Ultra low tech jar - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Ultra low tech jar

Officially moved to Sweden about a week ago (grad school time!!) and found a really wonderful LFS. Hoping I can convince my landlord that a small jar (perhaps one of those nice cylinders from IKEA somewhatshocked has?) with nothing but plants is okay to have.


My idea is to hopefully use ambient light - there's a big window near the desk I'd put the jar on, since I think on the windowsill itself is likely to get too cold. I'm not sure yet how cold it'll actually get in winter, but I'm not intending to use a heater. Other than mosses, fissidens etc which prefer it less than tropical, are plants likely to mind cooler water?


I can get fluval stratum at the shop, and I'm fine with adding some type of substrate tabs and dosing the column, although not sure yet what is available.



With that said, plant ideas? The LFS had some nice Alternanthera reineckii which I'd love if it sounds feasible in these conditions. I have a similar bowl set up back home with marsilea which is doing very well and very low maintenance, so I'm cautiously optimistic this is feasible.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 02:58 PM
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Shrimp could also be added to such a setup if you wanted.

That said, what plants you add would depend on how much light the window is providing... You could use a desk lamp over such a jar pretty easily if you wanted to. Otherwise if this jar is getting a few hours of direct sun a day you could do a LOT of plants, but if its indirect light all day you may be limited to low light plants. Java Fern, buce, etc. Unless its getting below 60 degrees (16 C I believe?) in the jar I wouldn't worry about temperatures.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I don't want to add any livestock, except perhaps any pest snails that sneak in, as that would push up the maintenance requirements and I will not be here for 2 weeks over my winter break.

I think I'll stick with low light plants mostly; I wasn't sure if A. reineckii fell into that category?
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germanblueramlover View Post
Thanks! I don't want to add any livestock, except perhaps any pest snails that sneak in, as that would push up the maintenance requirements and I will not be here for 2 weeks over my winter break.

I think I'll stick with low light plants mostly; I wasn't sure if A. reineckii fell into that category?
No not really. Medium to high light is what I am seeing as suggestions online with most saying co2 and high light is needed to get it really deep red.

Shrimp can definitely live just fine with no feeding and water changes for 2 weeks. /shrug
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, that makes sense. I'd seen things about it being an easier red plant, but I suppose even an easier red plant is still a bit picky!

I do have shrimp, I know they aren't that high maintenance on a week to week basis. But adding livestock - and shrimp are more delicate - immediately boosts this from a "houseplant that's a little bit wetter" to a "pet", and I'd suddenly need to worry about temperature matching during topoffs, checking my GH, ammonia, etc... the beauty of the bowl I have back home is that the only maintenance it needs is a quick and dirty biweekly top-off.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 02:55 AM
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If you can't get by with ambient lighting, you could always just use a desk lamp and a decent LED in the neighborhood of 6500k. Could even go fancy and for 175ish SEK (under US$20) pick up a smart bulb. Something you could pack up and take home with you when you leave. I have some from TP-Link and Eufy that produce lighting suitable for plants. Timer is built-in to the bulb and it has a built-in wifi radio, so it just screws in to whatever lamp you have and does all the things. Built-in dimming, too. I do that with some houseplants but it'd be perfect for a vase.

The IKEA vase sets come in a few different sizes and varieties and are worth checking out. Since they're just vases, surely your landlord won't mind. Who would mind a vase of flowers? Probably wouldn't even notice. Mine (using the largest set) is still small enough to fit on my bathroom counter in a tiny home.

Go for common, hardy stem plants like Bacopa and Rotala, mosses, maybe a cheap Anubias if you run across them, cheap Cryptocoryne, even Hydrocotyle variants would look good and do well in an unheated vase. Wouldn't have to do anything in terms of dosing if you've got a decent substrate or use root tabs. Heck, you'd need such a small amount of substrate that you could go really high-end and spend very little money.

I think I'm primarily sticking to snails in mine, as well. Ramshorns have ended up looking pretty cool and they're relatively entertaining. Even Pond Snails are great. After a month, my ammonia levels disappeared and everything has been stable and growing in. It's secretly my favorite "tank" because I get to check it out while brushing, flossing and all that.


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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 05:26 AM
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I second what somewhatshocked said - a little desk lamp might be a good idea. LEDs work, CFL bulbs too.

I'd add Camboba and Ludwigia as easy stem plants. Anubias is good, as mentioned. You might even try Eleocharis acicularis (not the "mini" variety). I am having surprisingly good luck with it in my no-tech bowl.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 09:41 AM
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Love this little vase.


As done with that high light one you might want to try a emergent plant that will pump gases down into substrate. Maybe some crypt in bottom and a Anubias hastifolia coming out top.

Going away and ignoring a little vase for 2wks is going to be tough task though. Perhaps you could partially close drapes and then make a little clear, slightly vented tent that will help slow evaporation down while your gone.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input! I love that tank, @DaveKS, really beautiful.

