400l "Natural Dutch" by Raymond Sowden (wearsbunnyslippers) Introduction and background
My name is Raymond Sowden and I am from Cape Town, South Africa. I am 31 and have been keeping fish tanks for more than half my life. I got interested in planted tanks about 2 years ago
as a low maintenance way of keeping my tanks, with little or no water changes, potting soil substrate etc. I later found out this was the Diane Walstad method. The addiction grew and
soon it was more about the plants than the fish. I have always been an avid gardener so I guess the transition was pretty natural. My wife jokes that the fish are just fertilizer factories
and that if wasn't called a "fish tank" I wouldn't even keep fish anymore. Little did I know this would turn out to be much more maintenance than regular fish tanks, but also much more rewarding.
I had never seen a true planted tank before, so I started researching and became a lurker on APC, doing as much reading as I could, learning about CO2 and EI, substrates and T5's, low-tech, high-tech, nature style, jungle, Dutch, so much information to absorb. The tanks that really drew my attention though, were the colorful densely planted Dutch style tanks, especially the ones like Fluo's
. This is the kind of tank I aspired to, and am still trying to achieve. Inspiration http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...624&original=1 http://us4.pixagogo.com/S58UTKI1w3i7...2/IMG_7001.JPG
I had already converted my 100l into a planted tank, my discus were fast outgrowing it and so I decided I needed to get a bigger tank.
So I rushed out and bought a medium tech 200l tank, upgraded to T5's with reflectors, pressurized CO2 and flourite - the only manufactured plant substrate I could get my hands on at the time, and started EI dosing.
It was a steep learning curve and I quickly went through all the usual newly setup tank woes, diatoms, algae, green water, nutrient deficiencies etc., so more reading and more learning, and more time spent on APC.
About a year later that tank sprang a leak, and I was faced with a decision, either get a new tank or quit the hobby, guess which way I went. Seen as I was buying a new tank now anyway, I decided
I needed an even bigger one. Bigger tanks are easier to look after in my opinion, up to a point.
That brings me to my current tank, it is a Juwel Rio 400, 100G. It came with 2 T5's built in and a built in filter. I upgraded the lighting and took out the filter, preferring to use an
external canister filter. Setup
Lighting with reflectors
Different light Kelvin ratings
1 week after setup
The addition of the rocks was frowned upon by some of the Dutch purists, but I prefer a more natural looking layout, the super neat streets and perfectly pruned bushes are a little too unnatural for my tastes, and I think the rocks added some nice contrast. Don't get me wrong, I find Dutch style tanks absolutely stunning, but not for me personally.
It is quite difficult to source decent plants in South Africa, we have an extremely long species banned list, but I would've replaced the rocks with some smaller plants as they became available eventually anyway. Tank specifications
Volume: 400 Liters
Measurements: 151 x 51 x 62 cm
1 x 59w Juwel High-Lite® Day T5
1 x 59w Juwel High-Lite® Nature T5
4 x 59w Arcadia Plant Por T5's
8 hrs per day with a timer
Filtration: Eheim Pro II 2026
CO2: Saga Regulator, power head diffusion, 2 bps. Comes on 2 hours before the lights, goes off with the lights. Flora 1. Hygrophila polysperma
'Sunset' 2. Cryptocoryne sp. 3. Alternanthera reineckii
4. Rotala rotundifolia 5. Hygrophila difformis
'Variegated' 6. Rotala macrandra
7. Hygrophila corymbosa
8. Pogostemon stellatus
'Narrow Leaf' 9. Mayaca fluviatilis
10. Hygrophila corymbosa
'angustifolia' 11. Rotala sp.
12. Echinodorus tenellus
13. Lobelia cardinalis
14. Nymphaea lotus
Discus, Cardinal Tetra, Harlequin Rasbora, Rummynose Tetra, Corydoras, Baryancistrus
sp. (L177) Maintenance
Sunday - day1: prune, preen, clean glass inside, 25% or more water change, 1/2 tsp kno3, 1/8 ish tsp kh2po4, 1/2 tsp equilibrium, 1/2 tsp dolomite and clean glass on outside
Monday - day2: 5ml Trace
Tuesday - day3: 1/2 tsp kno3, 1/8 ish tsp kh2po4, 1/2 tsp equilibrium, 1/2 tsp dolomite
Wednesday - day5: 5ml Trace
Thursday - day5: 1/2 tsp kno3, 1/8 ish tsp kh2po4, 1/2 tsp equilibrium, 1/2 tsp dolomite
Friday - day6: 5ml Trace
Saturday - day7: Rest and enjoy
Daily Flourish Excel Challenges
I have fought cyano in this tank from the beginning, never managing to eradicate it 100%, I was almost at the point of dosing erythromycin.
Keeping the stem plants nicely shaped and evenly trimmed takes a lot of pruning, sometimes twice a week on the fast growers, but it is very satisfying and part of the enjoyment of the hobby.
The Eheim 2026 was spec'ed for the 200l and it was not coping with the filtration so I have upgraded it to a Fluval FX5. Final thoughts
This tank has been broken down and setup again do to me relocating from Johannesburg to Cape Town so it no longer looks like the pictures. I look forward to scaping a new layout and trying some new plants, I am keeping my journal up to date.
I won’t be satisfied that my tank is "done" until I consider my tank in the same league as Fluo's and Shay's...
I would like to thank all the guys on our local forum APSA
for all their support and helping to source some of the "rarer" plants, and a huge thanks to APC for all their inspiration!