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Dirt Ball Care

Dirt Ball Care

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This article explains how to take care of a Wabikusa composition based on our Dirt Balls.


Misting is an often discussed topic in the world of Wabikusa. Some people claim that if plants have been fully converted to their emersed state, misting and spraying aren’t necessary. From our personal experience, misting is definitely recommended, although not mandatory. We have kept many layouts without misting and they have grown very well, but it can give the plants a healthier look and prevent them from drying out, while also greatly helping plants which haven’t been fully converted yet.

Water and equipment used for misting

We can mist multiple times a day, it is very hard to ‘drown’ water plants. We mist using dechlorinated water, ideally water treated with a reverse osmosis system. We also had great results using aquarium water. As long as the water used isn’t too hard, there shouldn’t be any issues.

We mist using a mister which sprays as finely as possible. Also, you can encourage plant growth using DOOA Wabi-kusa Mist, which is a spray-on fertilizer made specifically for Wabikusa. It prevents mold growth, repels pests, and adds a very nice aroma to the Wabikusa.


Some plants can grow quite quickly in their emersed form ( Bacopa Monnierifor instance) and shortly after planting, we can find ourselves in a situation where trimming is necessary. The good news is that we do not have to throw the trimmings away, because they are ready to be replanted straight away. How does one do that?

First, we trim the plant right above its leaf.

Similar to the initial planting process, we then create a new hole using our tweezers .

And then we plant the trimmed-off stem into the hole.

This way, we can eventually multiply the number of plants in our composition.

Trimming roots

If the Dirt Ball in your composition is fully visible, over time you will notice that the roots of the plants completely permeate the Dirt Ball and then creep along the bottom of its container. We can trim these roots without concern, it will not harm the plants in any way.

Changing water

If the Dirt Ball isn’t a part of some bigger system (e.g. it isn’t part of a shallow tank layout), it is usually in a container with a bit of water. (Pictured: DOOA Glass Pot Shizuku) We of course top up this water to compensate for evaporation. Because of that, undesired chemicals collect in the water, therefore we recommend changing the water once a week. Use dechlorinated water from the tap (as long as it’s not extremely hard), reverse osmosis water or water from your aquarium.

Preparing your Dirt Ball for when you go on holiday

If we are about to leave the Dirt Ball without care for some time, we have to ensure that it will get enough of two things - water and light. We recommend setting up a timer for the light, which will regulate the lighting period (we recommend around 10-12 hours a day). When it comes to water, we can add more water than we normally would. The key factor is going to be evaporation, which can, especially in the summer months, lower the water level by huge amounts every day. Because of this, it is ideal to cover the whole composition with something transparent, which will help with excessive evaporation. A great solution would be using the DOOA Shizuku, which is covered with a glass cap, or glass covers, if you're using open tanks. With regular tanks and containers, we can use a glass cover or even transparent plastic film. It is not necessary to fertilize the ball before leaving. If we cover all the points mentioned above, going on holiday shouldn’t be an issue for your Dirt Ball composition.

In conclusion

Taking care of a Wabikusa isn’t very complicated, especially when compared to high-end aquascapes. Wabikusas will reward your care with impressive natural beauty, which is well worth the few moments spent caring for it. It is crucial not to let your Dirt Ball dry out completely. The good news is that even if there is no extra water left around the Dirt Ball, the moisture collected in its soil will allow the plants to survive, even for a day or two. 

© OPAquatics 2022 (Autor: Pavel Ottl)