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Old 03-15-2007, 04:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Self-sufficient tank

I'm probably leaving for further studies soon. But I want to leave some junk in my parents to contend with. Thinking of creating a self-sufficient tank. Somewhere along the lines of a 5x1.5x3 feet tank. If biology class serves me right, I need to create a complete ecosystem in the tank. So anyone got any ideas as to what plants, what fish and how to go about it? No feeding, no filters and no water changes. Just occasional addition of water. I know it is possible because some duo from university managed to create one. A constant renewable food source is the first problem I wanna solve. Help!
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Old 03-15-2007, 05:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I've had one run before by accident when a filter died for a few months when away, apart from the food source.
I'd guess at low stocking levels for fish, and choose your fish carefully nothing to messy for bioload, and if you are going to have some sort of constant food source like shrimp nothing thats to good at hunting them down, and either a lot of plants or some big well established ones, (my tank had two huge amazon swords thats roots covered most of the bottom of the tank, and a lot of java fern, I'm guessing between them they filter out a lot of tye nitrates etc).
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Old 03-16-2007, 12:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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try platies (which breed) and kribs (which breed and eat platies)
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Old 03-16-2007, 01:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Look in my signature for "Planted Golden barb tank - 1st post!" around the end of the that thread, on the 2nd page, i made a attempt of a self sufficient tank. with only MTS and blyxa being living things in the bowl.

For a 5 feet tank, i would suggest only planting foreground plants e.g hair grass/echinodorus tenellus through the whole tank - iwagumi style and throw in some non-invasive plants like jave fern/anubias or echinodorus martii/rubin and the like. lotus will grow to the top, and stem plants will be quite messy after a while so try not to choose them. As for fauna, get something small, that breeds and that eats algae e.g. shrimp, mollies. Godspeed! make sure u post some pics when u are done.
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Old 03-16-2007, 06:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would definitely look into the El Natural system for the tank setup, as it already meets some of your criteria. infrequent WC and low maintenance.

Brian
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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have been doing some research...bouncing ideas off people...I've come to 2 realisation... harnessing algae's ability to grow is essential...and a plant that interacts with the air above the water may provide another channel for food to enter the tank's cycle...

generally, the plans pretty fuzzy. General cycle: Substrate to algae, algae to algae eater then to fish, fish craps goes to plants. The problem I have here is that I'd rather have some organism feeding off plants instead. But no plant grows fast enough without depleting the substrate...well...the only thing I know that spawns fast is guppies. hmmmm....

As a general direction, the tank would contain tetras, probably neons/cardinals, saiz factor, and maybe a betta or albino peacock cichlid just to get the tetras to school...

Anybody with a good idea for plants!!
p.s. thank God I didn't straight away started experimenting...discussing seems to be the smartest thing I've done so far in my "aqua"-life....
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just read some where that brine shrimps can breed every 4 days producing up to 300 of its own every once...hmmm...but the problem is that saltwater is recommended...is it possible in creating a section of the tank that allows the brine shrimps to hatch....since saltwater is denser and tends to resis movements...anybody know whether common aquarium salt for tropical tanks are also suitable?...brine shrimp eat micro-algae!! yay!!
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Instead of Brine Shrimp, why not put Daphnia in a section of the tank with a fine screen to keep the fish out of the daphnia section. If it was fine enough you may even stop the large Daphnia getting out of the section too and ensure you always have a breeding population there, just the young, small ones would get through to the fish. The only problem is they may not eat benthic algae but need free-swiming algae. I think cyclops eat algae on plants and decor though and you often get them along with Daphnia too.

I think you'd struggle to produce enough food to feed a shoal of tetras unless you have a lot of breeding guppies and they will need a lot of food too. I think you may be better with just algae eaters that will live a long while rather than ones that may breed lots. You may end up with a brood of fish where a majority of the brood starve to death, or they barely survive.

If you added duckweed and a fish that eats it, you may have enough plant growth to feed a small herbivore.
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Old 03-16-2007, 04:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have several self-supporting tanks where I don't even need to feed the fish.

