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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd start a thread about my two gallon tank I plan to purchase and turn into some lucky betta's very own little ecosystem.
I'm currently working over this base on my first fleshed out concept image, but for now everyone gets to see my lame base because I'm tired from lack of sleep for the past 3 days and am (at this exact moment) completely ready to just give up and pass out.
You'll probably see Concept 1 some time tomorrow night.
If I'm lucky I'll get at least 5 done by next Thursday so I can render some out in Maya after I download the student version.
AAAAAAAAnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyyyyyways
here it is, marvel at it's sheer simplicity and staleness:
 

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Discussion Starter #2
picture isn't posting... i'll try again in the morning
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's the same article I was reading actually.
I hope things go well.
I'm trying to get absolutely every minute detail planed and executed before I buy my fish this time.
 

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As long as you start out with enough of the right kind of plants-stem and floating.....the plants will function as the filter and keep the water safe, however, until the plants start to actively grow partial water only changes are needed-floating plants like water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed, hornwort will use ammonia up pretty fast in a 1 fish, few snails and shrimp in a 1-3 gallon containers IME
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Do either of you have advice on what method to use?
I was thinking of putting a cherry shrimp and a malaysian(?) trumpet snail in with the betta... maybe a mystery snail as well and I knew that the shrimp would like the carpet plants a lot and it would look very lovely at the bottom of the tank.
I want the entire bottom of the tank covered if possible, the more plants there are the better my betta and the snails and shrimp will be.
I wanted to use Dwarf Hair Grass and Hemianthus Callitrichoides as the carpet plant and get a small bunch of Mexican Oak Leaf as my stem plant with Frogbit as the floating plant.
Here is the picture of the tank since it isn't working on other people's computers:


I have re-crated it in illustrator (without the hood) to show how I will be planting it.
I'm still working the concept out for the first concept which I will post tonight. (it's tedious pen tooling all of those leaves. uhg.)
As you can see it is a vertical hex 2 gallon so I think 1 large stem plant will do as long as I have frogbit floating at the top. Which, by the way, I think looks very charming! I've just never seen how long the roots grow before so I'm worried it will be a problem for my betta. I still want him to be able to reach the surface for air.
anyways! gtg! I'll be back to post with more info soon!
Any help would be appreciated!
I love hearing what you guys have to say! :)
 

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We used to have a tank like that... I think it was a 4-5 gallon because it was tall...

I called it the 'Death Hex' because when I was little fish never lasted a week in it... my parents were not knowledgeable so it was filled with horrid hard plastic plants... it really was a death chamber XD

Before I got Drax tank my mom was like... "HEY! Don't we still have that old tank?"

I was like. "No..." (Midnight that night I slipped into the storage room and dug it out and destroyed it and threw it in the dumpster so it would never kill again XD).
 

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I have a hex tank just like the one you plan to use and it works wonderful as NPT...

You will need a lot more than one stem plant..more like 20 or more.....in the beginning I would only plant one dwarf hair grass-it will reproduce pretty fast by sending out runners and cover the bottom in a month or two...... you need the stem plants for their fast growth and root system to help pull oxygen into the soil to help avoid anaerobic or dead spots....adding the trumpet snails will also help with this-they are wonderful snails for the NPT due to their burrowing nature, some common snails like pond or ramshorn are also good and will help keep some species of algae off the plant leaves as well as eating dying/dead plant material and left over food but you have to keep their population under control...shrimp are great too and will help shred dying/dead plant material to help speed the decaying process....in NPT you don't have to add food for the shrimp and snail per se...just an extra pinch of food for the Betta and what it doesn't eat the shrimp and snails will and what they don't eat the plants will use for food/energy....fish food is a good plant food too......I add extra just for them on occasion....lol......

In the NPT you need to cover 75-80% of the floor with stem plants-if you start with too few plants in a soil based tank you can risk a crash....NPT are planted tanks not an aquarium with some plants...the main focus are the plants and the fish and livestock are extra....NPT should be low stocked for them to function correctly otherwise the plants can't keep up with the byproducts...especially when first set up

You need at least 10-20% floating plants to start and then you can thin them down once the stems start to actively grow-frogbit is really light weight and the Betta will not have any trouble getting air from under them.

