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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yes, I'm new to this forum. I'm not new to biology. I have the world's saddest marimo ball in a chromatography chamber on my desk and need to rehome it. So I'm torn between trying to change that tiny setup or going a bit bigger with a 40 breeder. All of it is really limited by my anxiety over getting started. I'm sitting on my couch, looking at THE BOOK, which I've read much of. Still hung up. So... I know this is a bit lame, but do any of the long-termers here have other posts or articles I can read?

Does anyone feel like jumping in with a complete narb? Thanks.
 

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Welcome to APC! Get you hands wet with a Walstad shrimp bowl or two or three. That's what I did over 10 years ago, and it quickly gave me the confidence to do a larger tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here's Ms. Walstad's article on shrimp bowls, which is a good reference to keep on hand, even when you expand to a larger setup: Small Shrimp Tanks. Like Michael said, starting small is a good way to go - cheaper, easier to play around with the setup, learn what plants you like, etc.
Thank you for the link. I have read the article, but appreciate both of you suggesting it as a starting place. I think I need to sit down and take some notes on cycling and the insane hobby nomenclature for plants. But I'm going to consider doing a bowl before committing to a larger tank.

Diana did what a true expert would do, connect deep foundations into elegant solutions. Expertise comes from education or long experience or a combination of the two. My angst comes from having too much peripheral education and experience, but wanting to know everything before committing. The ridiculous bit is that most people will read those 9 pages, watch a YouTube video, and slap together 10 bowls without a second thought.

Also, I've learned more in an hour on this forum than in several weeks on dedicated FB groups. Thanks!
 

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Yeah, this forum is an insanely useful resource, it's been so helpful to me as well.

I understand the hesitation - I was in the same boat of just doing as much research as I can before jumping in. But at some point, getting the practical experience of setting up and managing the tank physically will be the best way to learn. Especially if it's a bowl, the stakes are very low, basically just however much the plants cost (you could even leave out shrimp if you're hesitant about hurting them). Even if it fails spectacularly, you'll learn a ton of stuff for the next one. And the reassurance of seeing things working is a huge driver towards trying new things.

I think I need to sit down and take some notes on cycling and the insane hobby nomenclature for plants.
For cycling, just make sure you have some way to test your water. Cycling is different in a Walstad than how it's usually described online - we don't really use the bacteria to cycle much. For plants - yeah the names are all very overwhelming for me and probably just about anyone who hasn't memorized them. Maybe just pick a handful of easy starting plants and try it out. I'm planning on setting up a bowl soon, and I think I'll go with dwarf sag, cryptocoryne wendtii, some small-ish floating plant, and maybe one other type. I'm sure people would have tons of other suggestions too.

I guess disclaimer that I've only been doing Walstad for like 1.5 years, so there's plenty of others with waaaay more experience than me :) But just keep in mind that you'll have the most fun once you get started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
For plants - yeah the names are all very overwhelming for me and probably just about anyone who hasn't memorized them. Maybe just pick a handful of easy starting plants and try it out. I'm planning on setting up a bowl soon, and I think I'll go with dwarf sag, cryptocoryne wendtii, some small-ish floating plant, and maybe one other type. I'm sure people would have tons of other suggestions too.
What I'd give for some binomials! Although I know what you're talking about with your mentions, Cryptocoryne wendtii especially :). I did pick up a small 1 gallon aquarium today so my Aegagropila linnaei might not be the saddest thing on the planet soon.

Thank you for your input!
 

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We love binomials! Before the switch to the new format, the Plant Finder was easy to search for all sorts of criteria, but that function was lost. I am still complaining about it to APC Admin/Community Management Team/VS/Criket or whatever they are calling themselves now. You can still do a clumsy search on the Plant Finder forum.
 

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Hello, welcome to the forums and the NPT hobby! My first NPT was setup in October 2019 and still doing well. I have relatively little experience, but I’m trying to keep it systematic. I will keep my input focused to what I‘d have liked to know earlier, but since I am working with small tanks (15L, 4L, 10L, 60L) mistakes have been easy to deal with.


