Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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SinCrisis 08-27-2009 03:12 PM

Self contained enviroment?
Hey all,

a while back i saw this orb thing on sale at a brookstone and it was a glass sphere with a shrimp and some form of algae, looked like javamoss to me, but the label says its a fully self contained environment and all it needed was indirect sunlight and the plant will grow, the shrimp will eat the plant and poop and the plant will absorb the poop. In theory it looks sound, but im guessing it probably doesnt end up lasting too long? Anyway, I was wondeirng if there was a way to set up a small tank where the enviroment inside will take care of itself, for example, lots of live plants, something to eat the plants, and the plants reabsorbing the waste to keep growing and all i would have to do would be to top the tank off when teh water level drops.

I ahve a 5 gallon unused tank that i wanna try this with and i was wondeirng if anyone had any ideas, tips or advice for it? I do not even know if its possible, I was thinking live plants and shrimp and a fish fo some sort. Of course if it looks like its not working out i will start feeding regularly and make it a normal tank.

Angel079 08-27-2009 04:23 PM

I have never personally tried just, just watched others experimental with it. So far the problem seems less the non-use of a filter, but the still sitting water with no flow or anything nature like. Even if you watch a small pond, it still at least gets water action from the rain. Then of cause the smaller your experiment tank the more likely it will quickly be effected by something along these lines.

How do you plan on setting it up? would be interesting.

SinCrisis 08-27-2009 11:25 PM

well i was thinking the water movement would be caused by "rain" when i topped off the tank like once a week? I was debating if adding a pump would affect the self sustainability of the system but i think that if constant water movement is really necessary, a light pump wouldn't affect the overall balance that much since its not a filter and will only cause current, which could occur naturally in nature caused by outside forces like wind and such.

FishySuzy 08-27-2009 11:51 PM

Well, those Orb things are completely sealed, so yeah, they are a completely self contained environment. Being that you want to top the tank off kind of defeats that purpose. You know?

1077 08-28-2009 02:50 AM

You might check out 'Diana Walstad' method for natural aquariums. I believe it is very close to what you are considering. The trick is in my view,, Very few fish.;-)

Tyyrlym 08-28-2009 09:10 AM

And by very little fish I'd mean like one MAYBE two neon tetras in the tank. Big maybe on the second.

Also, those orbs might be sealed and they might sustain the shrimp for quite a while but sustain =/= thrive.

Angel079 08-28-2009 10:04 AM

I think if I was to try setting something like this up, I'd add something that'll maintain a permanent small flow (not a filter, just something to keep the water moving 24/7). Then max the tank out with tons plants and then i'd put a handful shrimp in it rather then fish.

SinCrisis 08-28-2009 10:52 PM

I will be using distileld water, which will add very little besides water into the system so i think that should affect the tank minimally in terms of having additives added and none taken out -- no water changes.

Ive looked at the walstad method. What i want is indeed very similar but I will not be using soil as she suggests but isntead gravel, which leads me to wonder how will i cycle the tank?

I checked out my local petsmart and petco and they only have ghost shrimp and bamboo shrimp. To my knowledge, neither will be able to survive on just natural vegetation.

Also, yes i realize the tank population will be tiny, I'm hoping with keeping animals like shrimp, they will eventually reach equilibrium in population vs amount of food available.

Lastly, the cycle issue. How will i cycle the tank with no fish and without ferts, the plants will eventally die before the bacteria will properly colonize in the substrate? Correct me if im wrong, but i will need to introduce both fish and plants at the same time for this to work right?

1077 08-28-2009 11:49 PM

You could feed the tank a small amount of food every other day while monitoring the water.I am thinking that a tank crammed with plants, and with the use of root tabs to help them get established, there will be little or no ammonia or nitrites and maybe detectable nitrates. I would use fast growing plants as opposed to crypts or anubias. Why are you against soil under the gravel? I am not much of a plant person but it would seem that it might give the plants a good source of nutrients. Maybe PM Byron and see what his views are.

SinCrisis 08-29-2009 09:55 AM

well ive done some research on soil and although they do seem to be very good for plants, soil will give up their nutrients faster tahn another substrate like fluorite. Moreover, soil under gravel would evenually mean the gravel will sink underneath and that makes anerobic pockets a potetential danger?

Also, i was not clear before, I want to first fill the tank with normal dechlorinated tap water, and then top off with distilled water weekly. That way, there is a set amoutn of minerals in the water.

The more i look at this project, Im starting to think at initially i will need to add additional nutrients, and minerals before letting it run self sufficiently. For example, I think thet ankw ill need a decent amount of trace minerals for plants so dosing of fertilizer may be necessary for a little while before letting the system go on its own since tap water alone will not ahve enough to sustain a bunch fo plants.

Also another idea i had was the introduction of snails, malaysian trumpets to be exact. I think their population would be properly controlled if there is no additional food for them besides rotting plants and they will help decompose of bodies of shrimp or fish. Waht do you guys think of the snail idea?

As for plants, the tank has roughly 2-3 watts per gallon, but its a standard bulb not a full spectrum one. So to be safe I was hoping to use low light plants only. However, I was hoping to avoid fast growing plants like java moss since they will take over the tank and I will not trim them down, unlike the walstad method, since that will end up taking nutrients from the system. Also I want to avoid palnts liek java fern that very few fish or shrimp will eat.

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