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Red Mangrove Estuary Biotope


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I have started growing my Red Mangrove seedlings and after only a couple days I have new leaf spikes. They are growing in refugium live sand from Two Little Fishies and Fiji pink aragonite sand to about 6" depth. Once they get a little taller I will give them 10" depth. I also have bought seawater from a fish store's sumps. I specifically asked if I could get some gross fishy water to give the roots some nitrates and other nutrients. Current SG is at about 1.018.

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Aquarium specs 60 gallon fill:

-Acrylic 1/4" thickness

-18"x24"x48"

-10" tall brown acrylic planter sheet (this will be used to give the mangrove more depth and hopefully keep fish from digging in anoxic sand/mud)

-Weld-on 4

-3 chamber 20 gallon sump (freshwater/saltwater/brackish)

-submersible heater cable

-SG will vary from 1.005-1.015

Fish

Depending on availability:

-Figure 8 puffer-Tetraodon biocellatus (ideally a bonded pair)

- Zebra blenny- Omobranchus zebra or 6 bumblebee goby-Brachygobias sp.

-2-3 Freshwater Demoiselle- Neopomacentrus taeniurus

-6 Diamond killifish- Adinia xenica

-6-12 wild-type molly-Poecilia sphenops

-Purple spaghetti eel-Moringua raitaborua (species ranked as vulnerable, may omit)

Plants/macro algae

-Red mangrove

-Chaeto algae

-Vallisneria

-Moneywort

 

This biotope will attempt to look like a mangrove estuary, while replicating natural tidal shifts and river discharge. The aquarium style is a peninsula style designed to be viewed from all angles. With almost all of these fish needing territories I will incorporate live rock and faux coral heads throughout the aquarium to break up the line of site and give lots and lots of caves. The sand in the main display will be 6" deep with heater cable running through it to establish convection. I will utilize black worms and some marine worms such as Nereididae to not only be food but aerate the sand.

 

I will have to buy some of these fish online which I have never done in the aquarium trade. Is there a company that does a good job with fish health? Also if anyone has any suggestions/opinions I would love to here them I am still in planning stages while I wait for the mangroves to grow out a bit more.

Edited by Biotope Biologist
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How exciting! I've been interested in starting a mangrove paludarium for awhile, so I can't wait to see how this works out.

I don't know if nerite snails could survive a figure 8 puffer, but I'd be tempted to at least put some in the refugium to try to breed them. Pet stores never seem to be able to keep them in stock!

Otherwise, as far as fish go, most sources I buy from tend to focus more on freshwater fish, but I've had good experiences with Aqua Huna and Aquatic Arts to name a few.

Edited by Kirsten
Added fish resources
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  • 2 months later...

Well I neglected the first batch of mangroves and they all dried up. But I ordered some new ones that had a better start and we learned from the first experiment.

 

This time I'm going hardcore with humidity control. Here in the Seattle area during the summer humidity drops to 0-20% so I bought a greenhouse meant for tomatoes and modified it by duct taping a plastic bag under it. I bought a deeper resin pot, since the first cheap one I bought bowed when I added water. 

 

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

No huge updates here. Over the last month my mangroves have not put on new leaves, but have been adding woody growth which I imagine takes a fair amount of resources. Hopefully they will start attempting to branch out, I have acquired fish waste fertilizer and dilute it to about 1/18th of a teaspoon per gallon. I have green and brown algae starting to mat on the surface of the sand which I imagine is a good sign.

 

Updated fish list based on availability:

Fish

-Figure 8 puffer-Tetraodon biocellatus (ideally a bonded pair)

- Zebra blenny- Omobranchus zebra 

-2-3 Freshwater Demoiselle- Neopomacentrus taeniurus

-6 Diamond killifish- Adinia xenica

-6-12 wild-type molly-Poecilia sphenops

-Purple spaghetti eel-Moringua raitaborua

-Top hat blenny- Omobranchus fasciolatoceps (captive breeding program has been succesful)

- Kanu goby- Mugilogobius mertoni

-Spangled mangrove goby- Acentrogobius viganensis

Sheepshead minnow- Cyprinodon variegatus

- Three spine stickleback- Gasterosteus aculeatus

 

If I do keep top hat blenny and/or stickleback I will keep the temperature at a lower parameter of 72 degrees. I am hoping I can start getting this tank built and started on the long journey of establishment by the end of the year. Depends highly on the housing market unfortunately.

Edited by Biotope Biologist
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Don't worry about the mangroves.  Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is one of the most tolerant mangroves to grow.  Keep it's feet wet and it should be fine.  It is true that species like Rhizophora mucronata (oddly, also called red mangrove) are more tolerant of dry air, but you should be okay if they are putting on girth.  I've grown them a number of times and even under ideal circumstances I've found them to take a while to start growing prop roots.  Really cool when they do though!  For me they have grown immediately, then sat for a while (establishing?), and then they start up again.  Good information on different species here

Good luck with that tank!  I'm eager to see what you make of it once you are settled.

