Which substrate and plants would be best for low maintenace?

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by ukapstt77, 16 May 2009.

  1. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    Hey Guys

    I'm going to build a huge tank in the future for my Mbu Puffer and have decided to change the dimentions of the tank from 10w x4d x4h to 10w x5d x3h as I've been told it'd be hard to get light through 4ft of water. This will give me 1122usG, a Mbu's minimum tank size is 1000usG when fully grown (between 26inches and 30inches including the tail!).

    I want the tank to be really easy to maintain so was wondering if I could just have soil in the bottom with some kind of plant growing/covering the entire floor (a grass or moss etc). I was hoping this would save me having to syphon the gravel every 3 weeks.

    Would this work and what single type of plant would you recomend?

    Would all the fish poo/waste that I normally syphon out of my gravel be used up by the plants like a kind of fertaliser?

    Thanks for your time and expertise
     
  2. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    this substrate may be ideal:
    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=741

    carpeting plants:

    eleocharis acicularis or parvula (dwarf hairgrass)
    hemianthus callitrichoides
    glossostigma elatinoides
    marsilea hirstuta


    a carpet in that size tank would look amazing!
    Fish waste can act as a fertilisers, however, when it rots it produces ammonia potentially causing algae.
     
  3. altaaffe

    altaaffe Member

    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    Thornhill, Egremont, Cumbria
    For the low maint I take it you do mean no CO2 as well. In which case I'd have to disagree with Aarons list of possible plants.

    It's only a 180 litre I run, but for lo-tech, I have used soil under normal gravel. I'm running no CO2 and lighting is 60W T8 on for 8 hours per day.

    I've been testing out a number of plants and the one I've found the best as a covering plant in this scenario is Staurogyne, although to my surprise the blyxa after suffering in the beginning is now taking off so that might also be a possibility.

    HC and Glosso, IMO, will not cope without the CO2 and probably low light due to depth, marsilea may be OK if you could get the light levels high enough.

    Low growing crypts could also be an option for you in a tank that size, they could look more like a carpet.

    With the set-up you are talking about - yes, the intention is that the fish waste is used to help feed the plants as it breaks down in the substrate.
     
  4. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    it is possible to have a high tech, low maintenance. By adding CO2 it becomes high tech, however if you choose plants such as cryptocoryne and echinodorous then trimming a few leaves off IMO isnt high maintenance, only when you need constant trimming of stems does it become a hassle for some!

    But either way, any carpeting plants is pretty high maintenance, as eventually it becomes very dense and some of the lower leaves begin to die, and all off them need trimming every so often, especially the dwarf hairgrass which you mentioned you would like.
     
  5. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    Thanks for the replies guys :D

    So if I didn't trim the plants you mentioned and the lower leaves died would this be a problem or could I just leave them to grow as they wanted (I don't mind it looking overgrown)?

    Would the dwarf hairgrass be ok just lo leave growing without trimming?

    Also would the fact that my lighting not being as bright/stronge through 3ft of water slow the growing process meaning I wouldn't need to trim the carpet plant that often (that's if I really need to trim it of course)?

    This is exactly what I want my tank to look like
    [​IMG]

    Thanks again guys
     
  6. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    once the plants start to become dense, the light is blocked from the lower leaves, this is a problem in HC and Glosso IME.
    the tank shown is probaly when the carpet was at its best. You can see the darker patches at the bottom of the grass, so if it grew any higher then it may become a problem, keeping it trimmed short helps though. but like you say the low lighting will slow growth,
     
  7. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    So once it grows to long the plants below that cannot get any light will just die and break up into the water right?

    Would they not break down and feed the growing plants above?
     
  8. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    yes they break up, and rotting plants release ammonia so you may get algae issues, keeping it timmed fairly short would help, someone else who has kept this plant for a longer period of time may tell you differently, it never got that dense when i ripped mine up, and i am only repeating others experiences.

    here is what my HM looked like after uprooting (stems on left), you can just make out how straggly they are and hardly any leaves on the lower half
    DSCF00082.jpg
     
  9. altaaffe

    altaaffe Member

    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    Thornhill, Egremont, Cumbria
    Are you gonna be doing CO2 ?

    I've found in my lotech, several plants did die off but along with a host of trumpet snails eating the decaying plant bits, I left it there, I did net any that came to the surface. Are snails an option for the tank or would the puffer go raking around for them and disturb the substrate as this could be another option to help overcome decaying plant matter.

    Sorry, but I'm not up on Puffer activities, so not sure what it would do.
     
  10. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,498
    Location:
    Bromley
    My vote would go for...

    definitely a non CO2 route, as that should be lower maintenance than with CO2. Your work is cut out already with the size of the tank.

    I do not think it is possible to get a maintenance free planted tank - a little mulm around the substrate is no problem, but as soon as you get any real buildup you are inviting algae in. So you need to keep an eye on it and clean as needed. Pruning and removal of dead leaves and overgrown plants is also needed.

    So my top choice of "non CO2 low light plants for ground cover with minimum maintenance" would be....

    Crypts, IME they are the lowest maintenance plant that will give you a good dense ground cover (albeit not a traditional 'carpet') and not clog with mulm as readily as many other plants might.
    Lilaopsis Novae-Zelandia.

    Pogostemon Helferi will also give good cover, and will grow well with low light and no CO2, but is more prone to catching debris and lower leaves rotting than crypts will be. So is slightly higher maintenance.

    Swords, anubias and ferns are other very low maintenance plants you might want to add (not for ground cover, but just as general low maintenance plants).


    Substrate.... I grow my plants in gravel, this is fine if you pay close attention to water column dosing. A substrate with nutrients already loaded is not going to be cheap on a large tank, but will cut you a fair bit of slack on keeping up with any fert dosing schedule.
     
  11. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    Thanks you everyone for your responces, your help is much appreaciated

    My aim was to not use Co2 and to have fairly low lighting to keep electric costs down so I'm thinking of going for Crypts and spending the money on expensive substrate (which hopefully will pay off)

    ps Puffers are crazy for snails, crabs, shrimp and anything else that's crunchy on the outside and squidgy on the inside
     
  12. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,498
    Location:
    Bromley
    This sounds like a good plan to me 8) Daylight works well as a free source of lighting to supplement the lamps. Reflections from direct sun can stop you seeing into the tank though.
     
  13. Goodygumdrops

    Goodygumdrops Member

    Messages:
    278
    Location:
    Falkirk,Scotland
    What about your water?Will the puffer not have to go increasingly more brackish as it gets older?
     
  14. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    No Mbu's are strictly freshwater all their life, that'd be very expensive in salt if he was Brackish :D
     
  15. Goodygumdrops

    Goodygumdrops Member

    Messages:
    278
    Location:
    Falkirk,Scotland
    :wideyed: crikey,yeh,I just googled them!!!What size is yours?
     
  16. ukapstt77

    ukapstt77 Member

    Messages:
    67
    he's about 4.5inches at the mo including his tail, he's mostly been growing outwards/getting fatter over the last month. They've been known to grow 1inch per month over the first year and it takes about 5 years to get to their fully grown size of 2.5ft including the tail! They also live for 15+ years
     

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