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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 10-22-2020, 05:14 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
Yes, you used sand with too small particles. If you have access to swimming pool filter sand, that is the ideal size particles. I have used that sand many times with very good results.

Corys are not harmed by the sand particles. They can dig around in whatever sand you use. All aquatic plants do well in pool filter sand. Remember, nothing is very heavy when in the water. Buoyancy affects sand particles just as it affects human bodies. Roots don't support the sand particles, the roots grow in the open areas between particles, so they can't be crushed by heavy sand. Plant roots grow towards where they can get nutrients, so they will probably end up in the soil below the sand. Soluble nutrients in the soil will spread into the sand too, and into the water.
I see, yeah I was mostly talking about gravel, the pebble ones I heard can hurt Cory's, I'm unsure whether it's true or not.

Would this kind of sand work? Is there any specific brand you recommend? Specific size?

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Easy to get cm and inches mixed up. I admire your persistence.

I'm not sure that potting soil mixed with very fine sand would cause a major problem. After all, soil often contains fine sand. I would not give up entirely. The first tank looks like it just needs a water change and some carbon filtration. You could try adding potted Amazon swordplants, Red Tiger Lotus, stem plants, etc. There's no reason to start over. You can just cut off the tops of the Val and squeeze in a pot or two, making sure bottom of pot rests on the bottom.

I noticed that the second tank has driftwood that seems to be sitting on top of the substrate. Be careful about putting driftwood and rocks on top of substrate. They will "smother" the soil layer.

I think you're just going to have to experiment a little until you get something that works for you. This is why I always recommend that people start out with small tanks. There's often a learning curve to keeping planted aquaria.
I see, I'm not sure whether it's that noticeable in the photos, but there's a lot of very dark algae visible on the side of the tank under the substrate, I'm guessing this is probably because of the skylight I have that the tank is under, which I probably should and covered up.

If I were to start over with both tanks, how do I go about with the shrimp and snails? I don't feel entirely comfortable just, you know, "throwing them out" during the restart.

I'm thinking if I have made such a vital mistake I might as well start over, after all the Dwarf Hair Grass plants aren't spreading, but their not dying either (not sure if you might possibly know a reason for that), but I'm guessing it could have something to do with the imbalance in the tank and the way I've structured it.

The reason I'm thinking it may be better to start over is because I've realized it's probably better that I'm there preforming regular maintenance in the first couple months, which I failed to do with both tanks because of my living situation, but it should be doable now. Would it be better to put the drift wood in first next time? Then add the potting mix around it and the gravel on top?

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If you have a large enough tank you could consider different sections - a planted section, fish catching end like described in the book, etc... The Corys can have their ideal substrate and the plants their section too - just a thought.
I don't recall everything I read in the book, I do however vaguely remember something about different sections, truth be told I had to read over a few chapters a couple times because I was struggling understanding everything.

Ultimately I remember seeing this video , which interested me because I love the concept of a completely natural tank, or as natural as you can get which acts as a eco system like in the wild, where the cycle is continuing with little to no maintenance.
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Old 10-22-2020, 06:15 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

That pool filter sand should work very well. I have tried several brands and didn't see any difference between them. This is the one I plan to try next: https://www.acehardware.com/departme...quipment/83029
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:11 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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I see, yeah I was mostly talking about gravel, the pebble ones I heard can hurt Cory's, I'm unsure whether it's true or not.
Not sure if "hurt", but in my experience cory's barbels were a lot longer in my fine-sand turned-over tanks than in my gravel tanks.
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Old 10-24-2020, 12:18 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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That pool filter sand should work very well. I have tried several brands and didn't see any difference between them. This is the one I plan to try next: https://www.acehardware.com/departme...quipment/83029
Oh okay. About tearing the tank down, what do I do with the snails and shrimp in there already?
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Old 10-24-2020, 05:01 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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Oh okay. About tearing the tank down, what do I do with the snails and shrimp in there already?
why not put them in the new setup?
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Old 10-24-2020, 12:29 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Stace, just to explain - "the different sections" was my idea, I have always tried to have tanks with not a uniform layout, ie one section for plants, another darker or sandy section for fish - I like the creative aspects of it. In the book there is mention of how to catch fish in a planted tank, and the author explains that she has a non-planted end and uses dividers to corall and catch fish there. That was my meaning.

For quite a few years I have kept some left over tiles (natural rock smooth tiles) from a house build and have been planning to use them with sand in a cory dedicated tank, and incorporate a small planted section for tank and fish health. One day soon I will find the time and location to do it.

I don't have alot of fish experience though - most of my experience is plants and most of my tanks have only had plants in them.
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Old 10-29-2020, 03:26 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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why not put them in the new setup?
How would I do that? I will be tearing down each tank, I have nowhere else to put them, plus my snails are all over the place, I am unsure if I'll be able to save them all, same goes with the shrimp.

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Old 10-29-2020, 06:32 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

When I was younger, and able to work all day, I used a 5 gallon bucket as the resting place for my fish as I removed the substrate, etc. from my tank, cleaned it, put new substrate in, replanted it, filled it with water. Then I put the fish back in the tank. I don't recall it harming any of the fish, but it was an exhausting all day job. Snails lay eggs all over the tank, so you quickly have plenty of new snails when you do this.
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:39 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
When I was younger, and able to work all day, I used a 5 gallon bucket as the resting place for my fish as I removed the substrate, etc. from my tank, cleaned it, put new substrate in, replanted it, filled it with water. Then I put the fish back in the tank. I don't recall it harming any of the fish, but it was an exhausting all day job. Snails lay eggs all over the tank, so you quickly have plenty of new snails when you do this.
Wow, I’ll try that. I’m feeling kind of nervous, I’ll need to get everything ready before I do that. Or I could try move all the little creatures to my 50 gal while I reset the 13 gal tank.

Another thing I am afraid of is stressing out the shrimp, they are very difficult to catch when I look back to my first bunch I got.

Another question Hoppy, what is the best substrate you use in your opinion? Overall I just want a tank that is going to be as healthy as possible, kind of like what you see out in nature. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made last time. Sorry for asking so many questions, please excuse my ignorance.
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Old 10-30-2020, 04:21 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

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kind of like what you see out in nature
More often than not, "nature" in tropical rivers and ponds means muddy substrate, debris covering most plants, at least slightly turbid water and algae growing all over the place. "Nature" can also mean a river stream with sandy or rocky substrate with a few patches of plants, but mostly "empty". Don't let this "nature" concept that goes around so much (and is so far from what you actually see in nature) sway your decisions; instead aim for what you want your tanks to look like, without seeking for validation in a supposedly "proper" way of having tanks. As long as you are not unnecessarily causing pain to other life forms, whatever makes you feel good, is good.
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