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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I found this amazing old 5 gal Pyrex bottle on the street in NYC and decided to wait until I moved to Australia to make an aquarium out of it. Well I'm here now and I unpacked the bottle and it survived the trip (miraculously). Today I started planning and this is what I have so far.

This will be a no-tech tank (no lighting, filtration, or water changes (just top ups). I normally make planted tanks but given the narrowness of the neck of the bottle a planted tank might be more hassle than it's worth. Instead I'm thinking of a single large emergent plant and a blackwater setup with leaf litter, sticks, and a dark substrate.

I have a ton of interesting leaves from trees on my property so I'll be using those as leaf litter and I'll be collecting submerged sticks from a local stream.

I like to add as much diversity to my setups as possible and I found an Australian live food supplier who has an "Ultimate Freshwater Mix: containing 4 types of copepods, rotifers, daphnia, 3 types amphipods, Aussie seed shrimp and our freshwater MicroMagic 4 species of phytoplankton".

I'm thinking 4 ricefish (Daisy's Blue Ricefish (Oryzias woworae) 3 males and 1 female, a few Ammanos, 2 Otocinclus, and snails.

For the emmersed plant I want a big Monstera deliciosa.

The bottle will sit in the corner of our living room. I already got my wife's approval and my 6 year old daughter is keen to help.


The sense of scale of this bottle is hard to imagine. It's 20" high.


This is a comp of what I'm thinking.


I expected to have to use long tweezers to place hardscape but I'm in luck.
 

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No filtration tanks are very doable but you have to go low on the stocking. I'd dump the otos and plan on water changes. Its unlikely you will be able to find perfect balance with plant growth vs mineral buildup and waste. Hopefully you can, but with only 1 large emergent plant... probably not going to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Also it wasn't clear to me if this tank will be getting direct sunlight. If so then I'd rethink the location. Direct sunlight is about 20 times brighter then most people's high tech high light tank setups.
Only indirect light.

Bump:
Those monstera roots will completely fill that bottle in no time. Any scape will be engulfed with barely room for fish ... imho.
Good point! Might need to trim them bonsai style. I'm fine with that if that's what's necessary. Also we are talking about 5 gal. Again it's bigger than it looks.

Bump:
No filtration tanks are very doable but you have to go low on the stocking. I'd dump the otos and plan on water changes. Its unlikely you will be able to find perfect balance with plant growth vs mineral buildup and waste. Hopefully you can, but with only 1 large emergent plant... probably not going to happen.
I'm not completely opposed to plants in the bottle too. I had considered doing some java moss and maybe a few others. I just want it to be manageable.

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Also it wasn't clear to me if this tank will be getting direct sunlight. If so then I'd rethink the location. Direct sunlight is about 20 times brighter then most people's high tech high light tank setups.
You may have thought I'd be getting direct light because of the comp but that's actually just a picture of the bottle I grabbed off the internet. The spot I'm actually locating it in is a corner that only gets indirect light.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Those monstera roots will completely fill that bottle in no time. Any scape will be engulfed with barely room for fish ... imho.
Just had another thought to make a root sleeve around the stem. The idea would be there'd be a sleeve that would contain the roots and enable me to remove the stem without too much disturbance in the rest of the tank. Also it would confine the roots so they don't take over the tank. Thinking some kind of tight screen material.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
After reading your feedback not sure if I'm going to do a full blackwater tank. I think i'll have some plants in the tank most likely java moss as that seems like it would be the easiest to manage. Also I decided to use some local taro plants instead of the Monstera.

The taro grows like a weed across the street by the banks of a stream. I can experiment and not spend money which is good. Also it's a good looking plant. Hoping its root structure will be less of an issue than the Monstera. If worse comes to worse I'll just pull it out and trim it back or get a new plant.

I bought cheap potting soil and black gravel. I sifted the potting soil as per the instructions in
. I only had a kitchen sifter so it took awhile as the screen is quite fine.

I also collected some mud and water from the local stream that I intended to mix with the soil but when I was looking it over I saw things swimming in it that looked like little fish but appeared on closer inspection to be some kind of insect. I didn't want to chance adding something unpleasant to the bottle so I opted instead to return them to where I found them. I did save a single pond snail.


After some research I think they were dragonfly larvae. Not my photo.


The plants. I think they are Xanthosoma violaceum 'Black Elephants Ear'.


This sifting took awhile. Longer than I ever care to sift again.


