View Full Version : Low tech low light 2.5 gallon

01-02-2016, 10:41 PM
I have a minibow 2.5 gallon that I have had a betta in for the last few months. It has a small heater that keeps the water temp around 74 degrees and I use the Aqueon filters for the tank (I was changing these about every 2-3 months but think that may be a bad idea now). I picked up a 10 watt Aqueon CFL bulb that I will be adding. Gravel is in their for now but if needed can be replaced. I was doing around 85% water changes each week but have been re thinking this as well. I am new to freshwater and looking for some help in determining what would work best in the tank. I want it to be as low maintenance as possible. Was looking at some Java Ferns and a Anubias nano as well as maybe adding a small piece of driftwood, but would love to hear some suggestions on what else would work in such a small tank. Also would like to hear any improvements that could be made/suggestions for overall maintenance/care. I tested nitrates, ammonia and nitrates today and everything was 0 if it helps.

01-02-2016, 11:21 PM
I would go with the Walstad Method for something like this, but post-setup you can only do your best to adapt your situation to model this method. The Walstad Method tries to emulate nature in your aquarium. As simply as I can explain this method is using dirt as substrate, and using plants to purify the water. The nutrients for plants come from the waste of the livestock (fish, snails, etc). In Diana Walstad's book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium (which is where the Walstad comes from), she claims to change ~25-50% water every 3-6 months! That is how effective this method can be once it is properly balanced (and if you ensure it is running properly). Of course you will need to do water top-offs. So basically, the plants filter the water for the fish, and the fish poop and give the plants nutrients to keep the water clean! (the nutrients in the fish poo come from food)

(edit): I meant to say that Diana Walstad's book Ecology of the Planted Aquariums outlines the "low-tech" tank, so you are already on your way to having a Walstad tank! I used this method to set up a 55g, and it is still running very well today. Here are some older pictures if you're interested. (http://imgur.com/a/54289)

I think your setup is ok, but what do you mean "Aqueon Filters?" do you have a filter on the tank? or are you just putting Aqueon carbon pads in the tank?

Personally I have never used CFLs but I am planning on using them for a 40 gallon 'breeder' tank. You could definitely keep java fern and probably some anubias in just sunlight. Be ready to adjust your light if you use CFLS! by that I mean move the distance from the tank and also adjust the photoperiod (how long the lights are on.) If the tank is in sunlight already, You most likely dont need another light.

I don't think you need to change so much water every week, although honestly I'm not sure how much you should be changing. Maybe 20% a week but somebody else with more experience than I could give more accurate advice here (I've been keeping planted tanks for a little over 1 year.)

Driftwood would also be fine, I love having driftwood in my tank. I suggest boiling it for 1-2 hours to make sure it is clean, and to boil out the tannins. otherwise, the tannins would leach out of the water and turn it yellow. There really is not other drawback to tannins, they don't harm your water or fish they just turn the water yellow like tea.

01-03-2016, 07:57 AM
By Aqueon filters I mean these here: http://www.amazon.com/Aqueon-06076-Filter-Cartridge-3-Pack/dp/B005HRR1HG

Thanks for the response, I will do some research on the walstad method and will be sure to boil the driftwood. Should I go ahead and replace the gravel with better substrate?

EDIT: Spent a few hours this morning reading about the walstad method. Picked up some miracle grow organic potting soil mix and a 7watt CFL to try and get closer to 2watts per gallon. I could not find anything lower than that that would work with the current light fixture. Going to see go to the local fish stores this afternoon to try and get a mixture of stem plants to cover 75-80% of the floor and some floating plants (10-20%). Will test the water daily to see how this goes.

EDIT2: got some Amazon swords, micro swords, and some sort of crypt. Tank looks jammed full at this point. Was not able to fine any floating plants but will keep an eye out.

01-03-2016, 06:49 PM
are you putting those carbon packs in a filter or just putting the cartridge in the tank? Those cartridges have activated carbon in them, which can be beneficial sometimes (when you want to clear up the water, cleaning medicine from the water) but they can take out nutrients the plants can use. I'm not saying they're bad, but if you're going for a walstad tank there really isn't much of a use for them outside of initial setup. If you are testing 0/0/0, there really is no reason to filter your tank (unless the filter is making it 0/0/0, but in the Walstad method your plants should be doing the filtering). My 55 dirted tank is usually around 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10-20ppm nitrate. fish and plants have been doing fine for ~10 months in there.

I have a hard time imagining putting the dirt in the tank when its already set up. I like to put down ~1/2 - 1 inch of dirt, and then cover it with about the same amount of gravel or sand (if you bought gravel from petco or something of the like, it is most likely fine.) If you make it too deep, and there isnt proper water flow through the substrate, then anaerobic bacterial processes will build up toxic chemicals and could kill your plants and fish if it goes on long enough. You can solve this by poking the substrate to release the gasses. Gravel or sand will work just fine though, with no dirt, so there really is no reason to replace the gravel (which is where most of the benefical bacteria live,) especially if you don't have anywhere safe to put your fish while the tank re-cycles. Plants should be fine during the cycling period. If you really want to put dirt in the tank, I suggest removing everything and then putting the dirt down, and cap it with the gravel (if you do this, you are basically resetting your tank.) either way, do not vacuum the gravel!!!! you will remove the waste that will be processed into nutrients for food.

If you do decide to put dirt in the tank, be prepared for a bit of a mess. The water will probably be cloudy for a bit. the day after i set up my 55, I had a greenwater algae bloom so bad I couldnt see more than 4" into the tank. The dirt releases TONS of nutrients at the start, the mineralized soil guide should explain how to make the initial setup up a bit easier. However, whenever i move plants around, I do pull up some dirt and a bit of mulch. After ~11 months of the tank running, there are still pieces of mulch floating around.

Here are some links that helped me a lot before I started my 55 gallon: Guide on PAR (for lights) (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10-lighting/184368-lighting-aquarium-par-instead-watts.html)

Mineralized Soil Substrate (http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/library/52554-how-mineralized-soil-substrate-aaron-talbot.html)

Welcome to the forum, by the way! It's important to remember that mistakes happen, and as long as you learn from them you will be successful. You just need to keep going, and don't let a failure stop you from doing something you love!

01-03-2016, 08:56 PM
I believe that tank has a tiny little filter on the top, and that's where the cartridge goes.

I would personally get a finer sand/gravel if you think yours is too big and add the plants with that.

Are there currently any fish/inverts in there?

I personally would not to a dirted tank in such a small tank as the ammonia can get really high, really fast! Which results in loss of fish/etc.
Good luck with this tank, can't wait to see what you do with it!

01-03-2016, 10:16 PM
I believe that tank has a tiny little filter on the top, and that's where the cartridge goes.

I would personally get a finer sand/gravel if you think yours is too big and add the plants with that.

I personally would not to a dirted tank in such a small tank as the ammonia can get really high, really fast! Which results in loss of fish/etc.

Okay, that would make sense about the filter.

Also that does make sense about the ammonia getting too high too quickly.