Low maintenance aquariums? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Low maintenance aquariums?

First, a little background. I'm a construction worker who works away from home for up to 6 weeks at a time. I also love aquariums. I've had several in the past. A few 30's and one that was about 50. So far, they've all been fresh water and your basic gravel, a few ornaments, and various fish. I've had community tanks and assorted cichlids, so I'm not a total idiot when it comes to maintenance.

I'd like to get a large (to me) tank set up in my new home. It would be about 120 gallons with a 50 or so gallon sump below it where I'd house all the filters, heaters, pumps, and everything else associated. The problem comes in this fall when I'll be leaving for work again. I can have my mom check in on it from time to time, but it would be left mostly unattended. Most fish are out of the question, but what about plants? Can planted tanks handle being left alone for a month at a time once set up? Are there any fish or invertebrates that can live off of the plants while I'm away or would I be stuck with nothing swimming around?

Any help or suggestions to get me back into the hobby would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 12:53 AM
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Do research using the terms
Low Tech Aquarium
Diana Walstad
Walstad Style Aquarium.
Mineralized Top Soil

The basic premise is that the light is kept at the right level and timing so the plants thrive but grow slowly. They do not need more fertilizer added to the tank.
The tank is set up with a fertile substrate, perhaps fertilizer tablets, or mineralized soil for a slow release of the fertilizer.
Fish food can be on a timer and the dose would be very small so that nothing contributes too much nutrients to the water.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 02:05 AM
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You can definitely set up a planted tank that can be left alone for a month as long as you stay low light and low tech. You could possibly even add a few ghost shrimp and snails that would live off of the detritus and biofilm that naturally accumulate in any tank. Do lots of research into low tech aquariums and set it up as soon as possible so you have a good feel for how the tank grows before you leave it alone for a month. For a low tech tank like that I would highly recommend vals - they may not be the prettiest plant but they are very hardy and low maintenance. Also, if you're just keeping plants and a very small bioload I would skip the sump and filters entirely and just put in a powerhead or two for flow. Don't forget glass tops or some sort of top-off system to deal with evaporation, too. Good luck and keep us updated! This sounds like a fun idea!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 02:54 AM
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Hi Matt,

Actually you can have a low maintenance tank either with or without CO2 and high light. One of my first planted tanks was a 30 gallon with various variants of Microsorum pteropus including 'Trident' and 'Windelov' along with larger and smaller species of Cryptocorynes. I only had to thin out the excess plants every couple of months. I found the trick to be balancing the amount of light so the plants grow yet not so much cause a lot of algae. Having a simple fertilizer regime (I used Seachem Comprehensive) helped a lot as well; that way my wife could do it once or twice a week.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 03:01 AM
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I think it would possible to have a low maintenance hi tech tank but would cost a lot more than just a low tech tank. so if you want to be able to grow lots of different stuff quickly than go high tech and try to make it as low maintenance as possible. if you just want the lowest maintenance tank possible and cheaper than high tech than go low tech.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 03:52 AM
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You do need enough light to support plant growth, but once you've achieved that minimum, the less light, the slower plant growth and therefore the less maintenance.

Spend some time in the Low Tech forum. Here's a good thread to start with: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=99729

In your shoes with this size tank, I'd keep it VERY simple; maybe a few big swords in the background, Java ferns and anubias attached to hardscape in the midground, and perhaps some smaller Crypts in the front.

I'd probably avoid stem plants as most will not be able to go a month without a trim and still look decent.





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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 04:27 AM Thread Starter
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I've been digging around for the last few hours and it looks like I have some options. I'm tired though so research will continue tomorrow.

Is it bad that I feel more lost than before?
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2014, 04:32 AM
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Best maintenance free aquarium.



Here is a hit, its a digital aquarium. I love how whomever created it added freshwater plants and saltwater fish, that gave me a good laugh!

As for low maintenance, it all really depends on ultimately what you want to keep in your aquarium honestly. You will grow with the hobby if you pick out something reasonable that you want, and try and make a setup around that. So for instance if you want fish type A, they research fish type A and use that information to help you decide what you want to do. Nothing is worse than having an aquarium you do not like and are not proud of. When I got back into this hobby 6 years ago I wanted something that was easy to take care of, and within about a month I was already bored of that aquarium and almost sold all my equipment, thankfully I found my love for aquatic plants and then after years of struggling to keep my plants alive I found TPT, and its been down here from there.

Just because you have a high-tech tank does not mean that it takes a long time to care for them. I personally have six aquariums right now, and am about to add six more soon, I do all my maintenance and water changes in one day and it usually takes me less than 30 minutes a tank, and it only takes 30 minutes for my big tanks and about 10 minutes for my small tanks because I am accounting for the amount of time it takes to drain and pump with water. It takes me a little while to drain my tanks because I use a 100 foot hose and drain directly into the guest bathroom shower drain. The active amount of time per tank is under 10 minutes. Likewise it takes a little while to fill as well because I am pumping water from my RO/DI storage container (Brute foodgrade trash can), which is in the guest bathroom shower, to the aquariums.
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