Minimum maintainence

idris

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I'm a lazy aquarist.
Right. We've got that out of the way, now lets move on and get to the point ...

I've got out of the habbit of maintaining my 250L tank, and despite an attempt to get it back up and running about a year ago, it has now been all but unattended for 18 months. That said, both limitted livestock and plants have survived entirely neglected for most of that time and as the lights have been off, there's not an overwhealming amount of algae.

I have finally had to admit to myself that I'm never going to be good at maintenance.

I'm sure I remember someone influential advocating zero (or near zero) maintainence tanks (the name in my head is Diane Halstead, but that's probably wrong) but I'd rather get back into good habbits, if only limitted habbits.
So, whilst 10% water changes and cleaning filter media every week are advisable, and that works great for deidcated aquarists, that's where I've struggled and I've proved their not necessary.

So, your thoughts, Dear Hive Mind, on low levels of maintainence.
How low can you go and still have an interesting well stocked tank?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So, whilst 10% water changes and cleaning filter media every week are advisable, and that works great for dedicated aquarists, that's where I've struggled and I've proved their not necessary. So, your thoughts, Dear Hive Mind, on low levels of maintenance.
How low can you go and still have an interesting well stocked tank?
I think with suitable filtration, fish and plants you can do very little "gardening".

If you plant entirely with Anubias, Ferns, Cryptocoryne spp. and mosses that largely takes care of plant maintenance. I would still start with floating plants and stems, but over time, as the plant mass grew in, I'd remove them (this is what I tend to do any-way). You could start with a soil substrate, but my personal preference would be for a largely sand substrate, which will limit plant growth. I'd want a lid to limit evaporation, but with enough space so that some of the plants could grew emersed.

I'd add some tank janitors, Ramshorn, Tadpole and Malaysian Trumpet snails, Cherry Shrimps, Asellus, Crangonyx and Lumbriculus. If you have lots of moss, snails and an HMF, they will generate small live food items.

For filtration I would have a Hamburg Matten Filter, very low maintenance and no issues with clogging etc.

The fish stock would very under-stocked with a micro-predator, Dario dario, or a small Boraras sp., would be ideal. That would only really leave water top-up as an issue. I'm quite happy to leave this sort of set-up for several weeks at a time without any intervention or deleterious effects on fish health. I like floating plants, so I just give them a thin down before I leave.

I've kept more demanding fish in a larger version of this set-up, <"I kept Epiplatys annulatus through several generations"> in a large tank with a lot of emergent growth and very little intervention.

Have a look at the last couple of pages of @Tim Harrison's <"Windswept Eternity">.
31158090730_172eb94abc_c-jpg.jpg


cheers Darrel
 
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Firstly... just be weary of suddenly starting to do large water changes on your existing tank... you will change the water parameters quite a bit and could upset the balance you have currently.

Secondly... I think there are 2 sides to what you have said. Low maintenance setups. And ease of maintenance. Making your maintenance is easier it what I mean by the second one...for example a tap connector and garden hose is my go-to method now. The hose to siphon out water (with an old filter intake on it to ensure nothing gets sucked up that shouldn't) out of the back door. Then connect the same hose to my tap to refill. Whether it's a 10% or 50% [or more!] water change then makes no difference.

Then there is an easy scape/layout. You could either go with sand as has been suggested, sloping it towards the front so that debris falls to one location for easy removal. You could use aquadecor type stuff with plants attached to wood. These could be easily removed/moved for any maintnenace you want to do. Though sand does show dirt up... you could go with something like JBL Mandano or Carib Sea Eco Complete a relatively inert substrate with a high CEC that would keep the plants happy, but not growing rapidly. This has the advantage that the dirt would sink to feed the plants and not be visible. Avoid things like mixing two substrate types so that you don't have one going onto the other etc. I would also probably get one fast growing stem plant or a floating plant to help deal with nitrates etc. Something you can just grab handfuls out of when required. Hornwort springs to mind as one I've used in the past...

Hope that helps...
 

idris

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Thanks.
That all makes sense, but perhaps I didn't quite ask the question I meant to, and more info would perhaps have been useful.
By low maintainence, I was thinking more in the context of what I've got now. How irregularly can I reasonably get away with water changes. (The down side of irregularly is obviously the lack of "habbit".)
So ...

I'm hoping to not have to reconfigure the tank much at all and stick with the canister filtration I've got.
The tank is about 2½ ft deep (with hindsight, a bad decision when I had it made) and for various reasons, getting the hardscaping out would be a major PITA..
The substrate is Akadama and about 8yrs old. It's not exactly pretty any more, but again, changing it would be problematic at this stage.
JBL e1501 filter (or a previous model).
Crypt Wendtii, Anubias and either Vallis Americana or Crypt Balansae. (I can't remember whether I got round to replacing the Vallis with Balansae or not.)
For livestock, I've always prefered to have more small fish, along with Ottos, Amano and Assasins. So a decent algae crew and nothing that produces a lot of waste..

