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Old 03-18-2012, 02:02 AM   #1 
ao
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The science of a self sustaining tank?

Hi all,

I need someone to explain the more scoentific side of things to me, and the chemical reactions that are going on in my 1 gallon tank.

As my betta is sick and in a quarantine jar, Ive been experimenting with his vacant 1gallon, as I know that I will be out of the country for a month soon, I wanted to prepare the tank to be as self sufficient as possible. not wanting to experiment with bettas, i bought two feeder rosy reds (figuring that Id be doing them a favor and saving them from being eaten) and used them as my ammonia source. My challenge was to have a barebottom planted tank work.

Plants in this tanks are
1 potted anubias
a couple strands of creeping charlie (forgot scientific name)
5 5-7in strands of elodeas
1 banana lily
1 stray java fern leaf that came with a ghost shrimp (is now sprouting daughter plants)

I have a table lamp on 12 hours a day which supply my other plants with light in the winter moths

there is also a ramshorn snail( probably wont last too long because of slightly acidic PH and two trumpet snails that came with a plant but seems to have dissappeared a few days ago.

this tank has now been on its own for about 2 weeks, Ive even been feeding the fish (althought they seem to do quite well snacking off whatever was in the tank)
one fish that came with a slight tail rot seems completely healthy now, leading me to believe that the water params are all good. The only thing I've done to the tank is to turkey baster out the fish's waste once every few days and top up iny amounts of water to even out what the turkey baster took out.

As I do not have any test kits(being too poor and all) can someone tell me
1. why the system is working at this point in time
2. what might cause its failure somewhere down the line
3. how I can improve the current set up?

thanks!


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Old 03-18-2012, 07:35 PM   #2 
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Unfortunately, without a test kit you don't know what's happening. Whilst the levels of ammonia may be less than they were in the shop (enough to allow the rosy red's tail to heal), they may still be too high for your betta. Since that one gallon with two rosy reds and those snails is going to be very overstocked, it's not really an easy thing to determine. The only thing that has a similar bioload to a betta is another betta.

By the way, you may run in to problems, as rosy reds are coldwater and bettas are not. The change in temperature when you remove the minnows and replace the betta may shock your plants, so do it slowly.

If you want to make your system work long-term, you are going to need more fast growers. I suggest more anubias, hornwort, wisteria, lacefern and duckweed. Java fern and anubias grow too slowly to suck up sufficient amounts of ammonia. However, you are also going to need someone to trim the plants so that your betta still has room to swim, as they really are fast growers.

A couple of questions:
- will you have someone to feed your betta? Unlike the omnivorous rosy reds, he won't be able to live of plants for a month.
- what are you going to do with the minnows?
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:11 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the reply!

Currently all fish and tank are living at "room temperature" including the bettas, which is a rather constant 76-78. Being in a basement room, the temperature never fluctuates, even in summer (nice and cool), I guess that is to my advantage.

I think I will be donating the rosy reds to a friend's 50 (55?)gallon if he will take them, or in the worst case scenario, take them back to petco, where they will live a bit longer.

I chose the snails and the rosy reds because they seem to have a larger bioload that the betta and therefore would be better than something that had less. My house mate will be there to feed the one fish for me while I am gone, another betta is going to be looked after by another friend, who is willing to perform water changes on top of feeding the fish.

I guess this is more of an experimental project more than anything, and I have two more months to monitor how this gallon system works out. I did consider duck weed, but scrapped the idea as they may well take over the tank without me around to clean them out. If they cut off the lighting to my plants, it's pretty much detrimental to the system. I bought two more anubias over ebay. I have been told that they are slow growing, but it seems that in the past month of owning my first one, it has already sprouted its second new leaf.

I will definitely look into the horn wort, wisteria and lace fern. I'm planning to replace the elodea eventually, which I heard, while being a good ammonia sink will eventually take over the tank and takes better to lower than tropical temperatures. The "creeping charlie" (just remembered the name being something like micromedia(?) brownei) seems to be a fast grower and is doing fine without substrate, I will also monitor that for a bit longer. Thank you for the great advice :)

As for testing the water, I think I'll bring half a bottle to petco for some free testing soon ( as well as the PH since it probably rose quite a bit due to the couple of seashells I have in there), I'll update with the params soon!
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:17 PM   #4 
MrVampire181
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The member Oldfishlady will have all the information you need for this subject :)
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:52 PM   #5 
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She does seem popular! =D
Where do you think I can find her?
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:18 AM   #6 
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If you do an advanced search you'll find her profile :)
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