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Re: Q: low tech, low maintence tank

>Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 14:41:13 -0500
>From: Bain Chin <bchin at MIT_EDU>
>Hi folks,
>I am interested in the experiences of others who keep low maintenance/low
>tech tanks. I am trying to learn ways to keep a planted tank that requires
>almost no work.
>Currently I am trying out a 10 gallon by the window. I use no filters, or
>heaters. The only wire for the tank is for one fluorescent tube (a shop
>light.) I have 2 tetras, 1 black molly, 1 guppy,  lots of snails, and lots
>of plants - hygro, cabomba, anachris, java fern, banana plant, floating
>fern - on cat litter plus sand. I feed the fish once a day (tetraMin
>2 minutes) and change the water when I feel like it - maybe 30% twice a
>month. I want to get more fish but feel that I don't have the setup just
>right yet. There is still algae, water is slightly colorless cloudy
>I suspect it's the salt that I add, which has additives in it so it's 1/3
>less sodium.)

In my zero-maintenance tanks, I rely on a nearly sealed environment and
plants for the stability.  They have very few fish in them.

I'm able to run them at ultra-low maintenence levels for years by letting
the plants grow emersed, providing them with direct access to CO2 and
allowing lower light levels because I don't have do deal with reflective
losses at the surface of the water (I get reflective gains instead between
the surface and the light).

I'd recommend letting your plants determine which does best in the tank
(actually, if you lower your maintenence, this will happen naturally).
Also, don't go adding too many fish.  A zero maintenance tank should be
able to maintain its fish almost wholly on the recycled nutrients in the
tank.  I only feed a tiny amount twice a week to mine to keep the mineral
content up.

Duckweed is a good indicator plant for a zero maintenance tank.

Although I've had a lone cardinal tetra survive on what it could find in a
20g zero maintenance tank, I don't recommend it.  This fish probably
survived mainly by grazing on tiny crustacea in the tank while they lasted.
It died after about 6 months because of a nasty micobacterium infection
that it came from the aquarium store with 2 years earlier.

David W. Webb           Texas Instruments
(972) 575-3443 (voice)  http://www.dallas.net/~dwebb
(214) 581-2380 (pager)  2145812380 at alphapage_airtouch.com