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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This thread is the spawn of THIS thread, in which several of us discussed the difference between "natural" and "nature" and the method vs. the style.

Here, I'd like to post, and see posts of, beautiful scapes (I know...it's all a matter of opinion) that rely on Low-Tech or "El Natural" methods. I want to show hobbyists that an aesthetically pleasing aquascape is possible with even the lowest tech set-ups. I want to dispel the myth that NPT's are merely functional, that they are also capable of producing art.

Anyone is welcome to share photos/info here. Be mindful that the goal is to showcase low tech tanks and the scapes created with them.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So, I guess I'll start. Here is my latest low-tech* scape. I put the * because this is the last photo of the scape while still in a low-tech state. After the photo was taken, it started getting "enhanced" and will soon be all-out high-tech (though the substrate will not change).

As of this photo, the scape was 3 or 4 months old. Main plants are Anubias 'nana' and 'coffeefolia' with Amazon sword, Crypt. spiralis and C. retrospiralis and a foreground of S. repens.

Growth was SLOW (except the sword) and I was fortunate enough to be able to start off heavily planted (benefits of local clubs). Lighting was 4 x 39watt t-5HO (1.25 WPG) and soil is mineralized topsoil capped with misc. used left-overs from fellow hobbyists. No ferts to speak of at this point. Moderate fish load and heavy feeding.

 

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This is an old picture of my scape, The big sword, blyxa and broad leaf chain sword do most of the bio filtering I thing. This tank worked so well I had no nitrates and got GBA, trasitioning it to high tech now and removed teh big sword and now have dwarf hairgrass in that area. It used to be 2 WPG now it is 5.6 WPG, setting up C)2 and ei ferts. I have an algae problem right now, using exel instead of CO2 until iget my bubble counter, once it has grown in I paln to scale it down to low tech again to see if it works. Will get some piccies later :)
 

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Well since we're talking design and low tech I'll throw my little nano in here. I really only change the water once a week and/or top off. I haven't been dosing and the lower light level keeps the sand clean as well. The tank has been running for 5 months now and houses a few RCS. No reason this tank isn't scalable to something larger.

 

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I have two aquaria to add, so I'll describe them in separate posts.

This first one is called Hidden Spring, and you can read my journal here: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/journals/73533-el-natural-hidden-spring.html These are new pictures of the tank.

This is a wood and plants composition. There is a horizontal piece of manzanita, partially buried in the substrate, that creates a terrace. Three vertical pieces of wood extend above the surface of the water. Two are in back of the horizontal piece, and behind it on the left. The other is on the right in front.

The planting is pretty simple. A center piece red cryptocoryne is on the left of center, in front of the terrace. Two species of back ground plants fill the space behind it. A light colored foreground plant contrasts with the cryptocoryne. Anubias grows on the driftwood, and moss adds some detail.

The planting has been simplified since the tank was new. There is less moss, vallisneria has taken the place of wisteria, and two species of crypts have been removed.

The emersed wood was originally intended to be a major element of the design, but my lighting is not adequate to grow epiphytes in the air, and grow plants underwater. So the fixture is mounted below the tops of the wood. One interesting little detail that does not show up in a whole tank shot gives me a lot of pleasure. This is the little gardens of submersed and emersed moss and riccia that grow around each vertical piece of wood. This is only place I can keep riccia alive, and periodically tiny mushrooms sprout from the wood.

This tank is now about 11 months old.
 

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The second aquarium is called Tributary, and its journal is here: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...uatic-plant-club/77266-journal-tributary.html

This tank is only about 6 weeks old, so it has a long way to go. It is a stone and plants design. The stones (Texas limestone "holey rock") form a terrace on either side, separated by the tributary on the left of center. Substrate in the back on the terraces is dark gray and is intended to be completely covered by foliage. Substrate in the front is light colored, and at least part of it will be visible when the design is complete.

This design is deliberately more open and light than Hidden Spring, with lots of negative space in the middle. Hidden Spring has been described as "shady and jungly", and Tributary is supposed to be the opposite, although not to the extreme of iwagumi. Right now I am working on how to achieve occult balance between the two sides, and how make the negative space interesting without filling it up with "stuff"--that would defeat the purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dabrybry, as long you mean baby Apistos, that's fine. But I expect a full courtship and formal proposal, and the Apistos must vow to love and cherish...'til death do they part. ;)

House, I think your nano is what we were trying to describe to mudboots earlier.

Great low-tech aquascapes guys!!! Keep them coming.

-Dave
 

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Dabrybry, as long you mean baby Apistos, that's fine. But I expect a full courtship and formal proposal, and the Apistos must vow to love and cherish...'til death do they part. ;)
And a BIG ring from Jared.

It's a pleasure to see the other aquaria--more, more!
 

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I'll start my 6 cents worth on one that did NOT work.

This is a 20 gallon NPT and was my first ever attempt at planted tanks. I attempted El Natural with a deep substrate, about 4 inches on average. It worked for a while and then everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, died overnight. Here are two pics, then my take on what likely went wrong.