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On 4/4/2021 at 10:39 AM, Biotope Biologist said:

Aquarium specs 60 gallon fill:

-Acrylic 1/4" thickness

-18"x24"x48"

On the assumption that you are building your tank, one tidbit I'd like to share is adding a caulk line of Weld-On 42 along the bottom seams.  It is a bit of reassurance in case you get bubbles in the welded area with the Weld-On 4. 🤓

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  • 1 month later...

Another month and no growth to post pics of. The only pic I have is how well the anaerobic water is doing. It's starting to get that sewer stink with plenty of gas exchange. I had to disturb the surface to do a minor water change. Added purified seawater and some lovely smelling fish oil fertilizer.

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Not sure why they are flipping upside down.

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Hi I have nothing to add as way out of my depth here but following with interest!

If I may ask some questions though? First, I can't picture how the tank will look, will the planter go inside the tank or will the mangrove trees be moved and planted straight into the tank? If the former, will the planter be hidden? Secondly, how big will the mangrove grow? Can you keep it low with pruning etc? Lastly, and this is probably a longshot, do mangroves also grow in freshwater? 

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On 9/4/2021 at 3:08 AM, KentFishFanUK said:

Hi I have nothing to add as way out of my depth here but following with interest!

If I may ask some questions though? First, I can't picture how the tank will look, will the planter go inside the tank or will the mangrove trees be moved and planted straight into the tank? If the former, will the planter be hidden? Secondly, how big will the mangrove grow? Can you keep it low with pruning etc? Lastly, and this is probably a longshot, do mangroves also grow in freshwater? 

Thanks for the questions and interest!

 

The trees will be moved and planted into the tank. It will have a raised planter with about 10" of depth whereas the rest of the tank will only have about 6" of depth of substrate. I plan on using brown or sand colored acrylic for the planter to hide it as best as I can. I will also probably use some coral heads and trickery to hide it. Mangroves can be pruned bonsai style I believe by cutting the top stem at the desired height it'll stop trying to grow up and start growing out. Then I gotta read bonsai cultivation books to keep it tidy!

 

Also mangroves can and will grow in full freshwater it's just in the wild they are outcompeted by other trees and brush the further upstream you go because mangroves as I am learning are slow growers.

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On 9/4/2021 at 10:43 AM, Biotope Biologist said:

Thanks for the questions and interest!

 

The trees will be moved and planted into the tank. It will have a raised planter with about 10" of depth whereas the rest of the tank will only have about 6" of depth of substrate. I plan on using brown or sand colored acrylic for the planter to hide it as best as I can. I will also probably use some coral heads and trickery to hide it. Mangroves can be pruned bonsai style I believe by cutting the top stem at the desired height it'll stop trying to grow up and start growing out. Then I gotta read bonsai cultivation books to keep it tidy!

 

Also mangroves can and will grow in full freshwater it's just in the wild they are outcompeted by other trees and brush the further upstream you go because mangroves as I am learning are slow growers.

Thanks for replying! Sounds good, looking forward to seeing your progress with it and the eventual final product. Might give it a go one day myself!

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On 9/2/2021 at 8:30 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

Another month and no growth to post pics of.

No growth still?  Hmm. That seems a bit odd in my experience, and you are headed into a season they don't tend to love in more northern climes.  Cooler temps.  Houses get drier with artificial heating.  Do the leaves look healthy otherwise?  Are the stems still bulking up? 

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Welp...  I think the bathroom idea is a good one.  Sounds like they are healthy, just being slow for you.  I've grow them in a number of settings, but not had them be quite this slow to get going.  That's all.  I was just surprised.  I will say, I've never grown them in such a coarse mix as you have them in.  I've always done them in heavy soils.  Other than that, I'm guessing yours might just be sulking a bit. 

It's great to see the updates, and I'm excited to see where this goes!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was visiting my better half in Florida and we went to a botanical garden where I stumbled across this gem. Sea holly mangrove Acanthus ilicifolius

 

It appears to be used popularly in Indian and Southeastern Asian medicine, but other than that I cannot find an actual plant to attempt to cultivate. If anyone has any info I will pay you with likes and if you're lucky a smiley face emoticon.

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On 9/20/2021 at 2:33 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach

I don't know anyone there currently, but I'll ask around.

On 9/20/2021 at 2:33 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

I found a native nursery in Tampa that sells them but only for local pickup. 

This happens a lot!  Because Florida has everything there - pests, diseases, invasive species - getting anything to pass ag inspection for release can be a challenge if they company is not doing so at scale and so they just do local stuff.  You could get your companion to pick up the plant before you visit next?  Or to bring you a small one on a visit?  Alternatively, cuttings.  Cuttings don't carry the risk of soil pathogen transfer.  If you go that route, let me know and I can tell you how to package them for transport for the best chance of successful strikes.

It's a cool plant!

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The only problem is Tampa is 3 hours away from where she lives, but she will be on the lookout for me. We really like the look of holly. I actually have a really nice holly fern I rescued as well! 

 

If she does find it for me she should be able to walk on an airplane with clippings or beans, I'd imagine.

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