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Old 10-31-2011, 11:51 AM   #1 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Smile NPT (natural planted tank) 55gal

I tore down the 55gal NPT this week end and set it all back up again...NPT...soil based with pool filter sand cap

(You can see the new 10gal NPT I setup last week in my album)

Substrate-2in sifted dirt from my yard-Capped with half inch pool filter sand

Fluval C3 filter and heater set at 76F

Live stock-50 RCS (Red cherry shrimp) and the breeding pair of longfin-albino Bushynose plecos, 20 juvie Betta splendens, pond snails and trumpet snails

Hardscape-hickory wood-dried/cured from my forest, rocks from a recent trip

Lights-Daylight bulbs 2-40w-6500k on 12h/day photoperiod

Plants-Cabomba caroliniana, naja grass, water wisteria, Valliseneria, Sagittaria subulata and platyphylla, Rotala indica, Bronze cryptocoryne, hygrophilia, amazon sword...floating- water lettuce and java moss tied to the driftwood....

It took longer to tear it down than it took to set it

I add livestock the same day I set it up.

I don't rinse either the soil or the sand...I make back to back water changes before I plant and usually will make a third water change after I plant...usually 3-4 water changes total of 50-75%

These pics look cloudy-but it is the glare....looks clear in person....

I will add more pics today-once I get the new bulbs on the tank....I bought new bulbs...but we had an knocked them over and they exploded....what a mess.....
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Old 10-31-2011, 02:42 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Jan 2010
That looks amazing OFL!

Also I was wondering how you keep the sand and soil from mixing together when you break the tank down like that?
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:33 PM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Thank turned out really nice- if I do say so myself.....and so did the 10gal I did last week.....
I have so many plants I needed to use and this 55gal had been taken over by java moss to the point that you couldn't see much else and I needed to catch all the BN plecos-had 30 offspring that ranged from half to 2 inches that I needed to get out/moved-really hard with all the

When I break them down....I don't worry about the dirt and sand mixing since I toss, it usually will be used in one of the flower bed or the its not wasted...

It is a muddy will remove 95% of the old dirt/sand and water.....the muddy water all goes away once I add fresh, dry, sifted dirt-I then add water just to cover the soil-place most of the hardscape and then cap with the fresh dry sand-I like to start with dry sand-I don't rinse it-this works better for me-
Once I have my sand layer-I fill the tank with water-drain and repeat-
On the third fill, I only fill with water half way-Now I plant-Once planted-I drain again-refill...sometimes I may go ahead and do a 50% water change at this point too-depends on how cloudy it is....

My finial fill I try to fill with water at the temp I want the tank to be-
Turn on the filter and start adding the livestock after proper acclimation to the new chemistry of I may add a few more plants here and there-wipe off some of the air bubbles on the glass-shake the plants to get any bubble or sand off...etc.....

These pic are about 16 hours after I set it up

I will make 1-2 50% weekly water changes until I see new plant growth and then I will back off on water changes-this can vary-depends on plant growth and livestock behavior-
I will do spot testing using test strips for a quick look daily and full liquid reagent testing before water changes.....

Once mature and the soil has started its life underwater...water changes will be 3-4 yearly at best......The water changes on NPT soil based are limited by design....these are as close to a complete ecosystem that you can create in a closed system-but they do need some care...just limited...

No added ferts, CO2, low/mod light, easy care low tech...and lots of fun....
The biggest problem I have with my NPT-if you can call this a problem....massive/fast plant growth.....laffs.....

Great systems-but not for everyone-they do have their own set of problems.....

This NPT had been running for near 5 years before I decided to re-do it.....water prams on the day I broke it down was 0ppm on ammonia, nitrite, nitrate-due to the mass amount of plants-I rarely if ever have nitrate levels in my systems-this is not uncommon with heavy planted tanks....Live active growing plants are great biological filters....
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:19 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: PA, USA
OFL, you are amazing!! That tank is fantastic!
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:55 PM   #5 
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Location: Missouri
What a beautiful tank! I bet your fishies are so happy!
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:51 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Newfoundland
ooooooh so nice! I really like it

although next time you get overgrown with java moss, send some my way, can't get any in this province
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:32 AM   #7 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA

See if these look any better.....

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Old 11-12-2011, 01:00 PM   #8 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA

Updated photos

Not the greatest is a lot clearer than the pic show...the lights cause the cloudy look
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:34 PM   #9 
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: California
How inspiring! I hope to have tanks like yours some day! Right now I am very limited on the number of gallons I can have... but I will potentially inherit a 240 gallon tank some day, if I have a place to put it!
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:02 PM   #10 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Thanks......Laffs....right now in the house- I have over 1 ton of water sitting on the East side of my house-along with table and chairs-great place to have morning coffee and watch fish....better than
I would love 240gal tank.....that would be awesome to setup in the house...I have a 250gal outside (it leaks) that I use in the warmer months and 150gal stock tank down at the corral that I use for grow out in the summer....not counting....anything that hold water has something aquatic-be it plants, fish, invert or culturing food for the fish.....not ready for cold weather....seems to come too fast and last too

Getting really good growth on the plants and have trimmed a few and had to thin out the water lettuce already....I added about 30 male guppies and 8 more young Bettas-the BN plecos are getting ready to spawn again-the RCS are multiplying and looking good-
Only had to make 2 water changes since setup-but I plan to make one today since I need to top it off anyway and it is nice outside so I can have the door open to drain in the yard without

I am really liking the pool filter sand...this is the first time I have used it-usually use playsand to cap the dirt/soil-the pool filter sand is larger and brighter..I like I am looking at my 75gal....the bronze crypts have taken over...still looks good....but it needs a change.....
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