Over-complicating Your Tanks: Stupid Simple Concept - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Over-complicating Your Tanks: Stupid Simple Concept

I have been in this hobby for many years and have had many tanks, all of which have been nano sized from 2 gallon to 5 gallon tall. I think my first successful tank was the most fun which was the 5 gallon tall, I was content with it and learned how deep the rabbit hole goes with it. However it only led me to more complicated nano tanks, always afraid to have a larger tank in fear of more maintenance. So I just started creating complicated scapes on a small scale which turned out to be a lot of maintenance keeping them in ratio and proportionate to my original vision when creating them, pushing the boundaries due to species limitations. Plants were not allowed to grow out wildly because everything is so crammed, so I am constantly pruning things back to keep them separated.


This was my last failed logic tank attempting to create a low maintenance tank, which meant no stem plants that require pruning. I got off to a good start with dwarf sag as a background plant, and Java Fern on the wood both of which do not require much of any pruning and when they do its easy. Then I lost interest in my Betta, gave him away and kept shrimp and snails. Got bored and needed a foreground plant so I foolishly tried 'mini' dwarf hairgrass which is not in this picture but I can tell you it is not growing. Nothing is really growing, and my Java Fern melted back even with Nitrates in the water column. I believe my plant failure was due to long amounts of low intensity lighting, because this is located on a "floor lamp shelf" so my lamp lights the tank as I light my room at night as a minimalist approach.



So I am done with small tanks they just are not fun anymore, I have a busy life and tank problems stress me out. I have had a hard time dialing in and balancing the 2.7 gallon tank pictured above. I am now looking at going big for one last attempt at saving my interest in the hobby, bigger should be more stable in theory. I am now considering a 20 gallon long or 33 gallon long with nothing besides vals, just fill the entire tank with vals and leave space at the top for schooling fish. What could go wrong? No need for complicated pruning, no fragile hardscape, no need for water column dosing just use root tabs and let the vals take the tank over. Snails to clean the glass, hearty Amano Shrimp to clean the vals and call it a day. I can keep Tetra of some sort, possibly two species to see if I can get them to school separately and keep it simple.

Any photos of val tanks?


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 12:20 AM
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If you want to go with vals, do some serious research into varieties and I'd recommend getting a tall tank. Most of them get super long. I have straight vals in my 6 ft 100 gallon and you can see the vals reach 2/3 of the way across the tank. Trimming them generally winds up with the leaves browning, though they don't die off for me like they seem to do with some people. But I will agree, they're stupid easy. Plant and let them go.

Instead of vals, you could do dwarf sag?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
just fill the entire tank with vals and leave space at the top for schooling fish.
There is no such thing as "space at the top" in a val tank. Vals cover the top of everything but the tallest of tanks. It would definitely be an easy scape I would just choose a different fish that would appreciate the dense cover the vals provide. Scarlet Badis (dario dario) would be a good option. Endlers/Guppies would be a good option too.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 06:16 PM
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It sounds like you are being very savvy in aiming for a tank that's lower maintenance, but I wonder if that will only solve half your problem. You mentioned not just being sick of all the problems, but also being bored with your previous set ups. I don't think going for a tank that is as simple as possible is going to really draw your interest. What part of the hobby are you into right now? Whatever you are excited about, try and maximize that and only that. Keep it simple, hold tight on that value, but build it around something that you are enthusiastic about rather than the negative concept of "as little maintenance as possible". Maybe you'll get bored of that too, but at least you'll probably have fun in the process, like with your first tank.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-17-2020, 09:02 PM
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I understand your sentiment. I used to have up to 5 various tanks on the go, from 2-29g. It was fun sometimes, but when life gets busy and then you get back to them later after weeks of neglect, the problems have all snowballed creating a big bunch of work.

Iím happy now and found the balance with my current setup. 1 - 75g tank. No co2, moderate light, easy fish. Lots of crypts and java ferns, some hygro which isnít too fast growing, then I have this other stuff that is easy to let take over my tank but I donít mind pruning weekly. Inert substrate, Canister filter that only needs maintenance every couple of months and single internal power filter thatís easy to pop out and rinse. I try to do a 15g water change every week but if i miss a week or even two, itís ok. I do fertilize every day but itís liquid ferts I keep sitting next to the tank and just do it with feeding, takes less than a minute. If I wanted even less work I would have lower light to slow down potential algae problems and plant growth, and reduce ferts requirements, but Iím good with what I have.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2020, 11:52 PM
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Val tanks are fun, but sometimes they are too successful. I definitely mirror the sentiment of researching the other vals available because they do get really tall. They will also send runners which can sometimes mess with a scape as well. Also check out crypts if you are looking for fun plants that require less maintenance. There are a ton of different crypt varieties to explore.

