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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. This is my first post.

I have kept planted tanks before, but it's been awhile. Within the year, it will be possible for me to have a tank again. Here's the condensed version of my plans. My original post was like a book. I did my best to shorten it to only the necessary specifics:

Sub-tropical 64-75 F temperature

20 Gallon high tank, measuring 24x12.5x17

No tech means no filter, no heater, no air pump

Paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis) will be the sole occupant of this tank, although I am open to suggestions as to clean-up crew inhabitants who won't be eaten nor harrassed by a paradise fish.

Fishless cycling with pure ammonia

The choice of an extremely hardy labyrinth fish should be obvious in such a setup. Additionally, in some ways this is a very retro set up, even down to fish selection, reminiscent of the early days of the hobby before filters, heaters and air pumps existed.

Aqadvisor provides the following information regarding such a setup:

"Recommended water change schedule: 5% per week.
Your aquarium stocking level is 37%"

Further, if I select to add a 10 gallon sponge filter to such a tank, the following information is provided:

"Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 159%"

Is the above information correct for sub-tropical or is sub-tropical an entirely different ball game due to dissolved oxygen levels with respect to temperature?

I am of two minds on lighting. I don't care to toss several feet of prunings every week, which would lead you to believe low light plants would be best for me. However, good lighting is necessary to maintain the plants as filters. I want LED, not fluorescent, for efficiency. Marineland LED strip lights are out. The innards aren't protected from moisture or humidity and I do not care to replace my lighting annually. I love what I've read about the Finnex Ray II Ultra Slim LED DS - Dual 7000k. I do fear the plants will grow to the floor within a week under such lights. Alternatively, I could purchase a PAR38 5500k LED spotlight at Home Depot for roughly $37.
As far as plant species, the following would recreate a southeast Asia biotope from which the paradise fish originates:

Blyxa japonica
Rotala rotundifolia
Ludwigia prostrata
Ceratopteris thalictroides
Limnophila sp.

Given I want this tank to be as low maintenance as possible, maybe the low light species would suit me better:

Crypts (love them & they love a dirt bottom)
Anubias (love them, but not in a new tank.)
mosses (Not a fan of the typical moss you see everywhere)
Java ferns (see anubias above)
Hygrophila polysperma
Limnophila sessiflor
Substrate will be dirt bottom, mixed with clay 9:1, capped with Stoney Rive aquarium sand. Unfortunately I bought Scott's Premium Top Soil, new and improved, with MANY wood chips and peat. It's drying outdoors right now after a 3 day soak and daily pouring off of floating material. The REDART powdered red clay should be arriving shortly in the mail.

I've done Walstad and am not interested in the massive algae blooms or heavy tannins in the water for the first 6 months. I would prefer to stick with fast growing stem plants early on as she suggests, then perhaps add the slow growers 6 months after the tank is filled. I will have a dirt bottom, but wish to mineralize it to see if that helps limit the algae blooms for the first 6 months after set up.

I am soaking soil now because I will start two planted bowls soon, to get some plant species going for the future 20 gallon.
Both of my local LFS are selling "Blue Paradise Gouramis" as paradise fish. In neither case did the LFS paradise fish have the correct coloring, nor the correct tail shape of Macropodus opercularis. One LFS told me their paradise fish were 'peaceful' and 'suitable for a community tank.' My nearest LFS told me the Finnex light fixture was a cheap Chinese made fixture that wouldn't hold up and I should therefore purchase fluorescent. How I wish I had looked to see where his fluorescents were made.

In other words, my two nearest LFS do not seem to get it, so I am here to toss these ideas and plans out to the experts who will get it for critique, advice or suggestions. Are there any holes in my logic or any issue I haven't addressed? I want a low tech, low mainenance and preferably low cost tank. Please feel free to point out any kinks in my plans and let me know how to straighten them out. Thanks for the help and advice in advance.
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