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Old 10-25-2012, 07:48 PM   #1
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Walsted + India Biotope

Hello everybody!

I'm kind of new here but I'd like to think I'm learning a lot quite quickly. And I'll be doing my first VERY purposefully built tank... an NPT Indian Biotope.

Yesterday, while at Walmart (I know, I know, they're the devil when it comes to fish, but this tank was almost at cost), I found a 10 gallon aquarium by Aqua Culture. Having owned a 5 gallon from the same brand, I knew the aqua culture 5-15 filter is sufficiently under powered to not severely aggravate top dweller fish like gourami and bettas. For about 40$ I got a really bright light (bought two flourescent bulbs for the hood) a decently low disturbance filter and 10 gallons of tank. Not bad!


So we have a vessel, a plan, and plants (more on this later) so I guess now we have to figure out what to do next. Let's start with critters! I have a Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami which is in my other 10 gallon aquarium. He'll be the first critter to go into this tank... once I'm content that it's safe for him that is! I may put my female b. splendens Samus in there, we'll see (for cycling, she's in a bowl right now, poor thing). Anyway, I humbly ask my friends at aquariumadvice.com to help me stock this tank once I do... I need critters that won't disturb the soil too much so Kuhli Loaches, what I originally wanted to get won't work.

So on critters we're sorta check.

FLORA! For plants, my research shows that every plant I have in my home is naturally available in India! This is a boon because that means I don't have to buy any plants.


Tank Size: 10 Gallon
Filter: Aqua-Tech 5-15
Lighting: 2 Aqua Culture Flourescent Bulbs in a stock Aqua Culture hood.
Critters: 1x Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami & (whatever aquariumadvice.com helps me land on!)
Flora: Water Wisteria, Hygro Polysperma, Duck Weed & (whatever aquariumadvice.com helps me land on!)

PICTURES!!!eleventy (seriously, work logs are boring without pictures, right?)

Hygro Polysperma - Easily clonable, I've got a virtually unlimited supply ever increasing with time.



Water Wisteria - Because you weren't already familiar with such a common aquarium plant...


Guybrush, my Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami - he's a big fella, and pretty ornery.


So anyway, that's where I'm at. Any thoughts ladies and gentlemens?
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:49 PM   #2
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First question: what is a soil I can readily get at lowes that will work for this?
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
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First question: what is a soil I can readily get at lowes that will work for this?
I have used an organic potting soil in 4 tanks (2 I still have set up). You don't want anything with fertilizers or manure. I don't know of any brand available at lowes though.
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:10 PM   #4
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Thanks, Mumma.of.two!

So organic potting soil, no manure, no fertilizers, and not sterilized, right? Are there any other buzz words I need to arm myself with before I hit a hardware store manned with people who most likely know nothing of aquariums?

I doubt I can walk into lowes and say "Which of them bags of dirt should I get for my aquarium" and get a good answer so I'm just trying to make sure I'm as knowledgeable as possible before I go there is all.
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:52 PM   #5
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You want to get an Organic Potting Soil, not a potting "mix". I use a brand from Lowes called Just Natural. You are planning on capping the soil? It is the only way not to have a mess in your tank. You can use simple small gravel or sand as your cap.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:05 PM   #6
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You want to get an Organic Potting Soil, not a potting "mix". I use a brand from Lowes called Just Natural. You are planning on capping the soil? It is the only way not to have a mess in your tank. You can use simple small gravel or sand as your cap.
I got a 25 lb bag of gravel at walmart when I bought the tank. It was also pretty cheap (11$).

I will be capping and hiding the soil.

I read this guide and if I got one thing out of it, it was how he hides the soil with some careful gardening.

>> CLICKY << (tropicalfishkeeping dot com)

Thank you so much though, you gave me a product name to look for. So far the safe list that I know of is:

Scott's Lawn Care - Miracle Grow
John Innes #3
Just Natural

I think I have enough diction to succesfully make it home with the right dirt, tonite!

So here's another question: do I wait until the weekend so I can make it to a local store that carries flourite, or is that even needed/desirable on this type of setup?

Also should I get some seachem flourish tabs? (I have seachem flourish liquid)
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #7
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You can use a layer of florite if you want but wash the heck out of it if you use it. I don't use it but then I cap my dirt with Eco-complete. In a 10g tank you only need about 3/4 to 1 inch of soil and the same depth for the cap.

Thats not quite how I do it but it will work.

Yes you will need to add root tabs in about 4-6 weeks. Same with liquid ferts. In the beginning you will have alot of excess nutrients in the water so you do not need to add any extras. Doing alot of WC's the first couple weeks clears the water much faster, removes tannins that leech from the organic soil, and they keep nutrients lower so you don't expierence big algae blooms.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:01 PM   #8
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So, I tried to google it: Is duck weed illegal to keep in Nebraska?
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:10 PM   #9
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So, I tried to google it: Is duck weed illegal to keep in Nebraska?
I wouldn't think so, since it occurs in most water systems of the U.S., but can't say for certain.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:26 PM   #10
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I wouldn't think so, since it occurs in most water systems of the U.S., but can't say for certain.
Hopefully it's not illegal.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:06 AM   #11
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Duckweed is great for mopping up nutrients but it is messy and sometimes hard to get out of a tank. There are other floating plants that work, I use small water hycaniths. Also if you use water sprite, wisteria, or any fast growing stem plants in the beginning they will work very good at using excess nutrients.

