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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:34 am 
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Location: McHenry, MS
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Not a lot of plant lovers here, huh?

I'm rehabbing my old 29-gallon freshwater set up, and creating a well-planted Amazon River biotope. Apparently (according to the serious biotope nerds) the Amazon River is actually pretty dead, and the real plant life is over the banks and mostly amphibious; it only is covered with water half the year. So I guess I'm creating a "Just Over The Banks of The Amazon During The Rainy Season Biotope". :roll:

Anyway, it will be very well-planted, a natural tank with the only technology being the lighting, currently a T5 (?) setup putting out about 2 watts/gallon, which actually has given me great results for plants rated for 4-5 watts/gallon because of the more accurate sunlight spectrum. No mechanical filtration, no powerheads, no Co2 injection. I'm in the process of coaching my wife over Yahoo messenger into "fixing" the tank and getting the hardness and PH of my tapwater down. I got a question in to Gerwin about this Blackwater Extract, but I'm wary of the "fix-all" chemicals.

Thankfully, the 3-year old ecosystem is very well intact, and the only current life in the tank is a 2-year old Anostomus, which will fit the biotope well. Pictures to follow when there's something worth looking at.

Will keep this updated as we go, maybe I can help somebody that is currently intimidated by the freshwater plants thing. Gerwin, maybe then I won't be the only one bugging you to order obscure plants...

If anyone has any experience specific to this tank, please don't hesitate to offer advice! I might need it...

Dominic


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:27 am 
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FishVet wrote:
Not a lot of plant lovers here, huh?

I'm rehabbing my old 29-gallon freshwater set up, and creating a well-planted Amazon River biotope. Apparently (according to the serious biotope nerds) the Amazon River is actually pretty dead, and the real plant life is over the banks and mostly amphibious; it only is covered with water half the year. So I guess I'm creating a "Just Over The Banks of The Amazon During The Rainy Season Biotope". :roll:

Anyway, it will be very well-planted, a natural tank with the only technology being the lighting, currently a T5 (?) setup putting out about 2 watts/gallon, which actually has given me great results for plants rated for 4-5 watts/gallon because of the more accurate sunlight spectrum. No mechanical filtration, no powerheads, no Co2 injection. I'm in the process of coaching my wife over Yahoo messenger into "fixing" the tank and getting the hardness and PH of my tapwater down. I got a question in to Gerwin about this Blackwater Extract, but I'm wary of the "fix-all" chemicals.

Thankfully, the 3-year old ecosystem is very well intact, and the only current life in the tank is a 2-year old Anostomus, which will fit the biotope well. Pictures to follow when there's something worth looking at.

Will keep this updated as we go, maybe I can help somebody that is currently intimidated by the freshwater plants thing. Gerwin, maybe then I won't be the only one bugging you to order obscure plants...

If anyone has any experience specific to this tank, please don't hesitate to offer advice! I might need it...

Dominic

Dominic also asked via PM, so I am posting the repl here as well as the PM so others may no my position.
Quote:
Blackwater Extract has been around since I started in the business over 34 years ago, I am not sure it does all it says for what you are doing, never played with it much for the reason I think it makes the tank look like crap, if I want a fish tank I want to see my plants / fish / decor and not have to show a picture in a book of how beautiful they are with out the product in the water:lol:
That being said the simple fix is RO water we sell it for 25cents a gallon for about 7.00 and change make a clear tank with all you wanna be, of course you gotta get the water in buckets and make the move.
I am happy to help your wife make the tank work and you have a beautiful biotope when you walk in the door a few months from now


also Dominic how long have you been gone now? I think long enough that alot has happened in regards to other customers doing live planted tanks and even myself finally getting more involved and making my tank work like it should with plants. My blue thumb on the right hand is matching my Green thumb on the left hand better and better :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:20 pm 
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Thanks for the advice...my water is actually already a little "tanned" from the driftwood that's already in place combined with the still water. If the effect from Blackwater extract is that pronounced, I may end up with a pretty messy looking tank (right now it's crystal-clear, just slightly tinged). More regular water changes will mostly knock out what tinge there is now. Maybe I'll dose a glass bowl of water with the blackwater just to see what it looks like :)

Gonna go with my original plan, staying with the water I have, at least for now. I've had discus and anostomus in that pH range that did fine...I wonder are cichlids more fragile? I have NO experience with them and after going thru numerous internet pages with pics of bolivian rams and flag acaras....you know.

I'm going to have to very lightly stock the tank, I think, because water movement will be almost non-existent with little gas exchange, relying on the plants to produce most oxygen. This HAS worked for me in the past in this tank. I was thinking a couple of cichlids and a school of small tetras, and leave it at that. Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:27 pm 
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Rams and a few tetras should be fine, although I would still use some sort of filter or airstone if it where mine.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:17 pm 
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Years (decades) ago, at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, there was (and may still be) a room full of nothing but small, "balanced aquariums". Light and an airstone-- that's it. And a careful balance of plants and fish.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:19 pm 
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Ok, so I've decided to attempt an "el Natural" setup for this tank as described by Diana Walstad. Is anyone familiar with the concept or better yet, tried one? She advocates a low-light, low-co2 system with the only technology being lighting and a small powerhead for water movement (no air entrainment). It's a truly self-dependent ecology that depends on a Natural life cycle of plants feeding fish and vice versa. NO tampering with the tank, not even for water changes (maybe once every 6 months).

