Tom's Bucket O' Mud (semi self-sustaining aquarium)
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Old 10-07-2011, 01:11 PM   #1
BigTom
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Tom's Bucket O' Mud (semi self-sustaining aquarium)


Hi all,

At the risk of spamming this on every fish forum going I thought I'd a post a bit about my largely self sufficient aquarium, as this seems to get discussed on here a fair amount.

As a bit of background, I set this up because I'm frequently away from home for 5-6 weeks at a time, and wanted an aquarium I could just leave on it's own for this length of time. As such it is entirely pragmatic and practical in it's design, and is not intended as a closed system, biotope 'simulation' or whatever.

Neither is this particualary new or innovative, pretty much all the ideas were stolen from somewhere or other. However, it does all work, so might be of interest to anyone considering a similar setup.

Specs:
3'x1'x3' 10mm glass aquarium, open topped
300W heater
70W metal halide light 2 feet above water surface (8 hours/day)
Small, heavily throttled powerhead providing very slow water movement to help prevent surface biofilm

Hardscape:

John Innes compost (unmineralised) cut 50/50 with sand, with pure sand cap
Some rocks, and locally collected heather twigs

Emergent plants:
Echindorus, water pickerel
Riparian plants ('foliage' houseplants from DIY shops):
Prayer plant, parlour palm, peace lillies, unidentified lillies. Planted in shower caddies using hydroton as a substrate.
Submerged plants:
Swords, crypts, mosses, hydrocotyle, Micranthemum micranthemoides, water lillies, other low-medium light plants, various floating plants.

Fauna:

6 Parosphromenus sp. 'sentang', 7 Bororas maculata, 4 otos, cherry shrimp, assorted snails, ostracods and other inverts.

Maintenance and feeding:

I normally just top off the water lost to evaporation with dechlorinated tap water and add beech/oak/ketapang leaves for the inverts to feed on. Roughly every couple of months I'll do a small water change, and sometimes supplement the food with the odd algae wafer.

Set up:

Once everything was planted I waited about a month for the plants to adapt (the riparian plants required a few weeks to grow new root systems) and for the initial ammonia spike to pass then added about 50 shrimp, the otos and a few other inverts - lots had arrived already on the aquatic plants. Once the shrimp population was looking good (about 3 months in) I added the rasboras, then the gouramis after another month or so when I was sure the food chain was stable.

Tank is now 10 months old and doesn't require any more maintenance than topping up the water and replacing the beech, oak and ketapang leaves as they are broken down. I do do a small water change every couple of months and supplement the feeding a bit when I happen to be home, but I don't feel it's essential.

The gouramis and rasboras seem to find plenty to eat in the tank (ostracods and baby shrimp are the main food items I think), and the otos always have bellies that I would describe as moderately rounded.

Video:

http://vimeo.com/30028289

Photos:








Parosphromenus 'sintangensis' (male) :


Parosphromenus 'sintangensis' (female):


Bororas maculatus (male):


Otocinclus affinis:


Neocaridina heteropoda var. "red" (female):
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Old 10-07-2011, 01:25 PM   #2
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Wow. That's a an awesome natural tank. Your photos are excellent. Thanks for this.
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Old 10-07-2011, 01:39 PM   #3
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what camera and settings did you use for those shots.
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Old 10-07-2011, 01:43 PM   #4
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WOW.
Gorgeous! I wouldn't want to leave the house for 4 -5 weeks, lol. You're photography is stunning, is that what you do for a living? I assume the b&w pic on the wall is yours, too?
~ Cindy ~
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Old 10-07-2011, 01:50 PM   #5
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Hi, thanks for the comments.

Macro shots were using Nikon D200, Sigma 150mm macro lens and flash mounted above tank, wider shots mainly with Sigma 10-20. Video using Panasonic GH2 (new toy!).

Photography is just a hobby really, but if you're interested then I have some shots over at http://hairytoes.deviantart.com/gallery/ (SFW).
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTom View Post
Hi, thanks for the comments.

Macro shots were using Nikon D200, Sigma 150mm macro lens and flash mounted above tank, wider shots mainly with Sigma 10-20. Video using Panasonic GH2 (new toy!).

Photography is just a hobby really, but if you're interested then I have some shots over at http://hairytoes.deviantart.com/gallery/ (SFW).
I can never get shots like that with my D3100....looks like i need some maco lens. I love the tank too
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
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Whatever you do for a living, drop it and make millions on your photography. Are you doing HDR photography? If so, it is so subtle it's perfect. If not, I want to take interent lessons!
Very, very stunning work.

OK - I'm only on page one, but WOO made me sick to my stomach - lol
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:33 PM   #8
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very nice!
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:53 PM   #9
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Beautiful tank, I love the placement and dimensions. And your photography is amazing!
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driftwoodhunter View Post
Whatever you do for a living, drop it and make millions on your photography. Are you doing HDR photography? If so, it is so subtle it's perfect. If not, I want to take interent lessons!
Very, very stunning work.

OK - I'm only on page one, but WOO made me sick to my stomach - lol
Hah, not sure my PhD supervisor would be happy to hear you say that!

I do not use HDR (99% of the time I do not like the effect it gives, although some people are able to utilise it wll). Instead I hand blend different adjustments, usually from a single original file.
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:09 PM   #11
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I know I keep staying off topic from your post, but your landscape photography sings to me. It is a blend of the mystical, the dreamworld, and the archaic memory. I find it very powerful.

I agree with you on HDR - if it is subtle, it is a great tool to open and balance exposures.
So now I have to ask, what photo editing program do you use??? lol Unless it's a secret...

I promise to stay on topic from now on!
~ Cindy ~
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:51 PM   #12
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Heh, no problem. I use Photoshop for all my processing (sometimes a little in Lightroom too). The basis of all my editing is using duplicate layers with different blending modes (overlay, multiply, soft light etc).
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:56 PM   #13
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Wow that is very nice. A short and broad tank like that is especially nice for a riparium-type planting because it creates such a pleasing pond effect and because it leaves extra water surface area open so the underwater portion won't be so shaded by the riparium plants.

Nice fish too! I really want to do a setup with Parosphromenus.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:07 PM   #14
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Cheers hydrophyte - your posts about ripariums were hugely helpful setting this up.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:12 PM   #15
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Well your setup sure turned out nice.

I want to try to build a tank with a shape like that. Since it relatively more shallow it would come together pretty easily I think and there'd also be much less risk of seam failure.
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