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Eclipse 6 tank planted

To:  Kelly Beard, re Eclipse 6

>I have an Eclipse 6 at my desk at work. It's pitiful. No plants, two lemon
>tetras and a single cory that hides all of the time behind a rock. I've
>thought about converting it into a planted tank.

I have a System 3 and a System 6, which I converted a bit over a month ago to 
a potting soil (rich organic mix) covered by fine gravel substrate, following 
Diana Walstad's book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium".  It is working well - 
I had huge green water problems before, and my plants kept dying, now I have 
clear water, also healthy plant growth.  What I did was ditch the carbon 
filter and replace it with filter wool, which I change frequently, so the 
bacteria grow in the tank rather than in the filter.  I have also recently 
taken out the biowheel, which did cause a nitrite and nitrate spike for a few 
days, also a bit of ammonia, but the plants are doing better, so using it at 
the beginning is optional, as you will be doing lots of water changes for a 
while.  The key is to have fast growing plants - I just got some Pennywort, 
which although a bit big, grows fast, also Hygrophila and Indian Fern.

The tank had brown water (from the peat in the potting soil) for the first 
three weeks, but no algae until a week ago, and it has now cleared up too with 
the biowheel out and the Pennywort.  I found that there were big variations in 
pH the first week in particular, but keep checking and changing the water 
daily for a while, then every two days, etc, it lengthens out, unless like me 
you add fish and take out the biowheel at the same time!

Also look at www.users.uswest.net/~laren, Larry Miracle's site - its an 
inspiration!  Larry has been very helpful to me off list, thanks Larry!

With this approach, there is no need for CO2, the light you have is fine, the 
aim is incredibly low maintenance for a little more work to begin with, and I 
can't recommend it highly enough!

Susi Barber.