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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A short introduction first (I've bolded questions so you can find them more easily):

I've been keeping fishes since I was 8 (started by accidentally breeding betas in a 1 gal hexagon {followed by raising all the babies to adulthood}) and I am a fan of simplicity and low tech (but fancy fish). One of my favorite tanks of my youth was a 15 gallon(long) that housed zebra danios which decided to breed after months of no water changes, very low light and near neglectful feeding. The secret? Lots of java moss, drift wood, and having a functioning ecosystem. I've been mostly out of the hobby during my years of college (ram cichlids don't like 6 hr drives every few months), but now I am planning a glorious reentry.

What I want to do is set up an ultra-low tech tank. The only electric device I want on my tank is a light (Unless I can get a window, that is). No heater, no filter. Lots of hardy, undemanding plants that still look good. I like crypts and sagittaria, and they've done well for me in the past. Any other suggestions?

For substrate, I'm currently considering either my mom's method (basically a lot of plants, an inch of gravel, and encouraging a thick layer of mulm) or the soil-under-sand method. Since my mom's farm is organic, and there are areas that haven't been cultivated in 15 years (includes a creek), do you think that it'd be alright to use soil from there? Would it be a bad idea to get soil from around/in the creek, and then cook it in the oven to make sure I'm not introducing anything that would hurt my fish?

Now my main question is this: what fish would you put in a room temperature tank? Temp. would probably range between 69 and 75, but may occasionally dip as low as 65 (though I doubt it). I've had good experiences with zebra danios, but I'd like something a little bigger, perhaps, and more colorful. Apparently killis adapt well to the cooler tanks. Any other suggestions?

I don't know yet how big the tank will be (somewhere between 10 and 50 gallons...;)) so a wide range of size would be good.

Thanks!
 

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What I want to do is set up an ultra-low tech tank. The only electric device I want on my tank is a light (Unless I can get a window, that is). No heater, no filter. Lots of hardy, undemanding plants that still look good. I like crypts and sagittaria, and they've done well for me in the past. Any other suggestions?

For substrate, I'm currently considering either my mom's method (basically a lot of plants, an inch of gravel, and encouraging a thick layer of mulm) or the soil-under-sand method. Since my mom's farm is organic, and there are areas that haven't been cultivated in 15 years (includes a creek), do you think that it'd be alright to use soil from there? Would it be a bad idea to get soil from around/in the creek, and then cook it in the oven to make sure I'm not introducing anything that would hurt my fish?

Now my main question is this: what fish would you put in a room temperature tank? Temp. would probably range between 69 and 75, but may occasionally dip as low as 65 (though I doubt it). I've had good experiences with zebra danios, but I'd like something a little bigger, perhaps, and more colorful. Apparently killis adapt well to the cooler tanks. Any other suggestions?
QUOTE]

White Cloud minnows and Elodea species like the cooler temperatures.

For substrate, your Mom's organic soil sounds fine. No need to cook it. Soil bacteria (and other microbes) are welcome in NPTs (Natural Planted Tanks).

Seems to me that you have plenty of options. You just need to do more research on suitable fish and plants. Consulting a book or two never hurts.
 

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Here is an excellent book to read if you want to do a natural tank:

Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist, Second Edition by Diana L. Walstad (Author)

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
So if I take sand/gravel/soil directly from the creek (which has salmon, freshwater lampreys, and catfish of some sort) you wouldn't be worried about disease organisms? It also has snails, and several types of tiny insects that I would not like to introduce. I think that I'll screen it, but I'm still worried about small eggs, encysted parasites, and other things that might come through.

I have done a lot of research (it's what I do for study breaks), it's just that besides the white cloud mountain minnows, danios, and feeder guppies, I haven't kept any other cool water type species, and I like hearing other peoples experiences and opinions. There's only so much that I can absorb from a book, and they often don't go into the depth that a passionate hobbyist would about their favorite fish. Though I have to say that my favorite source for fish information is http://fish.mongabay.com/, it just has so much easily accessible information.
 

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You might consider North American native fish for an unheated tank. Sunfish are pretty spectacular and have interesting breeding behavior. There are even pygmy sunfish that grow around 1
1.5". Native killies like the Bluefin killifish, Florida flagfish are quite colorful. There are also native livebearers, darters, shiners, etc. The Native Fish Conservancey www.nativefish.org would be a good place to start if you want to find out more about keeping natives in aquariums.
 

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More fish for cool water tanks- Do some research to be sure they will fit with whatever size tank you get:

Dojo Loach
American Flagfish
Goldfish (AKA weedeaters)
Rosy Barbs
Hillstream Loaches (Specialized tank- see www.loaches.com)
Darters/Hummingbird Tetras and similar names. Great with Hillstream Loaches. (not all handle as cool water as you are thinking)
Pepper Cories and a few other species will handle temps into the upper 60s. I am not sure about 65, though.
Zebra Danios are the best, but other Danios can also handle cool water, but maybe not as low as you think it could get.
Blind Cave Tetra
White Cloud Minnows

Another very good reference for fish is the Baensch series. Start with the index. This is a whole book in itself that is linked to 5 more volumes that have a lot more fish information. The index is a great place to start. I have found these books on Amazon for $20+ (index is usually a bit more)
 

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I wouldn't go with Hillstream Loaches as they like fast flowing water. Other than that all of the suggestions you have gotten so far have been great. I keep cardinal tetras in a room temp tank so you might consider them.
 

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Cards are a warmer water fish, if you like that look, Neons are slightly cooler water fish, but neither are really suggested for a room temperature tank. Not saying it won't work, but if you think the tank may get into the mid or upper 60s I would not use either of these.

I tried to keep the list simple, and with the more commonly available fish.
There may very well be other fish available in your area that will work. What fish have you seen in the stores than are not commonly available?
 

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You might consider North American native fish for an unheated tank. Sunfish are pretty spectacular and have interesting breeding behavior.
Sunfish are rather beautiful in my opinion. I've already considered a tank of sunfish in the future...

ecologystudent said:
So if I take sand/gravel/soil directly from the creek (which has salmon, freshwater lampreys, and catfish of some sort) you wouldn't be worried about disease organisms? It also has snails, and several types of tiny insects that I would not like to introduce. I think that I'll screen it, but I'm still worried about small eggs, encysted parasites, and other things that might come through.
I wouldn't worry to much... Just try and keep your fish healthy and they will do the rest. You could also consider a UV sterilizer if you are paranoid enough. I know you want to avoid electrical/mechanical stuff, but you could run it for a startup period before you add fish to clear out any free floating stuff, and then remove it before adding fish. And then you would have it on hand in case you ever had a disease outbreak.
 
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