Low maintenance aquarium

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
I've not got the time and energy to put into a dramatic aquascape so am thinking if I can come up with some kind of design which will truly be low maintenance.
Why not just do away with an aquarium you may ask - I have the time to sit and enjoy it, just not the energy to keep properly on top of things.
I think a tank without plants is reasonably boring so I'm wondering about some Anubias, Bucephelandra, maybe some java fern - whether these plants alone would keep things healthy.
I guess a big piece of wood could be the key to giving both something to plant on but also something to give the fish somewhere to hide.
Substrate leaves me wondering whether I can find a gravel that will not become full of algae or if a soil type substrate is a better option.
Filtration had left me wondering if a HOB would be a wise choice?! Something like the Seachem tidal which has a skimmer function built in; just unsure about noise.

I'm trying to think really easy so anyone with any suggestions I'm listening and looking.
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
It's very doable, What size tank?

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
Probably something 90-100cm, I had got another Aquascaper 900 in mind but as I'm currently without one wondering the best cause of action so trying to weigh my options up.
It could be a bit smaller if looked at as sensible but a quick water change isn't the issue, it's the rest of the package.
I could even run CO2 if it was a good idea.
A friend has tried something but the whitish coloured gravel is proving a problem with discolouration, something I don't want to open myself upto.
I did miss Crypts off the planting list if I think are a good idea, just keen to avoid carpets and stem plants.
 

Siege

Member
Joined
11 Aug 2017
Messages
1,067
Location
Cambridgeshire, UK
Soil. ProdiBio or Tropica. I personally find it less maintenance than fine gravel.

Crypts are sure low maintenance and add plant mass.

Filter up to you. personally I’d go with what you’ve already got, a powerful external and co2.

Upto you with whatever really!
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
Soil. ProdiBio or Tropica. I personally find it less maintenance than fine gravel.

Crypts are sure low maintenance and add plant mass.

Filter up to you. personally I’d go with what you’ve already got, a powerful external and co2.

Upto you with whatever really!
This is kind of what I have on one side of the balance and maybe just avoid the sand/gravel altogether.
If I was to stick with an Aquascaper 900 then it's making the height up, I'd toyed with the idea about this new millennium wood, simply for its size - only seen the one photo though.
I've got a Fluval G6 (well 2 if I need them) which are powerful, CO2 I have too.
Inlets/outlets are the problem as I was going to think about a frosted background but maybe if it was a bit more jungle style then blacking it out would be enough instead?

Maybe not quite what I have in mind but with a bit of adaptation could be the right idea - anyone experience with this kind of layout and how much time is needed aside from the water change?
https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/how-to-set-up-an-underwater-jungle-aquarium/
 

Siege

Member
Joined
11 Aug 2017
Messages
1,067
Location
Cambridgeshire, UK
Hi Andrew.

Personally I’d go with with minimal maintenance plants. Ferns crypts etc (think George farmer easy maintenance style tank!)

Soil all over, donot need to clean the sand.

Upto you on wood. We have a massive piece of millennium wood sold ready to go into a 900 tank (tonnes of height). Just awaiting new shipment of millennium stone so we can dry scape it. Happy to send over a picture once done to give you an idea. It’ll probably be mix of soil and sand but will give you an idea.

Look at manzanita and plant ferns all over it also?

S.
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,922
I suggest following Filipe Oliveira (he’s at Aquarium Gardens August 31, and FishCove Aquatics October 20) - he sets his home Aquariums so as to match his work schedule, and usually only trims every 45days
Perhaps you can meet with him at one of these events

He discussed maintenance and fertilization of his 80x40x40cm home aquarium in these videos

(I’m hoping for the same of his new contest tank once IAPLC results are out)

I think it’s a lot easier to establish a tank initially with a good number of fast growing stems, then slowly remove these over several months - as the slow growers fill in

