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12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! I'm new here:

I’ve had aquariums in the distant past and in December 2021 I set up a new one. My goals are to try to create an ecosystem which is as sustainable and as close to nature as possible, and to create something “beautiful” and fascinating to look at.

I got a 54 liter (14 gallon) “starter set” from a well-known brand. The light is on for a constant 13 hours (!) a day. The heater is set to 20 C / 68 F. In future I may try switching the heater even lower or take it out completely. I haven’t installed the filter or an air stone or CO2.

On Day One I put in the garden dirt and gravel and I completely filled the tank with a mixture of the traditional, cheap and hardy aquarium plants. [See photo – I think I’ve got the Latin names of most of them, but the experts in APC will recognize them immediately.]

On Day Two the water was already perfectly clear (and has been since) and I put in guppies, Sakura red cherry shrimps, ramshorn snails and bladder snails. It appears that no “cycling” was necessary!

In the first 10 weeks all plants and animals have been growing and multiplying very well! I’ve basically had no problems with algae at all, except for some odd threads of green hair algae, which I pick out sometimes if I feel like it.

I have never tested the water quality and have never bought any “chemicals” to “correct problems”.

I aim to do a water change around twice a month with one bucket of tap water (i.e. 24 buckets a year). This is to reflect the rain and run-off of water into a natural pond.

The guppy population has so far increased from 8 to around 35 fish (can’t count all the small ones precisely). I currently feed them various normal fish flakes every third day – just enough so that it is eaten in 30 seconds and none falls to the bottom. I’m looking to decrease this even further, or switch to more natural food sources, which is the purpose of Aquarium Number Two:

In February 2022 I set up a 4 liter (1 gallon) tank on the window sill, where it is driven only by sunlight. This is to culture daphnia and other live food for the guppies in the main aquarium. I put in garden dirt, gravel, a mixture of my plants, dried leaves, daphnia, tubifex worms (they look cute!), ramshorns, bladder snails and red cherry shrimps – i.e. the same as in the main tank, only no fish. [See photo – with good resolution you can see around 100 big fat daphnia bobbing in the sunlight.]

In the first 2 weeks the daphnia and the other life forms have been growing and multiplying very well!

Every day or two I take a couple of cups of water from this tank (with daphnia for the guppies) and put it in the main aquarium, and take a couple of cups of water from the main tank and put it in here.

In the first 2 weeks I’ve fed the tank some yeast (once) and some cucumber (twice), but I am intending to move to an even more “natural pond diet” (stuff which naturally falls into a pond), such as dried leaves and rotten wood, insects and similar small creatures, seeds and nuts, berries and pieces of fruit.

… So I’m wondering how my experiment will turn out in the long run, and hopefully it will continue to give me as much pleasure as it has in the first 10 weeks!

Plant Water Plant community Vertebrate Green
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35 Posts
Great tank! I saw your link in my other post, and yep thats pretty much what I’m going for…a nice thick forest of plants and a balanced ecosystem. I haven't tested my water quality either. I figured if I planted heavily enough, and the plants are doing well with no algae problems then the water is probably fine. The cheap ghost shrimp I put in their at the beginning have thrived, so last night I added 5 Serpae Tetras and they have aclimated well. No signs of distress like I would have seen by now if there was a water problem. I have found the ghost shrimp to be pretty cool critters. They are very active, and I saw one last night stand his ground against one of the Tetras. The tank is still young, but I feel like I have it where I want it, and can watch it evolve now. Thanks for posting.

12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Update after half a year

I thought after half a year it was time that I gave an update on my “experiment” with four biotopes. Yes, I no longer call them “aquariums” or “tanks”, but “biotopes", and I now have four, not just two!

In summary, the four biotopes are stable and all life forms are growing and reproducing nicely, and have had no problems with the change from average winter temperatures of 20 degrees C to average summer temperatures of 25 degrees C.

#1) The original 60 liter tank

This still has a lovely “jungle look”. No problems with algae whatever, and any plant remains from all four biotopes go on the “floating compost heap” in the back left corner of the tank. Only one of the original eight guppies is still alive, but there are around 20 of the second generation and so far I've seen around 10 of the third generation. The red cherry shrimp are multiplying nicely too. There is no filteration, aeration or CO2, I feed the fish once a week and change 10% of the the water every two week:

Plant Plant community Rectangle Vegetation Terrestrial plant

#2) The 4 liter tank on the window sill

The red cherry shrimp population has done very nicely here too. I took the lid off so that the Ludwigia repens, Hygrophila corymbosa and Hydrocotyle leucocephala could grow up out of the tank. You can see in the photo that the Brazilian pennywort has trailed down more than one meter and is now spreading across the carpet of my workroom:

Plant Houseplant Flowerpot Interior design Wood


#3) The glass fruit bowl standing in our guest room

My wife especially likes this pretty one! The glass fruit bowl (standing on a metal stand) is planted with three outdoor pond plants (Lythrum salicaria, Valeriana officinalis and Presila cervina). The purple loosestrife has grown up around one meter, blossomed earlier in the year, and in the photo you can see some smaller second blossoms:

Plant Flower Houseplant Flowerpot Wood

#4) The 10 litre nano cube next to my computer

I planted this with the outdoor pond plants Iris pseudoacoris and Pontederia cordata “Alba”. The red cherry shrimps in there love it! They keep distracting me from my computer screen. As you can see in the photo, the pickerelweed is exploding in all directions and, as the yellow iris grew over one meter high, I cut some of the tops off. Both plants grow about 5 centimeters a day.

Note that the “window color” mobile of two butterflies and two flowers hanging above the biotope, which is indeed very appropriate for the biotope, have in fact been hanging there for the last twenty years since my daughter was in primary school. The Led Zepplin poster from the Empire Pool, Wembley, London (all seats 75 pence) is the classic poster from 1971 and even for me that was too long ago:

Plant Property Azure Picture frame Building
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