When it's good vals are good:
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But they can get out of hand:
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaylSoftpaws View Post
If you want to go with vals, do some serious research into varieties and I'd recommend getting a tall tank. Most of them get super long. I have straight vals in my 6 ft 100 gallon and you can see the vals reach 2/3 of the way across the tank. Trimming them generally winds up with the leaves browning, though they don't die off for me like they seem to do with some people. But I will agree, they're stupid easy. Plant and let them go.

Instead of vals, you could do dwarf sag?
I like your tank I can see the low maintenance design, I did not consider Anubias on wood...those are low maintenance. Probably even lower than Java Fern! Yes dwarf sag was also something I started considering, or a mix of vals and sag. I was thinking I could just cut the foreground down but like you said it may only lead to browning, so dwarf sag in the foreground may be a much better choice. I will have to see if I can find a dwarf val species, and is there a non-dwarf sag out there?? I decided to go with a 40 long instead for extra height which may help the vals a little.


Quote:
Originally Posted by HerpsAndHerbs View Post
There is no such thing as "space at the top" in a val tank. Vals cover the top of everything but the tallest of tanks. It would definitely be an easy scape I would just choose a different fish that would appreciate the dense cover the vals provide. Scarlet Badis (dario dario) would be a good option. Endlers/Guppies would be a good option too.
That is why I was thinking about cutting them down in the front, but if it leaves browning and melting that will not be a solution. In this case I would split the tank with dwarf sag in the foreground.


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Originally Posted by ElleDee View Post
It sounds like you are being very savvy in aiming for a tank that's lower maintenance, but I wonder if that will only solve half your problem. You mentioned not just being sick of all the problems, but also being bored with your previous set ups. I don't think going for a tank that is as simple as possible is going to really draw your interest. What part of the hobby are you into right now? Whatever you are excited about, try and maximize that and only that. Keep it simple, hold tight on that value, but build it around something that you are enthusiastic about rather than the negative concept of "as little maintenance as possible". Maybe you'll get bored of that too, but at least you'll probably have fun in the process, like with your first tank.
Lots of wisdom in your reply I love it. I think you are right because I have never been able to keep the schooling fish I want, and at this point I would just be happy with a lush green aquarium regardless of plant species. So with that being said I have decided to go with a 40 long and Rummynose, I would love to keep Cardinals too but I wouldn't want them to school with the Rummies on the same level...I would need a method to get them up higher. So I think I will add Rasboras, I am between Harlequins or Dwarfs/Pygmy...I am just not sure the dwarf species will school as well as 6-8 Harlequins. I need to research further into a bottom school of catfish, so far I have come up with Corydora, Glass Cats or Otocinclus but Otos do not school very tightly. The Corys require specific substrate which I am not sure I will be able to provide them yet.

Of course I will want some centerpiece fish as well, not only for aesthetics but to encourage tighter schooling behavior. I have to research further but the typical Angels or Discus would be nice...not sure I can meet their water parameters yet though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CarissaT View Post
I understand your sentiment. I used to have up to 5 various tanks on the go, from 2-29g. It was fun sometimes, but when life gets busy and then you get back to them later after weeks of neglect, the problems have all snowballed creating a big bunch of work.

Iím happy now and found the balance with my current setup. 1 - 75g tank. No co2, moderate light, easy fish. Lots of crypts and java ferns, some hygro which isnít too fast growing, then I have this other stuff that is easy to let take over my tank but I donít mind pruning weekly. Inert substrate, Canister filter that only needs maintenance every couple of months and single internal power filter thatís easy to pop out and rinse. I try to do a 15g water change every week but if i miss a week or even two, itís ok. I do fertilize every day but itís liquid ferts I keep sitting next to the tank and just do it with feeding, takes less than a minute. If I wanted even less work I would have lower light to slow down potential algae problems and plant growth, and reduce ferts requirements, but Iím good with what I have.
Oh yeah I totally can see that, I made sure to never have more then 2 bodies of water simultaneously. If anything I would have 2 tanks linked as one body of water, with reversed lighting cycles to stabilize pH due to a more constant photosynthesis. Even your 75G split with partitions to create different scapes would work if that's your thing, to maintain a single body of water. I hear you on the water changes, that is actually another thing to consider because I have terrible tap water so I rely on bottled water...that could get expensive with a larger tank. I run mine as balanced as possible so that I can run them borderline walstad basically never needing to remove nitrates and water changes are needed mainly to lower TDS. I got into the Seachem lineup at one point but now I just use a simple all in one fertilizer in a spritz bottle for easy dispensing.


