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Long term low-tech planted aquarium

Marcia

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Joined
11 Jul 2021
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31
Location
South Yorkshire
Hi everyone, I'm new here and this is my first post. I'd like to start by saying how incredible is to find a community with so much knowledge and experience and so much kindness in sharing their time to explain/teach things to newbies like me. Thank you all for that.

I was ready to start cycling our first ever aquarium with a bottle of ammonia in one hand and API test kit in the other. I'm SO glad that during my countless searches about cycling I've found this forum and learned about Planted Maturing/Cycling instead. It makes a lot more sense and it seems so much more intuitive. That's what we're planing of doing to mature our aquarium.

I've got a Marina Vue 87L with Oase 250 Biomaster Filter (with Biohome Ultimate Media - we didn't know this forum when we bought it), built-in LED lights, Eheim 100 heater and Eheim 100 Air pump. Soil is Tropica AquaSoil and hardscape is 2 pieces of Mopani wood, a rock, a coconut shelter and a background of dubious taste. (And child locks all over the lid because of a curious cat)

I've planted so far (one of each):
Echinodorus green Chameleon
Cryptocoryne Becketii
Bacopa Compacta
Anubias barteri var nana
Anubias congensis
Eleocharis acicularis (dwarf hairgrass)
Marsilea crenata
Sagittaria sabulata
Alternanthera cardinalis
Ceratopteris thalictroides
Elodea densa (Anacharis)
Ceratophyllum demersum bunch (Hornwort)
Red root floater
Marimo moss ball (Chladoflora) - my 10yo daughter's choice

I don't aim to have an award-winning aquascape and I'm actually embarrassed to post a picture of my aquarium for fear of being laughed at :oops: it completely lacks of decent layout and Golden Ratio aspects. It's just a tray of random things here and there :D
I just want a planted aquarium to enjoy watching the fishes playing around the plants. I'm easy like that.
For that reason, despite understanding the benefits of CO2 I'm not at all comfortable in adding those sets into our aquarium. I find it difficult to understand the dose, pressure and bubble count etc. And for what I've read, the liquid CO2 can be quite harmful if spilled, inhaled etc. Not to mention that overdose can kill the fishes.

So my question is: is it possible to keep a planted aquarium in the long term without any CO2? I'm ok with limited plants and I'm ok replacing plants from time to time (I'm a keen gardener and killing plants is my forte). I know I won't have a beautiful carpeting foreground or bright red plants, but that's fine. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

Thank you all for any input or advice.
Marcia
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mort

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15 Nov 2015
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1,705
Hi Marcia welcome.

It's completely possible to have a longterm low tech tank that is lush and beautiful. It nice you have the mindset that you may be limited with some plants but it surprisingly possible to have low tech tanks that don't look low tech, so it's nice to experiment. I've seen all the plants you listed in low techs and only really the alternanthera might be harder to maintain longterm.
Lower tech to me just means you need a bit more patience to get to where you want to bit it's simplicity can be a benefit. Co2 looks daunting from the outset but it's not as complicated as it seems, although quite a few of us, like me, are more than happy without the added complication of it.
 

Marcia

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Thread starter
Joined
11 Jul 2021
Messages
31
Location
South Yorkshire
Hi Marcia welcome.

It's completely possible to have a longterm low tech tank that is lush and beautiful. It nice you have the mindset that you may be limited with some plants but it surprisingly possible to have low tech tanks that don't look low tech, so it's nice to experiment. I've seen all the plants you listed in low techs and only really the alternanthera might be harder to maintain longterm.
Lower tech to me just means you need a bit more patience to get to where you want to bit it's simplicity can be a benefit. Co2 looks daunting from the outset but it's not as complicated as it seems, although quite a few of us, like me, are more than happy without the added complication of it.
Hi Mort, thank you for your nice welcome and kind reply. As this is our first ever aquarium it's a bit overwhelming to learn everything that there is to learn. And adding Co2 is just too much for my brain at the moment I guess. Alternanthera was a mistake as I didn't check how big they'd grow. I'm willing to try without Co2 and see what can I achieve or not. Thank you for the encouragement!
 

MichaelJ

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Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
476
Location
Minnesota, USA
@Marcia Welcome to UKAPS! :)

So my question is: is it possible to keep a planted aquarium in the long term without any CO2? I'm ok with limited plants and I'm ok replacing plants from time to time (I'm a keen gardener and killing plants is my forte). I know I won't have a beautiful carpeting foreground or bright red plants, but that's fine. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
Yes that is totally possible. You will just experience much slower growth and some of the plants may not reach their full glory without CO2. I am not familiar with all your plants, but I know from experience that the Alternanthera can be a bit tricky to get settled in - I put mine in quite a while ago and until recently they haven't grown much if at all. I "blame" that on lack of CO2. Other than a few exceptions I also stick to the "easy category" as @dw1305 mention above. All should be good, as long as you strike a good balance between light intensity, fertilizer, filtration/flow and general maintenance - all of which have been quite challenging (also fun) in my case to get to the point where it is now.