I've always assumed floating plants to be an issue as there is relatively small surface area, relatively low light, and blocking out any more would hamper the rest of the plants.

Darrel
Dario dario and Boraras look interesting.
Realistically,culturing the micro inverts sounds like the sort of thing I'd be great at for 3 or 4 months, and then I'd get out of the habbit.
Windswept Eternity is inspirational. Maybe there's hope yet!

Matt
I'm not doing big water changes. I topped up the evaporation a few days ago (probably adding 10-15%) and yesterday the contents of the filter and half a bucket more.I'm aware of the potential to crash the tank, so I'm planning on no more than 2 x 10% change a week.
I rigged up some valves and hoses a while back to make water changes easier. The idea is that the flow from an external powerhead can be diverted outside the tank's cabinet. (I never quite got it working, but it should now.)
Hornwort sounds promissing, and there's a corner it could go.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Realistically,culturing the micro inverts sounds like the sort of thing I'd be great at for 3 or 4 months, and then I'd get out of the habit.
The idea would be that they would persist without any intervention.

cheers Darrel
 

idris

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Presumably the benefit is that they are detritivors, as well as a source of live food?
I have a pond - am I right in understanding that just a scoop with a fine net should result in a catch, or would it be ok to just add a litre or so of pond water to the tank? Would that be enough to generate a self sustaning colony of worms / fleas / mozziie larvae / etc?
 

Ed Wiser

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One could always install a automatic water changing system. Using a GHL Maxi doser it will pump the tank down for so many minutes and then refill it with water. I have done this for a long time on my saltwater tanks.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Presumably the benefit is that they are detritivors, as well as a source of live food?
Yes. If I only had one "tank janitor" it would probably be a snail (either Ramshorn or Malaysian Trumpet Snail), but next on the list would definitely be <"Asellus">, they are great survivors.
I have a pond - am I right in understanding that just a scoop with a fine net should result in a catch
A poke amongst the aquatic weed should get you some Asellus & (possibly) Crangonyx, have a look at @chka's thread <"Asellus aquaticus">.

I found the Lumbriculus in amongst the moss and stones at the edge of the pond, I've never looked for them anywhere else and I've no idea how widespread they are. I suspect <"the distribution map"> is just where people have looked for them and submitted records, and they are pretty widespread.
Would that be enough to generate a self sustaining colony of worms / fleas / mozziie larvae / etc?
Daphnia never last long in the tanks, but are fine outside in a water butt. I have detritus worms in the filters. Blood-worms and mosquito larvae you can "ranch", but you can't really culture them (they have flying adults).

cheers Darrel
 

idris

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I've tried various pond dips today:
A net near pond weed.
A net near the mulm at the bottom of the pond.
A net in a rondom spot in the middle of the pond.
A tub in each of these areas.

In each case I've left what I've accumulated to settle in clear plastic tubs, and with a white sheet of paper underneath, all I've spotted is two hair-fine worrms. Or just mulm. Not a single crustacean. Only tadpoles.

There's no shortage of pond skaters, Damsels and Dragonflies in summer, so there should be at lease some sort of larvae around now.
What am I doing wrong?
 

zozo

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I've not tried, the very similar, <"Murdannia keisak">, but I'd be really surprised if growing emersed doesn't stimulate flowering and death in the same manner.
It does, it's an Annual. :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murdannia_keisak

Since flowering is never a goal and mainly out of the question for growing annuals submersed that constantly rejuvenate. The aquatic plant databases, unfortunately, do not elaborate on the emersed growth properties and fail to mention if it's an annual plant or not.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
This shedding leaves from the lowest part most likely is a light deficiency and or CO² issue.
That is it. Once an emergent plant has its leaves in the atmosphere it is going to concentrate on producing aerial leaves and this will usually mean shedding its submersed leaves and re-cycling their constituents into new leaves with access to aerial CO2. This won't necessarily apply to a plant with persistent slow growing leaves (like Anubias barteri), where the same leaves may go through cycles of submersion and emersion.
That's also how you can keep an annual growing emersed for a longer time than 1 season as long as you forcefully keep it from flowering.
Often these plants are "monocarpic", it just means they flower once and then die. Something like a bamboo, or fish-tail palm, might grow for ~100 years before flowering, but once flowering is initiated death is inevitable. That is definitely the situation with Commelina communis. It doesn't matter how big the plant is, once the response is triggered (I'm pretty sure in this case it is shortening day length), even tiny plants will flower and die.
Don't let the mothers they take the cuttings from go into flowering
Mother plants are what you want. If you are a plant producer you would want a plant that you can propagate eternally by cuttings (including micro-prop.), with all stages of production emersed. As soon as you have to go to growing from seed, or growing submerged, costs will rise.

cheers Darrel
 
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