Dry Start Method: 7 Tips for Success – SF 027

Art PennomAquarium Plant Guide, PodcastLeave a Comment

Dry Start Method

Dry Start Method

What is the Dry Start Method?

Popularized by Tom Barr back in 2007, the Dry Start Method is intended to solve a problem people have with setting up an aquarium with tiny carpet plants. The problems are:

  • These plants, like Hemianthus callitrichoides or HC, have tiny roots that are extremely difficult to plant.
  • There’s a tendency to float when you flood the aquarium with water.
  • HC also needs a lot of light and CO2 to grow well and carpet the aquarium bottom. Pressurized CO2, strong light and clear water are needed to get it established well in the aquarium. Not everyone can start with the right equipment and frequent water changes needed for clear water.
  • Algae is a risk until HC really takes root.

Dry Start Method

From Tom’s article, the benefits of the dry start method are:

  • No algae
  • No water changes/loose pieces floating around/being pulled up
  • No replanting
  • No cycling the aquarium
  • No dosing
  • No fiddling with CO2
  • No having to buy a lot of plant material initially
  • No transition from emergent to submersed states(some plants will, but with good CO2, this is greatly minimized)
  • No extra electrical cost running other equipment during the dry phase.
  • No labor
  • Can do it outside in a tray even………

Dry Start Method: 7 Tips for Success

Dry Start Method in PracticeTips:

  1. Light for full 10–12 hours to power photosynthesis and growth.
  2. Cover with cling wrap or glass or plastic. 100% for a few days then slowly peel corner.
  3. Hills are OK but you may want to pre-saturate. In fact, always pre-saturate. No puddles!
  4. Inert substrates will require liquid fertilizer. Dilute foliar fertilizer
  5. Patience! Resist the urge to flood! Wait 3–6 weeks at least
  6. When flooding, do 3–4 large 80%+ water changes to flush out substrate.
  7. Mould or fungus – H2O2 1:4 with water or Excel straight up

Not everyone thinks the dry start method is the bomb. Niko’s post on APC for example. He suggests an ebb and flow system.

Focus on You

  • Five star iTunes Review! Yay!

The Best! by A_single_non from Australia “Art has come a long way since starting the podcast. He does a good job and is the only current podcast related to aquascaping. Keep it up! I really enjoy them and have listened to all of them.”

  • Barry from South Africa

    Hi Art. Thank you for allowing me to become a member of ScapeFu. I’ve been an avid ’scaper for about ten years now and find your site to be very informative and easy to navigate around. your articles are not only relevant and packed with good practical advice, but easy to understand as well. I found the WabiKusa article very informative and a few tips that I will definitely try on my next one.

  • Rob

    Hi guys, Just wanted to drop you a note and thank you for all of the work you do to share your experience and wisdom. I know the podcast/website is a ton of work to keep going, and is more of a labor of love for you instead of a revenue stream. One thought for topics – let’s help a newbie segment


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The easiest way to reach us is via email. Art is at art@scapefu.com, JJ is at jj@scapefu.com and Jurijs is at JS@scapefu.com.

Links Mentioned in This Episode and Additional Resources

Image of bedroom dry start method is courtesy of and copyrighted by magpie 

Images used in header, featured image and body of post are courtesy of and copyrighted by DaveSurfer

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