New Low Tech Tank

Tom Raffield

Member
Joined
18 Apr 2017
Messages
165
Location
Coulsdon, UK
I recently started a thread in the General forum about potentially shutting down my tank completely. However, if you have a read you will see that I have had a change of heart (as I would probably miss my tank) and want to go for an easier, lower maintenance and lower tech aquarium. I won't go through the whole story again or give too many details so please have a read if you want to catch up: https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/heavily-planted-to-no-plants.61458/

To summarise the key points of my current setup:
Juwel Vision 260L.
Eco-Complete and gravel mix (to be fully cleaned and some reused as base layer for height).
Fluval FX4 with custom spray bar.
CO2 art dual stage regulator and 5kg CO2 pressurised system (I aim to keep this but seriously reduce CO2 inputs).
Liquid CO2 dosed daily (to stop fully or use in small quantity)
Stock T5 tubes (to be replaced with new tubes in the short term or an LED system one day)
Hand mixed ferts as macro and micro (Aquarium Plant Food) which were dosed EI (aim to dose using duckweed index and floating plants).
Range of plants - most to binned but some to be reused (crypts and java fern).

I have been researching my next steps and have decided to empty and restart the tank from scratch. I have been looking at my order ready to start the journey and would welcome thoughts on the following ideas.

I am aiming for a slow growing tank based around crypts with others thrown in. My current list (ready for ordering in the morning) is this:

Various Locations:
Tropica Aquarium Soil 27L plus 9L of Tropica Aquarium Powder
T5 tubes Day and Nature from Juwel or similar (although I still have my JBL Solar LED kits that I bought in error - see Sale/Swap/Wanted forum!)

Aqua Essentials:
Crypt Wendtii Compact (3 pots)
Crypt Affinis (3 pots) and
Crypt Lucens (3 pots).
Aquarium Gardens:
Crypt Wendtii Brown (3 pots)
Crypt Mollmanni (3 pots)
Sagittaria Sabulata (2 pots)
Rotala Rotundifolia (3 pots)
Hygrophila Siamensis 53B (3 pots)
Vallisneria Spiralis Tiger (3 pots)
Vallisneria Gigantea Americana (3 pots).
UKAPS:
Limnobium Laevigatum (a few more handfuls)

I have no idea if I am going way over the top on the numbers of pots and range of plants - I have tried to go for slow growers and a few faster to get things going. I am planning to reuse some of the current plants so might reduce the number of pots or keep the density for some plants and remove others altogether. I don't want to waste money but I also don't want to set the tank up with too few plants as that will lead to problems early on.

What do you think? Thanks in advance guys. I will probably create a journal thread with my progress as and when it happens.
 
Last edited:

Sarpijk

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Joined
11 Jan 2015
Messages
521
Hi, I think you are heading towards the right direction. Low tech and crypts is what I have chosen too.

Good substrate, low to medium light and no co2 or Excel are the keys.

The added bonus with Cryptocoryne is they do not need constant trimming and are generally unfussy.
 

Tom Raffield

Member
Joined
18 Apr 2017
Messages
165
Location
Coulsdon, UK
Thanks for the comments. I'm working on the idea of new T5s with floating plants to limit the light or potentially retrofitting the LEDs I have if no one wants to buy them.

Would it be best to let the CO2 tick over to help get things going when the tank is setup and then reduce it down to low or no levels?

I will limit the pots of Vallis to perhaps one of each. Looking at my current plants, of which many are crypts I can save, I may drop to two pots of the rest.
 
Last edited:

Sarpijk

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Joined
11 Jan 2015
Messages
521
I would substitute Valisneria for long leaved Cryptocoryne like Balansae and Usteriana. The problem with vals is that when they settle in can send runners all over and really fast. Crypts will do the same but not at that rate and are easily manageable.

Concerning Co2 if you use a good substrate like Tropica ( dirt would be another option) plants will grow fine.
 

Tom Raffield

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Joined
18 Apr 2017
Messages
165
Location
Coulsdon, UK
I'll look up those suggestions and see what I think. Thanks again.

A break from the plants for a moment. I have just been thinking about my tanks in the past and all the old equipment I have around the place.

With my new proposed setup should I still be using the DIY spray bar or would switching back to the official FX4 outlet be better? Should I then supplement, if needed, the circulation with the various hydor koralia pumps I have?

Be useful to know as I can actually start thinning out all my old kit which will make the wife very happy indeed! :D
 

Tom Raffield

Member
Joined
18 Apr 2017
Messages
165
Location
Coulsdon, UK
UPDATE:

The tank is almost ready for the livestock to go back (they have been living in a wide based box for the last day) with a large proportion of saved tank water from the old tank. I hope they like their new low tech home.

Current livestock: Cherry barbs (4), pentazona barbs (10 ish), neons (a few), couple of ottos, handful of amanos, bulldog plec. I consider this to be quite a low stock. More will be needed to supply nutrients to the tank I think.

I cleaned and reused some of my old gravel and EC, some of which went into filter bags to build some height in the middle of the tank. Tropica Aquarium Soil / Powder made up the next layer. The substrate layer is fairly thick but I felt that thicker would be better than the few cm I had on my old tank. Then my drift wood and a selection of rocks went back in along with all my new plants from AquaEssentials and Aquarium Gardens - had a few hiccups along the way but it seems to be alright this morning when I had a look. I won't pretend to be an expert scaper or particularly creative but I think it all looks ok. I will create a journal thread later on to show progress as time goes by.

New T5 Tropical Tubes (iQuatics) have gone in as the old ones had shifted from a nice white colour to pink! They are both 54W which I believe on my 260L tall tank will still classify as low ish light.

I am planning to do 40-50% water changes for a few days and will also be adding in some of my saved plants from my old tank to increase plant load. This will include some more crypts, stems and floating plants. I am planning on adding a new cleaning crew in the very near future.

A few questions:
How long would you recommend water changes until settling into the new maintenance routine?
Do I stick with the spray bar or go back to the FX4 outlet?
Should I add reflectors on the T5s?
Will the spare (and small) JBL Solar Natur or Effect be any use to this tank either as a separate light source or in place of the T5s?
Will dosing not be needed for a while?
My pressurised CO2 is sitting there. Should I run it on a low level to provide just a little CO2 for the plants?
Livestock additions to include ottos, some snails (?) to help aerate and move substrate? Anything else?

I'm sure I will have other questions as I really want to get this right. Any advice on new setups, especially low tech would be useful as I take this forward over the coming days.
 
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Cumbria
A few questions:
How long would you recommend water changes until settling into the new maintenance routine?
Do I stick with the spray bar or go back to the FX4 outlet?
Should I add reflectors on the T5s?
Will the spare (and small) JBL Solar Natur or Effect be any use to this tank either as a separate light source or in place of the T5s?
Will dosing not be needed for a while?
My pressurised CO2 is sitting there. Should I run it on a low level to provide just a little CO2 for the plants?
Livestock additions to include ottos, some snails (?) to help aerate and move substrate? Anything else?
I would change water weekly. The outlet isn't that important just whatever works for you, flow is more of an issue when injecting co2. No need of the reflectors. If you use the soil I would dose traces and magnesium right from the off. I wouldn't dose the co2 at all, plants will get addicted to it and you'll suffer withdrawal symptoms as you phase it out. Shrimp are a great help but you'll have to have something on the filter inlet to stop them getting sucked in. Amano's are generally a harder working clean up crew than the other smaller fancy varieties.
 
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