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What I have learned about low tech fish tanks with plants.

Stan510

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Joined
20 Oct 2021
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367
Location
Hayward ca
In about 50 years of fish keeping,I only went with the big planted tank three years ago. All those years I kept big fish in the 920 liter. Then 10 years ago I stopped for awhile. When I jumped back into the interest,it was after seeing the Amano Lisbon aquarium. Now,I know that has great lighting and CO2 and money was no object- planting up a new aquarium set up with a full complement of plants was new to me.
So,I tried slowly..then began ordering plants while NOT having Co2 and intenses artificial lighting. Results? No matter how hard you try,you are not going to be able to get close to that level. What I have learned is..stick with low light plants and let them grow into masses. Forget the aquatic zoo of 50-100 species in that size aquarium and learn to love Crypts and Java fern and Pearlweed. THEN,you are happy to see that THOSE plants can grow dense over time..and happy on some iron or potassium and that's it.
My advice to aqua plant lovers who can't just do whatever they want like when they were single (hee) and have constraints now, go heavy on common..you will be happy.
 
Joined
13 Nov 2018
Messages
94
Location
Gillingham Kent
Hello Stan,
Although I agree with what you say about low tech plants and standard lighting and that was my way of doing things too.
I started with plenty of Crypts and a couple of Echinodorus plants with Java Ferns wedged between lovely rocks with moss attached,it looked really nice, I placed plants tabs at the roots of the Amazon Swords and the Crypts to give them a good start and then sat back and waited for it all to take off.
Plants didn't do much but the algae began to grow well and I was fighting a bit of a daily battle to control it which I eventually won but the plants didn't do much at all.
Someone suggested trying CO2 which I was already doing a bit of research on so I thought there was nothing to lose if I gave it a try,so with the advice and help from guys on this forum I spent a modest amount of money on a proper system and started the recommended infusion rate for my size tank.
Within a week my Amazon Swords took off and all my plants were pearling, didn't do much for my Java Ferns I must admit but the improvement in the growth of my plants was nothing short of amazing.
Cost wise,well a 1.5kg bottle of CO2 cost me £19.80 and has lasted me 15 weeks so far at just over 1 bubble a second, I found using CO2 in a relatively low tech tank is very affordable and the improvement is worth every penny.
 

MichaelJ

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Joined
9 Feb 2021
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1,187
Location
Minnesota, USA
No matter how hard you try,you are not going to be able to get close to that level. What I have learned is..stick with low light plants and let them grow into masses. Forget the aquatic zoo of 50-100 species in that size aquarium and learn to love Crypts and Java fern and Pearlweed. THEN,you are happy to see that THOSE plants can grow dense over time..and happy on some iron or potassium and that's it.
My advice to aqua plant lovers who can't just do whatever they want like when they were single (hee) and have constraints now, go heavy on common..you will be happy.

Hi @Stan510 I generally agree. I am broadly sticking to the easy category myself with a few exceptions in the medium category. However, there are quite a few skilled green thumbs around here that are able to successfully grow plenty of the more challenging species in their low tech tanks normally associated with high light and CO2 injection. I tried a couple of times with challenging species, but it never worked out for me.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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Stan510

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20 Oct 2021
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Location
Hayward ca
Exactly Michael,Richard..all. I'm not sure for me if the cost of Co2 system for a 920 liter aquarium is worth it. Lugging a big empty cylinder to the welders shop seems like as much fun as a doctor visit. I don't doubt for a second growth would explode.I haven't written it off forever. For now..the pearlweed and Ludwigia,Water Wisteria and other plants..do ok. Not weekly trimming levels..but ok.
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
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1,187
Location
Minnesota, USA
Exactly Michael,Richard..all. I'm not sure for me if the cost of Co2 system for a 920 liter aquarium is worth it. Lugging a big empty cylinder to the welders shop seems like as much fun as a doctor visit. I don't doubt for a second growth would explode.I haven't written it off forever. For now..the pearlweed and Ludwigia,Water Wisteria and other plants..do ok. Not weekly trimming levels..but ok.
I am on the same page as you @Stan510 ... CO2 injection, with all its complexities was never really appealing to me either. I am more into slow and steady with my tanks...with all its limitations, but also the lesser maintenance workload, as you point out. I feel that quite a few fellow hobbyists that jumps on CO2 and gets into trouble with algae and subpar results, is because they never really understood why they had success or failure with a low-tech tank. The importance of proper light intensity, WC's, fertilization, filtration/flow etc. Failing on these fundamentals will just cause so much more trouble when you move to a CO2 injected tank. Well, I have no practical experience with CO2, so I am essentially just saying what I think is the problem based on all the posts Ive read around here and other forums. However, I acknowledge that the people who really knows how to apply CO2 arguably have some of the most spectacular tanks in terms challenging plant growth etc. as evident from the Journals on this forum. Again, Low or high tech is a matter of preference and the amount of clutter and 'nonsense' your spouse will allow in and around the tank :) (between the the two of us, I do think hobbyists that inject CO2 are cheating :lol: ... just kidding).

Cheers,
Michael
 
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Stan510

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20 Oct 2021
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Hayward ca
Also since I first set up the big aquarium,I've gone 17 days without a water change and have seen a big drop in algae growth. I know- its supposed to be the other way around. But something about lots of plants changes standard practice. I don't know how much longer before I do a partial change. Plants have never looked better. I have washed the filter and I have added potassium weekly. But just topping off with tap water since.
 

erwin123

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Joined
4 Mar 2021
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577
Location
Singapore
Also since I first set up the big aquarium,I've gone 17 days without a water change and have seen a big drop in algae growth. I know- its supposed to be the other way around. But something about lots of plants changes standard practice. I don't know how much longer before I do a partial change. Plants have never looked better. I have washed the filter and I have added potassium weekly. But just topping off with tap water since.




dsc00133-web-jpg.164136

Photo: What my tank looked like after 1 year of no water change.

My current tank was previously neglected due to me being crazy busy at work and went 1 year without water change and without filter cleaning. .. but it was extremely lightly stocked 3-4 fish in 100l tank (I think I bought 3 new Denison barbs to add to the current stock). Also, I lower the light intensity during this period as well.

I had just done about 1 hour of maintenance including water change- all the Crypts are original and survived 1 year of no water change with no algae on the crypts. The non-crypts are newly planted

However, since it was crypt only, the crypts were super tough and did not have any algae on them. There was just plenty of algae on the glass.

but the problem is the waste accumulating in the substrate. when I got around to reviving the tank, it probably took many weeks of water changes+ turkey baster/vacuuming substrate to remove most of the junk.
 
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Angus

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Joined
29 Aug 2008
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665
Location
Vauxhall, London.
For anyone without the means or want for co2 injection, Vallisneria is an absolute beast in hard water areas, as it can obtain carbon from bicarbonates alongside other plants like Egeria, Elodea and Myriophyllum, they just need light and nutrients, super easy.
 

Stan510

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20 Oct 2021
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Hayward ca
Vallisneria is great for no- dosing or supplements aquariums. It also does better as the main large plant. But one plant that can outdo it is Cryptocoryne balansae or the others that are similar looking Crypts. It does love light and iron. Once it gets going it could fill the aquarium end to end and front to back! I have to keep it in a 8" square pot and its still impressively big,lush,and dark green.
So far- no change on my aquarium. I did do a couple of filtering washings in the almost three weeks? Or is it now over three? Plus the usual,wiping down the glass. I've also noticed that while the bad algaes- BBA and BGA have nosedived, I see little patches of "good " algae..the green fur. That is good food for the Ancistrus and Panda Gara's when they find it. There last night- gone the next day.
 
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