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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here my tanks with substrate with soil (soil for succulents, bio-humus, zeocarb and lava mixture):

240 litres:



Plants behind tank - are it's filtration system. It is "materialized organic" from more yhan 2 years of it's work.
Last foto of the same tank:



One more tank with platy in process:

Not far from starting:



Last foto:







I'm having aquariums since 1969. Using soil (or humous) as a substrate component for plants more than 30 years. The smallest tank with soil I have now - a year-old 7 l. tank with formosoes & cherry shrimp (formoes are breeding there and I have to found hands for youngsters from time to time).

It is not difficult and does not dangerous. It is known since 19 century. But it;s not widely spread.
What do You think, why so?
:)
 

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Eugene, your tanks are gorgeous! I love the nano underneath.

It's funny how old is new again. How years ago what was normal (and common sense) kind of disappeared - replaced by 'better' and 'higher tech' solutions (planting in gravels and inert substrates vs. dirt!) Such is life and human nature.

I would love to hear more about your tanks and what you have learned in your years of aquarium keeping about aquatic plants, soil substrates, lighting and fertilizing.

Thanks for posting.

Cheers
Ci
 

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Your tanks are beautiful and so healthy. I also like how you have house plants behind the tank, it adds to the look.
 

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There is a rather large plant in the platy tank that seems to be floating near the surface. Is that Stratiotes aloides
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, the large plant - Stratiotes aloides. Tank with platy - 100 l triangular (or we call such tanks "corner") and Str.Al is in the corner, growing to front.
Tank is rather young - about 2 year old and there are only about 3 l of soil-containing substrate in it.
Upper gravel is neutral.
Stratiotes aloides is multypurpose plant: it's decorative, it's fast-growing "anti-algae" and also it is the best "non-stop working Fe water test". If there is the lack of Fe in water of the tank - it show it in the tank first.
Soil usially give a good chance to forget about Fe problem, but for some plants Fe in water also important. And this fast-growing "'Live test" is one of them.
The filtration system in the tank is very simple, there are nobody know how many platies ("home-made assorted mix", majority of them where born there), few Endlers (I started them not long ago), few otocats (were spawning, but few survive), few panda-cats and numbers of cherry-shrimp - they started from 15 two years ago and it seems that there are hundred or more now...

In the 240 l tank "plants behind" is not "only for design". It is a main part of nature-like filtration system: they are living in box with gravel. The aquarium water goes through the box and returns back in tank.

Here some photo how it was in the beggining:



 

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Yep, like your own little Marsh that filters the water! Very cool. Is there a little pump or something that is pushing the water through it or is it a natural siphon?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
There is a pump with pre-filter (internal filter) 1 200 liter per hour (you can see the black box of internal filter on foto in the right corner). The waterfly from the pump is divided (it's "Lifeteck" model with two emission ways). Half of water after prefilter goes by tube strait to the opposite side of aquarium. Half goes to filter-box with plants. There are also small tube which can give the tiny stream to CO2 reactor, but it is not in use now: it's a lot jf fish in the tank (it was period when there were few and I used CO2 from syrop).
The box contains about 15 liters of pure gravel mixed with small pieces of gritstone, and you can see what "forest" is growing in it.

And my question is what you mean as "natural syphon"? Is it aerolift or passive filtration (roots in water)?
 

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... it's a lot jf fish in the tank (it was period when there were few and I used CO2 from syrop).
The box contains about 15 liters of pure gravel mixed with small pieces of gritstone, and you can see what "forest" is growing in it.

And my question is what you mean as "natural syphon"? Is it aerolift or passive filtration (roots in water)?
I think the question is, how does the water return from your plant filter/refugium back to the main tank? Do you use a passive siphon tube, an overflow method, or do you actively pump it back in? From your latest picture, I'm guessing that is an overflow tube drilled into the refugium on the left upper side. With only a gravel/gritstone substrate, you are getting some impressive growth back their just from recycling the fish waste hydroponically.

Now for my question, what are jf fish? :D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok. :) Now understand. :)
"Jf fish" means that in Russian keybord Russian "O" and English "J" are on same button. :)
Is it OK? :)

About overflow.

There are passive overflow, you can see:



The tube downstairs - the main overflow. The upper tube - reserve overflow. It MUST be dry till everything is OK with filter.
Water in it - the signal for washing of the main overflow (may be) or, typically - the whole system.

I hadn't seen water there since establishing system in the tank. Usially it can work in decorative tank for years.
Using such system in breeding tanks (for a lots of fry and very good feeding and very heavy density) requers taking care or cleaning subsrate one or two times per year.
 

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Stratiotes aloides is multypurpose plant: it's decorative, it's fast-growing "anti-algae" and also it is the best "non-stop working Fe water test". If there is the lack of Fe in water of the tank - it show it in the tank first.
Soil usially give a good chance to forget about Fe problem, but for some plants Fe in water also important. And this fast-growing "'Live test" is one of them.
Stratoites looks like an interesting and useful plant. I don't think it is available in the United States, and I have never heard of anybody in the U.S. having it. Thanks for the information about it.
 
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