You might consider doing the substrate in this style

Escape by Lauris


For the linked PFK jungle style tank, most Vallisneria and Sagittaria species have high growth rates (though Tropica does list Vallisneria nana as medium growth rate) which then require regular removal - and as they readily propagate through the entire tank beneath the substrate can be rather messy and time consuming
I thought I was containing V spiralis ‘Tiger’ to the back wall until shoots suddenly (at least I’ll swear it happened “suddenly” ;)) appeared everywhere in the tank. They’d hidden quite successfully beneath other plants until the first shoots reached a noticeable height :wideyed:
And once I began searching :eek:

Any chance you can have someone in to help with more intensive maintenance days?
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
@Siege yes, photo would be great please.
I've seen one picture of the millennium wood which I really liked but I guess it leaves me wondering how to fit it into this style so without really seeing what it can be like or how it's used I don't know.
It's probably the piece I had the photo of that's sold and there will never be another like it! haha
I'm a little way off being ready yet anyway but just trying to get a little organised for a change.
Manzanita I just don't see as a good value or choice wood for me to be honest. I've had some 'normal' from AG before you had the gnarled at AG and also had a load of gnarled over from Tom Barr and that was just the same in characteristics.

Just interested to see other scapes like it I think.
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
I think it’s a lot easier to establish a tank initially with a good number of fast growing stems, then slowly remove these over several months - as the slow growers fill in
This is something I know but have also seen some not done this way, I thought the stems were more for balancing things out chemistry wise.

You might consider doing the substrate in this style
Damn you! I REALLY love that and I've had the photos saved for a very long time now but the one thing which has left me wondering is how do I clean the gravel if (when) it becomes dirty?

For the linked PFK jungle style tank, most Vallisneria and Sagittaria species have high growth rates (though Tropica does list Vallisneria nana as medium growth rate) which then require regular removal - and as they readily propagate through the entire tank beneath the substrate can be rather messy and time consuming
I thought I was containing V spiralis ‘Tiger’ to the back wall until shoots suddenly (at least I’ll swear it happened “suddenly” ;)) appeared everywhere in the tank. They’d hidden quite successfully beneath other plants until the first shoots reached a noticeable height :wideyed:
And once I began searching :eek:
It was only a quick link I found for the kind of look, more to focus on the crypts really I think.

Any chance you can have someone in to help with more intensive maintenance days?
Not anyone who really knows what they are doing and it's something I'd like to eliminate if possible, the whold idea for this shake up.
 

Keith GH

Member
Joined
28 Aug 2017
Messages
817
Location
Melbourne Australia
Andrew

I had no choice age 80+ and general health I had stop all my Aquarium work. I changed to Terrascape the maintenance is a very little trimming and misting every morning and that only takes a few minutes plus its a lot cheaper to run as they only have a standard plant lighting system controlled by a simple on off timer.

Keith:wave::greenfinger:
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
Andrew

I had no choice age 80+ and general health I had stop all my Aquarium work. I changed to Terrascape the maintenance is a very little trimming and misting every morning and that only takes a few minutes plus its a lot cheaper to run as they only have a standard plant lighting system controlled by a simple on off timer.

Keith:wave::greenfinger:
I understand your circumstance has led to your choice which is what is also leading my thinking but I'm more looking towards fish over plants and not the other way around.
If it looks like it's not going to work then I will just have to try and think of something else.
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,922
It would also be worth considering Aquarium Design Group hardscape dominant scapes

Recent UNS 60U scape
(FB link)

You could order Tropica aquarium plants on wood/rock etc so they’re just placed into the scape without root disturbance; perhaps other plant nurseries offer similar products - for any “carpet” effects, there are several plants grown on pads that can be separated or planted as is, in this way tank begins with a relatively large plant mass so maybe less susceptible to initial algaes
 

Iain Sutherland

Global Moderator
Staff member
Joined
7 Jul 2011
Messages
3,689
Location
Cambridge
Andrew if you really want low maintenance then forget co2. Weekly water changes are pretty unavoidable with co2.
Setting up a dirt tank is a really good low maintenance set up. To give you an idea my paludarium gets about 3 or 4 water changes a year and at best bi weekly ferts. I guess it could be thought of as a part walstad tank...? Crypts and jungle style would be idea for this type of tank.

