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27 Dec 2009
Denton, Manchester
Right, thought it was about time I finally start my journal especially after a few people pushing me to start it up. Brownie points to the first person to guess why I chose the name for the journal ( those who know are excluded).
Having had so much fun running high tech, there was one tank alone that gave me so much inspiration to give the low tech el natural tank a go and that was Bigtoms bucket of mud. I have read that journal so many times. It was especially the shallow tank and the immersed growth and the fact the tank can be left to its own devices with little intervention from me. A bonus whilst I'm on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, i was unable to get a large square shallow tank due to my dining table so opted for diffrent dimensions.
Lxwxh is 120cmx70x30 and 10mm thick
Here it was as of last weekend when it arrived.


With this being a low tech no co2 etc, obviously lighting needs to be low, but I couldn't resist the urge to purchase an ati sunpower 4x54watt, however I'll be having it hung about 3 to 4 foot above the water level.

Cabinet is a DIY one. Had so much problems with joiners and cabinets so this is not an ada one but the front is similar. Yet to be varnished up etc.

Tank finally in place after some chopping adjustments of the stand

That isn't how the wood will be finally placed.

Substrate is a very small amount of John innes number 3 mixed with a large amount of aqua pond soil to just about an inch. This will then be topped with about 35 litres of Ada Amazonia/ flora base

Current plant list is cyperus alternifolious which will be planted in shower caddies and stuck to the rear right corner of the tank as part of the immersed corner.
I have seen a few other plants I'll mix in with these and big Tom has kindly donated a triffid off his monster of an echinodorous which will add to this.

To also go in
Needle leaf java fern
Java fern trident
Frog Bit
Anubis and some mosses.

Flow is going to be by way of as small a filter as possible.

Will be updating through the week.

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Re: A Chocolate Puddle

I really like the proportions of that tank and it site really well on the cabinet. I'm subscribing to this. I'm fascinated by the whole emmersed planting thing.

I'm not going to try to guess the name's origins though? Reminds me of when the dog ate a v hot curry!
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

chocolate puddle = chocolate gourami's in a shallow tank?
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

for an air breather no doubt....
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

bucket of mud is the reason my 4 foot shallow is now set up. cyperus helferi in flower along with nomophila stricta. so thanks tom and good luck alastair ;)
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

Finally... :lol: Can`t wait to see this progress. Chuffed to see it finally underway after all the rotten luck you`ve had. Subscribed! :thumbup:
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

Hi Alaster, nice size tank!
I have been running my attempt at a low tech for about 5 months now, things happen so slowly :?
I have been waiting for certain plants to break out the surface but they have a few more inches to go yet.
I am beginning to run out of patience to be honest & I feel a squirt of gas is coming very soon!
I have struggled with BBA but, it is the slow growth that I find rather boring, it even took a month for the old leafs to melt.
The fact that I am home every day & actually like the maintenance thing is another factor too - there is just nothing to do!
One thing though, the fish, 30 (adult) corry's are loving the tank & are breeding every few weeks.
I am using a 70w MT flood light for 8 hours a day suspended 600mm above the tank, this certainly give a nice effect.
I tried lots of different light period to start with & did add some liquid carbon for a for two weeks to try & get rid of the BBA but, now it is fighting on its own.
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

Exciting stuff,

the only thng about the ATI raised so high is that is might be a little annoying with glare when sitting at your dining table.

You could have always opted for a smaller dining table and got the square tank you originally envisioned... priorities and all that. :p
A Chocolate Puddle

Matt guessed it straight off, chocolate gouramis will be the main focal point of this set up hence the name.,
Thanks everyone for your kind comments so far.
Sorry it's taken so long to get updates on this but haven't been great again.

Right, layered the John innes and aqua soil down with the capping of florabase, although I don't think I put enough soil down as to what's suggested. However if I do start to see any nutrient deficiencies I can add the odd but of kno3 and kh2po4 if need be.

The most painstaking part of this so far was trying to Seperate the soil from the cyperus Alternifolius as they'd arrived in 9cm pots very well rooted In the soil and not knowing what soil it was I didn't want to leave any on. So once stripped of soil, it was time to get filling the bath Caddys half with hydroton balls, place the cyperus into each caddy and top with a mixture of cat litter and columbo.

Here's a pic of the process
plants Befire separation

And into caddies



I made 4 of these in total and I know they only look quite small at the moment they soon shoot up

And, the tank with soil, capped and the planters placed into the corner I want them



Plus the wood positioned and time to fill with a little help from josh the young plsnted tank enthusiast in the pic

And, as nothing normally ever goes smoothly for me, it didn't this time either with the hosepipe deciding it was going to do a dance all over the bottom of the tank blowing a crater into the substrate bringing up the soil from underneath creating literally a mud bath

Excuse the oven dish holding the wood down at present as it just wasn't staying down. The water despite a change stayed very murky so thought I'd leave it to settle and get giving the cabinet a coat of varnish, I chose antique pine BUT, as I'm sure you'll all agree this certainly doesn't not appear pine coloured at all

But, it doesnt seem to bad for me.
Will pop some ore pics etc up today.


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Re: A Chocolate Puddle

nice update. liking your emersed corner, and i thought my water turned murky!
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

darren636 said:
nice update. liking your emersed corner, and i thought my water turned murky!

Cheers Darren, it's actually clearing up nicely now after a good few water changes

foxfish said:
Hi Alaster, hope you are felling better today.
A good overall start then, I was surprised that you added soil to the planters though!

Hi mate, thanks not feeling too bad today. I didn't add any soil to the planters, any that's left stuck to the cyperus was what was too difficult to removed without the risk of damaging the roots
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

I think I want to revise my suggestion for why this will be called a chocolate puddle...... LOL. Its bloody frustrating when that happens ! Happened to me and as well as the water turning brown, the air turned a little BLUE too ! Sure it wont take long to settle and its taking shape made. Good on ya :) Love that emersed section. Seems "poking out" is all the rage at the moment, but that is a particularly nice choice of plant for it :thumbup:
Re: A Chocolate Puddle

is it a gourami -only tank? i really love the sparkling gourami but they prefer warmer conditions than my microdevario...might have to steal some cyperus off shoots from you when they get bigger! :twisted:
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