come across a good solution to growing orchids along side an aquarium?

I think you should figure out how to contact Johnathan Butkus. He spoke at our Fish Club via Zoom this past year (click link, scroll down). I _think_ maybe . . . he's an Orchid devotee. If I recall, he was talking awhile with Devon (Peru Amazon tour guide) about orchid on another Zoom call. He's really brilliant with aquatics. 

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