View Full Version : Advice on substrate for black mangrove terrarium/riparium?

09/21/2017, 12:32 AM
Hi everyone! New user here, and just finished reading through the mangrove sticky, some really great stuff in there. I just have a few things where I was hoping maybe to get some advice or feedback from anyone here who has experience with growing black mangroves. Most importantly: what substrate mixture would be best for the kind of setup I'm planning?

Right now I have a black mangrove that's over a year and a half old, but I've abused it a bit with multiple transplants, cool and dry summer weather (Seattle outdoors), and I don't think it's loving the current substrate I have it planted in either. Here are some random photos I've taken over the last year and a half, most of which while it was planted in a 20-gal brackish aquarium:


At the moment, it is in a smallish plastic bin from IKEA (like in that moving container photo), which I had intended to just be what I moved it across the country in, but it's now been a couple months and I haven't gotten around to getting its setup ready yet. Until now!

I have purchased a 30-gal "Tuff Stuff" oval-shaped black plastic tank, and I'm hoping to make that the permanent home of this mangrove as I nurse it back to good health under strong lighting in my basement. My vision is something similar in concept to the tank shown in the photos above, but with a better divide between water and land, and the mangrove planted near the center between the two. I will keep it fairly brackish, but most likely let it fluctuate a bit with waterings and water changes.

And this gets me to my main question: what mixture of commercially available substrates would be ideal for a black mangrove? I've ordered some Mangrove Mud (which is already about 1/3 of its current soil mixture), and I'm planning to mix that with some crushed coral/limestone gravel and topsoil, but I'm not sure if this is a good combination, or what ratios I should be aiming for. From the ecosystems where I've seen these things growing in South Florida, I'd say a rich organic (anaerobic) mud is the goal, I'm just unsure how to best achieve that with what I can get here in Seattle!

Michael Hoaster
09/22/2017, 10:49 PM
Florida Pets dot com sells some rich, stanky mud I bet your mangrove would like. Potting soil should work too. Even yard dirt. You can cover it all up with at least an inch of sand to keep things pretty.

10/31/2017, 11:16 PM
Just thought I'd update:

The tub is planted and the water area is cycling. I'm planning to add a nerite snail (the eggs will add a tidal zone authenticity, I think), then eventually try some mosquitofish in there.


The plants (left to right) are the black mangrove (grown from sprouted propagule), sea purslane (collected from a S. Florida beach), and in the buried plastic bowl up top, holywood lignum-vitae (Guaiacum sanctum), which I grew from seeds collected from a specimen growing in a friend's yard in the upper FL Keys.

For substrate, it's a mixture of Carib Sea mineral mud, generic garden topsoil, and coarse aragonite, topped with a mixture of sand and aragonite.

I plan to modify the shoreline a bit once the sea purslane roots start to hold it together, probably will add some larger chunks of coral/limestone around where the airstone is.

Michael Hoaster
11/01/2017, 03:19 PM
Looks great! Thanks for the update!

saltwater sam
02/02/2018, 08:21 PM
Nice mangrove! Any updates on this project?

02/02/2018, 08:38 PM
Not much has changed!

It turned out too much salt was getting into the lignum-vitae despite the plastic bowl barrier, so I pulled it out to provide urgent care. It's not looking good, but hopefully will pull through.

I've got a pair of mollies in the lagoon, the sea purslane is slowly spreading, and the mangrove looks about the same. Maybe one new set of leaves! I'll try to post a photo later when I check on it.

02/02/2018, 09:01 PM
Check out the album linked in the first post, just added a couple photos.

I've also rigged our basement dehumidifier to drain into the water here, so I just remove a few bucketfuls a week and add salt to the pump reservoir in a bucket next to it (photo shows salt-adding day). Salinity varies a lot, but that's typical of tidal plains around lagoons anyhow.

saltwater sam
02/03/2018, 06:19 AM
Very cool setup winn. It reminds me of the black mangroves I saw in Northern Florida a few years ago! http://reefcentral.com/forums/album.php?albumid=9019