I think its finally time to show what I have been trying to achieve in the past year. I have been very hesitant to show it off as I wanted to wait till the plants thrive. Unfortunately, the summer hasn't been too helpful and my plants didn't do well at all. I don't think that will happen anytime soon, although I hope with all my heart that I am wrong. ALmost every plant inside has suffered as a result of the high temperatures. And on contrary to what you would think as an overly wet environment, on numerous occassions, the plants have nearly dried out inspite of the misting system. The fans work very efficiently and the media composition is very loose. On top of that, once sphagnum becomes dry, it doesn't absorb water easily. Hence due to many factors: busy life, neglect, low light (inspite of a 4x 4' T5 fixture), my plants have suffered and they look they are currntly in the worst state ever (almost everyone has stopped pitchering .. probably due to the past few months of 88F + day temps and 70F night temps). Over the top of the that, I have been having extensive BLACK SLIME MOULD on media problems and sphagnum doesn't seem to be liking these conditions.
Note: this is an older pic. I now don't use the humidifier anymore. ANd some of those plants in the nep tank are no longer in my collection.
This setup was a realization of a dream that I had since the beginning of my nepenthes obsession. I used to have a very large collection of a wide variety of plants and in the past year:
The above used to be my setup before the move last september into these tanks which were a great gift from my parents and brother. I sold off a lot of my plants to downsize it to these two tanks. They represent about 2000$ (1000$ for tanks (parents gift), over 800$ in plants (brother's gift)) of assets. The sad irony is that the hobo-style greenhouse setup was waaay more plant-friendly. THe sphagnum thrived and loved it. However, ever since I moved the plants into these tanks, things just haven't been the same.
Now, I am sure you think it looks beautiful. I love the way the tanks look. But this is a lesson that something that looks beautiful might not be as successful as you might hope. Sometimes the cheaper/simpler methods are more efficient and better at getting the results we want.
At this point, I am trying hard to optimize conditions in the tanks and get some sphagnum going again. As many have mentioned, sphagnum is like a "canary in a coal mine". If the sphagnum is in good condition, the plants will like those conditions too. If you look inmy old greenhouse setup, sphagnum used to thrive and form balls on top of the media many many inches thick. I lost almost all that sphagnum when my plants dried out during my cuba trip (mentioned in my macrophylla thread). There are only two pots (aristolochioides, jacquelineae) where it has survived and I am slowly propagating more form it.
I am also going to be checking my water supply soon. I used to have no algae problems when I used to buy distilled water form the stores. Ever since I moved them nto the tank,I have begun using RO water form my parents RO system. I guess I should look at the water quality there.
ANyways...I figured I might as well write about my experience and perhaps warn some people if they are thinking about making tank setups. (What not to do ).
I will end with some pics of what used to be...and what is.
THis is the last hamata pitcher I have seen in an year. I repotted the plant about an year ago and it hasn't ever been the same since. No pitchers since then. THis was nearly october of last year.
THis pic is of the plant taken a few months ago. Now it is stripped of all pitchers and looks water-stressed. I have repotted it again and this time put it in a bag to see if that will help.
I have also moved some plants higher in the left tank (communal plant tank) and trying to see if the higher light will help.
THis is a very very recent picture of how my tanks now look
Perfect example of "looks nice far away" but disaster "up-close".
Anyways... I know some people were asking me to show off how my plants look. Not as great as they once were.
Now...its open for opinions and feedback.
PS: I have considered about going back to the "ghetto-GH" setup. But I am too far into the investment with this tank setup. I need to do my absolute best to make it work. I know a setup like this can work. I just haven't gotten everyhting to "CLICK" yet. I am open to suggestions and ideas if anyone has any.