So the goal is a topic that has come up on this forum before - a freshwater reef. I was extremely excited when I first saw that thread as I've always been a lover of inverts. While my shrimp bowl does support a surprising amount of biodiversity, most of the non-shrimp inhabitants are incidentals that I haven't removed. This time around I will be intentionally adding invertebrates.
Equipment: 5.5" diameter x 6" tall (picture attached) so roughly 0.6 gallons - this will serve as the aquarium. Lighting I'm not 100% decided on but a deep blue solar flare micro LED might fit the bill. No filtration will be used, no heat, no aeration.
Substrate: I'm going to do this Walstad style, so dirt base capped with sand. I'm debating between black sand or a natural brown sand. Brown sand looks more natural but black sand allows for better visibility of inverts. Any opinions?
Hardscape: Probably just a single piece of Malaysian driftwood. I was debating between driftwood or rocks but ultimately decided on driftwood because of its ability to support a large variety of life on its surface. I'll have to go find a small piece in the next few days.
Flora: This tank is tiny and the goal is to keep maintenance relatively low so nothing too fancy. I was thinking maybe the Eleocharis acicularis "mini" variety that Tropica sells as a foreground, maybe mix some Marsilea crenata in as well. I've grown both in low tech conditions with good results so I'm pretty confident they will do well. I'm also going to use some variety of moss but I don't know which species. Until I select my driftwood I'm undecided on anything else except maybe some giant duckweed as a floater. I will revisit this section in greater detail at a later date!
Fauna: My favourite part - I am going to go through this categorically.
Molluscs: They produce copious amounts of waste and can overpopulate very quickly so I'm only including the mini ramshorn snail (Planorbis arnoldi) and a few species of freshwater limpets (Ferrissia sp. and Acroloxus sp.). These all stay below 1 cm and despite rapid reproduction remain overall unobtrusive. They are also great algae grazers. I will also be adding a few fingernail clams (Sphaerium sp.) that are locally abundant. They are filter feeders and from my experience far easier to maintain than most bivalves.
Worms: I will definitely have some scavenging oligochaete worms (Lumbriculus variegatus, Stylaria sp., Tubifex sp.) to function both as prey items and clean up crew/substrate aerators. The Platyhelminthes are a really interesting group that will be well represented in this jar. That being said, I will not have any of the usual planaria (Dugesia sp., Cura foremanii). They populate too quickly and outcompete other species of flatworms. Instead, I am going to try a random bunch of microturbellaria including Rhabdocoela sp. and the white planarian (Procotylus fluvatilis). My apex predator will be the a variety of freshwater nemertean or ribbon worm (Prostoma cf. canadiensis) - they will eat oligochaetes, insect larvae and small crustaceans. Freshwater Polychaetes are uncommon and will likely fall victim to the nemertean worms. That being said, if I come across any I will be tossing them in there. Snail leeches (Helobdella stagnalis) are a possibility.
Bryozoa and Cnidaria: Freshwater bryozoans seem to appear whenever conditions are right - I've had them in many Walstad tanks so I'm counting on them to pop up here as well. Cnidarians are represented in freshwater by hydra and the freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii). Freshwater jellyfish are difficult captives that require a dedicated setup and thus will be omitted from this project. Both green and brown hydra are welcome additions - I will manually remove brown hydra if they begin to overpopulate.
Crustaceans: I have several varieties of cyclops that I will be adding as well as any ostracods that I can find. I will also be adding scuds - while they have a reputation for overpopulating the hydra and nemertea should keep their numbers in check. I have no plans for a population of Neocaridina but I may add the odd shrimpling from my other bowl to grow out and for a splash of colour. Daphnia and Moina are interesting inhabitants and I will attempt to keep a culture going on the side as they will likely have to be replenished due to predation from both the flatworms and the hydra. No crabs or crayfish due to space.
While that may seem like a long list of invertebrates, the only essential species to me are the mini ramshorns, the freshwater limpets and the freshwater ribbon worms. I'm sure the rest will come and go and I'll likely end up finding a bunch of other things I never expected!
Thanks for reading and any comments or suggestions are welcome!
Sent from my LG-H831 using Tapatalk