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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally got around to taking a few pictures of my two Walstad NPT style bowls (inspired by Newman's).

Started them the last week of August. Miracle-Gro Organic Complete Potting Soil capped with black Tahitian Moon Sand. Primarily Dwarf Sag with Java Moss glued to the hardscape and frogbit to help prevent algae. I haven't gotten around to adding the shrimp yet but that is more laziness than anything else.

Those are 28 watt daylight desklamps from HD (discontinued I think). I tilted them away from the bowls a bit to get a better picture. I can normally lower them to right over the top of the bowl and not have algae problems (though the evap does increase). I originally was only using one of the lamps but when I set up the second it did seem to increase growth rate. The whole thing seems to be very worry free so far. The only thing that really went wrong is that I ended up with more substrate depth than I had planned. By the time that I felt I had a significant 'cap' of sand the total substrate layer had increased beyond what I had expected or planned for. Doesn't seem to hurt anything but just took away water volume.





 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I mostly just posted this thread to demonstrate another successful example of the NPT bowl method. The bowls are pretty boring in terms of aquascaping. I was worried about getting them cycled and establishing the plant mass and am going to rely upon the eventual Red Cherry Shrimp population to provide the primary visual appeal. I have an expanding fire red population in one tank and a standard (but surprisingly high quality) RCS population in a 10G tank and I will move some of them over as soon as I get the time to net out some shrimp and move them.

Before I thinned out the frogbit in order to spread it to another tank it had gone nuts in these bowls. I have the same strain of frogbit and the same batches of Dwarf Sag in other tanks and the growth in these two bowls of both plants just went crazy. The frogbit roots actually were touching the substrate.

I would assume that the organics released when the tank was started are what was behind the rapid growth of the frogbit because I have high light in my other tanks (but inert substrate) and it does not grow as quickly or look as healthy in the other tanks. Perhaps the lack of surface agitation helps too. For the dwarf sag the nutrient rich substrate is obviously the likely factor behind the accelerated growth.

The only ferts that I have added are if I have left over water change water from the big tanks and I add it to the bowls to top them off but that is rare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You were one of the inspirations.

My original plan was to have a german hybrid sword plant growing emersed out of one of the bowls but when they arrived they were fully grown which put an end to that idea.

I think that I may have to pick up one of those 4 gallon tall cube vase things that a couple of people around here have been using lately and try again. :)
 

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these look nice. they do remind me of my own =)

I think the more red shrimp varieties would really look great in here!
 

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What plants are you using? How often do you change the water? :)
I would like to have this kind of success after just two months. That grew in very fast!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What plants are you using? How often do you change the water? :)
I would like to have this kind of success after just two months. That grew in very fast!
I have frogbit and duckweed floating on top (the duckweed I would love to get rid of though).

I have dwarf sag planted all over the substrate and that is what the long stalks that are bending over near the surface are. Then I have large amounts of java moss glued to hardscape. One bowl has a piece of driftwood completely covered in java moss and the other has a granite stone that you can't even see because it just looks like a giant ball of java moss.

There are a few stem plants in there somewhere that I grabbed from other tanks and there are a couple of crypt wendtii green in one bowl and a red tiger lotus in the other bowl but the mass of plants makes both hard to see.

Neither the dwarf sag or the frogbit grow anywhere near this lush or fast in my other tanks (with filtration and with sporadic fert dosing). The combination of the miracle gro organic complete potting mix at the bottom of the bowl and just letting the water and chemicals stew in the bowl really seemed to make the plant growth go crazy. The first two weeks growth was sort of slow and normal then it just went nuts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What plants are you using? How often do you change the water? :)
I would like to have this kind of success after just two months. That grew in very fast!
I have never changed the water - only topped off.

When I add shrimp I will probably start topping off with distilled water so that I don't get a mineral build-up in the tank. I probably ought to do SOME water changes as well at that point just to help protect the shrimp but in a bowl this densely planted there is only so much you can do in it without messing up the plants and scaping.
 

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you can always trim up the plants and moss (trim the dead or yellowing leaves on the dwarf sag)
that should free up some room. dont trim too much at once or youll get an algae bloom, but I trim my bowl's moss once in a while and it does good for the bowl - improves oxygen circulation etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I finally got around to adding some Red Cherry Shrimp to the bowls 4-5 days ago. So far they seem to be doing fine but to be honest I don't pay much attention to them other than dropping in food every other day or so.

I will update this periodically in regards to the shrimp health and population which I plan to just let run wild. People seem to be interested in how the shrimp will do in these heavily planted bowls so I figured I would test it out a bit.
 

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you should be successful as long as you keep the plants from choking out the shrimp lol! I find that to be a problem in my bowl; i need to trim my taiwan moss very soon...
 

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How do you keep the water from stinking? Every time I have tried the NPT method I get horrible smelling water. I've had to throw every try away.
 

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what kind of glue did you use to glue down the moss?
 

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How do you keep the water from stinking? Every time I have tried the NPT method I get horrible smelling water. I've had to throw every try away.
that's odd, did you cap the soil with something and let it sit as planted for a while? i never noticed a smell, but eventually the plants just take over and use up all the phosphate/nitrate and w/e else may be causing a smell from the soil. you also should be changing water, so the bowl never really gets a chance to smell other than an earthly plant smell.
 

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You have same very nice growth in your tank! I have the same question as @psalm, do the tanks smell bad/how do you deal with this?

-magma
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have never noticed any sort of smell that differs from what my other planted tanks smell like.

I think that the stagnant water smell which people probably are expecting is missing because whatever algae or bacteria normally causes it is out-competed by all the plants (especially the floating plants).

I probably have more MGOC potting mix than anyone would recommend since I didn't estimate the volumes very well when filling it so I would imagine that if I don't have problems with organics being released by the soil causing problems (algae, smell, massive ammonia, etc.) then people with thinner layers of soil should be even less likely to have those problems.

I have not wiped the inside of the glass on the bowl even once yet and I still don't notice any algae. There ARE natural tannins in the bowl which must be from the soil but they don't hurt anything and since the planting is so dense they aren't really noticeable either. I am sure that a few 50% water changes would probably get rid of them if it was something that bothered me.

I have no equipment of any sort in the bowls - no heater, no air stone or water circulating or oxygenating device of any sort. I keep the bowl in the middle of a room (away from windows) to avoid temperature spikes from drafty windows and other than that I just let the central air/heating do the work since I run it year round at ~75.

With just plants (or just plants and Neocaridina shrimp like the Red Cherry Shrimp) you can really get away with a LOT in these bowls since both the plants and the RCS are so tolerant of water conditions. If you wanted to put fish (even nano fish) or Crystal Red Shrimp like Newman has done then I imagine that it starts to push the envelope of what a bowl this small can manage without using heaters, filters, etc.

Newman: are you talking about the plants literally choking out the shrimp or was it more of an aesthetic issue with the overgrown bowl?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How do you keep the water from stinking? Every time I have tried the NPT method I get horrible smelling water. I've had to throw every try away.
I tried the bowl first and after about 6 weeks without problems (and with incredible plant growth) I decided to try it in a regular aquarium.

The nice thing about the bowls is that they are small enough that you CAN just toss the contents out if things don't work out for some reason.
 
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