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Giga

Mangroves,aquariums and you!

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Giga

Let’s start out with some science and descriptions of mangroves. This is a little lengthy, but it is a good read and should have everything you should need for good husbandry. Also I am neither a biologist nor scientist, I’m just an addicted hobbyist like everyone else lol. So this is not the say all end all-I’m just passing my experience on to everyone else. Also all these are my pics but a couple

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangrove

 

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Mangroves are various types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S. The remaining mangrove forest areas of the world in 2000 was 53,190 square miles (137,760 km²) spanning 118 countries and territories. The word is used in at least three senses: (1) most broadly to refer to the habitat and entire plant assemblage or mangal, for which the terms mangrove forest biome, mangrove swamp and mangrove forest are also used, (2) to refer to all trees and large shrubs in the mangrove swamp, and (3) narrowly to refer to the mangrove family of plants, the Rhizophoraceae, or even more specifically just to mangrove trees of the genus Rhizophora

About 110 species are considered "mangroves", in the sense of being a tree that grows in such a saline swamp, though only a few are from the mangrove plant genus, Rhizophora. However, a given mangrove swamp typically features only a small number of tree species. It is not uncommon for a mangrove forest in the Caribbean to feature only three or four tree species. For comparison, the tropical rainforest biome contains thousands of tree species, but this is not to say mangrove forests lack diversity. Though the trees themselves are few in species, the ecosystem these trees create provides a home for a great variety of other organisms.”

 

Now that that you know a little about mangroves, there are three common mangroves found in the aquarium hobby- Rhizophora mangle/Red mangrove(most common), Avicennia germinans/Black mangrove, and Laguncularia racemosa/White Mangrove(least common) as well as Avicennia marina Grey Mangrove(can be called white mangrove as well)

(Not my pic)

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Let’s take a look at the most common mangrove in the aquarium hobby Rhizophora mangle or Red mangrove. I’m not going to go into great detail about mangroves in the wild and how they grow but I will touch on how they go about doing their thing.

 

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Planting your red mangrove -The above picture is a picture of one of my mangroves and the arrow is pointing to the lenticels (gas exchange hole), which is how mangroves are able to adapt to such low oxygen conditions-such as growing in water and mud. The picture above also shows the prop roots which is another reason they can grow in water, as they grow above it. One of my observations is that the roots should be anchored (planted) in some sort of growing medium (sand, mud, silt).

 

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What this looks like (Above pic) is putting the seed pod(s) in the sand as opposed to have them floating in the water, you will get far better growth using this method. If they are always floating in water the mangrove will not thrive and possibly wither away, as it can cause the mangroves seed pod to put too much energy to producing roots(this is not always true but coupled with low lighting-at least weak growth-at worst death). If you have some bonsai experience this can come in handy to grow them in a shallow medium. Just be careful when trimming roots as the roots are a spongy type of roots under the soil and red mangrove are finicky about root pruning. Getting aerial roots on your red mangrove comes down to a couple things.

 

Time-the seeds need to mature and age-I got aerial roots at the 1.5 year mark

 

Planting them correctly-planting them like I said above and the mangrove will produce aerial roots once the seed pod is no longer green and a humid environment is provided

 

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djfrankn

Good post!

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Giga

To spray or not to spray? There seems to be a consensus that spraying your red mangroves is good for them, but why is that? First let’s look at how mangroves deal with salt, because salt is bad for any plant-it’s just mangrove have found a way to deal with it and thrive in that environment. There are two ways that mangroves deal with salt water-don’t let it in in the first place or allow it to pass through but kick it out and let the rain deal with it.

 

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The picture above is a Red mangrove leaf off one of my mangroves and if you notice or have a mangrove in your tank it’s a very waxy stiff type of leaf. The reason for this is to limit the water loss and the leaf is where a lot of fresh water is stored. Reds are able to close their pores off to limit water vapor loss during photosynthesis. They are also able to point there leaves directly at the sun to avoid the harsh tropical sun if it gets too intense. The main way Reds deal with salt water is to prevent the salt from entering from the roots via there spongy suberin(waxy material related to cork)roots.

 

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These roots prevent 95%ish of saline water from entering and the extra salt is stored throughout the tree. There seems to be conflicting theories on this, as some say it’s stored in the leaves then the leaf is dropped, but other stories say those leaves dropped have the same saline % as normal green leaves. Not being a scientist myself I’ll say whatever floats your boat. So the main reason to spray the leaves down is to help red mangrove fresh water loss and help clear the pores of dust as red mangrove do not extrude salt through their leaves. This also simulates there natural environment getting rained on all the time-I find that this should be done a few times a week( I usually do 1-2 times with RO water as RODI water seems to be too pure and can have a negative effect long term. This is just my observation so you’ll probably be fine with RODI.

