By Kit & Ben Knotts - Click images to enlarge
We have two 90 gallon galvanized stock tanks, placed for maximum winter sun. They are not quite level to allow for drainage off one end and are wrapped with Pink Panther insulation. Each has a 1500 watt stock tank heater from Nasco, one set at 85F for growth and the other set at 75F for maintenance of several juvenile plants we hope to over-winter.
THIS IS THE ONLY STOCK TANK HEATER WITH A THERMOSTAT
THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND! The usual stock tank heater is
really just a de-icer, keeping the water above freezing. Several
submersible aquarium heaters can also be used to heat this quantity
of water. A side note: the heater pictured is several years old
and has rusted in our salty environment, but it still works fine.
tank has racks, made of coated wire products from the closet
department of WalMart, to elevate the plants about 12" from
the surface. We use plastic shoeboxes, also from WalMart to hold
the 3 ounce Solo seedling cups - each container will hold 15
cups. Each tank also has a pool thermometer, native fish, ramshorn
snails and Nitella, an advanced form
of algae that is an effective and rather attractive "underwater
We made a frame of 2-by-4's rather than the hoops we've used in the past, thinking we might add a light and a fan, and have covered the frame with sheet plastic. The height of the "teepee" and slightly open ends are allowing adequate air circulation so that condensation doesn't accumulate on the pads, an invitation for fungus attacks. We so far are not seeing a need for supplemental light even though the tanks only receive about 6 hours of sun. We may still add a weatherproof fluorescent shop light that we found available at Home Depot.
The tanks are
near a stream which is quite near our well water source. A small
pump in the stream supplies a constant trickle to both tanks.
We have found this to be VERY important! Last year and earlier
this seedling season we made the 25% weekly water change that
we have previously recommended and still had substantial loss
of seedlings due to "melt" and lots of algae. Let us
say again that alga in itself does not harm Victoria seedlings
but can be a symptom of an unbalanced environment. Once we established
the small but constant flow to the tanks, the algae cleared up
and seedlings stopped melting. We are still early in the seedling
process for this year but think this flow may be the next critically
important element for success.