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Old 03-20-2012, 09:52 PM   #1 
Bombalurina
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Natural Planted Tank...nervous

So, as many of you will know, we finally have our pond and hopefully our goldfish will be in it within a month. I just need to buy a pump and build the filter.

When he moves, I'll be inheriting his 90 litre tank. I have done a lot of thinking and, since I can't get aquasoil or anything like that here for less than a bajillion dollars, I want to do an NPT, as it seems the best option all round.

My stock will be:
- 6 female bettas
- 12 Endlers Livebearers
- 4 corydoras anaeus
- 4 peppered cories
- 2-4 blue lyretail (I think) killifish
Plus shrimp.

The plants I currently have that will be moving to this tank:
- some huge java ferns attached to a driftwood cave
- two pieces of driftwood, both with anubias and java moss
- elodea/anacharis
- hornwort
- some crypts
- luwigia repens
- pygmy chain sword
- duckweed (though I don't think it will survive due to the filter style and surface movement)
and whatever else is in there hiding. I also want to add some ambulia and possibly some lacefern, plus whatever else I can buy off friends.

So, these are my questions:
1) I know I need a soil base with no additives or chemicals, covered by a layer of sand (I'm going to use an aquatic sand because it looks beautiful). How thick should each layer be?

2) I have heard that I need 75% of the tank to be covered in stem plants and 10% to be floating plants. Is this correct?

3) The lighting for this tank is two sunlight 18w bulbs. I haven't got a clue what kelvin they are, though. Does anyone know that, or how I could find out? It isn't written on the bulbs...I am worried about this as I know that lighting is the biggest cause of NPT failures.

4) What are the risks involved in an NPT? What can go wrong, and what will the results be?

5) Can I add my fish the same day as setting up the tank? As all the plants will be transferring from my current tank, I kind of have to....

6) What kind of maintenance am I looking at (what and how often)?

7) Do I need fertilisers or root tabs?

8) Is my stocking ok?

Thanks so much to anyone who can answer this! :) I'm so nervous about the whole process...I've been working with plants for a while with relative success, but I have never tried a soil-based tank, or anything other than gravel for my plants.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:42 AM   #2 
SpookyTooth
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I'm setting up my NPT soon too (my first one heh) so while I can't offer any advice I just wanted to wish you the best of luck!
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:37 AM   #3 
Bombalurina
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Thanks, Spooky. Bump for some experts? :)
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:53 AM   #4 
TheJadeBetta
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So, these are my questions:
1) I know I need a soil base with no additives or chemicals, covered by a layer of sand (I'm going to use an aquatic sand because it looks beautiful). How thick should each layer be? I do 2 inch of Organic Potting Soil with a 2 inch cap of sand.

2) I have heard that I need 75% of the tank to be covered in stem plants and 10% to be floating plants. Is this correct? O.o I have NEVER heard anything like that. Set it up how YOU want it. Unless you want to go with a Show tank style. I have a bowl with just a foreground plant. Just a 1 gallon bowl with DHG. haha

3) The lighting for this tank is two sunlight 18w bulbs. I haven't got a clue what kelvin they are, though. Does anyone know that, or how I could find out? It isn't written on the bulbs...I am worried about this as I know that lighting is the biggest cause of NPT failures. Sounds good to me. You could probably get away with low light plants. If you really worried about the bulbs, get yourself 2 clamp lamps and 2 compact coil bulbs of alt east 6.5K.

4) What are the risks involved in an NPT? What can go wrong, and what will the results be? Several things. Plants melting. Fish digging up plants. Anything that can go wrong if None planted tank can happen in a planted tank.

5) Can I add my fish the same day as setting up the tank? As all the plants will be transferring from my current tank, I kind of have to.... Are you moving the filters, and stuff?

6) What kind of maintenance am I looking at (what and how often)? You can do whatever YOU want. I would say at least 10-25% water change weekly. Just skim over the sand when doing a water a change.

7) Do I need fertilisers or root tabs? If you use Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil, no.

8) Is my stocking ok? Cories like to be in a group of at least 5.



I have a 10 gallon planted, a 25 gallon planted, Java Moss in a 55 Gallon Oscar Tank, 2 planted bowls, and I am setting up a 29 gallon planted tank.