Since your light is going to be coming from the side that should help with any hair/thread type algae that can often become problematic with over head lights that are too strong or too close...watch for this and remove as needed-this can cause problems for the Betta getting to the air due to the mats they can sometimes form

Speaking of lights----what kind are you planing to use..... watts and kelvin....with NPT they are low to mod light set ups and so you need to be careful and not use too much but still enough for good growth...sometimes you have to play with this as far as distance, photoperiod, penetration etc..... balance is the key and tweaking is needed on a regular basis...these are little ecosystems-low tech-no CO2 or added ferts are needed, just an extra pinch of fish food on occasion, waste from the livestock, lights and even the decay and decomp of plant material are important factors...so you have to be careful and not remove too much of the mulm, waste, dead plant material...some needs to be left for the tank/soil/microorganisms to convert for the plants and over all health of the water...everything works together...once mature few water changes are needed....however, this can take 3-6 months......

Here is my little 2gal Hex-no filtration, 2wpg-6500k, 7.5w preset heater-plants: naja grass, hygrophilia, wisteria, ludwigia, rotala, water lettuce-1 adult male Betta, trumpet snail, pod and rams horn snails, red cherry shrimp-substrate: potting soil with black sand cap
 

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Fishlady -beautiful tank!

Lucy - can't wait to see the tank up & running.

If I have room someday this type of tank is HIGH on my wish list!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
http://thegab.org/Plants/step-by-step-setting-up-a-walstad-type-natural-planted-tank.html That is a link to another step-by-step I've been reading.

OFL I've seen you post everywhere that the soil may not be ready for as long as 3 months.
Do you and MoePaac have any advice on putting livestock in on the second day as she/he did?
Apparently her ammonia parameters were zero on day two, but I don't understand how that's possible.
Progress that fast? It's puzzling, and I'm a little suspicious. I don't feel it would be safe to do that, maybe for the snails, but not a fish.

I was considering doing the Dry Planted setup pictured here:




It's very low maintenance and ideal for my work and school schedule.
The reason I liked the idea of this method so much is because there's a lower risk of algae, and I don't want to spend a lot on plants for them to die off so quickly like in a submersed set up.

But if a submerged setup is best and has been a faithful easy process for most people then I'm willing to give it the old college try haha.
OFL has already suggested some fine plants. I'll probably use either frogbit or naja grass for a floating plant. I've been studying and I like the look of this Mexican Oakleaf http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscen...hinnersia-rivularis-EASY-Plant-mexoakleaf.htm for the stem plant I'll need along with some Creeping Jenny http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscen...a-Gold-Creeping-Jenny-VERY-EASY-goldlyod5.htm because I don't like the idea of having pointy plant life around a betta fish and most stem plants look very pointy. Call me paranoid, I know it probably doesn't hurt the fish, but I'd rather be safe than sorry ya know?
For a foreground plant I'd like to use Bacopa Australis http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscentral.com/Bacopa-Australis-EASY-PLANT-australis01.htm , Dwarf Hair Grass http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscen...airgrass-great-foreground-plant-dwarfhg01.htm , and http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscentral.com/Dwarf-Lily-Plant-Nymphaea-stellata-dlil01.htm .


Moe, OFL, do you have any advice or warnings about a nano set up like this?
Common kinks you ran into maybe?
Or links with advice about distance, photoperiod, penetration and stuff like that would be helpful too. I'm only familiar with photosynthesis and the necessities of plants on a high school biology level and I would like to see the warning signs if something is going amiss so I can save the tank as quickly as I can.

Other plant suggestions would be nice.
Thanks for your time!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oh! And the light bulb that is in my lamp now is a 40 watt CFl but I'll be bumping it down to 15 watts and probably the same kelvins as Wallywestisthebest333 has on her 15 watts: around 6,500.
I'm a tad worried because it normally only needs 2 wats per gallon but the lowest watt I've seen is 15.
I guess it'll be good enough. *shrugs*
 

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I'd like some advise on the light too. :/ I got a clip on light with a mini 13 watt 6,500K CFL that I plan to use on my 2.3 gallon jar (hopefully it'll clip on and stay. :/) and I'm not sure how long to leave my light on.

