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I just finished building my El Natural tank and the specs are as follows, I have 2 13W 6500K screw in flourescent bulbs a hang on back filter with the standard potting soil gravel combo on the bottom.....

Now on to the fun part the LFS store doesnt sell live plants so I have to order them online, so can someone recomend me a planting package that someone sells, or suggest some plants for me so I can buy them online, I have no idea as to the kind of plants I can raise in my tank and need some help....I would like to have a nice full lush tank with moybe on central piece of driftwood.

These are kind of the style tanks I like lots of plants but not much ground cover so you can still see the gravel something like these would be nice, granted these are much larger tanks but they will help you suggest plants











So on to the questions.

Can you recommend the types and numbers of plants I can use, like a pic of your tank and what you used? Or a nice plant pack that someone online offers?

Is there any certain kind of driftwood that is better than the next for El Natural style tanks?

Do I need some kind of snails or other algae eaters in the tank?

What sorts of interested livestock can I keep in my tank, I have always had fish but would like something that is very unique, species recomendations? or other animal types I could keep?

Thanks for all the help to get me to this point, only a little further to go then I am done and will post pics.

Thanks Guys
 

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when you say el natural do you mean walstads method with a soil substrate and no other ferts to speak of?

I really like the look of Manzanita wood, there are several threads that cover it.

Snails. . .Weather you need them or not you will probably end up with them hitchhiking on plants

You could have shrimp and there are many kinds of snails that look really neat and are different, however if you want this type of critter in your tank make sure the other fish wont have them for lunch. I would look around and find a fish you really like and then build the tank around it.

Good luck!
 

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I have a el natural tank that I setup this summer; currently hosts three glow-light tetras, two cherry barbs, three zebra danios (leftovers from cycling), and two other red fish I can't remember the name of (mollies maybe?).
Plants consist of apons. bulbs from Wal Mart, hairgrass, and some type of crypt, along with a standard piece of driftwood. Things are growing very well, including agae. There's a few snails that hitched a ride from the LFS, although they don't seem to do much. I'm also using the two screw in CF bulbs. Just looking for some nice algae control!
 

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Hi,

if you're looking for an El Natural package, Aquabotanic puts together a very nice one.

I assume the lightbulbs you mention are standard base spiral Compact Flourescents? I've been running a similar El Natural (Walstad-style) setup for about a year now. I used the All Glass Aquarium "Economy" hood with the dual incandescent fixture.

Obviously, most crypts are going to fare quite well in these setups. I've had Aponogetons do quite well also. You can even try those packets of them from Walmart - look for bulbs that are still very dense. You can rattle them around in the package, and by the feel of them, get an idea - if they seem very lightweight and dry, don't get them.

You might be surprised at some of the things that will grow in a low tech setup. In the one I run with the 2 spiral CF bulbs, I've had Bylxa japonica doing quite well. Make sure its not shaded by other plants. Also, the Bacopa australis does well, and the rounded leaves are a nice contrast in front of more straight vertical lines like giant hairgrass. Its easier than Micranthemum umbrosum, but very similar in appearance. Hemianthus micranthemoides grows pretty quickly, and is a nice midground plant that will work well with the scale of a 10 gallon.

Did you do a bottle test? With any soil underlayer, there may be an initial flush of nutrients into the water column. One of the best defenses is to plant DENSELY! Even if it is a bunch of floaters - Water sprite, Najas guadalupensis, Hornwort - you'll want to use a lot of plant mass to act as a nutrient sink for the first few weeks. I usually plant things like the Najas and keep some floating water sprite until the substrate settles down. Then, you can replant with those plants you want in there more permanently.

If you're going to put in hairgrass, be aware that most of the "potted" ones are grown emersed, and will need to transition over to submerged growth. A major lesson I learned was to either wait until the nutrient spike was over with before planting hairgrass, or plant it into a small pot, set up with soil and gravel, and let it do its transitioning in either another tank, or a bottle with some snails to clean up the transition die-back and keep the algae in check.

First you want to get fast growers in there!

And as to snails, some folks hate 'em, and some like 'em. I like 'em. The Physid, or pond snail types just multiply too rapidly, but the small ramshorns are good scavengers. They'll eat algae, and detritus. They reproduce quickly too, once established, but not like the pond snails. Also, I like to have some MTS (Malaysian Trumpet Snails) to keep the substrate stirred up a bit. Don't worry, they won't go digging up the dirt, mainly just mix the coarse sand/gravel layer.

Plan the look you want - Tall staight plants, wide bushy plants, small leafed or larger leafed midground. Then, review the plants that fit that description. Chances are, you'll find a suitable candidate that will do well in a moderate light low tech setup.

Best of Luck!
-Jane
 

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Oh, and try to benefit from allelopathy - Hornwort supposedly secretes a chemical that is a natural algae inhibitor. I always have some present in a newly setup tank. Egeria najas is reputed to also have similar qualities.
 

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Oh, and try to benefit from allelopathy - Hornwort supposedly secretes a chemical that is a natural algae inhibitor. I always have some present in a newly setup tank. Egeria najas is reputed to also have similar qualities.
Hi Jane, haven't we met elsewhere?
Where did you get that about Hornwort and Egeria najas? Sounds interesting and new.
 

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Hey its jane from APC :) Yeah where did you find out that ? well hornwort does grow fast so i guess it remove most excess nutrients that algae feeds on
 

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I have an El Natural Walstad 20 G tank running now for more than a month.

A few hints from my experience:

DHG - Grows like crazy..spreads fast in soil.
HC - grows slowly submerged, but keeps floating up in gravel
Myriophyllum mattogrossense - Grows rapidly ..excellent for low tech !
Riccia fluitans - grows very well..but keeps floating up in pieces.
XMas Moss - Does fine

Water stays tea colored, few days after water change, it will revert again to tea color.
The Neon Tetra LOVE this water ! They will Spawn every morning, or at least try
in these conditions in a planted tank.
 

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Hey all,
I just started a Walstad style tank and I'm psyched. I love the idea of a self sustaining (mostly) mini-ecosystem. I set it up yesterday, added a few various plants from my other tanks (Amazon Sword, Rotala, Wisteria, Vals and a Crypt). Right now my water is fairly cloudy, I;m thinking I need to add some Egeria najas and/or Hornwort.

@greenknight: What is DHG?
 

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I love the idea of a self sustaining (mostly) mini-ecosystem. I set it up yesterday, added a few various plants from my other tanks. I;m thinking I need to add some Egeria najas and/or Hornwort.
I have found that if it is self sustaining depends on the type of plants you have and the quality of the water.

At AAA forum there are some pictures. Also at APC
 

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I have found that if it is self sustaining depends on the type of plants you have and the quality of the water.

At AAA forum there are some pictures. Also at APC
I found APC pretty helpful when setting it up, nice that they have a whole forum devoted to EI Natural. What types of plants and water quality would you recommend?
 

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What types of plants and water quality would you recommend?
I always recommend beginners to start with moss, Java fern, anubias. For these plants can grow in a tank in a window sill and don't need substrate.

It seems you already have a lot of plants. Amazon Sword, Rotala, Wisteria, Vals and a Crypt. The Wisteria, Vals and a Crypt will do fine with your light. The crypts may need fert tabs, like API, or some clay balls to provide iron. The Amazon Sword grows too big even for a 20 gallon tank, so I have read. The Rotala need more light.

I prefer Egeria najas to Hornwort, for it needs less light. Also the Hornwort sheds needles like Pine trees.
 
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