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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set up a new natural planted tank at work (on 5/2) and thought I'd document the process.

It's a 6 gallon plexiglass hex that I picked up for cheap at a local club meeting.


The first step was to add about an inch of topsoil. I used a cheapo topsoil from Home Depot called EarthGro. We went thru it and removed some sticks and broke up any clods.


Then sprinkled a layer of crushed oyster shell over the top, mixed it in and then evened it out.




Next I ran a layer of gravel (pool filter media) around the outer edge of the tank.


and then started setting in plants. I had some bronze crypt wendetti potted in soil already, so I unpotted those and plopped them in the center of the rear of the tank. Stripped the bottom leaves off some sunset hygro.

and planted that on the right of the crypts. On the left, there's limnophilia and in front of the crypts are a stem of hygro difformis. e tennelus was planted around the front and middle of the tank.



Then using a small plastic dish to deflect the water, I filled the tank with several inches of water.


There wasn't any cloudiness happening, so I moved the tank into my office and finished filling it. It's a little hazy, but not bad at all. I also added some najas grass and hornwort to take up the slack while the rooted plants are filling in. and added some java moss. I also ended up with MTS, pond and ramshorn snails in the tank.

Here's the front


and the side




More pics are here.

This tank has a powerhead built into the hood, so I left the sponge filter it came with in over nite to remove the haze.

It has one of the incandescent bulbs in it. I plan to replace that with a compact fluorescent bulb. It will be getting direct sunlight in the afternoon, so it'll be interesting to see what it takes to adjust the blinds so it doesn't get boiled but still gets plenty of sunlight.

Tested the water on 5/3 and it's ready for fish!
pH: 7.8
KH: 4dh
ammonia: a trace *maybe*
nitrIte: 0ppm

Here it is on 5/4 and the tank is lookin great!! I removed the sponge from the filter cuz there shouldn't be that much debris happening with some snails and a betta.





The najas grass is pearling under direct sunlight in the evening.

I stopped by a LPS this morning and picked up a crowntail betta boy. Here's the lucky betta. He's a little manly man! Keeps seeing his reflection in the side of the tank and is determined to run that other betta off. :lol:






Last week, I replaced the incandescent bulb with a 20 watt 6500K fluorescent bulb. I may drop back to 15 watts since it's also getting direct sunlight in the evenings.

Also, my coworker has been keeping a betta in a vase. I had a 2.5 gallon bowfront that was sitting around--another local aquarium club steal, and set that up as a NPT for her betta.


Plants include e tennelus, sag subulata, sunset hygro with najas grass and hornwort floating. There's a little powerfilter in the tank for water movement with no filter pad in it. It has an incandescent bulb in it and we're looking for a small CF bulb to replace it with. It's also getting direct sunlight in the evening.

Here's her veiltail betta boy, Will-E. He wasn't very cooperative, but I got a somewhat decent pic. His finnage is awsome.
 

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Hi Betty,

This is a great thread! Thanks for sharing. I'm sure many folks here at APC will benefit from your step-by-step setup photos. I'm setting up a one gallon hex for my betta now too!

I love the arrangement with crypts to one side for swimming space and all the floating plants surrounding.

About the sunlight, I have a 10g NPT with 30W and direct sun in the evenings and it does just fine. So far there haven't been any algae issues. Heat may be an issue for you, but if your workplace is cool inside maybe not. Those CF spiral bulbs do get a bit hot.

Keep us posted as it grows. BTW, gorgeous, lucky betta! And thanks for educating a co-worker on how to keep a betta happy. Those vases are awful!

Javalee
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cool. :)

Yea, I'm planning on turning it into an article to go along with my other summary of doing Walstad-type natural planted tanks.

It's just so perfect for a betta at work. Low hassle. Low bioload. Perfect! And I can leave him live daphnia for weekend munchies. :lol:

I'm leaving the little feeding flap on the hood open and have the A/C running. So far the tank has gotten up to the low 80s. It gets HOT here in the summertime, so I think I'll need to lower the blinds and let slivers of sunlight hit the tank at some point instead of allowing full sun. Don't want boiled betta!
 

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BTW, my betta did the same thing once there was a light over his hex! He flared the entire day and night at the sides of the tank! Previously, he was in the same tank with no light over it and he watched all the action in the room and flared at us. Hopefully, he'll figure out it's his reflection before he stresses-out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm only using the filter for water movement. The natural planted tank doesn't need a cycled filter because the plants and bacteria in the soil take care of ammonia. Also since there's not much bioload in it, it really doesn't need mechanical filtration either. Any extra fish food and poop end up feeding the plants.
 

