Just registered here. I would like to trade people clippings and such to help them be able to aquire plants that they do not have and of course the same for myself.
I have researched a lot but am content to try things for myself that are said to not work and are commonly done "wrong" to see how they can be made right. I am really a reefer/pond guy (hit me up if you have coral frags) who just wanted to try this since it seemed like it could become difficult and time consuming. Here is my first 10 gallon tank.
I used potting soil which I heard was going to be high in K which would cause algea problems but honestly I did not see anything more in my system than I had seen in failed systems by others using more expensive stuff. When I did this the first time with a mix of soil and sand I had a hair algea problem which caused me to start over, with the sand it was really hard to control it.
Originally it was going to be an all glosso tank but I decided I wanted to add in other plants to be more creative in the aquascape, making things simular to a well planned out grounds around a office building and later on more towards a forest and meadow (not there yet of course)
The wooden branch is actually plastic but very realistic looking, the moss is tied to it with fishing line. In the back are actually 3 lilies from my collection that I do not know the breed of, I put them in to raise the number of high level plants competing with the algea and will take them out soon to put in my pond so they get some size before it gets cooler if they are tropical.
The soil does have the advantage of going a long time without the need of ferts, but the fact that it is so "rich" also means that algea will love it, and they do. That glosso is so high because it had to compete with the algea till I learned how to balance the tank out, it is going horizontal now that I have and should be carpeting very soon.
If you use soil the algea will blanket, but you can pick it up as a solid sheet pretty easily I found if you let it mat together (I use some of it to feed my snails in another tank). Once the tank balances you will not have to worry about it as much, but the first bloom will probably make "the emerald carpet". Honestly if you want a micro look, you can use the algea blanket to simulate grass and use plants to simulate trees and bushes, I thought about it but decided not to and want to use some taller lawn like plants instead (anyone have any).
The glass jar you see in the back was a little trick I tried. After the algea formed the mat I took the whole thing and put it in that jar. The algea continues to thrive on the soil it was attached to but it no longer spreads across the tank. I suppose only so much algea can be supported in the system and it is all inside the container and content not to spread across the rest of the system. I am going to go for a smaller jar that I can hide on the right side of the tank soon and fill that area with glosso and a lawn like grass.
The only livestock in the tank are grass shrimp and a species of snail that I have not looked up yet. The grass shrimp are not all that great honestly at eating algea but they do eat some and they turn over the dirt and will help in food disposal if/when I put fish in. As the snails increase in number (and they are increasing very fast) they are limiting algea growth on the glass and some of the plants and I am not seeing much damage to the plants themselves which is good. I have some thinning on my largest lilies submerged leaves and what looks like on my banana plants large leaves but I am not entirely sure this is from the young snails or from their aging. The shrimp are also breeding well and I dose with calcium and iodine from my marine tanks so promote growth of their shells, so far so good as I have multiple generations that I keep going with the occasional introduction of new shrimp from my LFS that I buy for my marine and freshy agressives.
Lighting is a 65 watt compact flourecent that needs to be replaced now (its dimming) which will no doubt increase algea growth but also the growth of the lilies and banana plant which are both now growing slower. The Hornswort on the right side of course is doing fine and I have now thinned it to the left side and will also do the rear when I pull the lillies the next time I thin the right bank. There is some duckweed at the top that I keep thinning to my outside pond also.
All in all it is going pretty well, I am wanting to get some more java moss, maybe some java fern and some riccia if someone would like to sell/trade me. I have some java fern I can get rid of, small amounts of glosso soon, hornswort, some duckweed, lilies of unknown breed, sword and soon some wisteria. Let me know if you frag coral also, really interested in it!