This is exactly what I've been swearing could be done for months, but I just now found her literature on the subject, she's been pushing the idea for a decade or so at least. I've actually made personal contact with her on an online message board (won't advertise its name on this obviously superior board :D).

Opinions? Support? Claims that Walstad is blasphemy?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:10 am 
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I promise I had every intention of posting updates.

It's only been 5 months!

Ok...so Walstad is a genius. I'll skip the March update, where my tank was so full of algae that you couldn't see through the glass, and when you looked in from the top, the water was so green you couldn't see through an inch of water except for the H2S bubbling up from the garden soil substrate. Looked like the surface of Venus. Scary stuff.

Almost gave up when the water cleared and then plants wouldn't grow. Except for the duckweed, which is an amazing creature.

Then the lone inhabitant, a three-year-old anostomus, disappeared. I don't mean died, I mean one day I couldn't find him. Made a mess of my tank moving driftwood and plants looking for his body, it's nowhere. I think he just got sick of the tank and left. Maybe tried to flop his way back to the store. Gerwin, keep an eye out.

But now...amazing. What started as four plants is filling my little 29-gallon. I forgot to prune the sword for a while, and it grew out and down the back of my tank. They're getting 5 hours a day from the T5 plus a little sunlight from the window, no mechanical filtration or carbon or water changes for four months, ammonia/NO2/NO3 are textbook perfect, and I continue to feed fish that aren't there. The water is beautiful, with a slight green tinge due to the copious duckweed on the surface.

Definitely a success. I'll be heading to the store to look for new plants today. Now if I could just save a little money and buy some live rock for my empty reef tank... :)

Dominic


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:30 am 
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some pics would be really cool :D


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:41 pm 
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Ok, I think I have the slideshow thing figured out...

Disclaimer: The water's a little cloudy from some gardening. Remember, no mechanical filtration so it takes a while for the dust to settle :) But I don't know what is up with the camera shots...someone needs to teach me how to take pictures of a tank! These pictures make it look terrible! It even looks like it's filled with algae, because the pictures are so GREEN. It's not green at all in real life, and way less cloudy, you'll just have to take my word for it.

The fish are Black Phantom Tetras, 4 of which were a new addition yesterday. I like em! The snail, well, there's four that look like that and about 40 tiny black dots (babies?) and they ALL made their first appearances tonight.

Oh yeah, the anostomus showed back up. Not sure where he was when I turned my tank inside out looking for him, but he was snacking away on some leftovers in the gravel from the "plant feeding".

Sorry, here's the pics (maybe)...


Dominic


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:45 pm 
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Okay, that didn't work. One more try!



Nice...I can hit preview and make sure before I post this time. Duh. Again I SWEAR it's not really that cloudy.

Also, I should acknowledge that the thread title is a little bit of a misnomer. I had to choose between radically low-tech and the amazon biotope for logistical reasons and chose the former. I'd change the thread title but I don't know how. Maybe someone could help me???

Dominic


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:27 pm 
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Cool stuff if you need more wild algae or even native fish like mosquito fish or short fin molly's I have a small creek by my place in Gpt that these things live naturally especially the duck weed or what ever those small floating plant leaves are. This is what my tank was doing before I did the whole native fish thing.

I also agree the camera is cruel to the tank, mine comes off as cloudy sometimes also but thats the small particles floating in the water that bounce off the flash. Try with out a flash with longer exposure time it will come out clearer. Its a little trick I learned.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:22 pm 
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not sure but I think that is green water....maybe not pea soup green but the camera is picking up something there. Take a shot of the whole system from a distance...all room lights off and no flash and lets see what it looks like.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:24 pm 
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I'll do that when I get home tonight.

It's strange...looking at it, not through the lens of the camera, the dust was a bland whitish color, as I'd expect from stirring up the substrate. There was only a slight tinge from the light getting through the duckweed. (I think)

Now, a week later, it's cleared up a lot, and I'm 99% sure there's no green water there. There's a definite tinge to the light toward green, but I think that's more the duckweed. The greenish tint, now that the dust is settled, is actually very easy on the eyes. I kinda like it!

I'll still take pictures again of the full tank. I really can't emphasize enough how different the pictures were from real life. I guess the real solution would be to scoop out all the duckweed and see what color the tank looks, but I don't see myself going to that length. I like my duckweed. But then, you know I've always been a little weird with my planted tank. :D

Dominic


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:35 pm 
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Oh yeah, those black phantoms colored up nicely after a day or two in the tank...and no ammonia spike as of yet, so the "fragile" ecosystem is holding. Couple more weeks and it'll be time to add to the school. Also the Annostomus, who I'm now calling Lazarus, is behaving with the new plants.

I'll be by tomorrow to see if you have any new plants...I'll try to remember to bring the camera with pics.

Dominic


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:16 pm 
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plants around thurs this week


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