need help designing freshwater semi-self-sufficient ecosystem aquarium

  • #1
Hey so been watching sharkweek all week now and have been growimg more and more into the fascination in underwater life and ecosystem. I'm lookig at starting my own aquarium hoping to design it as a semi-self-sufficient aquarium ecosystem. I want it to provide a food chain (though I do plan to still feed bigger fish that is difficult for a 60 gallon ecosystem to support on its own.) Also I plan to do partial water changes to keep down nitrate levels but do want plants and moss that can lower the levels and want algae eaters instead of cleaning the algae (wanting a close to natural ecosystem) but still very much in the planning stages. I joined this forum hoping for help om my journey and to help others learn fro, my journey as well.

  • #2
oooh, sounds like you're looking to create a biotope environment. I'm working on one myself and found this site to be really helpful:

First step will be to decide what sort of biotope/ecosystem you want to mimic; that'll let you decide on tank size, fish, and plants. Plan on getting very hardy plants and fish to start. Do your research. Make sure you have adequate space and filtration for the fish and inverts you plan to have in the tank. If something doesn't work, look at different fish options.

Next step will be to set up your aquarium. Start cycling your tank. Read up here: if you don't know about the nitrogen cycle. Get some driftwood, bogwood, or root wood (depending on what ecotype you decide on) and soak it for a while to clean it up. Meanwhile, you can design your aquascape. Once you know what kind of plants you want, figure out how you want the tank to look. Keep in mind that some plants must be planted on driftwood or rocks, whereas others need a nutrient-rich substrate to flourish. Make sure all of your plants match the tank requirements for your fish, and also make sure you have the correct lighting for said plants and fish.

Once your tank is cycled, you can buy plants and fish. I'm no expert at planted aquariums, but I've chosen to add my plants mostly all at once, and they seem to be doing okay. Fish however, you need to be careful with. Add them slowly, group by group, and make sure your water parameters and temperature all suit the fish before adding them. Acclimate them to your tank, first by hanging the purchase bag in to adjust them slowly to the tank temperature, then by adding a bit of water from your tank to the water in the bag with the fish. This will help prevent water shock.

Another thing to keep in mind is the food chain you want. My tank will have live food in the form of shrimplets (I'm starting a shrimp colony before adding the final few fish), zooplankton if I'm lucky, and I'll also be supplementing the fish's diets with frozen and flake foods. The important thing to keep in mind is numbers in the food chain. The critters at the bottom are going to need to be much more numerous than the ones at the top in order to make this work.

Wishing you luck and happy fishes!

  • #3
For a self-sufficient tank, I'd go for some small schooling species, you could have snails and shrimp for algae. Shrimp also make food. I'd make it densley planted at the back with a centerpiece decoration in the middle. Good luck and post pics!

Edit: What theme will your tank be? Amazon?
hopeful fish
  • #4
Read up on the Diana Walstad method of aquariums. There have been people who have used her method and only have to top the water off. Usually, people don't even use filters in that style tank because you don't need one, unless you want water movement.

Her method is called "El Natural" and her book is titled "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium".
  • #5
Welcome to Fishlore!

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