15 gallon low tech / no tech - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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15 gallon low tech / no tech

Hello all!

After a break I'm finally able to set up a tank again! And I want it to be a very low tech /no tech thing with lots of slimy crawling things and only a few fish. I decided to share the process with you - either it will be a success, or a massive disaster :-) And sorry for the mess on my balcony!

The tank is a little over 60 liters, that is about 15 or 17 gallons.
Bottom layer -Diversa Nutriplant. Advertised as a nutritive substrate for low tech tanks. Actually I'm quite disappointed with it - it looks as mostly sand with a bit of something composty mixed in. But we'll see.
Top layer - Unisoil. An inert expanded clay substrate. I like how it looks, hopefully the plants will like it too.
Hardscape: an oak branch I picked on a walk.

As you can see, I'm dry starting it. At the moment it's planted for a little over two weeks, some of the original leaves are yellowing and there is some healthy new growth on all plants. I'll flood it only after the carpeting plants really take root and start spreading - the Echinodorus tenellus was in vitro and had no roots to speak of.

After I flood it I'll add a small internal filter, just for a bit of water movement. But no other tech. Light is just the daylight from a northeast-facing window - the tank gets about an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. I'll probably add some LED light in the fall when the days get shorter, but not now.
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Last edited by Baysha; 04-25-2020 at 05:58 PM. Reason: had a brain fart - confused north and south
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 04:49 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

Im looking forward to seeing how this turns out. I love the idea.
Would be even more interesting if you could procure some small native fish from your area. Of course, what is legal to keep/catch.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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We don't have any fish small enough for a 15 gallon aquarium around here. The smallest species is about 10 cm, and since they're coldwater fish they usually require extra oxygenation to survive in room temperatures. So not suitable for my tank at all :-) I'll probably just go with cherry shrimp and Endlers, something really hardy.

But I'll definitely be hunting for water louse, blackworms, daphnia and other creepy crawlies I can find in nearby ponds!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-23-2020, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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As you can see from the first two pictures, the tank is not doing well </understatement>

Most of the plants are dying or dead. The only ones that are growing a bit are Marsilea and Bacopa, all the others are just blah. Melted, moldy, dead. I was waiting it out, hoping they'll adjust, but it's just getting worse.

I also have a bowl and several jars that I set up a week or two later than the main tank. They're all doing great - see the third and fourth picture. The bowl is inside the room (= stable temperature) and has artificial lighting, but the jars are on the windowsill, getting sunshine and cold air from the window, same as the main tank, and the plants in them still look perfectly happy and growing like crazy. So... my conclusion is that the Diversa substrate is total [censored][censored][censored][censored], because that's the only thing that's different in the main tank. I user soil from a nearby meadow (just scooped up a few molehills) for the bowl and the jars because I had none of the "special" Diversa substrate left.

Time to tear down the tank and replant it with some good free outdoorsy soil!
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