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Old 05-19-2010, 11:52 AM   #1 
somuchpaint
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How many plants needed in a 5 gallon tank to reduce the need for water changes?

I am setting up a 5 gallon tank for my daughter's betta fish. Right now it has two plants in it, and some bright pink and blue gravel that I might replace with Bio Complete. There is no betta yet.

(I am using an old filter and old gravel, so I am hoping that there are plenty of good bacteria already established, but I will absolutely test the water before introducing the fishy).

I have read that, in heavily planted, lightly stocked aquariums, you can successfully change the water only a few times a year. If any of you have successfully done this, I would love your advice.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:04 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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In the natural planted type of aquariums with soil substrate and lots and lots of active growing plants (90%) the plants can work as the filter to help reduce the number of water changes needed IME.

Lots of stem plants and floating plants are needed and it can take 2-4 months for the tank to become stable and the plants to start to actively grow.
The first 2-4 months daily to every-other day water changes are still needed and water changes will be reduced as the tank ages and the soil become water log or submerged state.

I have never tried this with regular gravel or the plant gravels but I am sure the plants would still work as the filter once they started to actively grow and maybe even reduce the time line of stability.

All my tank are natural planted with soil substrate from 1g-75g and all work well without issues. There is a thread on the other part of this form about this subject...sorry don't remember the name of it
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:28 PM   #3 
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The size of the tank is important for this type of thing. The larger a tank, the more "stable" everything is. It can buffer changes in water parameters much better. I have a friend who has an 80 gal tank, he tests every month and really only does water changes every few months. Everything is at 0 or real close to it. Very little work involved.

I struggle to do the same with my 30Gal but it's because I wasn't super smart when I stocked it and have some serious poop producers (2 plecos, 3 corys).

I change my water every month, 25% about. My parameters look good, I could last longer, but I just want to clean it a bit at that point cause of the poop.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:14 PM   #4 
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IMO a 5 gallon is going to need weekly partial water changes no matter how many plants you can squeeze in there. I wouldn't even consider doing monthly changes on my 29 gallon. Putting a lot of plants in there is nothing but beneficial but I would still do weekly 25% water changes.

A 5 gallon tank with one betta is not actually lightly stocked. With the one betta its already midway stocked seeing as bettas do best with a minimum of 2.5 gallons.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:34 PM   #5 
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I agree with 1fish2fish. It is true that plants help breakdown the wastes in the tank but the flipside is that they also decay and if not removed immediately will cause ammonia increase, so it's just easier IME to do weekly changes
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:45 PM   #6 
somuchpaint
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So if my goal for this tank is ease, I'm better off taking out the plants, leaving the fluorescent gravel, and changing the water weekly.

I was going to justify buying lots of plants, eco complete, and fluorescent lighting because it would make the tank low maintenance, but if that isn't true, I just lost my budget. :(
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:46 PM   #7 
Welsh
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No you can keep the plants, just keep doing regular water changes =)
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:14 PM   #8 
Oldfishlady
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With the right type of plants and enough of them the active growth will use the ammonia before levels can become harmful to fish.

The problem some hobbyist have is that they think a couple of plants will make a difference in water quality or the wrong type of plants are used.

Use of the right type and number of aquatic plants as filtration can be effective in even small tank with a low bioload IME as I have been successful for many years with these type of set-up and filtration methods.

You know it is working when all levels are 0ppm even nitrate......IME

I also will use branches from my weepy willow tree to help with uptake when I first set-up a new natural planted tank


Regardless, water changes can never hurt and in most cases are the ONE most important thing you can do for the health and well being of the livestock.

IMO/E-setting up a low tech heavy planted 5g tank with the right plants can decrease water change needs once it has settled and that can take 2-3 months.
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:50 PM   #9 
somuchpaint
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
I also will use branches from my weepy willow tree to help with uptake when I first set-up a new natural planted tank

How does that work? Do you just put the branches into the tank, and they take up excess nutrients?
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:30 PM   #10 
mfskarphedin
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Can't comment too much, since I never tried it in anything but my 55 gal (and was finally able to breed my kuhli loaches!) but if you just Bing something like, "filterless planted aquariums," you'll get tons of information. The Krib is a great place for that type of old-school setup info: http://www.thekrib.com/ :)
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