When creating an ecosystem you need a source of constant nutrients to fuel the plants and micro algae and light. From there on its basically a matter of adding the right number (and kind) of fish for the amount of food that is produced by the tank.

What I did:
For my 125g tank, I added an inch and a half of low-nutrient topping soil with a 1-1.5" thick cap of blasting sand (in retrospect I would have used something else since I think my batch is leaching chemicals into the water) for the nutrient base. From there I added 4x96w of PC lighting (set on a timer 8 hrs continual light).

This soil layer was chosen because it will hold nutrients for several years that the plants can use without having to add dry compound fertilizers. Additionally the sand cap prevents too many nutrients (primarily NH4) from leaching out into the water column - limiting algae growth.

I have a 15# CO2 cylinder attached to an in-line CO2 reactor (i chose this one over the other kinds because it needs the least cleaning/maintenance of the diffusers/reactors while still having a high rate of efficiency). The CO2 is imperative IMO, and if you skimp on it your plants will have a more difficult time getting established and growing leading to algae problems. 15# will probably last 1-2 years at 4 bubbles/sec.

From there I stocked the tank heavily with wood and stem plants, different foreground plants and lots of slow growing java/anubias. I think a good fast growing foreground plant like glosso (or dense one like HC) is pretty important to this kind of tank since it will soak up nutrients from the substrate as they leach into the water preventing excess in the water column.

As for fish... If you don't plan on feeding the fish at all, I would suggest small fish like live bearers or
kribs/apistos and of course any sort of algae eater you like (ottos/bristlenose are my favorites). The live bearers will regulate their own populations depending on the food in the tank so you won't have to feel bad about not feeding them. Shrimp are also an excellent choice, particularly bamboo shrimp since a soil tank has plenty of microscopic partials of debris that they can feed on.

I wouldn't skimp on the filters though, not that you need them to scrub the water with carbon, but you will need to circulate the water so it doesn't become stagnant and cause problems.

Also MTS are vital for a soil tank as they turn over the soil and keep it oxygenated.

So far my tank has been running wonderfully without any sort of maintenance other than topping up the water and trimming for the past year.

Another beautiful thing about this sort of self-sufficient tank is that you won't have to do frequent water changes since not that many nutrients get leached into the water/any that are are sucked up by the anubias/java fern on the wood. Organic build up is eaten by the bamboo shrimp and guppies off the surface of the water and recycled so that it doesn't have a chance to build up that much.



As a side note: This sort of system also works w/ non-soil tanks, but you need auto-dosers and a lower fish load.
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Old 03-17-2007, 05:59 AM   #10 (permalink)
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After much consideration and much teasing by fellow aquarist, I think trying to maintain to different water for brine shrimp, will result in a brakish. Which is not what I want. hmmm...plus brine shrimp can only live max 6 hours in fresh water...so that sort of defeats the idea....and water circulation would be a problem...but I do want to know...is water circulation crucial? if fish go all over the tank...then circulation generated by swimming fish is no problem right?

to ed seeley: I read up on daphnia...seems that they only reproduce during spring...although in freshwater...it's practically spring everyday...but their cycle would be disrupted...the question is would they continue spawning...as for cyclops...I can't find much of anything on the breeding of cyclops...although one site recommends rotten stuff like leaves which speeds up growth...

to zapins: you said that you'd use something else as substrate...what is it? is MTS = Malaysian Trumpet Snail? I live in Malaysia...so...I might try to look for it...is aeration of the substrate really that crucial?... as for the CO2 system...I want the gas cycle in the tank to be self-sufficient also...maybe for the start I'll put that...

I just ghost shrimp...someone told me that they are suppose to eat algae...so testing erm now...I'm going to my firends place this Monday I think...he has a self-sufficient tank...he said he's never fed the fish...but only added treated water...so I'm gonna document my trip there...and try to find the secret to that tank...dang I've a test coming in weeks time...

Last edited by fuzzimuzzi; 03-17-2007 at 06:09 AM..
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