 

(Not my pic)

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Now Black mangroves(above) is a very different story-mostly. As you see above black mangroves take in saline water, but the main difference is they expel it out there leaves and let the rain wash it away (white mangroves do this slightly differently but gonna lump them in here too). They have a different growing style but have many of the same aspects. Normal you find black mangroves more inland as they have the more typical trunk like your everyday tree but you can find them mixed in with red’s. The main reason you find them more inland is there roots grow underground, but due to the fact that they grow in the same ground as reds that’s hypoxic (no 0²) they grow pneumatophores. Pneumatophores are roots that grow above ground straight up and take in 0² (via lenticels). So it’s imperative you spray black mangrove leaves completely, as the salt will build up on the leaves if grown is a marine environment.

 

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What this looks like, if you want them in your aquarium, is to some get sort of container or aquarium and have the water lvl just below the growing medium (sand, mud or the like), and place the seeds on the sand and wait. Make sure the top of the sand is moist as this will trigger growth. Here’s the tricky part. There are two main factors to getting you black mangrove to grow pneumatophores.

 

Time which is simple-Just wait. Mine started to form them just after the one year mark.

 

You need to create a hypoxic environment to force the black mangroves to need 0². I did this by growing them in highly organic mud/loam-about 4” deep. I have also seen growing them a couple inches underwater in gravel and they would put out pneumatophores-but I have not tested this and it was done in fresh water (which I’ll touch on this in a second)

 

The seeds are in the little Tupperware just above the water line-sorry old pic from last tank

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Giga

Lighting. This is very important and sadly most people set ups are not cutting the mustard(not all just most). There seems to be two methods that people approach mangrove, when adding them to their system. The first thought is to add one or two to their sump and using a Spiral CF bulb to grow them-this is very inadequate for long term health. The other method is to stuff as many as they can into a tank and grow them for nutrient uptake(which they don't take a crazy amount unless you have a lot), which they may or may not have proper lighting but again this is not a good practice. Important rant “Mangroves should not be an afterthought when adding them to your system. They are living things and should be treated as such. I’m not trying to be a crazy person here but I think they should get as much attention as sps or any other organism. “End rant. Now that that’s over let get to what it should be.

 

Mangroves growing in the bright hot mexican sun

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If you’ve ever been to the tropics you’ll notice right off that bat that the sun is super intense! The reason is,is the sun is directly above you as opposed to a slant in the northern and southern hemisphere. This is where mangroves thrive. Your lighting should try and emulate this. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

 

lots of mangroves with bad lighting-my bad :P

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one mangrove with good lighting

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So what do you use? Well I’ve had good results from and 8x24T5H0 and MH. Be wary of metal halide as you want intense lighting but don’t want to cook the leaves off. If it’s too close the leaves will start browning and shriveling up. Right not I’ll be using a full spectrum LED setup. My setup is capable of putting out 20000 lumens and uses high end LED’s. The fixture is intense BUT it’s a few feet away from the mangroves. I’ve had good result growing plants in my vivariums and I expect the same from the LEDs and mangroves. I will update this as my results come in.

 

Getting compact growth Here’s where I’m gonna teach you some bonsai techniques.First off you need to make sure your mangroves are healthy and growing strong before you work on them. All my mangrove are over 2 years old with my oldest being 5 years old. Just make sure they're healthy before you try this as it will stress the tree.

 

Red mangroves have a long and leggy growth pattern and to help rectify that in your aquarium you trim. Also bright light, much like where they grow, will also help prevent long growth. Low light will force the tree to extend to reach for the light.

 

Long growth that has gone unchecked

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What I do is let it grow to 3-4 pairs of leaves then I’ll trim it down to one or two pair (make a judgment call as I do it down to one pair of leaves). You don’t want to wait too long before you do this as you want to make the cut at the base of a pair of leaves like so:

 

A good sharp pair of cutters is very handy to have

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After you make the cut new growth will grow from the base of each leaf-as there are dormant buds there, and stay dormant unless forced to awaken, like shown

 

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Black Mangroves Basically the same techniques from reds can be applied to black(whites/grey and buttonwood). The really the only difference is black mangrove will back bud. Meaning you cut the trunk you will get buds back on old wood very easily as opposed to red which have a harder time doing this and you run the risk of killing the mangrove as they don’t readily back bud on lignified branches (rigid and woody-not green)

 

old picture but lots of back budding goin on here

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Giga

Shaping you Mangrove This is a little advanced-so if you unsure I would search Google on wiring up bonsai. First thing is use Aluminum wire as mangrove will scare very easily, and if you intend to use these in your aquarium-copper is a no no if you have anything but fish in your tank. If it’s for you aquarium I would still use aluminum as it’s softer, cheaper and much easier to work with. Here’s how you do it.

