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Old 02-01-2012, 02:25 AM   #1 
purplemuffin
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Pros vs. cons... NPT and normal planted tanks

Can anyone tell me the benefit of doing an NPT over just a regular fish tank with plants? What are the extra risks? Is one more or less work than the other?

I'd love a nice list/description of what to expect. I'm trying to decide if I want to research NPTs for the 55 or not. I have been hearing mixed views.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:47 AM   #2 
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All I keep are the NPT soil based tanks-but like anything they are not without their own set of problems......Once a properly setup soil based is mature-they need limited care and the bigger they are the less care needed. With the soil based system the soil itself helps-its alive....everything is recycled, however, its still a closed system and it does need some care-just not like a regular planted tank....

Here is a link to my 55gal I setup in Oct and if you check my album I have several more along with info on what I did....
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=84915
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Old 02-01-2012, 11:48 AM   #3 
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So, if I'm getting this right--a 'regular planted tank' will basically be the same amount of work in the beginning as they are five years later, while a naturally planted tank is a lot of work to set up properly, but when done right is much less work in the long run?


How do water changes work as far as messing with the soil in a naturally planted tank. I know with regular tanks you kinda gotta dig through the gravel and stir up the sand or else it can really mess stuff up. Is there anything extra or special to take care to do in a naturally planted tank with the live soil?
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:04 PM   #4 
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Once a soil based tank is mature-you don't need to touch the substrate and the larger the tank the less water changes are needed....In my 20+ gallons I make 4-6 water changes a year...less on 55gal and larger and more on the smaller tanks....

In a gravel based planted tank-you still will not need to vacuum much on the substrate itself-you don't want to disrupt the plant roots...some of it-is based on what you like as well-you can remove all the mulm/debris and add more plant food or leave some of it to be recycled by the plants and used as a natural fert of sorts if you add shrimp and snail to help break things down faster....Lots of correct ways to do it......

With planted tanks its a balance and one of the most important aspects-no matter what substrate you use....Is the lights....proper color temp for photosynthesis can make the difference between success and failure as well as photoperiod to promote good plant growth to out compete algae for nutrients and light.....the balance.......
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:32 PM   #5 
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I had no idea you didn't need to vacuum much on gravel planted tanks. I had always been hearing it was very important to stir it up and get out all the junk in there.


I have a bunch of different lights of the correct color temp now, each a little different--So I can change out if it's too powerful, not powerful enough, etc! :)


I don't plan to stock the tank for a few months really, just so I can get some practice having a planted tank. But it really depends on how quickly I get the hang of it and how soon until the tank seems stable.

Here are some examples of how much I want it planted









And I would like some floating plants, but I haven't figured out which ones I want yet. I know some are smaller and some are bigger, I guess I don't care either way, but I'd like it to look pretty nice. I don't care if it starts to overtake the tank, I can just scoop it out and deal with it later. There are a lot of aquarium people near me who would enjoy more plants in their tanks.



Where can I go to read and learn more? I still feel like I know next to nothing about how to set one up.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:52 PM   #6 
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Awesome looking tanks......on the 1st one-the moss will do fine-but the HC that is being used for the carpet will need higher light and injected CO2 to grow best-otherwise it tends to grow more upright....

On the lights for most of plants-you want Daylight 6500k bulbs and with florescent bulbs they need to be changed out every 12 months even if they still work-we can see the light but the plants can't......I get my bulbs in the lighting dept-not the aquarium dept-cheaper...lol....

Also, if you have a partition between the lights and water-be sure it is kept really clean or remove it all together for best light penetration to the plants....all my tanks are open top so I don't worry about it and with one that I need to use the hood cover-I removed the glass-with my really hard water I get bad mineral deposits on it and it can really cause light penetration problems....

I like to use water lettuce, frogbit and duck weed for my floating plants-I like the look of the roots hanging down with the water lettuce....


If you are going dirt based-or if you use sand-you need to either get trumpet snails or you can poke the substrate a couple of times a week to prevent anaerobic spots until the rooted plants get established to help bring oxygen into the substrate.....

I can help you with most of the planted tank questions and a lot of information on the dirt based setups can be found in my album and on the link I gave you on my 55gal as well as several other members....so ask away....
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:11 PM   #7 
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I think I would like to go with sand if possible? I suppose dirt is fine. I see that you do a dirt and sand on top of dirt method which is interesting. I'm wanting to use the tank for axolotls, but they are prone to eating snails and aren't as good at digesting them. I will poke around in the sand myself. They also are prone to impactions--so no gravel, and I worry about dirt. But people successfully keep them on sand. You say the rooted plants become established--how long does this take and how will I know?

The plan is to have a low to medium light tank--lower light plants down at the bottom, higher light plants closer to the top. Was planning on having the floating plants diffuse some of the light so it's darker and more secure near the bottom. Think sort of like a river how it gets darker as it goes deeper.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:27 PM   #8 
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If you go with just sand-you want to keep it under 2in...

If you think about it.....what do most plants grow in...dirt...lol.....and in nature-you usually have dirt in the bottom of most of the waterways...not all but a lot of them....surprisingly enough dirt based tanks are not dirty or muddy in the water column-you would think they would be...but they are not....the sand on top of the dirt helps to keep it in place, however, even without the sand the dirt really isn't an issue-provided that you don't have something kicking the dirt and/or sand up into the water column-like really strong filtration or livestock that digs.....anyway....

You know the plants are established when you can give them a slight tug and they don't pull up easy and generally will have new growth...I usually assume mine are well established when I have to make the second trim on them and that is about the second to third week, however, the dirt may not be mature yet-it can take about 3 months for that.....
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:50 PM   #9 
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Can you explain a little more about what you mean by the dirt maturing... A lot of that is lost on me right now. i sort of am beginning to understand, but it's a bit unclear.

The sand on top of the dirt could possibly work just fine. These guys do walk on the ground, but they don't really dig.
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:12 PM   #10 
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It takes time for the dirt to become water logged and start its life under water and become alive with all kinds of bacteria, nematodes and other aquatic life...
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