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I haven't tried it yet. Wasn't sure what soil to use. Not sure if this pic qualifies as wabi-kusa, I suppose not because wabi-kusa is a term invented by ADA and refers to their product which we can't get over here. But I thought they were cute. Love the ones in the shot glasses.


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Thought I would copy Jungle's clay comments here because of the reference to Wabi-kusa.

Wellll.....first I get some red clay from the local art supply shop.

Then I slice it into 1cm slabs and allow them to dry .

Then I use a kitchen grater to powder it.

You could get a lump of dry clay and smash it with a hammer

then sift it.

This allows me to mix it evenly with,say peat,or soil.

It also makes a great mix which, when moistened becomes elastic.

I then make it into balls for Wabi-Kusa.

Didn't mean to change the direction of this thread.

Just illustrating the benefits of powdering the clay.

You can also mix Osmocote or Blood-n-Bone with this and make it into little balls.

When dry,they make great little fertiliser pellets to poke into the substrate..

I'd love to see more details on the making of the Wabi-kusa balls. What are you using to keep the ball together? How do you prevent substrate clouding the water? What sort of lighting? If you want to put fish in there, can the wabi-kusa ball be relied upon to do all the filtration? A proper filter would spoil the look I reckon. So would a heater. I see wabi-kusa as ikebana using living water plants and a clear container so you can view it from the side. So it needs to be treated like a flower arrangement and be complete and decorative the whole time. You can't have it hooked up to CO2, heaters and filters, which get removed just prior to photographing like we do with an aquascaped tank.

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I make the clay balls and wrap them with damp Sphagnum [or live] Moss.

Then I wrap the whole ball with emerse grown stem plants etc.

Hairgrass,Cryptocorynes and small Swordplants also work.

Then I carefully wrap the whole thing with cotton to hold everything in place.

The balls are then placed in trays with about 3cm of water near a window,

or under Halide or strong Fluoro lights.

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you can have a island of substrate in which to plant the fully aquatic plants, then, ontop of this, the island that you build from the balls is where you plant your semi aquatic plants. depending upon the plants that you use in the fully submerged part of the wabi-suba determines whether you desire filtration or not. filtration or a power head would be useful just to provide aeration to the substrate.

otherwise, you can use a very porous chunk of rock, can't remember its name, as the starting point of the substrate island on which to place your plants. ontop of the porous rock, you use the 'muck balls' or fertilizer balls on which to place your semi aquatic plants or non-aquatic plants, like a ficus or willow. the muck balls are just to keep the plants in place. because the rock is porous, as the roots take hold, the roots will burrow into the rock, thus adhering to it. so, if your plants are non-aquatic, the water provides humidity which will keep the plants alive until the roots reach the water. so the water can also be used as decoration. very penjing-like.

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Lilli...I do grow the emerse plants myself but sometimes get them from the lfs.

Most of the stem plants from Pisces are grown emerse,not to mention most of the Crypts and Swords.

This is why we can have problems with leaf-drop when the plants are first placed in the tank.

Emerse foliage develops a protective cuticle on the leaves to avoid dessication.

When placed under water,the plant has to grow a new set of leaves.

So if you find out which day plants arrive at your lfs,it's Wabi-Kusa Bonanza.

Pisces grow the plants emerse because it is much faster and avoids algal problems.

This is how I grow my Glosso and Hc as well.....soooo much better as they are not true aquatics.

Wabi refers to the Japanese concept of beauty in the unfinished,unstructured and unplanned ways

of Nature.

Wabi-Kusa can be dropped into a tank where they will sprout,almost at random,surprising and delighting the viewer.

I find the clay holds together quite well so long as I let it dry enough to be quite firm.

I think Faewyns idea of the hairnet is great,particularly with finer leaf plants.

Cotton,though very fiddly,gives me more control with rosette plants and also for allowing the growing tips of plants

like Bacopa and Ludwigia to be free and undamaged.

Java Moss is great to wrap around them,as is the sheet type moss found growing in gutters,the bush and elsewhere.

Some of the moss found growing emerse will sprout under water,but none of the Australian mosses are

obligate aquatics.Did you know there are more than ten species of Fissiden growing in the bush in Queensland???

Haha....so many toys....so many questions......must start a thread about Apical Dominance as a tool in planted tanks.........

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I'm supposed to be asleep, but just had to say Wow! Those are lovely. I'm going to need some step-by-step with pictures type instructions, but just have to give this a go.

(Jungle, I read somewhere that most moss found near water can also be found submersed, so i pulled some up from between my pavers where it is always wet, and dropped it in a tank. It's form changed completely from a cushion of lush green to some fairly spikey looking upright growing shoots, but it seems to be growing well. Is it safe to just keep collecting moss and trying this? Are there any toxic versions?)

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Lilli....I don't think any of the mosses are toxic.Here are a few links to whet the appetite.




Edited by JUNGLE
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:cheer: The ANBG sight was where I read about the moss! Thanks Jungle, I couldn't remember. I read the entire sight, not sure how much of it I retained, but I must say I found it quite intriguing.

Going to read the other one now!

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Hey Bender....Last year I was submerged in Bryophyte sites for a full two weeks!

Wish I had bookmarked some of the places I ended up!

I don't think I could get obsessed enough to find them all again.

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  • 10 months later...

The boys at Aquaristic have put a table at the front of their shop as an outlet for my autistic tendencies.

They have also been kind enough to have some tanks made to my specs.

I've been collecting and testing different swampy,aquatic plants to use in these tanks.

Some of the designs will use Wabi-Kusa principles.....referring to the beauty in nature of the unfinished and unpredictable growth patterns.

SInce most tanks are viewed from the side,I decided to have a range of shallow tanks suitable for 'bringing nature inside'.

They will only need bright light from a North facing window or a cheap desk lamp to keep them going.

They are designed so the viewer observes from above,lending another edge to aquascaping.

I will be using hairgrass,stem plants,ficus species,ferns,mosses,as well as Glosso etc.

Hoping they will give apartment dwellers the sense of having a garden to enjoy and look after.

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