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Re: Mini Bow a la Walstead

> As posted before, I am thinking about an All Glass Mini Bow as an office
> aquarium ...... I presume some of the soil comes to the surface and it
> seems this could cause trouble.

Here is my experience running 8 soil/gravel cap tanks (5-29 gal.) for
several months. None of the tanks had more than 2 watts/gal.

Minimal planting damage to tender stems and roots as dirt is very "soft" and
they slide right in.
Plants adjusted and grew soon after transplant.  Got little or no crypt melt
etc. Crypts did exceptionally well, reaching to the top of 10 gal in no
time. Swords were a mistake. They out grew even a 29 hi. (Surprised me that
sword did so well in lower light).  I had minimal disturbance taking out
stuff like val and crypts and even the large sword.  Putting in new plant
isn't much of problem, if it is small.
The tanks with low light, slow growing plants have stayed very nice for
months with little attention but water change and feeding fish. Algae has
been not a problem

Taking up stem plants made a REAL MESS.  It clouded the water with silt
which later settled like a blanket on top of gravel. It reclouds every time
the Synodontis feed.  Relatively speaking, stem plants did not do nearly as
well as non stem. The rich substrate of soil, obviously gives non stem
plants what they need.
I found that on the ones that I ran CO2, I got excellent growth on
everything with the stems doing relatively better than non stem. I also ran
into the same challenges with imbalance as any "hi tech" approach.

My conclusion: Great for small, minimal attention, low tech, lower light,
slow growing plant set up but far too "messy" for fast growing plants,
higher light, hi tech, and large tanks.  Over the long run, I was more
satisfied with using Flourite for both low and hi tech. The plants don't
grow quite as well in low tech, but I am much less frustrated. :>

My recommendation:
Consider planting with whatever slow growing permanent plants you choose and
put fast growing stem plants in small pots  which you can set on the
substrate and remove after the start up phase.

One last remark in favor of dirt:
I find dirt substrate, added  water column nutrients and CO2 to be an
effective way to "jump start/revive" those "tiny bits" of  plants rare to my
area that I lust for, have finally acquired and desperately want to grow. ;>