Regarding fast growing plants
  • Which plants do better, grow faster etc will be different from what people on the net say, your friends and neighbours etc, hopefully not very different between your own future tanks! Do a little research to see which “easy plants” are locally available and what their needs are. Choose some you like the looks of and be prepared they might grow to a different shape of what you saw when you bought them! Hygrophilla Difformis did this in my case...
  • Plants that are labeled “very fast growing” grow at very different rates. Do not be surprised.

Regarding light and plant placement
  • Different plants have different needs. Arranging them according to their needs is a good idea. The shade of green can guide you here, for example most anubias and your marimo don’t need much light, so dark green plants might do better in darker areas of your tank. I mean placing darker plants at darker areas, light green plants in brighter areas. This also gives livestock the opportunity to find somewhere to hide in darker place. Red plants are a different story, they need the MOST light, so if introduced to your tank, they will need to be placed accordingly.
  • It might be preferred to have a dimmable light. Whether purchased or DIY, it will help you keep the nutrient-light-co2 balance in check easier. That results in algae prevention too.

Regarding aesthetics and plant placement
  • Color/tonality is a way to achieve variety (different shades of green), foliage shape and stem thickness are others. That can help your aquascape be interesting rather than monotonous.
  • Arrangement of stem plans is easy, but for other types of plants its not. Cryptocorynes will eventually grow in unexpected areas of your tank. They are good for the substrate, but they mess with the scape. Saggitaria Subulata behaves similarly in my latest tank. Aquascaping scissors will be in order, desk scissors aren’t convenient in the long run. No-name inox scissors will do the trick, so choose whatever you like.
  • Tall and bushy plants can hide your equipment, for example the heater. Those will go at the rear and medium or small ones in front of them. Placing small plants at the midground of your tank will make the taller plants look more impressive. Additionally it helps keep empty swimming space for the fish. Otherwise you might end up with a crowded jungle which tends to become boring over time.

Regarding measuring variables
  • NH3/4 is toxic, NO2 is toxic. Those are the top priority to keep in check before and after adding fish. They can also be a measure of how heavily you can stock a tank, apart from a shift in fish behaviour (aggression). Not all measuring kits are the same. Some require vigorous shaking the testing tube which gets boring fast, so do a research before you buy. For me API NH3/4 is fine, HS Aqua NO2 and NH3/4 are fine too. Haven’t compared their accuracy to others but I tend to look for consistency, not for on-paper ideal values.
  • pH: All planted tanks I have (apart from the one with added CO2), give a reading of a high ph, 7,4 or 7,6 and my kit does not measure beyond that. Shrimp, snails and fish all do fine.
  • gH, kH aim for stability, not target values. That will be tricky in a small tank, unless you are cautious with the volume percentage during waterchanges.
  • Fe: I almost feel that I was tricked/convinced to buy this one by the aquarium store owner. I’ve not used it in months and my Ludwigia Palustris is doing fine…
  • TDS meter: a waste of money for a beginner. Perhaps if you use RO water and mineralize it could be useful, but I use treated tap water with good results.

Regarding CO2
  • In case you decide to introduce red plants, or like to have a constant reading of you pH (not so important?) you can get a drop checker. A green color between marimo and microsorum is fine. No need to measure ph and kh all the time.
  • In case you want to boost the available CO2 further than a 5-4-4 siesta regimen can, the sugar yeast recipe can do the trick. If you’ve made bread before you know the importance of the right temperature for the yeast! If not, make sure the water in the beverage bottle is between 33-36(Celsius) when adding the yeast (I measure the temperature before funnelling the water in the bottle). This way you can get CO2 via the airstone in less than 30mins! Yes, admittedly that’s not a true NPT, but it works great for my 60L tank and holds for a little more than a month.

Perhaps I wrote too much!


Enjoy your tanks, post here if you need anything and feel safe to learn from any “mistakes”. You won’t be able to prevent anything, or know everything in advance, so have a good time looking at the ecosystem you create!





PS: now that I’ve written all these, I just noticed this is a 2 month old thread…o_O

EDIT: corrected some typos
 

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Hello, welcome to the forums and the NPT hobby! My first NPT was setup in October 2019 and still doing well. I have relatively little experience, but I’m trying to keep it systematic. I will keep my input focused to what I‘d have liked to know earlier, but since I am working with small tanks (15L, 4L, 10L, 60L) mistakes have been easy to deal with.


