so this el natural thing????? plz help - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 05-11-2011, 11:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default so this el natural thing????? plz help

hi everyone......

just joined the forumn, becoz i have reasons to believe something ive been really interested in exists!!!!

ive always wanted to know if anyone has or even heard about Self-Sustainable aquariums..???

ive always been interested in that idea and just though what an Amazing project it wil be......

i was doing some research on interent and heard about the walstad method....
please someone explain this to me abit more.....

i love the idea of fish eating shrimp....shrimp eating algae...snails eating algae, algea from plants...plants keep aquarium clean

dont get me wrong.... im not lazy, that i dont want to do cleaning or i dont get enjoyment out of one eating another or am not even trying toto save money.....
i just love the idea of a natural enviroment I Made!.....

i have got a empty 10 gallon tank waiting and money to spend......

Im aware of the difficulty, which is what intrigues me. I might not be able to get to 100% self sufficiency, but as close as possible would be nice.


thanks for your answers
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

If you wanted to try self sustaining, you'd have to get a fairly large tank with a low fish stocking level...

Then add RCS, blackworms, and snails...

El naturale does cut down on the water changes, but I'm pretty sure you'll still have to feed them...
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

The idea of a self-sustaining aquarium is a very old one--it used to be called the "balanced aquarium". In practice it is very difficult to achieve in the very small environment of an aquarium; small systems of this sort are unstable. But you can get close.

Get a copy of Diana Walstad's book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. This will explain the principles you need to understand, and give practical suggestions for setting up your tank. You probably can't keep fish in a self-sustaining 10 gallon tank (too small), but it might work with shrimp.

Right now there is a thread in Aquascaping on design of El Natural tanks. One of the examples shown is an even smaller tank that has no filtration, circulation, fertilization, or CO2--just light, plants, and shrimp. The shrimp are fed, and it is unlikely that they could survive long term without it.

Good luck!
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

There is so much great information here and in the book, I'm sure you'll have no problem figuring it out. I have a 5 gal biorb. Not the best for lighting but I am able to make it work with added light and just a betta and pond snails in it. Due to poor lighting I do have to remove and add fress plants more than I like. But it keeps the water changes to a minimum and the bowl and water parameters are perfect. I'm planning on setting up a 10 gal soon. I'm not a perfectionist, so clean tank, happy fish in a naturally planted with little or no fuss and water changes is working for me. Good luck. Let us know how you're doing with it.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

Perhaps instead of shrimp... your best bet might be to keep the tank well stocked with snails and blackworms, and keep a single dwarf puffer?
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

I like the dwarf puffer idea. I suspect it would be helpful to have some plant-eaters (like crayfish or apple snails or, with the right kind of plants, Florida flagfish) that directly convert plant growth into waste that the worms, snails, and tiny inverts can eat. Otherwise, you're waiting on the plants to decompose on their own before the energy they accumulate becomes available to anything else in the tank.

Also, I would try and get a much larger variety of critters than just snails and blackworms. For my planted tank, I went to a pond and found a place where there were some trees by the shore, and a lot of dead leaves and sticks in the water. I collected invertebrates from there--pond snails, worms (tubifex?), tiny crustaceans (cyclops, daphnia, rotifers, &c.), and scuds (gammarus shrimp) (one easy way to collect these things is to fill a 1 quart or 1/2 gallon container with pond water, take leaves or chunks of bark out of the pond and let them sit in the water in the container of water for a while, then pull them out). The tank also has a couple dozen more scuds I got from Lake Michigan, plus blackworms, and Malaysian trumpet snails (which are mainly just to turn over the gravel--I don't know how much they contribute to the food chain, though I guess they are helpful as decomposers). My tank is 20 gallon long, if the only larger animals I had in there were the 6 white clouds and 6 ghost shrimp (plus however many babies that gravid one had since the eggs hatched), I'm not sure I would have to feed it at all. The clouds are constantly prowling the bottom looking for worms and stuff, and are pretty indifferent to the flake food I put in (the 2 adult + 3 baby guppies seem to eat most of it). The shrimp in this tank seem to be thriving, but they hardly ever bother with the shrimp pellets I throw in, unlike the shrimp in the 5-gallon bowl which devour their shrimp pellets. Of course, whatever all these guys are eating benefits from the food I give the crayfish and guppies.

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Old 05-11-2011, 08:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

Hi,

here is a good link to a self-sustaining aquarium: http://www.tuncalik.com/2009/09/biotope-in-my-study/

You need a large tank, you will need to be patient for a community of small critters to become established, and you need to keep the fish load very low (that also means keeping tiny fish). And you need to be prepared that everything turns out differently than expected...

On the day I set up my tank (120cm x 80cm x 50cm; nominal volume is about 125 gallon), I added guppies. They were meant to provide a source of live food for 4 Polypterus delhezi... however, I fear I will have a guppy infestation, since the polypterus totally ignore the guppies and only show hunting behaviour when I add tiny dried fish (omena: Lake Vic "sardines"), which are about the same size as the feeder guppies...

Of course, the tank was never meant to be self-sustaining. But it shows that even a simple predator/prey relationship may not be readily established...

Greetings from Nairobi

Margit
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Old 05-12-2011, 05:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

Hmmm. Scuds eat plants... Not sure you want animals to eat your filtration if you get my drift...
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

The only live plant my scuds eat is Java moss. (They love dead leaves of every species.) If there is a predator in the tank the scud population never becomes large enough to cause noticeable damage.

That said, I'm not sure you need any herbivores (consumers of live plants) in the tank as long as you have plenty of detritivores to eat any dead plant material.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: so this el natural thing????? plz help

Maybe scuds only eat tender stem plants? I could be wrong, this is only based on something I read on someone's aquabid page.
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