It certainly seems to be the land of decorative glass vases - I've found no less than 3 completely separate shops so far all selling a range of shapes and sizes... It'll be hard to pick!

I'm hoping I won't need to use a lamp, since that's getting into electricity usage, although I'm sure it would be very very minimal. I don't have many outlets available either, and as I am primarily here for studies my laptop takes priority. Still, that is an option to bear in mind if needed, so I'll take note of those bulbs!

We'll have to see how it goes with being unattended; my bowl at home only needs topping up once every 2 weeks or so, so I'm hoping I can get away with it. If not, covering it over partially to reduce evaporation is a good idea. And this being Sweden, I don't think I'll have to worry too much about limiting the lighting in the winter - we are only supposed to get 6 hours of daylight!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 01:26 AM
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I have had luck with a variety of mosses, anacharis and both crypts that I've jarred with nothing but ambient light. Also worth noting my bolbitis that just sat in a 5g bucket in my wash room not even near the window and several crypt starts and 3 variety of anubias just survived quite well nearly 2 months in that bucket. With absolutely no care whatsoever.

Not that I intended to do it to them things just got busy and I didn't have time or even think to add water to their bucket and they were just thrown in with intentions to finish up the following weekend.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 12:39 AM
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I've got such a jar too- mine's 1.5 gal. I have in it buces, mermaid weed, anubias, subwassertang, rotala rotundifolia and greater duckweed. Had flame moss which died, I'm going to try again with fissidens. I have a tiny sponge filter in there, no heater. It gets down to 60 in the winter; I have a few amano shrimps in there and think they might do okay with that- certainly they will slow down though when it gets cold. Mine gets bright ambient light. The shrimps keep the algae picked off entirely, I fed them only two or three times a week but I bet they could go longer without.


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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 05:42 AM
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Hornwort, rotala rotundifolia and a mass of some funky moss that spontaneously grew in a shrimp tank of mine. Led light, cheapy from Amazon, is turned on whenever I think about it so not every day, nor for that long. Mostly 3 hours at a time when I get home from work. Rotala grows out of the water.

Highly recommend a supplemental light but it may be possible to go 2 weeks and still bounce back.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Would Marsilea crenata do well in low light? I know the larger Marsileas do, and it would be nice to have something of such small scale to tuck at the base of the jar.

My current thoughts are Val spiralis in the back, a Crypt lucens, some black lava rock if I can get ahold of any... The LFS has bacopa as well that I could add to the background if people don't think those two plants are likely to choke each other out.

I found a jar that has the same diameter as the IKEA one but is about 10cm deeper ... would the extra depth be useful, or just more inconvenient for planting?

Does anyone have experience with the Aquael Leddy Smart 2 Sunny light? I'm still hoping to use only natural sunlight, but found this as a potential candidate if I did need to supplement.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 02:59 PM
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Marsilea crenata would probably be okay but it might end up requiring regular maintenance once it grows in. Would look nice for sure. Smaller crypts like C. parva could also provide the scale you're looking for in terms of tiny plants. Hydrocotyle variants are another option but they grow relatively fast in low-tech setups.

Vallisneria spiralis could also work but will potentially take over the entire vase. If you're comfortable keeping an eye on it regularly, it will work and look nice. I'm biased against its huge root system, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I'm a fan of stem plants in bowls and vases because they utilize the entire vertical space. Bacopa, Rotala, Hedyotis, et al. Bacopa species are probably the hardiest and no fuss.

The height is up to your personal preference. What looks best to you?

That particular LED appears to be primarily in EU and Asian markets but it doesn't look any more impressive than other, much cheaper LED options available on Amazon and fleabay. You can get something attractive and more powerful for less than half the price.

There are even USB-powered options which would allow you some flexibility. Some could run for a day or so on a cell phone backup battery. Could be powered via your phone charger, computer, that sort of thing. Something to consider since you don't have many outlets available. Will also be able to pack it up and take it with you without having to buy an adapter.


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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Well, finally some progress - picked up the jar today! Walked past a florists on the way home and they were selling off excess flowerpots very cheaply, including a couple of glass containers!

Here she is:



Pretty grubby, but should clean up nice. There's that defect near the upper rim but it's not a chip, the glass is perfectly smooth on both sides, and really it's not so noticeable where I intend to put the jar - there's a mirror with a black frame partially behind it that disguises it much better than a blank white wall! Only cost me $2.50, as well, so definitely no complaints here

Now to think about substrate again: I can get fluval stratum from the LFS, which I've never used before. Or perhaps I can steal a little dirt from the garden behind my building, and find some sand to cap it with? I prefer the look of sand to aquasoil pellets, I think, but I'm not certain where I could source it from, especially in such a small amount as I need.
And of course, I can't be certain with the soil if it might have been treated with pesticides in the past, but I'm not sure if that would even be an issue in a plant only tank?
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Last edited by germanblueramlover; 09-14-2019 at 07:09 PM. Reason: added question
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