Regarding fast growing plants
  • Which plants do better, grow faster etc will be different from what people on the net say, your friends and neighbours etc, hopefully not very different between your own future tanks! Do a little research to see which “easy plants” are locally available and what their needs are. Choose some you like the looks of and be prepared they might grow to a different shape of what you saw what you bought them! Hygrophilla Difformis did this in my case...
  • Plants that are labeled “very fast growing” grow at very different rates. Do not be surprised.

Regarding light and plant placement
  • Different plants have different needs. Arranging them according to their needs is a good idea. The shade of green can guide you here, for example most anubias and your marimo don’t need much light, so dark green plants might do better in darker areas of your tank. I mean placing darker plants at darker areas, light green plants in brighter areas. This also gives livestock the opportunity to find somewhere to hide in darker place. Red plants are a different story, they need the MOST light, so if introduced to your tank, they will need to be placed accordingly.
  • It might be preferred to have a dimmable light. Whether purchased or DIY, it will help you keep the nutrient-light-co2 balance in check easier. That results in algae prevention too.

Regarding aesthetics and plant placement
  • Color/tonality is a way to achieve variety (different shades of green), foliage shape and stem thickness are others. That can help your aquascape be interesting rather than monotonous.
  • Arrangement of stem plans is easy, but for other types of plants its not. Cryptocorynes will eventually grow in unexpected areas of your tank. They are good for the substrate, but they mess with the scape. Saggitaria Subulata behaves similarly in my latest tank. Aquascaping scissors will be in order, desk scissors aren’t convenient in the long run. No-name inox scissors will do the trick, so choose whatever you like.
  • Tall and bushy plants can hide your equipment, for example the heater. Those will go at the rear and medium or small ones in front of them. Placing small plants at the midground of your tank will make the taller plants look more impressive. Additionally it helps keep empty swimming space for the fish. Otherwise you might end up with a crowded jungle which tends to bet boring over time.

Regarding measuring variables
  • NH3/4 is toxic, NO2 is toxic. Those are the top priority to keep in check before and after adding fish. They can also be a measure of how heavily you can stock a tank, apart from a shift in fish behaviour (aggression). Not all measuring kits are the same. Some require vigorous shaking the testing tube which gets boring fast, so do a research before you buy. For me API NH3/4 is fine, HS Aqua NO2 and NH3/4 are fine too. Haven’t compared their accuracy to others but I tend to look for consistency, not for on-paper ideal values.
  • pH: All planted tanks I have (apart from the one with added CO2), give a reading of a high ph, 7,4 or 7,6 and my kit does not measure beyond that. Shrimp, snails and fish all do fine.
  • gH, kH aim for stability, not target values. That will be tricky in a small tank, unless you are cautious with the volume percentage during waterchanges.
  • Fe: I almost feel that I was tricked/convinced to buy this one by the aquarium store owner. I’ve not used it in months and my Ludwigia Palustris is doing fine…
  • TDS meter: a waste of money for a beginner. Perhaps if you use RO water and mineralize it could be useful, but I use treated tap water with good results.

Regarding CO2
  • In case you decide to introduce red plants, or like to have a constant reading of you pH (not so important?) you can get a drop checker. A green color between marimo and microsorum is fine. No need to measure ph and kh all the time.
  • In case you want to boost the available CO2 further than a 5-4-4 siesta regimen can, the sugar yeast recipe can do the trick. If you’ve made bread before you know the importance of the right temperature for the yeast! If not, make sure the water in the beverage bottle is between 33-36(Celsius) when adding the yeast (I measure the temperature before funnelling the water in the bottle). This way you can get CO2 via the airstone in less than 30mins! Yes, admittedly that’s not a true NPT, but it works great for my 60L tank and holds for a little more than a month.

Perhaps I wrote too much!


Enjoy your tanks, post here if you need anything and feel safe to learn from any “mistakes”. You won’t be able to prevent anything, or know everything in advance, so have a good time looking at the ecosystem you create!





PS: now that I’ve written all these, I just noticed this is a 2 month old thread…o_O
Very good work zahtar! Thank you for this contribution.
 

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thank you for your kind comment, Plantfan! I hope it helps someone! Always willing to further elaborate...
 
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