I don't aim to have an award-winning aquascape and I'm actually embarrassed to post a picture of my aquarium for fear of being laughed at :oops: it completely lacks of decent layout and Golden Ratio aspects. It's just a tray of random things here and there :D
I think your scape looks good! I am not a scaper by any stretch. With planted tanks, I was always a big fan of the "natural" lush jungle look so that is what I am aiming for - an easy one, where anything goes :)

Cheers,
Michael
 

Marcia

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Location
South Yorkshire
I think your scape looks good! I am not a scaper by any stretch. With planted tanks, I was always a big fan of the "natural" lush jungle look so that is what I am aiming for - an easy one, where anything goes :)

Cheers,
Michael
Hi Michael, thank you! You're very kind to say that my "scape" looks good :D I like the concept of a jungle look with many different textures and colours, it's captivating.:)
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
Messages
476
Location
Minnesota, USA
Hi Michael, thank you! You're very kind to say that my "scape" looks good :D I like the concept of a jungle look with many different textures and colours, it's captivating.:)
Well, anything goes to my eyes - as long as plants and livestock are healthy and the tank is clean :) ... I am not a big fan of backgrounds truth be told, but I do understand that it might work for some as a proxy for the real thing until the plants grow out ;)
 

ScareCrow

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28 Jan 2019
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269
Location
South west
Hi Marcia, welcome to ukaps. As others have said using easy plants and getting ferts, lighting and maintenance dialled in is the recipe for success.
Another great source of info for plant requirements is flowgrow.de
I really like the mixed carpet you've created. It'll look really natural when it has grown in.
One thing to note is that generally it's easier to grow plants in soft water (looks like you're in S.Yorkshire, so you should be fine but your water company website should have more info if you're interested).
 

Marcia

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Thread starter
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11 Jul 2021
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Location
South Yorkshire
Hi Marcia, welcome to ukaps. As others have said using easy plants and getting ferts, lighting and maintenance dialled in is the recipe for success.
Another great source of info for plant requirements is flowgrow.de
I really like the mixed carpet you've created. It'll look really natural when it has grown in.
One thing to note is that generally it's easier to grow plants in soft water (looks like you're in S.Yorkshire, so you should be fine but your water company website should have more info if you're interested).

Hello ScareCrow, thank you! I believe my next upgrade should be the lighting. At the moment the built-in led lights has only 2 options, white and blue, and not dimmable and has no timer.
My water is Moderately Soft and GH is 1 and KH 4. At first we wanted to keep some Guppies but now we gave up the idea because of our water. The mixed carpet is an attempt to grow something that will partially cover the soil with different textures; I've had "help" from my 10yo daughter planting them so the pattern is random :D Thank you for the link, I didn't know about that website, it's a great find.
 

ScareCrow

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28 Jan 2019
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269
Location
South west
Floating plants are a great way of reducing light, if you find your light is too powerful. They also have access to atmospheric CO², so are not limited by CO², which makes them useful for absorbing excess nutrients.
 

Marcia

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Location
South Yorkshire
Floating plants are a great way of reducing light, if you find your light is too powerful. They also have access to atmospheric CO², so are not limited by CO², which makes them useful for absorbing excess nutrients.
I've got only one pot of the Red Root Floater which doesn't cover even 10% of the surface, do they spread or do I need to add more? The Elodea and Hornwort plants arrived today; I've bought them mainly for "cycling" purposes. Should I let them float or anchor them in the soil? Thanks again.
 

Marcia

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11 Jul 2021
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Location
South Yorkshire
Well, anything goes to my eyes - as long as plants and livestock are healthy and the tank is clean :) ... I am not a big fan of backgrounds truth be told, but I do understand that it might work for some as a proxy for the real thing until the plants grow out ;)
Well the truth is that the tank was a present for my daughter. At first we've added light gravel, the cheerful background and plastic ornaments (I know ugh). Then we've found George Farmer videos, damn it. We've removed the gravel and all the plastic and added dark soil, dark driftwood, husband bought black background. Daughter was not happy of us taking over her tank and turning everything gothic. So we've compromised and kept the background. I'm not fan either, hoping that the amazon swords will grow quickly and hide the cables. :D
 

mort

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15 Nov 2015
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1,705
I'd been trying to find this low tech tank for a while so you can see that low tech doesn't mean you can't have an amazing looking tank.


With regard to your floaters, Wookii is spot on, they will soon take over if they like the tank. The same will likely happen but quicker with the hornwort and elodea. You can plant them in the substrate but they are fine floating and will be easier to remove later on if you just let them float about. You could even build a little pond in the garden to put them in when they have done their job.
 

MichaelJ

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Location
Minnesota, USA

Marcia

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Thread starter
Joined
11 Jul 2021
Messages
31
Location
South Yorkshire
I'd been trying to find this low tech tank for a while so you can see that low tech doesn't mean you can't have an amazing looking tank.


With regard to your floaters, Wookii is spot on, they will soon take over if they like the tank. The same will likely happen but quicker with the hornwort and elodea. You can plant them in the substrate but they are fine floating and will be easier to remove later on if you just let them float about. You could even build a little pond in the garden to put them in when they have done their job.
Oh that's a lovely tank, so inspiring! We've got a half-barrel pond in our garden with some elodea in but I was worried about adding them to the tank and transfer all the blanket weed and snails too :oops:
 
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