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What a lovely tank! That is a very lucky Betta. Does the hood have an open area (it looks like it from the pictures but I'm not sure)? If it does, you could grow a forest of flowering Wisteria, Sunset Hygro and Limnophila, and the tank could be an aquarium and vase of flowers in one!

From Alex.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Java: he's calmed down now. Which is a shame cuz I wanted some more pics! :lol

Thanks Diana.

Alex: Interesting idea. :)
The top is two pieces. one houses the filter and the other the light. Given the indirect sunlight from the window and the direct sunlight in the evening, I was thinking about leaving it uncovered because during the day, the hood shades the tank (or at least it did till I added the new PC bulb). The filter is just a little powerhead with an intake strainer on it and a tray to the outflow, so I was thinking about taking it off of where it's mounted and adding a foam prefilter and trying to use it like a powerhead. dunno whether it's submersable or not tho. Also, I suspect I'd get a lot of evaporation with it uncovered and I hate having to do things to tanks all the time to keep them happy.
 

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Very beautiful.

I have a 2 gallon Betta Bowl at work which now is looking the way I have hoped for quite some time.
I hope to learn how to create another one where I do not need to do a Daily Dosage Schedule
and yet have it look as good.

I realize that means learning some new skills.
Skills which I am willing to test on small bowls ( 2 gallons or various Goldfish Bowls)

My tank at work does not have a filter on it.

Why do you need water movement?
Or do you just enjoy the wonderful relaxing sound that the water makes?

And besides a Betta, what other fish can I try in a small tank without a filter?

Being in the Northeast, I realize that I will always need a heater in my tanks.
But if I could try other fish in bowls without a filter..... That would be great.

I continually learn so much every day I am on this site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
On the water movement. The tank is full, so the water flow isn't causing enough surface agitation to make noise. I try and minimize surface agitation in my NPTs. One thing I can think of is water movement keeps a film from forming on the surface. I'd think it would also facilitate gas exchange for the plants and fish. but I agree. it would be nice not to have to have a filter at all, especially in these smaller tanks. the filter in that little bowfront really takes up a lot of room in the tank.

You might try Endler's Livebearers. I was contemplating a small herd of endler males. They don't really even need a heater unless your office temp swings or gets below 55F. or maybe a puffer. Bettas are just so easy, and personable and beautiful.
 

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Jimbo205 said:
My tank at work does not have a filter on it.

Why do you need water movement?
Or do you just enjoy the wonderful relaxing sound that the water makes?

And besides a Betta, what other fish can I try in a small tank without a filter?
QUOTE]

I've seen hobbyists keep a pair of Killifish in 2 gal bowls with nothing but Java moss. Another possibility are shrimp. The little red ones are awfully cute, don't get that big, and you can feed the offspring to your fish.

As to water movement, Miss Fishy, who doesn't have filters, etc in her tanks, brought up the excellent point that fish move the water around!

For big tanks that are 16+" high and/or 24+" long, I like a little water movement. It distributes heat and helps oxygenate the water, especially at night. Hobbyists with a small fish load get by fine without water movement in their tanks.

There are many ways to set up a pleasing tank.
 

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Film

Can't you just soak up the film (when you see it) with a paper towel or napkin?

Again, I am always learning something new every day on this site, and I love it.

Thank you all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sure. that'd work. :)
Now, you guys have me thinking about losing the filter. The betta seems fine with the current, but it's messing up his bubble nests and they come from areas with still waters. I'll bet the afternoon sun would also cause some water movement from heated water rising.

Yea, killies would work. Everglades Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma evergladei) would also work.

ok, time for an update. it's two weeks since it was set up. It's amazing how much the najas grass has grown. It pearls when the tank is getting evening sunlight. I think it's growing faster than the hornwort! I think those two plants work great for sucking up nutrients while the other plants are playing catch up. Better than duckweed, frogbit or water lettuce cuz they don't block as much light.


I pulled out most of the floaters so we could see the other plants better. Looks like everything's growing fine. You can actually see the limnophilia now and the sunset hygro is nice and pink and growing well. A few of the larger crypt leaves melted, but the rest looks very content and the chain swords are looking great! This will be the first tank I haven't had to fight to have a foreground. :lol: Now if I can find an interesting rock or piece of driftwood, it'll be set.

Front


Side


Closer up.
I think when I have to top off the limnophilia, I'll plant the tops behind the crypts. that'll be a nice background with contrasting texture and color... Should make the crypts really stand out.


 

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Ready to test theories

Tonight while doing my grocery shopping after work, I decided to check the hobby section of my 24 hour Wal*Mart SuperStore.

The good news is that they had many attractive Vases / Fish Bowls in many very interesting shapes (tall / short / wide / narrow / round / square) at prices I can afford to purchase a variety over the warm weather in our frigid northeast (Upstate NY).

