Plans and questions for a low tech nano tank! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2019, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Plans and questions for a low tech nano tank!

Hello everyone!

I am thinking of remaking my current aquarium to a low tech NPT. My goal is to make it self filtered (plants will purify the water and get their nutrients from it), heated and inhabited mainly with invertebrates. I have been reading various forums and I am getting close to a plan, but Iíd like to know if it is viable or if I am missing something. Iíll go through my thoughts so you can see where I am and ask my questions last. So this is what I am currently thinking of:


The tank is about 15liters (4 gallons), 30*22*22cm (12*8,5*8,5inches) approximately.


Substrate:
Sifted supermarket soil for vegetables, layerís thickness about 2-3cm (1inch), topped with the same thickness of fine gravel, granularity 1-3mm.


Carpet:
Marsilea crenata or Eleocharis acicularis
I was thinking of planting cuba, but Iíve read that it needs extra CO2 and a lot of light, which might not be available if I end up using surface plants. Not planning to inject CO2 either...


Midzone:
Anubia nana (or Anubia nana petite), cryptocoryne wendtii (already got some), Bucephalandra sp. 'Red'. Other decoration will include pieces of drift wood and/or a rocks for the Anubia and the Bucephalandra. And of course my two marimos


I have to look up Microsorum pteropus, if it is a nano variant of java fern or not. I doubt there willbe enough space for it though...


Rear:
Bacopa caroliniana, Limnophila sessiliflora (for a green background) and Ludwigia palustris (for a red background)


Surface:
Salvinia auriculata. Not sure about this one, perhaps Limnophila sessiliflora will grow to become a surface plant on its own. I wonder if the surface plants will hold too much light, which will prevent the carpet to grow well and the Ludwigia palustris to be red.


Light:
Desk lamp with a led light bulb, 15cm (6 inches) above the cover (clear plexiglass). Current led bulb is 5,4W 5000K 600lm (ikea Ryet). I had a 7W 6500K led 560lm bulb, but I prefer the 5000Kís color.


Other inhabitants:
The livestock I already have; an amano shrimp (maybe add more, plus some red cherry), a nerite snail and a betta.


Discussion:
a) Viability and allelopathy.
Is the above combination enough for the aquariumís self purification? I read that I need fast growing stem plants, which is a reason I chose Limnophila sessiliflora (beyond liking its looks). I am not sure if Ludwigia palustris is such fast in growth, is it possible that Iíll need more fast growers? For example hornwort? I am hesitant about hornwort, because Iím afraid it could take over the aquariumÖ Do the above plants do well with each other in terms of allelopathy?


b) Long term growth and maintenance.
How could this setup evolve long term? I d like to avoid heavy pruning as a maintenance, so could any of the above plants cause a problem? I am looking for a neat look, not the abandoned jungle type. So Iíll need to have a balance between prunning maintenance and decent looks. Am I asking too much here? I expect the Limnophila sessiliflora to need a weekly maintenance and the Ludwigia palustris every 2-3 weeks. Does this sound right?


c) Light; natural and artificial, balance of light for the plants
Does the light supply sound good enough? The tank is in a corner room with an eastern and a southern window. It is not directly lit by sunlight, but there is generally plenty of light in the room until midday. Is the above combination of plants, carpet and rest likely to do fine, or would I need more artificial light?


d) Hiding places, shaded spots.
As long as the betta lives and dominates, all shrimps will need hiding places, as he is quite territorial. Actually the betta will need some shade too from time to time. Will the plants provide with such hiding places, or is it better to make a DIY half-coconut cave? Maybe I could put the Anubia or the Bucephalandra on top of itÖ


Feel free to make any suggestions beyond what I have asked so far. Thanks for your time!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2019, 05:16 PM
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Last and easiest first.

It sounds like you already have this livestock in a tank together? If so and the betta is currently eating the shrimp you should expect that to continue. I haven't found a situation where a betta that eats shrimp can't dig through and find any hiding space a shrimp might be located inside. The closest I came was a piece of wood with a LOT of java moss. You can out breed the betta's appetite but that would require a lot of shrimp which would necessitate a larger tank.

You are building what is termed a Walstad tank and they are pretty spiffy but are also very tricky. Your success will hinge on a variety of issues including but not limited to, your water. Someone might be able to grow all the plants you mentioned in a Walstad tank in one location but be unable to do it in another based on the water they use. Your best bet is to literally try it out and see if it works. If you notice a species of plant not doing well after everything else is taking off then you should be ready and able to replace it with something else and try again.

One thing you definitely need to do in a Walstad tank is plant HEAVY right from the start. You may also wish to pre-soak your soil in advance but the jury is still out on how helpful that one is.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2019, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Hello minorhero, thanks for your reply!

Indeed I have them all in the same tank, but the betta is currently ill and not energetic. I think his vision has become impaired because he has difficulty eating his food (when in granules) and does not hunt the last shrimp almost at all. I am close to conluding a fin rot treatment with aquarium salt. Afterwards Iíll deal with the other conditions (if I find a relevant thread in this forum Iíll post respectively). You have a point about expecting him to continue when health, so Iíll assess the situation accordingly.

Walstad type indeed, thatís the idea! Regarding water quality you mention, is there something I can measure with a strip test? Or is it something beyond the typical aquarium water tests? My kH and gH are within the limits, just like the other water parameters (pH, Cl2 etc). Being ready to replace a species that doesnít do well sounds a great idea, Iíll extend my research!

Regarding heavy planting, I understand this in not a black or white type of question, thatís why I asked for subjective opinions based on peopleís experience; Could the setup I described above be considered heavy enough?