 

holding the wire start at the base of the branch and start going up at a 45 degree angle

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Then go all the way up-i knocked off a leaf so yeah I even goof now and then

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Then make your bends-just watch out do don't bend to much on old wood and you get splitting, and you don't want splits bigger then this

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It’s best to leave the wire on for 2-3 month for the branch to set-to take the wire off get a good pair of wire snips and cut at the bottom of each wrap around and pull the little piece off.

 

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Tips and tricks Mangroves grow very slow because a lot of their energy is spent dealing with salt and growing in a marine environment. If you want to speed up the growth of mangroves grow them in fresh water. You’ll get much faster growth.

Grow them outside in the summer if you can-nothing beat the sun for growth! Just make sure temp will not go below 410 as that is the lowest temp they will tolerate and even then I don’t let them go below 600.

View it as a long term project-Nothing good comes fast from neither bonsai nor this hobby. Maybe you’ll find it enjoyable and get into bonsai’s and become one with nature lol.

 

Here's what you can get if you follow these ideals-this is still a work in progress as it's one of my older mangroves and need's some work soon

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If the mod wouldn't mine pinning this that would be cool as I think it's good info

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gulfsurfer101

Pretty awesome read! I'm going snorkeling today near a mangrove forest and could use some help with identification if that's not to much to ask.

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Mr. Microscope

Wow! Great writeup and a fun read. Pin!!!! Do you have any more pics of the mangroves you've grown (like pics of the whole plant)? This is a really inspiring article. I'm looking forward to breaking out my green thumb in addition to my salty one.

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Mr. Microscope

Also, could you go into more detail about potting media? What do you mean by mud? Do they prefer more alkaline or acidic soil? Can you just use commercial potting soil?

 

Do you feed them periodically? Is there a danger of polluting a tank under such circumstances?

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gulfsurfer101

Here's a few pics of the place a few minutes down the road from my house. I'm not sure what type of mangroves they may be but I'd be interested in finding out how to use them to export nutrients. I have a spare 20L that I can always plumb in to my extisting set up.

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Mr. Microscope

Here's a few pics of the place a few minutes down the road from my house. I'm not sure what type of mangroves they may be but I'd be interested in finding out how to use them to export nutrients. I have a spare 20L that I can always plumb in to my extisting set up.

Cool! Jealous..

 

If you just want nutrient export from a plant/macro, chaetomorpha is better suited to do that job. I think one of Giga's points is that though Mangroves can process a small amount of nutrients, they are a sensitive plant that need a lot of care and planning to look good in a display. They probably won't do well in a sump unless you have some serious lighting in there.

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gulfsurfer101

I do have mh and t5 fixtures on hand but my idea was to plumb into a deep mud 20L that's placed along a window for natural sunlight. I've found cheato to less effective than using sargassum. That's what I'm using I'm my sump atm. I'm only assuming that these are black mangroves from giga's description of the root system being completely underground and using these chutes sticking up to obtain oxygen.

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Giga

Wow! Great writeup and a fun read. Pin!!!! Do you have any more pics of the mangroves you've grown (like pics of the whole plant)? This is a really inspiring article. I'm looking forward to breaking out my green thumb in addition to my salty one.

I have 6 mangroves right now and a few of them are about 5 years old with around 4-5 aerial roots. I'm gonna wait to reveal them in my thread. Yeah I love bonsai's as I've been into that far longer then reefing around 13-14 years so I figured I'd combine the two-I've just now been able to put the two together successfully

 

Also, could you go into more detail about potting media? What do you mean by mud? Do they prefer more alkaline or acidic soil? Can you just use commercial potting soil?

 

Do you feed them periodically? Is there a danger of polluting a tank under such circumstances?

 

I knew I missed something-The best medium would be a reef sand or a highly organic fine mud, if you've ever been to a mangrove swamp or mud flat, the mud is very silty and you will sink in it if you step in it.Mangrove grove in mud that contain a lot of iron oxides (rust) and sulfate (SO4), which is the fuel for anaerobic decomposition-which is why you get nasty rotten egg smells-I believe this is acidic BUT I've used, sand,mud,loam,clay and even bonsai soil and they all seem to work. I would not use potting soil and that is really crappy when it gets saturated. I do feed but if you do it in a reef tank make sure it's safe. I just use stuff that is made for aquariums(planted tanks) and dose periodically. Just make sure there's no copper sulfates/oxides in it.