It's very reasonable to have a fully planted and scaped tank, no co2 with monthly water changes you just need a little patience or use large established plants to start with.

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
It would also be worth considering Aquarium Design Group hardscape dominant scapes
This is the kind of thing I had been considering in the first place but with no real access to wood anything like they use in the UK and it seeming there is no real way to avoid the thin layer of sand blowing around in an aquarium the dimensions I have in mind it seems a non starter. White coloured sands and gravels seem to become a magnet for algae also I think which is what I think makes these aquariums look balanced.

You could order Tropica aquarium plants on wood/rock etc so they’re just placed into the scape without root disturbance; perhaps other plant nurseries offer similar products - for any “carpet” effects, there are several plants grown on pads that can be separated or planted as is, in this way tank begins with a relatively large plant mass so maybe less susceptible to initial algaes
will look into but ferns etc already on wood tend to want putting on a bigger piece so negates the point in the first place I think.

Andrew if you really want low maintenance then forget co2. Weekly water changes are pretty unavoidable with co2.
Setting up a dirt tank is a really good low maintenance set up. To give you an idea my paludarium gets about 3 or 4 water changes a year and at best bi weekly ferts. I guess it could be thought of as a part walstad tank...? Crypts and jungle style would be idea for this type of tank.
I've just had a look through your Paludarium and if I'm honest it's just not something I really like the look of although I'm grateful for the suggestion. :)

It's very reasonable to have a fully planted and scaped tank, no co2 with monthly water changes you just need a little patience or use large established plants to start with.
emoji106.png
Is this separate from your Paludarium suggestion? I've patience and could even leave plants to mature before I set them out in a bare bottomed tank if that would make sense.

I do like the suggestion from @alto but it seems every idea I put problems in front of myself. I also wonder if things like trying to add ATO, doser pipes and even a spraybar that doesn't stand out in a hope things just look built in are a bigger part of my problem here - OCD I'm thinking. For example in @Iain Sutherland Paludarium the green inlet/outlet just stand out like a sore thumb to me and it's what my eye is drawn to.

I think this is why I was considering a HOB filter to try and hide things within. :banghead:
The big problem with a HOB aside form others is I think would be the noise also as it's near where I sleep.
 

dw1305

Expert
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
10,523
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I have tanks where I don't/can't do any maintenance for extended time periods, they aren't a thing of beauty, and they are definitely jungles, but they "work".
Setting up a dirt tank is a really good low maintenance set up. To give you an idea my paludarium gets about 3 or 4 water changes a year and at best bi weekly ferts. I guess it could be thought of as a part walstad tank...? Crypts and jungle style would be idea for this type of tank.
I'd go down that route, although I would only have a thin layer of soil (below sand), and I would use a low nutrient soil.
For the linked PFK jungle style tank, most Vallisneria and Sagittaria species have high growth rates
I think you need Cryptocoryne spp., aroids, mosses and ferns. I'd look for plants with slow growth rates and persistent leaves. If I wasn't sure about a plant, leaf colour might be useful. If it has dark green leaves it is more likely to be a success.

I wouldn't necessarily have stems for the growing in period either, I would definitely go down the floating plant route. They are much easier to thin and they have access to aerial CO2. Once the tank is up and running I would still have them, but just thin them down to a 1/3 coverage every month or so.

I wouldn't go down the surface skimmer route for the filter intake, even If I didn't have floating plants. I think it is always going to require maintenance. I'd go a Hamburg Matten Filter or a <"really substantial foam block"> on the filter intake of an external.
Manzanita I just don't see as a good value or choice wood for me to be honest.
<"PYO Oak for me">, the heart-wood is very hard and persistent, and now, after they've cut the corn, is a perfect time to go looking for it.

Last, but definitely not least, I would add snails and Asellus.

cheers Darrel

.
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
Hamburg Matten Filter
I've never come across these before so are something to read up on, thanks.
I'd go down that route, although I would only have a thin layer of soil (below sand), and I would use a low nutrient soil.
So I correctly understand the definition of a dirt tank is one that uses composted soil and is capped with sand/stone?
how do you keep the sand/gravel clean? I think this is what pushed me away from the Escape idea which I love, aside from the planting not being to my taste
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/escape.40308/page-2
the heart-wood is very hard and persistent, and now, after they've cut the corn, is a perfect time to go looking for it.