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 03-22-2012 at 10:40 AM. Reason: Link removed to other forum
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:21 AM   #5 
Edifiler
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These are my opinions to the questions and in no way are they better then anyone elses
1) I know I need a soil base with no additives or chemicals, covered by a layer of sand (I'm going to use an aquatic sand because it looks beautiful). How thick should each layer be? I use 2inchs of soil covered by a thin layer sand or gravel about 0.5 cm, just enough to cover the soil. Or I use about 2inches of natural gravel with no cap

2) I have heard that I need 75% of the tank to be covered in stem plants and 10% to be floating plants. Is this correct? Ideally, you don't want too many floating plants to block the light or the stem plants wont do well

3) The lighting for this tank is two sunlight 18w bulbs. I haven't got a clue what kelvin they are, though. Does anyone know that, or how I could find out? It isn't written on the bulbs...I am worried about this as I know that lighting is the biggest cause of NPT failures. I've had success with florescent and L.E.D, but if you follow the 2/3watts per gallon rule you should be fine ( no guarantee as it still depends on your bulb )

4) What are the risks involved in an NPT? What can go wrong, and what will the results be? Not ideal conditions will cause the plants to die out, cause lots of decomposing leaves etc. The plants could contain parasites harmful to your fish, snails and unwanted organisms. Should that happen, be sure to clean your tank well to prevent it from spreading further.

5) Can I add my fish the same day as setting up the tank? As all the plants will be transferring from my current tank, I kind of have to.... It would be better to let it sit for a day or two before adding the fish in, just so the sediments from the soil etc can settle down.

6) What kind of maintenance am I looking at (what and how often)? Trimming of leaves of your aquatic plants when they grow too big, and usual 10-25% water changes like Jadebetta said.

7) Do I need fertilisers or root tabs? Optional, and really depends on the plants if they require fertilizers to do well. If you do choose fertilizers, be sure that it will not harm your fishes.

8) Is my stocking ok? From what I heard, its better to have an odd number of female bettas to spread out the aggression, but I could be wrong. And just like Jadebetta said, Cories like to be in groups of 5 or more.

Hopefully I've answered questions and if I do put out any incorrect information, a more experienced member will correct me.

Last edited by Edifiler; 03-22-2012 at 03:24 AM.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:07 AM   #6 
Bombalurina
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Thanks for the responses, guys. :) I should clarify a couple of points:
- I don't think I can change the lighting I have. All of my plants are low-light, I'm just worried about my kelvin. In terms of what can go wrong, I know what can go wrong in a standard planted tank, I want to know what can go wrong specific to this method. :)
- I'm not asking about whether my stocking is ok in terms of groups, etc, but whether it is ok for a Walstad style soil-based tank. My sorority has been running for a good six months, now. The odd-numbers thing is a myth. :) As for the cories, I will start out with 4 and increase to 5 if my bioload allows it. :)
- The tank is already cycled - it has had a goldfish in it for 6 and a half years. All I'm transferring are my fish and plants (like I said, unfortunately I do have to transfer my fish at the same time as my plants because otherwise they will have no plant cover in their old tank). I guess what I'm asking whether I'll have to do anything to compensate for adding all those fish at once.

Also, I don't think I can get Miracle Grow, as I'm in Australia. (Hi from the other side of the country, Edifiler!). I am a member of the Planted Tank, I'm just not active on the forums so much (I don't find it very friendly).

Again, thanks very much for the help, guys! :)
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:24 AM   #7 
Edifiler
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Haha hello from Perth, just a curious question, hows the pricing of aquarium related products over there? It kills to get a anything over 10gallons . As for what could go wrong with the natural planted tank, I wont have the answer for that. And about the myth, noted :D.
If anything, I would question about planting the plants while the tank is full of water, but since your a member of the planted tank, I'm sure you'll have no problem.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:31 AM   #8 
ravenwinds
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Everything I've researched, including recent Walstad article states no more than 1.5inches for dirt and 1.5inches for cap...D. Walstad recommended only 1inch for each! If you cap w/ at least 1 inch sand, you won't get the dirt stirred up in tank's water and you will/should be able to stock fish same day! I use about 1.5 inches of sand for cap on 3 tanks (instead of gravel) and my water was white cloudy, like you normally see in New setup. When I used gravel as cap, tank was sort cloudy and water stained brown until 2 more water changes. Walstad recommended only 1-1.5 inches each due to compacting and then anaerobic areas where no plants can grow.
I tested water each day for 1-2 weeks because more likely to get ammonia spikes during this time. Just do water changes as needed for test results and your peace of mind...after first couple of weeks, shouldn't need to change water, your system should be up and running.
Ideally you should not need ferts except possibly trace minerals. I used garden soil...many people on internet just get cheapest available...best if it doesn't have inorganic ferts or any water binding gel products. Pick put larger pieces of wood and rock...can add light dusting of peat at bottom of tank.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:38 AM   #9 
Geomancer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombalurina View Post
So, as many of you will know, we finally have our pond and hopefully our goldfish will be in it within a month. I just need to buy a pump and build the filter.

