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10 Gallon "Container Garden" - Low Tech Dirted Planted Tank

838 Views 1 Reply 1 Participant Last post by  PinkPoodle
Hi everyone!

I'm quite green (pun semi-intended) when it comes to planted tanks, but I've experimented with a few, with decreasing amounts of algae each time, and I'm diving into another one right now!

I call it my "Container Garden" because I wanted to do a dirted tank but am also a bit fearful of the mess of trying to overhaul it if it gets into trouble. So I'm planting in small, individual vases that I can remove to perform maintenance on if need be.

My goal is to develop a very natural, balanced, and low maintenance set-up - a hybrid of Diana Walstad and Tom Barr's methodologies.


  • 10 gallon
  • Light:
    • 10W CFL Marineland bulb, 5100K (x2)
    • 6 hour photoperiod w/ 2 hour break in middle
  • Room temp (75F-ish) - to be heated to 80F soon
  • Soil: Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix capped with gravel
  • Additives:
    • Seachem Prime
    • Seachem Flourish Nitrogen (1/4 capful per week or per large water change)
  • 50% - 75% water change daily for at least the next week to keep down nutrient levels leaching out of the brand new soil
  • Filtration:
    • HOB "10 gallon" filter that came with tank kit, similar to aquaclear
    • No media currently in filter, inert bio balls or similar to be added
    • Sponge pre-filter to be added
  • Fauna:
    • Amazon sword
    • Smaller, unidentified sword
    • Java Moss
  • Fauna: NONE yet
I'd love to hear your feedback on where I should go from here, and any problems you may see coming my way given the above set-up?

I assume that I should be testing levels in the water, but aside from ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, I'm not sure what's important to monitor? (phosphates?)

Oh, and yes, I did deliberately use pink gravel. Shield your eyes, as there is more where that came from!

I couldn't even wait for the outgassing to finish before I took a picture.

I think some of these leaves may need to be removed...

The mystery sword
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More plants!

I've already managed to get my hands on some more plants, as the swords and java moss are certainly not enough to fill the tank up. I got:

  • Stargrass
  • Hygrophila corymbosa
  • Ludwigia Repens
From what I've read, these plants are quite undemanding. Here's hoping they work for me!

To be reorganized by height for a nicer aesthetic when I have more energy
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