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The pea soup obviously was not the happy point, but it started to clear nicely. Plants were slow however. Looking back, I am pretty certain that the bottom line was that I lacked the initial root mass in this tank to start with using such a deep substrate and high lighting. I lacked any floaters to compensate for nutrient/light imbalance as well (thus the pea soup) and the plants were all short, so there was a large amount of open water while using a tremendously rich substrate (fertilized yard soil). Without getting too deep into chemistry and ecology, the result was death and unhappiness, but also a learning experience that lead to my next few tanks, two of which I 'll post in this thread.
 

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This one was my second ever attempt at p[lanted tanks, and is also an example of Natural "method" using the El Natural to the fullest, with extremely limited water movement most of the time, and zero dosing of anything chemically, relying on the feedings to to the job. It took several months of green water and wondering why I ever set it up to begin with, but patience pad off once the system settled in, for after that this became a nearly zero-maintence, algae-free joy.

A moderate-to-heavy fish load with many other critters (worms, snails, whatever) helped each other to make it work. The tank started off weak, but came on strong once the plants got going. The substrate at 2 inch avg. depth proved almost too little for the nutrient hog lotus and swords, but kept them from out-competing the stem plants, which made the tank feel a bit more "scaped" to me. Overall my favorite tank as I had lots of options to play with, though I had to learn the hard way not to get carried away in moving plants around, and what lighting was too much vs not enough using T-5 HO.

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This is my picotope that davemonkey referred to earlier. It's "style" is nothing, as I simply set it up to look at from the desk and like the particular species that are planted, but again, the "method" is El Natural.

1.5" substrate average, 9 watts of old 50/50 lighting, flora is Crypt. willisii x lucens 'bronze' and Staurogyne 'Porto Vehlo' with a touch of Anubias 'nana' and some Fissidens in the shaded areas.

This tank is failrly old. What made it work out to be a zero-maintence tank (aside from adding water monthly at the water change) was starting with lots of floaters and critters and slowly thinning them out until the tank was well established. But in the end I have noticed that every low-maintenence tank has something in common; they are well established, or aged. And for that matter every well seasoned tank I've seen seems to be relatively low maintenence, so perhaps as Niko has stated earlier, this is the whole point.

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I will eventually "tech-up" this tank, but for now I like the simplicity of not dealing with it. The substrate feeds the plants mostly, as it is spiked with slow-release fertz at a low rate.
 

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Mudboots, I notice that your second tank is in a window, and could get a lot of natural light. My very first Walstad experiments were natural light shrimp bowls, and I have one 10 gallon set up that gets sunlight. BTW, your tank is gorgeous!

I find this to be a mixed blessing. Natural light is free, and can be very intense to allow the growth of high-light plants. But you can't control it very well, and this can make it difficult to keep everything balanced. I have come to prefer 100% artificial light.

What are everyone's thoughts on this?
 

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In aquariums I have come to prefer 100% artificial light, but on my semi-emmersed tank (sort of a paludarium I guess; the 55 I took from Dave) I prefer some indirect sunlight. But I'm in a shaded spot and the window is facing NNE, so not too much of an issue like others may have.
 

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Nice tanks. I love the Picotope!!

i dont think it needs a rescape... looks great as it is; maybe just add some shrimp or fish and hardscape/driftwood, or some taller plants on the back (like e. vivipara). But i dont know what it is a Biotope of, so maybe it'll stop being a biotope.

Right now i have 3 low tech tanks. I have one 35G to post later today (waiting for a friend to bring her camera) cause i dont wanna post cel phone pics.

Also the 200G is almost ready as i've rescaped it recently. Have a little problem with MTS bringing up soil from underneath the sand... right now its cloudy because of that. I'm on a snail hunting mission right now; so it may have to wait a week or so for it to look ok.

Have a 25G as well, it still doesnt have the definitive fish... i'm thinking about it still. So i will update this thread as the tanks get to a look.

The best thing about the tanks posted on this thread is that they do have a composition. Its still somewhat rudimentary compared to the best guys... but its a start; also Mudboots' 125G has great colors and overall health, very little to envy the top tanks regarding that.

Keep em coming.
 

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Here's some quick pics of one of my tanks
36 Gal - 36" x 12" x 20"H

Pretty much no maintenance... only change DIY CO2 every 2 weeks... top evap... no water changes in over 5 months (not even after large trims). No Excel.. no dosing.....

I have only recentely added the Cabomba and Crypt parva, the rest has been there for a couple of months. It is still not fully grown to what i want, and i have just done a major trim last week... but i will post some better produced pics when the tank gets closer to what i have in mind. As well as pics of my other tanks....

These are simple pics, no post-editing, no tank-prep, just simple point and click.

Cheers!

PS - I hate the background, but i just havent gotten around to changing it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You guys have some really great low tech tanks!!
 
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