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So I am in Cairns at the moment and went to see Paul at Aquarium world, a small shop in Cairns, Australia. He has been doing planted tanks and breeding shrimp since 1982 (well he showed me his first co2 tank and that was from 1982) and knows a thing or two. I used to live in Cairns and I remember seeing his shrimp tanks around 10 years ago, all planted and running co2 and it blew my mind. I have managed to keep my obsession under wraps until the wife decided to get herself a small tank for mothers day - now the genie is out of the bottle!!

Anyway as I am in Cairns for a few days I thought I would drop by and ask Paul about my tank build. 900x400x200 mm, eheim ecco 130 filter, ONF flat one + 60 cm pendant light, ADA powersand and ADA amazonia substrate. My main question was, "Can I do this without CO2?" That is can I have moderate to high light and grow some cool plants like H'ra or Wallichii.

So anyway Paul goes all Voodoo and sells me some laterite and a packet of rotting leaves. He tells me to put this against the glass under all of the substrate and then the laterite, and then he gives me some hardwood aquarium sticks and says to put these in as well. Finally when I get home I am to find some really hard wood - I have some ironbark that the fencers left over when they did our house fence, burn it and put in some of the charcoal. Then the powersand and ADA amazonia over the top. According to the Voodoo incantation this will incubate a source of carbon dioxide for a long time to come and in such a shallow tank will allow me to go pretty high light and grow some cool plants!

So what do you think? I am going to make some youtube vids of the set up - will be interesting to see what happens either way!!

Really interested in your thoughts!! Have a great day

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Welcome to APC, this will be interesting!

The leaves and wood will produce CO2 while they decompose. Laterite has high cation exchange capacity so will help keep nutrients in the substrate. I'm not sure what role the charcoal will play. My guess is that CO2 production will decrease over time and the high light may become a problem at that point.

A siesta schedule for the lighting will help you manage the natural CO2. Looking forward to updates.
 

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How interesting. My blackworms would love the leaves and the wood. I'm a complete newbie to a NPT, but for what it's worth, snails and blackworms don't have a problem with a tank that's cycling. They seem to also take care of any algae that pops up, as long as I don't overfeed them with easy food. I don't have any fish in the tank to eat them, so they are happily out and about helping the tank cycle.
 

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My first aquarium was given to me when I was about 12. It was a 15 gallon Metaframe tank, stocked with stem plants and snails. Lighting was (probably) with a 40 watt incandescent bulb in a table lamp.
The snails multiplied and the plants grew profusely.

There were about 5 kinds of snails: I remember a physa and 2 colors of ramshorns. I kept detailed records, counting snails and egg masses on the glass.

I also siphoned material from the substrate and viewed them through a toy microscope. I was amazed at the different kinds of life that I found.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #8


So here are most of the plants in - extra to my list are some crypt petchii. I am afraid I totally goosed my timeline with the fish- I had secured them and asked for the seller to send once they got down to the last 100 (they had over 500) - which I thought would give me some time - but they sold out straight away and fish arrived two days later!! So I am doing my best with good water, cycled media in the filter (from the other tank) and water changes- all good so far no losses out of 24, so hopefully will be ok! But this was definitely not according to the carefully made plan! It was one of those things - If I didnt make the purchase, who knows when this fish will next be available..

So there are still a few outstanding plants coming in and I have to ask for the shrimp to be posted in a couple of weeks..

Some better photos when it all settles down a bit!
Happy for you to tell me how dumb I am

Thanks all

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Great looking tank! I love these paludarium style set-ups with hardscape and/or plants breaking the surface.
 

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That is a beautiful aquascape! I don't remember seeing a photo of one that was like it. One thing it isn't though is an El Natural tank. It is really going to look great when the plants get settled in.
 

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Nice looking tank.
Aerobic Bacteria consuming any organic will produce CO2, like us, expelling CO2 from our bodies.
The charcoal that you added won't produce CO2 as it's not longer organic, it's tightly bonded carbon that can't be broken down by bacteria. It's a good place for bacteria to live though.
 

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Beautiful set up, and I admire the algae on your hardscape--really! I'm trying to develop an appreciation of algae as an aesthetic feature, where appropriate.
 
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