Lowest maintenance tank for vacation home, possible?
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Old 04-07-2011, 09:02 PM   #1
toffee
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Lowest maintenance tank for vacation home, possible?


I must confess that this is probably a bad idea, but would be great if it works.

I always wanted to have a tank in winter vacation home, but this home is unoccupied from June to Oct. After reading wkndracer's super low maintenance 55g. I am having fantasies. Once established wknracer change water very few months, no CO2 and no dosing.

What I want to do:
1. A super low tech 150-180g dirt tank designed to run without CO2 and dosing.
2. Lighting and feeding on timer.
3. Will have a webcam focused on it during the vacant months.
4. Can have friends to stop by infrequently to add food to feeder or perform emergency rescue.
5. Hardy fishes.
6. Slow growing plants.

Problems:
1. In summer, outside temp can go up to 125deg.
2. Power outage.
3. Leak etc.,

For the hot summer temp. I am thinking of running say 50ft of tubes 2-3 ft under ground and run the aquarium water thru the loop constantly or controlled by a thermostat. If I start in say Nov, I will have 5-6 months to get it established ...

Thoughts?

Last edited by toffee; 04-08-2011 at 05:29 AM..
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Old 04-08-2011, 09:27 PM   #2
sweet chariot
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My tank is the same low tech, except it uses gravel and its in my home so I don't use a timer. That part is definitely possible.

The part I would worry about would be the feeding on a timer, since I haven't heard much good with automatic feeders. I do like the idea of the underground tubing to regulate the temperature. Also, not being able to do water changes if something goes wrong seems a bit worrisome. Otherwise, though, it sounds interesting!
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Old 04-08-2011, 09:40 PM   #3
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For automatic feeder, I am thinking of investing in some heavy duty feeder like this one:

http://www.super-feed.com/

I am thinking of mostly gouramis for their abilities to tolerate higher temp and low oxygen. Not sure about other gouramis, paradise fishes in their natural habitat are known to survive dry seasons in small puddle of water with minimum food for months.

Of course decent battery backup system would be a must for the geothermal pumps.
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Old 04-08-2011, 10:11 PM   #4
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I personally wouldn't even consider it unless you also hire a company to maintain it.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
I personally wouldn't even consider it unless you also hire a company to maintain it.
My sentiment exactly until I read wkndracer's super low maintenance 55g.

I am still not 100% sure though.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:48 AM   #6
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I read about a dude in europe that went almost 100% low tech. The idea is you get a soil substrate, tons of marginal plants. Place the tank near a southern window so it can get some sun. You put leaves in the aquarium. This is the only food source you will use. Find some cyclops or other fw copepods and get these growing. These should eat the leaves (yes, somehow he didnt need shredders to break up the leaves) and multiply substantially. After this, stock with one or two scarlet badis (carnivorous).

The plants are the only filter and leaves the only food. You need to ensure enough coverage that the copepods provide a sustainable food source for the dario dario.

The blog had this setup going for a full year or more, so It sounds feasible. You would still want your friends to feed the tank with leaves every few weeks.

Basically, its a crazy idea that one dude made work. Id love to hear if you could set it up again, but totally understand not wanting to try this for so remote a setup its definitely worth a read and here's the link (low-tech natural aquarium). I hope to one day try it myself, but the wife is making me stick to the one 125g i uave
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Old 04-09-2011, 03:27 AM   #7
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Tubifex (as well as cyclops, daphnia and copepods) are great live food that fish can find, and can survive (seeming no matter what) long periods without being actually fed. I have some in with a cherry shrimp tank, they were in the substrate from when the tank was full of fish. I only feed my cherries once in a while, but keep almond leaves in the tank, so they must be eating the almond leaves as they decompose.

It's not a great idea if you're only going there once or twice a year, but if you go there every month, I see no problem keeping the right fish in there.

The temperature is another thing entirely... If it's getting 90+ in there, you're not going to be able to keep much of anything alive, including copepods and tubifex. And with pumps going through the ground and such, there's a lot of things that can go wrong. First off, if it's 90 degrees in the vacation home, and 70-75 in the tank, you're going to have massive condensation on the tank, which means the stand, the floor, the walls will all start rotting and getting moldy. Bad situation, but if you're there in the summer, with AC on, or have fans going in the house all the time, it would be less of a problem. Then there's the problem with evaporation... Regardless of having covers on the tank, there will be evap. In summer months, my 55g with glass lids will lose 3-4 gallons a week, that's with the temperature being 90 indoors, tank temperature 78. If you have really good buddies that will top off the tanks and such, that would be nice. But I see this tank idea being a ton of trouble.

If you spend a month or so there in the summer or whatnot, maybe you can transport paradise fish or bettas, or gouramis or other labyrinth fish there and back... Keep the tank up, lights on timers, seran wrap the top of the tank while you're gone to minimize the evap, then do a water change when you get there, and toss your fish in there while you're there, then transport them to your home tank when you're home.... It's a little trouble, but sounds like a lot less trouble than trying to maintain a tank remotely for months.

Anyhow, I envy your endeavors!
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Old 04-09-2011, 04:16 AM   #8
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I don't think low maintenance means that you can leave a tank on it's own for a month or more. Even if your tank doesn't need much day to day maintenance you are still there to notice if the heater suddenly dies and starts cooking the occupants or the glass cracks or something gets sick and you need to treat the tank or you get a couple of dead fish that need removing etc. I think fish are just as much a responsibility as any other animal and if you can't be there to look after them then probably best not to get them in the first place.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:29 AM   #9
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jsuereth:
That was such good read and definitely inspiring. I can't follow 100% as I definitely need water movement due to temperature issues. But it was good to know that we were thinking of familiar type of fishes, ie the air breathing gouramis.


mordalphus:
Ton of trouble for sure, therefore, I haven't done anything. Amongst all the trouble, I see water temp control as the biggest issue. Otherwise:

The tank will be placed in covered outdoor patio, so no moisture evaporation problem.

Water topping up can be done by fill valve used in toilets, luckily, my water district use chlorine, so easier to deal with. In fact a constant drip system works too, that will eliminate the need of fill valve but use more water. A bit wasteful.
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Old 04-09-2011, 12:20 PM   #10
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My father-in-law had the idea to put a drip pan under the aquarium. I think this could help in the event of a leak, but would do nothing for aquarium seal failure (the water has sone velocity and distance here.)

Do you think the all natural aquarium would work with a sump? You might be able to create a refugium in it for the amphipod/copepods to feed the main tank, and you would have your flow. I know reefers use refugiums for copepids, but not in the sustainable food source way.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:13 PM   #11
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I think this is totally possible. I say run with it
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:22 PM   #12
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put some java fern and guppies in there with a dozen gold snails. Add tubifex to dirt. Set auto feeder to small amounts and you will be fine.
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Old 04-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F22 View Post
I think this is totally possible. I say run with it
not until I figure out the temp control issue

Last edited by toffee; 04-10-2011 at 05:01 AM..
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:11 AM   #14
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I am thinking of a continuous dripping plus an in ground cooling, like this:


The constant drip will take care of the evaporation and water quality issues. An overflow directs the water to an underground storage, probably a 55 gallon plastic drum.

In the underground storage, two pumps. a sump pump recyles the water for irrigation. Another pump will be controlled by thermostat, when the aquarium temp becomes too high, cooler water will be pumped to the aquarium via 20ft of pipes that are buried 5' under.

Think this will work? Prolonged power outage will ruin everything.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:00 PM   #15
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Better read your homeowner insurance policy carefully to be sure you don't void your warranty.
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