Bottle with sifted dirt in the place it's going to live on my desk. (sunglasses for scale)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Big news for my little project. I got a generous discount on my "Ultimate Freshwater Mix" from Graeme at Aquatic Live Food. https://www.aquaticlivefood.com.au/shop/ultimate-freshwater-mix/

Ultimate Freshwater Mix contains 4 types of copepods, rotifers, daphnia, 3 types amphipods, Aussie seed shrimp and our freshwater MicroMagic 4 species of phytoplankton all mixed up in one bottle you will get a all round live food ideal for your tropical or cold freshwater tank in one bottle.
I can't stress enough how important it is to try to round out your tank ecosystem as much as possible for tank health and ease of maintenance. Graeme's "Ultimate Freshwater Mix" is one of the best products I've found, in a long time, for adding all those helpful little critters that break down wastes and become live food for your fish (which is really the best food to feed). Really glad I found this and I really appreciate Graeme's support of my little project.

I soaked the dirt over 24hrs and added the gravel (was supposed to add it at the same time but didn't have the time) and added more water. Gravel was cheap and super dusty. Rinsed it a ton before I got even barely clear water. I can see I added a bit too much gravel but I'm also worried about dirt creep under the cap which I saw in a video once so I want to remove some but not too much. Considering trying to just suck some up as I clear out this cloudy water. My OCD wants the gravel level with the bottom seam of the glass. We'll see what I end up with.

My daughter and I went "botanics" foraging around the house and it was a gold mine. So many different wonderful leaves, cool seed pods, and weird little star shaped flowers (maybe?) that make a carpet behind our house. Started soaking all of them. Not sure how long they need to be in there but I've got at least 24hrs before I'm even ready for them. Going to save the water (hopefully rich with tannins) and add it to the final fill up.

Wrapping up some work and hoping to get to my LFS (tomorrow) who said they have java moss. I'm also hoping they have hairgrass. Honestly I'm thinking that with all the taro roots and the plants ability to draw CO2 from the air that should be enough to suck up most of the nutrients in the tank. The biomass of the taro is much higher than what I'd get with submerged plants. But we'll see. Balances can be tricky. I find usually its easiest to make your best bet and then let nature sort it out. I wouldn't be against a little algae in the tank. Also I think I'll need to trim the roots bonzai style in order for them not to take over the tank and to minimize growth. Although already I can see new shoots growing like crazy. I'll be keeping the taro above the substrate for ease of removal and to add another element to the scape.

Accidentally left the taro in the sun and it wilted like crazy. It should be fine but lesson learned. I really hope it comes back because I'm really happy with the little group I have but if worse comes to worse there's always more across the street.


Look at all the free scape!


How I ended up with an inch of too much gravel I'll never understand.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ok there's no turning back!

I squeezed the taro tubers in there and there's no way they are coming out so I guess the tank is done. I smashed up one of the other stems a bit before they all got in there (eventually I cut the tuber down) so I'm not sure if I'll lose those two leaves. I really hope not.

This is going to be an interesting experiment because the tubers are definitely going to send up more shoots. Not sure what will happen then. My worst case scenario is to just hack them all down if they go crazy and get in there with a razor blade on a stick and just chop pieces up and pull them out and re-plant. Not ideal but an option.

I got some small drift wood and ship in a bottle style laid out a nice little V layout with them only to have it completely obscured once the taro was in. So much for negative space.

I added the water from my leaf soak and I've got a nice tea colored tint going. I'm sure the driftwood will darken things up a bit too. I didn't pre-soak so I should get maximum tannins.

I added some crypts and two decent sized balls of java moss. It'll be interesting to see how everything does.

Well it looks like what I had envisioned. Let's see what kind of tank it ends up being before it overgrows itself.

PS: I got the extra gravel out with a silicone ice pop maker stuck to the end of my dowel. My daughter scooped a bunch out too but she eventually tired of my micro-managing so I ended up finishing the job.


Ship in a bottle scape composition was a bitch.


Crypts (couldn't get them to stay in the substrate with the long grabbers) and java moss in the background.


For a small tank it actually has a nice sense of depth.


It actually turned out pretty much how I was hoping!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I got a $4 desk lamp and 6500k 12W 1360 Lumen bulb for it. Bouncing it off the wall and it's really adding a nice light to the bottle. The freshwater critters arrived today. I had to add them with a funnel so they didn't end up on the taro stems. Might have to do something similar for the shrimp and fish. Don't want any mishaps.

They came with some plankton but I also added a tiny bit of barley grass power and spirulina powder. I've used this before and everything in the tank can eat it happily; fish, shrimp (they go crazy for it), daphnia, snails, and more.

Two snails came with the critters and they are happily munching away on the biofilm at the top of the tank. I think snails are very underrated. I once made a pico tank and it was getting kind of funky. I added a snail and the water was clear in no time.

Did a PH test and I'm between 7.0-6.5 which is right where it should be.

The tank is looking very swamp floor like. I like it so far. I'd like the crypts to fill a bit more space. We'll see how they do. The little light should help them.

I just wasted some time looking for a tiny scissor on a pole that I could use to cut things in the tank. Looks like what I need are Laparoscopic 5mm x 46cm Curved Scissors. Look them up. They are wild looking.

 
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