When he moves, I'll be inheriting his 90 litre tank. I have done a lot of thinking and, since I can't get aquasoil or anything like that here for less than a bajillion dollars, I want to do an NPT, as it seems the best option all round.

My stock will be:
- 6 female bettas
- 12 Endlers Livebearers
- 4 corydoras anaeus
- 4 peppered cories
- 2-4 blue lyretail (I think) killifish
Plus shrimp.

The plants I currently have that will be moving to this tank:
- some huge java ferns attached to a driftwood cave
- two pieces of driftwood, both with anubias and java moss
- elodea/anacharis
- hornwort
- some crypts
- luwigia repens
- pygmy chain sword
- duckweed (though I don't think it will survive due to the filter style and surface movement)
and whatever else is in there hiding. I also want to add some ambulia and possibly some lacefern, plus whatever else I can buy off friends.

So, these are my questions:
1) I know I need a soil base with no additives or chemicals, covered by a layer of sand (I'm going to use an aquatic sand because it looks beautiful). How thick should each layer be?

2) I have heard that I need 75% of the tank to be covered in stem plants and 10% to be floating plants. Is this correct?

3) The lighting for this tank is two sunlight 18w bulbs. I haven't got a clue what kelvin they are, though. Does anyone know that, or how I could find out? It isn't written on the bulbs...I am worried about this as I know that lighting is the biggest cause of NPT failures.

4) What are the risks involved in an NPT? What can go wrong, and what will the results be?

5) Can I add my fish the same day as setting up the tank? As all the plants will be transferring from my current tank, I kind of have to....

6) What kind of maintenance am I looking at (what and how often)?

7) Do I need fertilisers or root tabs?

8) Is my stocking ok?

Thanks so much to anyone who can answer this! :) I'm so nervous about the whole process...I've been working with plants for a while with relative success, but I have never tried a soil-based tank, or anything other than gravel for my plants.
1) Actually, you don't need soil. You can have a successful planted tank using sand or fine gravel. If you stick with soil, do 1 inch of each.

2) There is no rule, do what you want to get the look you want. Fish greatly prefer a cover over their heads and subdued lighting, in other words they like floating plants.

3) Can't comment on the light you have without the manufacturer name/model. Do both bulbs cover the entire length, or is each bulb half the length? If both cover the entire length you'll have moderate light, if each only covers half the tank you will have low light. Anything in the 5000-7000K range will work, 6500K is more ideal. Fluorescents only last 1 year before needing replaced. Your eyes can't tell the difference, but plants can.

4) Very few, unless you use soil. Soil is the most difficult substrate to work with. Remove any dead plant mater and you will be fine. Plants are far easier than most assume.

5) Yes, provided you are heavily planted or the tank is already cycled. Stem and floating plants work best as they are faster growing. Faster growth = faster ammonia use.

6) One 50% water change a week, plus what I say in answer 7. Do not vacuum the substrate. If you see a lot of debris you are over feeding and should run the vacuum over the top of the substrate, but not into it.

7) Yes, you need a fertilizer, a comprehensive one. Most recommend Flourish. You dose this once per week 24 hours after your weekly water change. Root tabs are not required, but can help heavy root feeders like Swords and Crypts. Place one an inch or so from the base of each root feeding plant. Root tabs are not needed with soil initially, but the soil will eventually run out. Stem and floating plants get little to no benefit from the substrate, their nutrients come from the water column and thus the liquid fertilizer.

8) Endlers need hard, basic water. Everything else on your list is soft acidic water fish. You may have an incompatibility unless you water is near neutral with medium hardness. You also are overstocked for a ~23 gallon tank, at about 126%.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #10 
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Okay for one thing, at the beginning you are gonna be doing a lot of water changes. Then you will slowly begin to then stretch out the water changes. I am going to 3 weeks. Plants use the soil as nutrients and will eat ammonia. Usually your readings should be 0, 0, 0. Though it varies on how many plants you have and the effectiveness of the light.

For maintaining it, suck up leaves occasionly, the plants will use them for food, though too much can cause plants to melt, at least I believe that is why my plants started to die.

Start up is so hard the first time. Make sure you sift or pick through the soil you get and remove any big pieces of wood. The miricle organic choice has a bunch of wood just saying.
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