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what low Tech means ?

1724 Views 13 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  pejerrey
hi all

i am bit confused about the name low Tech

so is it means the following ?

using low light

no Co2 at all

low light plants only

no fertilizers at all

i would like really to know what is the main concept of the low tech Tanks

thank you
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Correct on all accounts but fertilization. Typically you'd have some sort of basic fert regime, whether it be excel dosing or EI (estimative index). Hope I helped.
Personally I think it's a matter of pressurized CO2 vs no CO2 at all...
Kinda' depends on the person defining it.

Generally C02 is a defining point, but some folks include it in "low tech" if it's a DIY set up. Same thing for lights. Substrates are going to range from the latest specialized mixes to mud straight from the garden. Low light is more common, but high-light plants are possible with the right conditions--including cobbled together low-tech light systems or tanks with direct sunlight available. And the fauna are going to be as varied as the flora. If not more so.
low tech seems to me to be less work and less money and high tech is usually the opposite
I think low tech refers to having less technology on the tank. So the tank is using less equipment overall or the equipment that it is using is more basic. Since pressurized CO2 requires specialized equipment, it generally becomes the determining factor between "high tech" and "low tech" setups; however, it doesn't have to be.

I look at a "high tech" setup as one with a combination of high light, CO2 (in any form), and regular ferts. This type of tank is driven by the high lighting, and if the CO2 or ferts were ever stopped, this tank would be in trouble fast.

I see a "low tech" tank as one with lower lighting which means CO2 and ferts are optional, but definitely not required. Usually if they are supplied, they are supplied at a lower rate than what's used for high tech tanks. The CO2 and/or ferts can be stopped without the tank going into an immediate tailspin. In fact, many low tech tanks receive no extra CO2 or ferts at all.

The question is how to name a tank that's in an in-between category. What about a tank with medium lighting, pressurized CO2, and only a moderate amount of ferts? Is that high tech or low tech? What about the exact same tank, but change the pressurized CO2 to either DIY CO2 or Excel. Does that change the tank's category?

There are no set rules as to what is a high tech tank and what is a low tech tank. It's really up to the person using the term. I use the terms only because there is no other simple phrase that identifies the type of tank I'm talking about, basically out of a lack of better terms to use.
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thanks all for the inputs really appreciated
I think it is a sliding scale, and each component can be rated for high, low or in between. Where you draw the line at each item is up to you.

I think the most basic idea is that low tech means less tinkering with the tank, and less complex equipment. Set it up, fine tune it, and let it run with less input than a high tech set up.
That set up might be quite complex, with mineralized top soil, substrate fertilizer, timer for the lights and other things that take time initially, but in the end mean less time each day or week in maintenance.
here's an example of my low tech 20L:

-cheap CFL lighting
-dirt under substrate, no fertilizer needed
-powerhead, no filter needed, even with fish, just plant heavily
-i do run a heater but as long as your room temp is regulated you don't really need one during the summer. (or winter if you keep it warm at night)

total cost to set up tank (including buying the tank from $1 per gallon petco sale) - ~$85 not including fish. can be even cheaper if you have some extra equipment laying around.

weekly maintenance = 1 hour or less

you can go even more low tech. some people have planted shrimp bowls with no heater, filter, and they use ambient lighting.
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My main qualification is no CO2 at all and no need for CO2. It doesn't have to be low light, it just has to have low enough light to where CO2 is not needed. There is a difference between just being able to grow Java moss and Java Fern and colorful stems, but both can be done in what I consider a low tech tank.

So, low tech also includes lighting. In the past, there were not as many lighting choices so having a MH or T5 setup used to be "high tech" by the nature of the technology was new (and expensive). Now I don't really include lighting type as it seems you can do all without the need for CO2, which is my personal main qualification.


I don't consider adding ferts to bring it past low tech. But, I feel a low tech tank shouldn't require a lot of work, meaning ferts a few times a month would be reasonable.


Filtration can be anything, especially when we are talking nano's. An AC 70, for example, may be low tech compared to an Eheim 2211 but provides much more flow so I don't consider a canister high tech, per say. I have a AC 50 on a tank I consider "low tech", just because I have one, but have a canister on two tanks I consider "low tech".


However, in general, you would normally assume that if someone doesn't invest in lighting, they don't invest in CO2, or a high end filter. That's not always the case though. You see people with no CO2 with a lot of "technology" in high end filters and high end lighting that still is low enough to not use CO2. You also see people who skimp on filtration and lighting that run CO2.

I have also seen tanks that are low light, high CO2, and moss only. I still consider that "high tech", especially with LED lighting, canister, etc. Even though the CO2 isn't needed to prevent algae, it can grow moss very well in lower lighting.


At the end of the day, it's all opinion. As said, for me it has to have CO2 (pressurized). IMO, lighting plays a factor as people usually run more light but I think you can have a "high tech" setup that is low light. I don't personally filters play into this. Well, maybe if you have a bunch of inline stuff and accessories but no CO2, that wouldn't mean high tech, maybe mid-tech, without CO2. Again, just my personal opinion.
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For me low tech means plants, lights, substrate, and fish. No other equipment. Minimal tank maintenance.

high tech means co2 , regular water testing, and/or complicated fertilization.

If it doesn't fit in either of those categories its just a planted tank.

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I'm in the camp that believes that most people refer to low light when they say low tech. Low tech = low enough light to not need CO2 = slow growth = very little maintenance.

To me, filters, lights, timers, substrate, etc have nothing to do with low vs. high tech. You pretty much always have to have some sort of a filter, so you might as well have a good one. If you have root feeding plants, you need a nutritious substrate. Might as well get the best growth with the least amount of effort. Whether that's Miracle Grow or Aquasoil is just a matter of personal preference. Most tanks need heaters and lights and timers... there's nothing particularly high-tech about an inline heater or a $5 timer, it's just a matter of convenience.

Low-tech doesn't mean cheap to me at all. Just simple, low maintenance, and not a ton of equipment taking up space. No CO2, DIY or otherwise. DIY CO2 to me seems like a lot of work and pressurized is a ton of extra equipment and extra risks. I want to be able to go on vacation for two weeks and be confident that my tank will need no special maintenance while I'm gone.

Just my two cents. This is something everyone defines differently.
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Low tech doesn't mean low budget to me either. Neither is an excuse to have an ugly tank.

It means to me that is *usually* low light and has *intentionally* less equipment, dosing and maintenance.

In other words, low metabolism.
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