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Originally Posted by BadAlgae View Post
Val tanks are fun, but sometimes they are too successful. I definitely mirror the sentiment of researching the other vals available because they do get really tall. They will also send runners which can sometimes mess with a scape as well. Also check out crypts if you are looking for fun plants that require less maintenance. There are a ton of different crypt varieties to explore.
I will definitely explore the species first, but I think a good rock barrier would keep the vals in their place though? You have a nice tank but man I used to keep dwarf baby tears and I cringe thinking about how much work it was to skim every last piece from the surface after trimming.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 03:37 AM
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Pygmy chain swords "Helanthium Tennelum" are nice and only get about 3"~5" tall. They readily grow quickly from runners but are a little less organized than Dwarf Sagittaria. Some varieties are reddish in strong light and CO2.



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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Pygmy chain swords "Helanthium Tennelum" are nice and only get about 3"~5" tall. They readily grow quickly from runners but are a little less organized than Dwarf Sagittaria. Some varieties are reddish in strong light and CO2.
Great suggestion! I could use this as a foreground cover and I assume dwarf sag will get tall though to reach the top of a 40 long? Which should be 16"


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 10:05 PM
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I like your tank I can see the low maintenance design, I did not consider Anubias on wood...those are low maintenance. Probably even lower than Java Fern! Yes dwarf sag was also something I started considering, or a mix of vals and sag. I was thinking I could just cut the foreground down but like you said it may only lead to browning, so dwarf sag in the foreground may be a much better choice. I will have to see if I can find a dwarf val species, and is there a non-dwarf sag out there?? I decided to go with a 40 long instead for extra height which may help the vals a little.

Thanks! I like my dwarf sag. It reaches the top of my 100g in some areas, so 19"? And yes, anubias is so much lower maintenance than Java fern. No baby off shoots to deal with mucking up your tank that you need to replant lol. I stopped using Java fern a while back. Have it in one tank at the moment. We'll see how long I keep it.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I like my dwarf sag. It reaches the top of my 100g in some areas, so 19"? And yes, anubias is so much lower maintenance than Java fern. No baby off shoots to deal with mucking up your tank that you need to replant lol. I stopped using Java fern a while back. Have it in one tank at the moment. We'll see how long I keep it.
I only have 16" of height to fill so that sounds like it will work perfectly! Is that dwarf sag in your photos above?


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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 02:02 AM
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Anubias could be your friend, very low maintenance
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 03:15 AM
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A tank with just wood, leaf liter and some floaters are very easy to maintain. Just very lightly fertilize and maybe toss out some of floaters once a month. Almost don't have to get your hands wet but you still get the benefits of having the high metabolism plants cleaning your water and keeping algae at bay. No CO2 needed, they get that from air.



Maybe get some low light anubias or crypt wendtii growing under them for a little extra slow growing points of interest. Long standing crown plants like crypt are nice because they slowly spread but send out nice root networks that help keep your substrate oxygen rich and clean.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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A tank with just wood, leaf liter and some floaters are very easy to maintain. Just very lightly fertilize and maybe toss out some of floaters once a month. Almost don't have to get your hands wet but you still get the benefits of having the high metabolism plants cleaning your water and keeping algae at bay. No CO2 needed, they get that from air.

Maybe get some low light anubias or crypt wendtii growing under them for a little extra slow growing points of interest. Long standing crown plants like crypt are nice because they slowly spread but send out nice root networks that help keep your substrate oxygen rich and clean.
That is a good suggestion, but it never attracted my attention its just not green enough for me. With all that wood I find Nerites are important, as they eat away layers of decaying wood and keep the slime at bay.

I will likely work some crypts into my scape, but sometimes they popup where I do not want them so it would have to be planned carefully. I am thinking about really utilizing rock barriers to keep things in place, little mounds between areas of substrate. That should force runners up onto the rock where I can visually see them and nip them before they have a chance to spread causing the need to disturb the substrate pulling things up and out.


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