Now I need help to learn and test some new skills.

My Betta Bowl (2 gallons) at the Office is doing great! I would like to try something with similar results doing something besides the Daily Dosage Schedule.

I want to put something in the bottom layer of the (Vase) tall and then a substrate that I am familiar with either Seachem Flourite or Seachem Onyx although I am willing to try something else based on recommendations.

Following the American tradition of Capitalism and encouraging businesses that we as hobbyists, environmentalists, organic gardeners and good people trust / like / enjoy / and want to reward - I would like to know which product I should purchase to try my Natural Planted Tank (I work for a financial company - that stock market thing is starting to influence my thinking).

Please keep it very simple.
I am not a biologist or a chemist and I am lucky to have time during the day to enjoy some of the posts here. But deep thought I should save for studying for my Series 7 exam which is 7 1/2 hours long and I need to take again. It needs to be a product that I can find in a store and is reliable and predictable. My father the biologist does not visit often and I do not have the luxury of him coming by to help me study the high school sub atomic particles of my dirt.

But I will let you know that I did read the Common Abbreviations used on APC while driving to work today at Noontime and re-learned some names from High School Chemistry (see - I am trying - it has only been 20 years you know).

So which do you recommend?

8) :ear: :hail: [-o< :happy: :hug: :dance: [smilie=n: :noidea: :grouphug: :ranger: :yo:
 

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Men and Vases / (Fish Bowls)

This post is for the Men.

If when you come home from shopping and happen to walk in the house with a new Fish Bowl (Vase) to test or use;

If your wife asks you if you brought home a new vase for flowers -

PAUSE - DON'T SAY A WORD - THINK - Pause again - and then THINK again -

Then say - Yes!!!!!

When the wife asks where the flowers are - PAUSE AGAIN - AGAIN THINK - and then THINK AGAIN -

Then say - " I need to get them." And again pause. If it is 11pm at night when you finished shopping - she might buy it.

BUT PAUSE AND THINK AND PAUSE AGAIN. There is a correct answer, just don't spout it out too quickly. You just have to think first to see if there is a 'correct' answer.

Whatever you do, do not tell her that you bought ANOTHER fishbowl to put in the house somewhere. THAT WOULD BE THE WRONG ANSWER.

Yes, you bought a vase for flowers for her. :whoo:

You can purchase another one at the store tomorrow to put the fish and plants in for yourself. :yawinkle:

JUST DON'T FORGET THE FLOWERS!!!! ;)

Any other positive or funny suggestions from either men or women about what to say to your spouse while pursuing your hobby is welcome and encouraged. :peace:
Married 16 years and feels like 8 months. Time flies. :smokin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
ok... it's been set up one month!! and it looks awsome!!

I pulled a BUNCH of hornwort and najas grass out today--a sandwich bag full. Here it is with no floaters. I think I'm going to prune the limnophilia and plant more behind the crypts. I think I'll also prune back the hygro. I may also see how some rotalla will do.


with some of the floaters added back


and some closer up pics






and my little manly man. :lol




I am so loving having this tank at work.

So Jimbo. any new vases to report on yet?? :)
 

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Betty, getting any work done these days?;)

The plants, the betta, the sunlight on all of them, and your photos are FANTASTIC! Man, my wimpy 1gal hex with melted crypts looks really pathetic now. I love what sunlight looks like in a NPT, and i think the fish like it too (mine seem to frolick in the area in sunlight), but I especially like seeing what a good healthy dose of sunlight does to your tank---it seems to be thriving, pearling, etc.

My 10g gets just about 30 minutes of evening light, but I have other windows with good direct light that I need to reconsider.

Jimbo, I don't know what to tell you about the soil. If you want it to be a real natural tank, you need soil and no products since the soil provides CO2 and necessary bacteria that those products won't have. I think Flagg is in New York and used Home Depot soil.?? (check his posts) so that would mean that you could trust the same thing since you're in the same area. Since you're just trying a small container, a vase, why not be brave and pick a fertilizer-free potting soil and go for it! Betty's hex is an inspiration!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm in a crunch at work, so I don't get to stare at the tank as much as I'd like, but it's sure nice to be able to take a break and watch the tank. I think I'm going to move my little 2.5 bowfront NPT up to work. I have a cambodian male betta in it who I hardly ever interact with cuz he's in the dining room here.

I'm rather surprised the crypts didn't melt. I'd had some that had gotten large potted in topsoil in the goldie tank. when I moved them into the 125 when I set it up, they melted. But they came back just fine.

Today, I planted a row of limnophilia behind the crypts and added some rotalla on the left side. I'm almost wishing I'd put the crypts in the center.

Yea, I'd move it to where it's getting more direct sunlight.
 
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