 

Here's a few pics of the place a few minutes down the road from my house. I'm not sure what type of mangroves they may be but I'd be interested in finding out how to use them to export nutrients. I have a spare 20L that I can always plumb in to my existing set up.

 

Those look like black mangrove to me but they could be grey but my bet is on black. The amount of nutrients they absorb is relative to their size. Even my larger mangrove don't take a huge amount in. So while they do take some-it's best to use another macro if you want nutrient export at a higher rate. I bet there are some mantis shrimp around there

 

Cool! Jealous..

 

If you just want nutrient export from a plant/macro, chaetomorpha is better suited to do that job. I think one of Giga's points is that though Mangroves can process a small amount of nutrients, they are a sensitive plant that need a lot of care and planning to look good in a display. They probably won't do well in a sump unless you have some serious lighting in there.

 

This is true but they are not super sensitive and they are pretty robust once established and past the seedling stages.

 

from last trip to PR

 

 

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That is awesome! I saw some like this in Cancun when we went out to the reef/s

 

I do have mh and t5 fixtures on hand but my idea was to plumb into a deep mud 20L that's placed along a window for natural sunlight. I've found cheato to less effective than using sargassum. That's what I'm using I'm my sump atm. I'm only assuming that these are black mangroves from giga's description of the root system being completely underground and using these chutes sticking up to obtain oxygen.

 

This sounds like a good idea-I think with T5Ho and natural sunlight it will look pretty cool in no time! and yes from the pics it does look like black mangroves-I think I even see salt crusted on the leaves.

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gulfsurfer101

Yeah that is salt crusted on those leaves. I'm more than certain now after reading a few articles concerning mangroves in my area. I have yet to see any mania shrimp there but I have found a huge queen conch and seen los of fiddler crabs. I'll be on the look out next time I'm there.

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Giga

So who's the mod to pin this?!

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ldballoon4

pin it!, pro write up!

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Mr. Microscope

So who's the mod to pin this?!

I just PM'd Chris about it. ;)
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Christopher Marks

Great work Giga!

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Giga

YAY! I'm working now on a couple things I may have missed and will update this from time to time and any questions asked :happy:

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Apexdv

Very I formative write-up, Giga! I'm currently considering flanking my nano-tank with small containers housing mangroves and somehow plumbing through the tank system. This article answered numerous questions I had. Thanks!

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Giga

Let me know if there's anything else I may have missed!

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Maniu

A quick & simple question to all of you with knowledge on the matter..... Would you recommend mangroves in a fuge? Pros & cons as well as setup options would be greatly appreciated. Great write up btw

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Giga

A quick & simple question to all of you with knowledge on the matter..... Would you recommend mangroves in a fuge? Pros & cons as well as setup options would be greatly appreciated. Great write up btw

 

Depends on what your intentions are for the fuge? If your looking for nutrient export I would use cheato or the like then mangroves, or you could do a combination of the two. As I said above you'll need some good lighting for good growth out of the mangrove-the nutrient export of mangrove is tied to the growth. Just fill the fuge up with a good amount of sand and plant the mangroves in it then place some sort of fast growing macro in there as well. Then place some bright lights and your gold. Just google fuges and a plethera will ensue.

 

Mangrove are tree's that grow to around 40' max and are not really intended for under the tank sumps/fuges. Display fuge is a different story.

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Maniu

Depends on what your intentions are for the fuge? If your looking for nutrient export I would use cheato or the like then mangroves, or you could do a combination of the two. As I said above you'll need some good lighting for good growth out of the mangrove-the nutrient export of mangrove is tied to the growth. Just fill the fuge up with a good amount of sand and plant the mangroves in it then place some sort of fast growing macro in there as well. Then place some bright lights and your gold. Just google fuges and a plethera will ensue.

 

Mangrove are tree's that grow to around 40' max and are not really intended for under the tank sumps/fuges. Display fuge is a different story.

 

I know what mangrove trees are lol swam thru 1000s of mangrove channels in florida keys. And yes, I am interested in natural filtration (refugium) in my future project and I'm trying to figure out the best possible options. Reef tank is what I'm after and implementing some sort of nutrient export/nitrite control is what I would like to learn more about. Thanks again

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Giga

Maybe an algea screen coupled with some mangoves?

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