I am going to try indeed, but it definitely doesnít hurt to ask before I start It is a part of the research and the preparation

Thanks again!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 02:15 AM
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When I say heavy planting, what I mean is you should not be able to see much if any substrate. If you can see gaps of more than about an inch anywhere, then you are not planting heavily enough.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 03:14 AM
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There are more dwarf versions of fern like Indian one, about 6” is max leaf length.

https://www.aquasabi.com/Microsorum-...us-Green-Gnome
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 04:08 AM
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For self filtered some floating plants would help IMO.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-06-2019, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
When I say heavy planting, what I mean is you should not be able to see much if any substrate. If you can see gaps of more than about an inch anywhere, then you are not planting heavily enough.
Wow! I was thinking of something like this:
or this:
Iíll keep your advice in mind and go on looking for plants and arrangements, thanks!



Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
There are more dwarf versions of fern like Indian one, about 6Ē is max leaf length.

https://www.aquasabi.com/Microsorum-...us-Green-Gnome

Thank you!! This was exactly what I was looking for!



Quote:
Originally Posted by sudhirr View Post
For self filtered some floating plants would help IMO.
Thanks mate, I have Salvinia auriculata in mind. Looks good on the net, hope it turns out equally good if I end up getting it. I like the pattern on its leaves. Iím just wondering if it is going to grow crazy fast...
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 05:57 AM
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Just my 2 cents
I have great luck with the Nicrew classic LED light over my 5.5 and 10 gallon tanks and the 10 is a dirted tank like yours
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input GardenoftheGeeks. I bought a light similar to this a few months ago, but it was too blue to my taste. I seem to like the 5000K a bit more
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zahtar View Post
Thanks for the input GardenoftheGeeks. I bought a light similar to this a few months ago, but it was too blue to my taste. I seem to like the 5000K a bit more
Yeah i kinda like the bluer spectrum from my days reef keeping! I even look for 6500k bulbs for the house!
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 11:26 PM
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You asked about hornwort as a fast-growing plant. Yes, it can grow crazy fast and take over--either as a floating plant, or if planted in the substrate. Walstad tanks are all about balance, and if you're using soil it'll likely release lots of nutrients the first few months. So that's when you'll need the fast growers, and be willing to trim or remove them. And as others have said, be willing to switch them out once things stabilize.

Another option to consider would be using terrestrial plants with their roots in the water like pothos or sweet potato vines (there are ornamental varieties with chartreuse or purple-black leaves) or any other plant that can be grown hydroponically like peace lily or anthuriums. Your betta will love hanging out under the roots. I even put some basil cuttings in mine while I was on vacation and they thrived with all the nutrients.

No magic formula for any of this--just gotta try lots of options & go with what ends up working for you & your situation

Good luck!
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2019, 01:49 AM
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Just a note on floaters: If you use both duck weed and java moss, they will stick together like velcro, almost forever.

Style: Organic soil (dirt), sand, gravel, plants, moss, algae, biofilm, mulm, snails, shrimp, small fish
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, thanks for your advice! Sorry for getting back after so long, I need to check my email notification settings...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Pupfish View Post
So that's when you'll need the fast growers, and be willing to trim or remove them. And as others have said, be willing to switch them out once things stabilize.
This one is really to the point! And I like the idea that I can/should move them. More on that below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Streetwise View Post
Just a note on floaters: If you use both duck weed and java moss, they will stick together like velcro, almost forever.
Lol that's interesting! I chose to go with Salvinia auriculata, I like the texture on the leaves, I hope it looks the same as it does in the pics...






The reason I am writing is that I started the project on Thursday, but yesterday (4 days after planting) I noticed algae building up.


In order to deal with algae,

a) I lowered the water level so that some stems could emerge, but both the Limnophila sessiliflora and the L. Palustris don't have strong enough stems to stay upright emersed.
b) I ordered the remaining plants I was planning to get; marsilea crenata, an anubia nana and Salvinia auriculata. I hope Salvinia will prevent the algae from developing more.


Will that help with the algae? Any other algae-control suggestions?


Following are some pics from the aquarium, 1 day after planting, and 4 days after planting with the algae showing up.


PS: I also noticed that Ludwigia Palustris does not do that well, many leaves are falling, some leaves are losing colour and the stems are very thin. Some stems seem to do good, changing to orange colour. But all in all, the plant does not do well...
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 12:36 AM
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You definitely need to add more plants. Also what is your water change schedule like at this point? You have a dirted tank and like any active substrate tank you need to be doing a 50% water change every day for the first week, every other day for the second week, 3 times in week 3 and twice in week 4 then once a week until balance is achieved. Are you currently doing this? If not begin immediately as if this is day 1.

Meanwhile, double your plant load. If you notice a plant not doing well in your setup don't be afraid to pull it and replace immediately with something else. Every bit of substrate needs plants or you are going to keep having algae problems.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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minorhero, thanks for your reply!

You had pointed out the need of many plants, but it seems I underestimated what you mentioned. Saying about not being able to see an inch of substrate I thought you were kidding/exaggerating. After the plants I ordered yesterday arrive, I'll see how I can rearrange so I can put in some more in the following days.

I also didn't know that I had to do so many water changes. First two days after planting were fine, No2 went from 0.17 to 0.04mg/l and I thought the tank was doing fine. Which is obviously not the case! Thankfully I did a more than 50% water change yesterday, so this is now day 2. I'll be watching this carefully. Maybe lowering the water level was not such a good idea. I meant to give the plants an "aerial advantage" as Walstad suggests in her book, but this in turn effects the concentration of the nutrients in the water column. So I guess my tank is not ready for this yet.

Thank you again for the time and interest you have shown in my attempt!
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