Thanks for any advise! =]
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Turns out what I thought was a 2g was actually a 1.6g.
There goes that. I want him/her to at least have 2 gallons of room.
I'm thinking of getting a "medium" sized Kritter Keeper to use for this planted setup. It's a total of 3 gallons which I find to be more than appropriate for the little guy considering he'll be by himself aside from some snails and shrimp.
Do you guys think this is a bad idea?
Any ideas on where I could find a good 2-4 gallon tank that doesn't take up a lot of space? That's why I actually took the hex route instead of a rectangle in the first place.
My bedside table has steel/aluminum support so it could hold up to 7 gallons no problem, but it needs to be a taller tank than wide. I think there's only about a foot and a half to two feet in length for a tank.
 

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I set my NPT up and add the fish, snails, shrimp all in the same day and have never had any deaths/illness/problems
When I say it can take 3 months for the soil/tank to mature-what I mean by that-it the tank will start to take care of itself-until then you still have to monitor and make water changes like any new setup...with NPT they are designed so you don't need water changes like you need on a regular substrate tank...

Your lights-you don't want to go much over 2wpg-I would stay in the 1.5-2 especially with small shallow tank because of the penetration-what is more important is the kelvin and you want that in the 6500-6700k range-the plants can use this better and its more like the sun....too high of watts in shallow tanks and you can end up with an algae farm.....

Photo period-I would start with 10 hours and tweak from that point based on plant growth and algae
 

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I added my male betta to the 2.5 the same day. It was kind of a test trial and isn't set up properly,... but has worked well for me. I have 2 stem plants in it, a dwarf lily, and then a mix of micro sword and pygmy chain sword that makes up about 80% of the coverage. There are then rocks, some home-collected driftwood with java moss attached. There is also some frogbit, but it isn't doing amazingly. I have only checked ammonia on this tank, and it's zero. However, betta behavior is great and the snails are doing fine as well. I will try and post a picture of it in the next few days.

I recently redid my 3 gallon. For this one I used a large piece of home-collected driftwood with some java moss tied to it. I then just threw in small bits of extra plants. I took no care to planting well, just tossed them where they fit, even trimmed some of the plants heavily and let them go without any special care. I have no idea what kind of potting soil I used, and threw in some shrimp and snails the same day. I've yet to do a water change. This tank is doing surprisingly well. It has a lot of random plants in there, and I just added some dwarf sag which will soon spread like wildfire. It is dark with tannins, but the shrimp and snails are lively and I'm getting good plant growth on plants that hadn't done well.

My point of this story is that (as OFL said) all these tanks are slightly different, and typically you just need to let them grow and get going. I tinkered with my 12g NPT for months... in the past month I have just let it be... It is finally beginning to flourish. You need to let them do their own thing and then they show their potential.

If you add the livestock that first day or so, make sure you do the water changes in the beginning. My fish really, really appreciated it. Now that is is maturing and plants are finally beginning to shine, I'm not doing the water changes. Things are going well. As for the 3 gallon... who knows! It's just working.

Other good advice I have gotten about the NPT style is to start with a lot of different plants. Variety is key. Why? Because despite your best efforts, some plants just won't grow well in your particular environment. I personally love the look of foxtail green. I can't get it to grow worth a darn in my 12g! I also can't get ludwigia to grow in any of my tanks -- it barely stays alive. However, the star grass, apon bulbs, anacharis, and rotala are growing like crazy. The pygmy chain and microsword are doing ok in my 12g... but are a nice bright green in my 2.5g and sending shoots. Each one is different! The dwarf lily wasn't growing in my 12g... it's grown every day in the new 3g.

I tried planning my 12g really well... it worked better when I just stuck plants in there and let them go. I also really planned my 2.5 gallon... it's kinda working, but again, let it do it's thing.

As for the lighting question, I use 15watt compact fluorescent bulbs. I have two over my 12g, 1 each over my 2.5 and 3. I use desk lamps for the small tanks so I can adjust how high over the tank it is. My lights come on for 6 hours in the morning, they get an hour break, then on for 6 hours in the afternoon/evening. I increased this from 10 hours when I realized I wasn't getting good plant growth. Again, trial and error.