Last, but definitely not least, I would add snails and Asellus.

cheers Darrel
I've a wood scavenge on the cards but it's finding some with interesting enough shape in my opinion; I know the species' to look for, just not finding them with enough character.
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
You might consider doing the substrate in this style
This really is one of my favourite looking hardscapes; I know there's a bare end to the wood but I would try to do without that.
Has anyone ever tried this method; having a thin layer of stone on top of a substrate
From experience using this rounded stone alone leads to debris getting caught up a bit too much.
I worry that having a layer of stone over soil would mean it very easy to disturb the stone and end up with a mix and how do you keep the stone clean; a good herd of shrimp snails, dwarf ottos and some Siamese algae eaters - are these enough alone?
Assuming the above could work I think that interesting piece of wood which I have looked for before is my big stumbling block again
Assuming I get answers to the above another option is this but adapt the planting to my taste and maintenance so simply add a few crypts and some Bucephalandra and Anubias to the wood as a starter.
I think this photo says it all but just not to my taste with the moss or the way it grew in you can see in Lauris' thread - personal preference.
25892935262_719dd69666_c.jpg

Credit to Lauris
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/escape.40308/
 

dw1305

Expert
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
10,523
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I've never come across these before so are something to read up on, thanks.
Have a look at <"Swiss Tropicals">. The owner, Stephan Tanner, is a <"Swiss scientist domiciled in the USA">. I've linked the <"Aquarium Biofiltration"> article before, but it really is <"essential reading"> if you want a long term, low-tech, low maintenance set-up.

So I correctly understand the definition of a dirt tank is one that uses composted soil and is capped with sand/stone?
Normally, you can just use soil, but it will tend to cloud the water etc. until it is biologically stable. Because I want my plants to grow slowly I use the same approach, but I have <"90% sand and about 5% clay and leaf mold">.
how do you keep the sand/gravel clean?
I think that is where the snails and Asellus come in handy. You tend to get <"less mulm with them">, possibly because they are pretty efficient "moppers up" of any spare organic matter.

The only tanks I have which get much accumulation of sediment are the ones with Ceratophyllum in them, presumably because it has a much faster growth than any of the other plants I keep, and stiff leaves with a lot more structural material in them
I've a wood scavenge on the cards but it's finding some with interesting enough shape in my opinion; I know the species' to look for, just not finding them with enough character.
Tricky, I planted a <"Corkscrew Hazel"> (Corylus avellana "Contorta"), with the hope that it might provide some suitable wood, but even then as it grows the older wood becomes a lot less contorted.

cheers Darrel
 

Andrew Butler

Member
Joined
1 Feb 2016
Messages
1,659
Location
Banbury, Oxfordshire
another inhabitant I've not heard of! - You really are a world of knowledge @dw1305
Just for instance say I can with ease make the concept of 'pebbles' over substrate work (like in Lauris escape aquascaoe) are these a good addition still or will the fish just eat them up?
What are your thoughts on 'pebbles' over substrate and the suggestions I made above?
Tricky, I planted a <"Corkscrew Hazel"> (Corylus avellana "Contorta"), with the hope that it might provide some suitable wood, but even then as it grows the older wood becomes a lot less contorted.
I'm not so sure our climate lends itself to twisty pieces of tree growing is part of my problem. Bit of a bummer it's not working how you'd hoped - very frustrating I'm sure.
 

dean

Member
Joined
6 Apr 2012
Messages
1,239
Location
Warrington, Cheshire
I’ve been thinking of a real low tech low maintenance setup for a while now and I’ve thought about a tank just of Anubis
Just plain gravel substrate
Nana as ground cover then taller ones at the back
Surface covered with plants

The only drawback I can think of is the initial cost if it’s a large tank

That’s if you want a fully planted aquarium

Otherwise I’d go with a riparian no plants actually in the water


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Similar threads

Top