Going Porcelain - 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 Yesterday, 08:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Going Porcelain

I've been experimenting with a ten gallon Chinese porcelain bowl as a suitable aquarium over the years. I'd had pretty good success using a Fluval cannister set up and a couple of sprigs of anubias barteri The bowl gets about an hour of direct sunlight a day. Things were fine until I started experiencing a series of nitrogen cycle crashes long before I properly understood what cycling actually meant. But, since Jan 4, 21 I've had terrific results using nothing more than a container of old bio media from the old setup and the addition of about 4 lucky bamboo plants (a fifth got water-logged and died.) Just gravel substrate; the curved walls of the bowl direct all fish waste to its center where there is now a thin layer of mulm. The parameters have been stable for nearly six weeks: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 15-20 ppm nitrates. Not quite sure how to attach a photo, but I like the conservatory look it lends to my Brooklyn flat. The only Con is that the silica in the porcelain tends to attract diatoms.
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Old Yesterday, 11:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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So, one question came up on another fish forum concerning the role of beneficial bacteria (BB) in the water column. The other forum which can safely be characterized as a Nitrogen Cycle hub, the insistence is that BB only exist on things : the bio-media, substrate, decorations, etc. And, that the water column has to be filtered through it. But, I question that since I've had no filtration for almost two months and cycled fairly quickly (two weeks) with nothing more than 7 gallons of standing water and five zebra danios. Oh, and four lucky bamboo plants. Is it possible for lucky bamboo to convert that much ammonia that quickly or can "floating" bacteria contribute its share to the nitrification process?
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Old Yesterday, 12:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Going Porcelain

You can see floating bacteria if your water is cloudy, otherwise, they're on surfaces most times.
Yes, plants love ammonia.
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Old Yesterday, 02:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Going Porcelain

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
You can see floating bacteria if your water is cloudy, otherwise, they're on surfaces most times.
Yes, plants love ammonia.
Thank you, that makes complete sense. Of course, water would have to be pretty nasty looking to have that much bacteria floating around. As for plants and ammonia, it now becomes clear why I was able to go for months and months without ever changing water when I was a youngster and why everyone on the other fish forum is obsessed with it. When I was young, all of my tanks were heavily planted. You could buy cobomba, vallisneria, and sagittaria pretty easily and every fish book recommended them - but, never because of their role in the nitrogen cycle. It was because you were afraid your fish would suffocate for lack of oxygen. I think I gradually got away from plants as my obsession with filtration grew over the years. Glad to be back to the natural world!
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Old Yesterday, 05:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Going Porcelain

Welcome to APC!

Healthy plants, especially emersed ones like your lucky bamboo, take over the role of beneficial bacteria and biofiltration in fish-only tanks. We don't even "cycle" Walstad tanks in the usual sense of the term.

Please post pictures of your bowl.
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Old Yesterday, 06:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Going Porcelain

You can see the old bio-media cartridge at 9 o'clock. I can probably toss it, right?
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Old Today, 05:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Going Porcelain

Just tested the parameters again and there's been very little change: 0 ammonia 0 nitrites and 20 ppm nitrates. It's been three weeks since the last water change.
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