As for duckweed being legal in your state... you state should have a list of illegal plants on line somewhere. And sale of duckweed is illegal in some states since it is an invasive species.
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:01 AM   #12
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So, it's time for an update! Hooray! [APPLAUSE] [APPLAUSE] *applauseroaoooaoaoaooaoaoaaaar*

Anyway. I got home today from work after going to the store. I honestly have no clue if I bought the right stuff, but it's called organic top soil. I don't even think I've ever seen the brand name and I couldn't recall it without looking... gardeners choice. That's the one! Anyway. I went about it throwing dirt in there and then gravel... oh yeah and these super duper wonderful green plants. Here is the tank unwatered.






There is soil under the gravel, btw.

BTW, messing with this even before I put water in it was a pain. The dirt and gravel stuck to my tweezers like crazy. it was really annoying. :\
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:06 AM   #13
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So now I'm looking at the tank and wondering how to make it not suck.

I couldn't come up with anything so I grabbed some rocks from my other 10 and fought with the arrangement for a while. Surprisingly, achieving what you feel is optimal rock placement is incredibly difficult. Not for the amatuer.









TENSO

Now that our hero is finally happy with plant and rock placement, we move on to the next step! For great justice!

Oh, also. One more thing! jetajockey asked me what kind of stone this was. I bought it at the store sold under the name "zebra stone"... but I can't seem to find it on the web... so the name is uncorroborated.
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:50 AM   #14
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So I went and did all this work to make it really pretty and I go and ruin it by adding water. What was I thinking. *tsk* *tsk*










Having seen the lights on another tank I can tell you they're winners. It looks great. Nice and bright, and white to boot!

Having another tank made by Aqua Culture, I also had another Aqua-Tech 5-15 and a THIRD bio media for the filter... so I transfered it from the 5 gallon to the 10 gallon. So now the 5 gallon has 1 bio media and the 10 gallon has 2 bio media.

It should cycle extra quick. I know NPT offers an alternative way of dealing with the nitrogen cycle but at the very least I want to have some filtration in this tank and figured why not just really kick some butt by doing a filter transplant. I dunno... my little sister is getting great results from her NPT tank and hers has a filter going.

Anyway, I added two caps of flourish. Those plants better be jack's beans.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:17 PM   #15
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Last night in the aquariumadvice.com's chat prorgam, jetajockey and I had a conversation about whether or not a filter matters one way or the other. He said that anywhere biofilm resides is a medium for the growth of bacteria, nitrifying or not. It just builds in the filter because there is the most food and surface area there.

So realistically in an NPT tank, the only thing you'll lose in an NPT tank by adding a filter is that initial burst of plant growth associated with the plants eating ammonia? That really is more of a question because I honestly don't know. I'm a greenhorn here folks.

Anybody out there?
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:22 PM   #16
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I guess I'm confused as to the question. Certainly there is a lot more to a filter than providing a surface area for bacteria to grow. They are important for water movement, which equatibly distributes gases and nutrients throughout the entire tank and they provide the means for gas exchange. Now these two things can also be taken care of by using a powerhead, but you definitely need something to provide water movement.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:29 PM   #17
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I guess I'm confused as to the question. Certainly there is a lot more to a filter than providing a surface area for bacteria to grow. They are important for water movement, which equatibly distributes gases and nutrients throughout the entire tank and they provide the means for gas exchange. Now these two things can also be taken care of by using a powerhead, but you definitely need something to provide water movement.
I don't entirely know what I'm asking either, I guess you could say I'm mostly curious on the rest of the forums opinion. Filter or not in an NPT?

EDIT: BTW, what should I use for fore ground plants in my india biotope! I'm VERY open to suggestions, though ideally nothing that grows too rapidly or too far beyond like 2-3 inches. I want green on the bottom but would like to see past it. I'm trying to organize the tallest plants (wisteria for sure) to the back, and I've got the hygro polysperma in the midground and somewhat mixed in with the wisteria for the natural effect...

and then I want something slightly shorter for foreground if possible.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:00 PM   #18
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Oh, on another note... jetajockey thought it'd be a good idea to try and make the aquarium pretty. he advised me to move the rocks... the problem, just like he complained to me about in the same conversation is, while some aquarists swear by NPT, some swear AT NPT because of how easy it is to kick up a bunch of dust/dirt.

Here are the pictures following the re arrange on the rocks. I agree it looks better, but man this is gonna be hard to keep looking nice.











When the fog clears I'll take more pictures. *mumble* *grumble*

It seems I may have to do a water change to get the water to clear up, though. Is that reccomended?
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:29 PM   #19
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Okay so... I went home on my lunch break to see how things were going and it's definitely cleared up quite a bit.








Thankfully it's clear enough to show how I chose to arrange the rocks. I was surfing around on youtube and happened upon this video.


The little rocks are really nice in this aquarium for some reason, so I'm gonna buy some medium sized rocks like that and scatter 'em around to add some depth I think.

I also really like how it's kind of dark like that. Does anybody know how he accomplished good lighting on part of the tank but dark spots elsewhere? I can't seem to see anything that'd block out the light.

Also still trying to decide if I'm going to do duck weed or not.

Oh, and here's a question I have that I think is kind of important: How do I humanely test if it's habitable or not? I bought organic top soil, but know little to nothing about the product I bought. Near as I can tell it's just dirt, but there still exists that small shadow of a doubt, you know?
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:49 PM   #20
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If you bought an Organic Potting soil or Organic Top Soil and not anything that had "mix" on the end it will be fine. If it will make you feel better go get a ghost shrimp or two and put them in.
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