Ask a Question forum: I Need a Micro-Plant Expert!

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Oct 15, 2015 7:21 PM CST
Hello everybody. I need some advice. I built a saltwater aquarium or "plaudarium" a few months ago with the intention of having small terrestrial plants growing on and in the background above the water. This has proven more challenging than expected. Most of the plants I have tried have all whithered away and died within a few weeks due to the salty environment extruding water from the leaves. The only plant that has survived the past 5 months is a Lithops succulent, and it hasn't grown, just survived.

I was hoping to get some advice on plants that may live adequately in this environment, BUT there are requirements, the plant needs to: tollerate high light (200 watts of full spec LED with supplemental 6500k diodes), tollerate little water, have very small root systems, tollerate salty air and remain small in stature. My want list is, something that flowers, something that vines, and something with some color. I realize that my criteria is very restrictive and I probably wont get many options. But any suggestions would be very helpful! I've added some pictures so you may be able to get a better idea of the situation

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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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Oct 16, 2015 7:32 AM CST
I don't claim to be an expert at anything except making mistakes, and have NO experience anywhere near the realm of your very cool project, but you can search the database here for salt tolerant plants. On this advanced search page:
Under resistances, near the bottom, is a checkbox for salt tolerant. You could include whatever other criteria you'd like, to only see candidates that meet those criteria in your search results.

If you need to take a trip to a beach to do "research," we would all understand very well! :+) Good luck!
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Oct 16, 2015 9:14 AM CST
Here on ATP we mostly deal with plants in ground, in pots, in planters, plus hydroponic gardening and aquaponic gardening. Sort of each thing separate. Putting together the paludarium is a huge undertaking and will be tricky to get everything to co-exit and thrive.

There was some discussion about planted aquariums, focusing on pretty plants and fish, which lasted a few months here:
The thread "Planted aquariums" in All Things Gardening forum

I found a site discussing paludariums...

Another here...

So far all I know is to narrow the search by using the keywords "salt tolerant plants marine paludarium"; most results are from folks asking if it's possible and most answers suggest Mangroves...not exactly tiny plants. There will be salt creep up the sides of the glass so you'll have to deal with that.

I agree Yep, a visit to the shoreline or similar place might give you some ideas.
Don't know where you live. Here in Savannah we have access to the University of Georgia UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium:
Don't know if that wasn't much help. Hope you succeed; this is an interesting project. Thumbs up
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Oct 16, 2015 9:39 AM CST
I only had a very brief experience having an aquarium years ago. My understanding is to have tropical plants growing there you have to be maintaining a freshwater aquarium and not saltwater aquarium.

Even in going around various aquatic shops, the saltwater aquarium I see at times have flora underwater simulating coral reefs. Oftentimes, above the water line, it is just rock and slab design. But if it is a freshwater aquarium, then you can have a better selection of tropical plants to choose from.

Oct 16, 2015 10:10 AM CST
Thank you guys for the suggestions. I currently work at an aquarium store and have for the past 5 years so I've got access to hundreds of FW plant species, however being that it's a saltwater plaudarium none of those would work. I do plan on adding mangroves and a number of macro algae species soon but since they're a semi-submersible plant they will go in the sloped plane on the right side of the tank. For the background I may stick to succulents since they seem to be the best option as far as survivability but don't really go with the theme of the tank. And I live in central Indiana at the moment so unfortunately no oceanside access. Thank you all for the suggestions.
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Oct 16, 2015 10:25 AM CST
Lithops typically only grow once a year anyway, usually in the winter. That there is no growth now for months would seem normal.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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Oct 16, 2015 1:17 PM CST
I know that the succulent Dudleya farinosa grows on the large rock outcrops on the coast of Oregon. The rocks are surrounded by the ocean at high tide, so this species is very salt tolerant.
Name: Dee Moore
Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a)
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Oct 18, 2015 9:29 PM CST
I live on the left coast like valleylynn and I agree you should try some different succulents. If you'd like a box of small succulent plants and cuttings Treemail me, I'll send you some. I have quite a few small ones as I use them for fairy gardens.

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