My advice... get it up and running as soon as you can. Stick some plants in there, and see how it goes. They are addicting anyway. Then once the plants are really growing, add in your fish!
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Well, the good news is that I've found two good new tanks to use.
A 20 dollar Marine Land 5g Hex and a 20 dollar 2 gallon Aquaview 360 that are good for this project.
(the aquaview would of course have the tray and center tube removed and just be straight up planted.)
I'm really hoping it goes well.
I'll plant as soon as I get my aquarium and then add the snails and shrimp asap.
I'll keep up daily water changes then for the first 2 or 3 weeks of up to 75 percent until I see the plants start to grow a little more. (good idea?)
I'll probably add the betta fish after week 1 is through if the shrimp and snails are fine.
(call me paranoid, but I've had rotten luck with my fish so far and I'm really afraid of just jumping into this again)
This is also my first time to have snails or shrimp.
How do I know if they are healthy?
What did you use for the drift wood?
Do you actually live near a body of water to collect it from or did you get it from a hardwood tree and just keep it submersed?
My sister and I are very curious!
 

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I collect my wood from the local lake, streams, my stock pond and from my yard and pasture...if it looks interesting I snag it...scrub it, soak it...some are already water logged and others have to be weighted down until it is water logged.

I have a large water barrel that is in full sun that I collect rainwater in that I keep my collected wood.....I will use a spoon on it after I scrub and soak to dig out any soft spot...but I also leave some of it on them too especially for my pleco tank-they need that wood to rasp on for their digestion and this barrel being in full sun helps to get lots of algae growing on the wood and I swap it out ever so often so I can add wood with lots of algae on it for the plecos fry and guppies

I try to get only hardwood but some I have no idea what it is-I have had my hubby dig up some roots for me too and they look nice until they are covered with moss and then you can't see them...lol....some will start to break down and become part of the soil, the ones that have never been in water once they become water logged they will get a fungus looking growth on them that the fish, snail, shrimp love to feed off of and it goes away on its own after a while...never has been a problem.....I have some wood that little bugs will come out of and become part of my little ecosystem.....I don't worry about these things personally...other do....I look at it as something else interesting to look at and as long as it doesn't cause any problems...no worries...laff....its not a sterile environment.......however, it still a closed system so you do have to control some things....

As far a health of shrimp and snail....for me I look at their activity-if they are active and feeding then I assume they are healthy...shrimp are not long lived in the first place...1-2 years...so look for the smallest/youngest one...if you are getting cherry shrimp-get both dark red (female) and pale red(male) so they will reproduce for you-2F and 1m is a good start-as long as you have lots of hiding places the Betta usually will leave them alone-but not always...it depends on the Betta...but most baby shrimp will be eaten....I keep shrimp only tanks too so I can keep my other tanks stocked-I don't mind them eating the baby shrimp-its kinda why I have them and if you have plenty of places for the shrimp that the Betta can't get to-then some will survive....
 

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I really appreciate seeing pictures, I think they help in explanations... so here's one of each of my tanks.

2.5 gallon with microsword, pygmy chain sword, you can see a java fern suspended, a dwarf pond lily in front left, and there's a bit of star grass in the back left though can't really see it. There are rocks that are buried in the substrate (stick through a little, but covered in algae), and then there are two rocks holding down the drift wood with some java moss tied to it. Frogbit is the floater in this tank.


3 gallon. Not a good picture, but you can get the idea of me just throwing this thing together. I added the bacopa a few days ago as it wasn't rooting in the 2.5 gallon. I'll see how it does in this tank. There is a bit of hygro difformis, bacopa, hornwort, mini-sword, dwarf pond lily, some "barely hanging on" ludwigia, dwarf sag, a little microsword and pygmy sword, a java fern... little bit of everything. It'll get a water change when I go back to school in a week (considering I'll have to drain the tanks).


Here's my 12 gallon just for comparison. Things are finally starting to grow well. Some better than others, but nothing is doing poorly. The anacharis has really taken off and that gives me hope to how the rest of the plants are going to start growing.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Thanks again! Both of your pictures are a big help!
Moe: Is the anacharis the plant on the far right in your 12 gallon or the far left?
The plant on the far right seems to be doing very well! I really like the look of it.
I Just bought a tank as well, so I'll be ordering plants, snails, and shrimp as soon as I can put money on my card.
It's a three gallon critter tote made of a acrylic.
I've already bought the soil and sand.
I've got a lamp ready for it as well.
I would have had my plants and such bought already, but Christmas sucked the funds right out of me. :(
And I can't wait to go out and collect my driftwood! :) Thanks OFL!
I'll be sure to go out and find some asap!
This is so exciting! :)
 
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