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NPT (natural planted tank) 55gal

24021 Views 107 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  SpookyTooth
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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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?
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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OFL, you are amazing!! That tank is fantastic!
What a beautiful tank! I bet your fishies are so happy!
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

See if these look any better.....

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Updated photos

Not the greatest is a lot clearer than the pic show...the lights cause the cloudy look
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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!
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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georgous tank. iv'e had planted tanks for several years now and can appreciate a tank thats nicely planted and maintained. not as easy as it seems. nicely done. love the whits pool sand. my next re-plant is going to be that sand as a base layer. are you using ferts and co2?
Gorgeous! I don't know if you remember that I made a 10 gallon NPT attempt awhile back. I'm pleased to say that it is going strong, and you are right! The problem with them is the plants growing too fast! I love it though and I hope to set up another 10 gallon NPT just using clippings from this tank and with sand substrate rather than the gravel that I have in this one. Thanks for the inspiration OFL!
You definitely have an eye for making gorgeous tanks :) Once again, I'm in awe when it comes to you.

Sounds like you put in a lot of effort to make it perfect, and it looks it.. I bet all your aquatic little ones are in heaven!
I have to agree, so much more fun watching their little worlds over some sitcom that's been over played.
It just looks amazing OFL. I'd be happy to have just a fraction of your green thumb.
Thanks....and added ferts or CO2 used other than what is naturally produced by the system itself from decomp and the livestock......the dirt layer that is under the sand is the main nutrient base for plants....near to a complete ecosystem that you can create in a glass box or closed system....
Really nice! You were my source of inspiration when I set my my first NPT crypt tank a few months back and it's going great. Hope to have a large tank someday.

I hear that it stinks something awful when you tear down an NPT... True?
I really expected it to stink a lot worse than it did since this was the tank that I had a lot of trouble with-I had used sand that I had harvested from one of my stock ponds to cap the soil layer and it caused massive silts and I had to add a layer of gravel to get it the total substrate layer was well over 41/2 inch and you could see the anaerobic spots on the outer edges...but I kept it running for near 5 years without any health problems-I did have a few problems with rosette plants that would rot-the vals and sags I started with I had to replace and plant the new ones higher and a bout with BGA the first year...but other than that-no problems...well..except the silts did a number on the filter and that was off for about a year or so...but the naja, moss and hygrophilia grew in masses and non-stop BN pleco spawning......and this was with maybe....6-8 water changes over that 5 years it was design they need limited water can't get away with this with regular substrate or just sand setups..... plants or not...the soil is alive and what helps to recycle DOC's along with the active growing plants.....

I really expected rotten egg smell that would knock your head off...but it didn't- a slight sulfur smell-more like the bottom of an over watered house plant and it must have not been too toxic because the next day I fished out a few more took me 2 days to tear it me think twice about tearing the 75g down and starting I sure like the end result of the 55gal this time......

And then when I was getting ready to place the new light bulbs in the light strip.......disaster......a cat knocked the new bulbs over and they Exploded everywhere......what a all over the place...had to stop what I was doing-clean the glass and vacuum the I had to wait another day to replace the old light bulbs since its nearly 30 mile round trip to town.....

My marble crayfish loved it...they got a lot of the snails and unused plant
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That's an inspiration! What is that floating plant you use? I really want some.
thats so cool you have water lettuce, I really want to get some but it's illegal in California so it's hard to find :( I saw some on sail on Craigslist but didn't jump at the chance since I didn't know how hard it would be to find.

Your aquariums are really inspiring, I finally got my 16g sorority to look similar to yours and I'm so proud of it :D
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