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low tech planted tank

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:16 pm
by 25CATS
I read an article/interview by Diana Walstad on the low tech planted tank-it was great and I plan to do it with my 35yo 25H and if it works the 55g will be next....

She talks about creating a balanced ecosystem with plants and fish-starting with a layer potting soil, plants, gravel, water, fish, no filter just a power head for water movement

50% water changes every 6 months leaving the gravel alone, this will be the hardest part for me-no water changes.....

lights-sunlight and 40watts of 6500k compact fluorescent

Plants act as the filter, fish act as fertilizers creating the balanced ecosystem
I am going to try it out..............

Has anyone else heard of or tried the Walstad NPT ??
found this interview on Aquatic Botanic, Diana Walstad also wrote a book on it... that I would really love to get

Re: low tech planted tank

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:43 pm
by kb46
IMHO if you have fish in your tank they are better off with regular water changes. I've always noticed a positive response to water changes in my fish. Plants may be able to filter nitrogenous waste but they can't filter out bacteria and other nasties that build up in your tank. I believe that even with no fish additions these nasties are constantly brought into you tank via the air. With no water changes these nasties can multiply to a level where your fish are affected. I don't know whether that is a complete explanation, there may be more to it. :twocents: You might even like to read this thread about "too clean water" from last year.

Tom Barr also has a low-tech method without water changes. There's a very lengthy thread on the method on The Barr Report. Tom Barr even advocates that high light plants can be trained to adjust to low CO2 levels in the water and do well in an NPT provided there are no water changes which reset the KH and bring more CO2 into the system.

I have heard reports that NPTs are rather short-lived - they work well for six-twelve months, their owners see decline in their plants and tend to strip them down and set up again from scratch. Part of the reason for this may be the depletion of carbonates in the water over time with no water changes, not sure.

I guess it is all a balancing act - what plants thrive in may not necessarily be the perfect environment for thriving fish, even though they can survive.

I wish you well with your project.

Re: low tech planted tank

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:49 pm
by freshfish
I've read her book; Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, and it's excellent. Extremely scientfic in areas and much went over my head (I need to read it again to try and absorb some more...), but there's definitely tons of very applicable info. :thumb:

An NPT is a very specialized tank setup. She goes into detail in her book on how to set one up (substrate preparation is extremely important), and it can get difficult to balance out the bioload vs plantload vs lighting; but I have seen some amazing tanks that were set up and successful for years.

Personally, water changes are too ingrained in me to ever forego them completely- but my own low-tech planted tanks do pretty well with water changes only once or twice a month, which I'm happy with. :)

If you do decide to set one up I hope you keep a journal, I'd love to follow along and see how it all works out for you! :D

Re: low tech planted tank

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:24 pm
by 25CATS
50% water changes every 6 months that is going to be real hard for me, I myself have that water change ingrained in my head-it will be hard but I am going to try...
I want a lush planted tank and I fear Co2, I just don't know enough about it to mess with it and this article was so interesting and I am going to check out the Tom Barr one too and see what he said about it. One of the mod on okcaa club that I am a member of has the NPT by Walstad tanks set-up and has a step-by-step guide and she is going to help me as well as others, they use pool filter sand and kitty litter layers in theirs-I am game to try my hand at it, I will journal and pic this too
One thing I want to find out is if the soil will sour like in over watered house plants....
I think its going to be fun to try something new, who knows it may really work great-only one way to find out...

Re: low tech planted tank

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:48 pm
by freshfish
I'm about to set up a soil-based substrate in my 46gal; using a Mineralized Soil process. It will be a low light non-CO2 tank, but I will be doing regular water changes so it won't be an NPT.