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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been about a year since I got serious about transforming my "tank with a few plants" into a planted tank. From the start I was interested in low-tech setups partly because I just don't have a ton of time for upkeep and partly because my engineering mind is always looking for the most efficient way of getting a desired result. I thought I'd share my tank with others, particularly those who might be considering setting up their first low-tech tank, just to give another example of what is possible with low light, no CO2, and minimal fertilizers.

Thanks to everyone here on PT, all of my ideas and knowledge on how to do this was found here!

First, the full tank shot (notice I haven't mastered the art of pruning yet!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Tank
38 gallon 36x12x21
Eco Complete substrate

Lighting
1x39w T5HO with Icecap reflector (on for 12 hours a day)
Giesemann Midday bulb

Filters
Eheim 2213
Fluval 203

Flora
Anubias Nana
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Echinodorus "Red Devil"
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Heteranthera zosterifolia
Hydrocotyle verticillata
Hygrophila difformis
Ludwigia repens
Marsilea Minuta
Microsorum pteropus (Java Fern)
Taxiphyllum barbieri (Java Moss)

Fauna
(1) Angelfish
(10) Black neon tetras
(4) Harlequin rasboras
(6) corydoras
(3) Albino bristlenose plecos

Dosing (weekly amounts)
Flourish Excel- 5 mil 3x weekly
Flourish- 4mil
KNO3- ¼ tsp
Phosphate- none because the tap water has plenty in it.

Maintenance
Water changes- uhh, not too often. Maybe 5 gallons once a month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That red plant isn't a crypt-- it's a sword. I just don't know much about swords so I can't tell you which sword it is.

Beautiful tank!!
You're right, I found it: Echinodorus "Red Devil". Updated in plant list.

Thanks for the compliments everyone- like all tanks it's a work in progress. Later I'm going to post a list of plants that DIDN'T work- sometimes that can be even more helpful.
 

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gorgeous tank! and YAY for more low light / low tech / low maintenance people! :proud: It's always good to know we're in good company! :hihi:
 

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Gorgeous tank! I'm inspired! So do you just have the Eco Complete as substrate, or do you have soil under it? I'm wanting to try a planted tank like this on a 55 gallon that I'm setting up. I have a lightly planted 20 gallon but your tank just goes to show how much can be achieved on a relatively low budget that is still low maintenance. Thanks for the pics!
 

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Nice tank! that is exactly what I want to achieve. I'm in the process of trying to figure this low tech stuff out. How do you learn to fertilize such a set up? I'm scared of ferts and afraid if I add them I'll get an algae outbreak or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Gorgeous tank! I'm inspired! So do you just have the Eco Complete as substrate, or do you have soil under it? I'm wanting to try a planted tank like this on a 55 gallon that I'm setting up. I have a lightly planted 20 gallon but your tank just goes to show how much can be achieved on a relatively low budget that is still low maintenance. Thanks for the pics!
Thank you! I'm using straight Eco Complete for substrate, nothing else. The substrate was the thing I researched the least only because I added it months before I really started thinking about a heavily planted tank. I was tired of pea gravel and knew I wanted live plants and saw the Eco Complete at the LFS. I can't say I'm for or against it. It seems to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nice tank! that is exactly what I want to achieve. I'm in the process of trying to figure this low tech stuff out. How do you learn to fertilize such a set up? I'm scared of ferts and afraid if I add them I'll get an algae outbreak or something.
I learned the basic guidelines for the amount of ferts from here and Tom Barr's website. I think I used Tom Barr's Estimative Index to get baseline amounts for my size tank and I don't think I've had to adjust too much. I was adding phosphate until I got around to testing my water and realized my tap water is off the chart with phosphates, so I eliminated that. I've been lucky and have not had much problems with algae. I do get spots of hair algae but spot treating them with Excel works well.

I think if you search you'll find a fertilizing "method" that seems to fit your goals, lighting, lifestyle, etc and just start there. If problems arise with your plants, such as holes in the leaves, yellowing, etc, these will be indicators that something is out of balance. Diagnose the cause of the problem and adjust accordingly.

If you start slowly with small amounts you don't need to be afraid. That's the beauty of low-tech, things happen slower.
 

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I learned the basic guidelines for the amount of ferts from here and Tom Barr's website. I think I used Tom Barr's Estimative Index to get baseline amounts for my size tank and I don't think I've had to adjust too much. I was adding phosphate until I got around to testing my water and realized my tap water is off the chart with phosphates, so I eliminated that. I've been lucky and have not had much problems with algae. I do get spots of hair algae but spot treating them with Excel works well.

I think if you search you'll find a fertilizing "method" that seems to fit your goals, lighting, lifestyle, etc and just start there. If problems arise with your plants, such as holes in the leaves, yellowing, etc, these will be indicators that something is out of balance. Diagnose the cause of the problem and adjust accordingly.

If you start slowly with small amounts you don't need to be afraid. That's the beauty of low-tech, things happen slower.
Cool thx for the advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
To give an idea of the growth I'm getting from this setup, here's a photo taken in August after I moved the tank and did some major pruning and reorganization. I'd say the tank has looked like the first photos shown since November, so it grew in from this in about 3 months.
 
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