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#1 fishermanM

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 22 June 2015 - 04:32 AM

Not really much to say, but I wanted to say hi to everyone here.


I have been interested in fish since I was little kid, and only now I am starting a native tank. I will need a lot of guidance from you experts along the way! I have kept tropical fishes so I have a general idea of the steps to make a good tank, and I've been reading this site and some others over the past few days to get an idea of specifics of natives and how they differ from the tropicals. I've also done a bit of bait fishing, and studied biology in university, so these might help me as well.


My goal is to try to keep things all natural, or at least as natural as possible. I'd love to use real mud from a pond, real plants, invertebrates for food, and so on, and avoid chemical treatments as much as possible. I also want to avoid mechanical stuff like filters as much as possible, but if it seems I absolutely need one, I'll get one. I'd rather have an ecosystem where the plants are the filters, just like nature intended.


I will look at tanks sometime this week and purchase one, probably a small one though because of space restrictions. I understand small tanks are harder, but I'm not really looking to set up anything too fancy. I'd be content with a few fishes, some nice plants, some snails or shrimps, just like a quiet slice of pond life. This will sort of be a test tank, a learning experience, so that when I finally have my own place and can get a larger tank, I will be able to make it perfect.


Nice to meet you guys, and I really appreciate this place as a resource!


- M

#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 22 June 2015 - 07:18 AM

Welcome, I think you will find the things you are looking for here. I have a 25 gallon bow front tank that is just as you describe. A handful of Enneacanthus sunfish and three or so swamp darters. Heavily planted. Deep soil substrate with no filter.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 mattknepley

  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 22 June 2015 - 07:22 AM

Welcome, M!

You will indeed find plenty o' knowledge and friendly help here. I'm sure you can find a nano-Native setup that works; especially as it sounds as if you have a decent skill set to draw upon.

By the by, if you want to add your home drainages, it could be helpful in understanding just what "native" is for you. From the time you posted this and the phrase "in university" I am guessing you have a wider-than-just-U.S. world experience. :) But no need to put a location on here either, if you'd rather not...

Again, welcome!
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#4 loopsnj64

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 22 June 2015 - 07:32 AM

If you use real pond mud, i would suggest using the sandier material then "mud", pond bottom mud gets all over the place, but you can use sand, gravel, driftwood and rocks from ponds, i would suggest having them in the tank about a month before the fish though, because of attached critters


Yes you absolutely need a filter in most cases, if you want to go filter free, 2-4 small fish in a large (30+ gallons) heavily planted tank


As for fish i would recommend


Mudminnows (hardy, great personality) 


Swamp darter (hardy, eats pond snails)


Brook Stickleback (hardy, but mildly aggressive to similar sized fish)

"All good things must come to an end, but bad things think thats rather dull, so they stick around long after their natural end has come"

-From an art book I read

#5 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 22 June 2015 - 02:35 PM

Welcome! Completely natural tanks are the best, I have several that work well with just plants for filtration and a small trickle of bubbles for aeration from a concealed air line, hidden sponge filters are also effective natural filtration method that can be tucked behind a pile of rocks or the like. Just be sure if you want to have a full natural setup that you follow nature's formula being just a few fish, a lot of plants, and tons of water (relatively speaking that is, so a heavily planted 10 gallon with a few Mudminnows or least killies would work). Do that and there's no need for filtration or sometimes even aeration if you have species that can thrive in low DO levels and you have a lot of plants.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#6 CCat

  • NANFA Member
  • Denver, CO

Posted 22 June 2015 - 04:30 PM

Welcome!  I encourage lots of plants too, and Circulation > Filtration, in my opinion.

#7 fishermanM

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 23 June 2015 - 02:51 AM

Thanks for the warm greetings!


To answer a few things, first, about where I'm from. I was trying to keep this a bit secretive because I'm not from America, but I guess my nonstandard phrases gave that away. I'm from Hong Kong, home of the tiny apartment where I can barely fit in a fish tank. I'd love to move to America someday, where I can have my own backyard and a big pond with so many fishes and natural beauty. But for now I'll just have to deal with what I can and stay small. I'm not too familiar with the waterways around here, just the beaches and oceans, but I can't do saltwater for sure. And I'm a bit worried that even the lakes here might be a bit salty because we are so close to the ocean.


As I said, I would love to go filterless, or at least a hiden filter. I hate looking at the tanks with all these pipes and loud equipments all over the place. It really distracts from the things I should be focusing on. Or maybe use an airstone instead of filter?


Heavily planted is what I want, and some floating plants as well because they seem to be easy to raise. As for the planted ones, how exactly do you get them? Pull them out of the river gently? And I'd be happy with a small school of fishes and some invertebrates. Just basic and natural look.


My first step is to look for the fish tanks. I will look today or tomorrow and see the sizes and prices. Then, maybe go to a lake and try to get some mud and invertebrates that comes with it. But definitely I need a tank before I start catching the fishes or anything else. So we have to be patient.

#8 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 23 June 2015 - 08:39 AM

So do you know what species of natives you have over there? I assume there's several invasive species of North American fish over there as there are for every continent.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#9 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 23 June 2015 - 06:59 PM

Welcome. Sounds like a great plan. I have not tried it but some profess that kitty litter works great for planted tanks. You need the pure clay based kitty litter though.


 One of the above posters called brook sticklebacks mildly aggressive, I would have to disagree a bit and say that sticklebacks though very interesting are the spawn of Satan. I would never keep them with any fish that HAS FINS as they will likely become fish that HAD FINS, at least in my experience. Maybe I was doing it wrong.


Good luck.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#10 fishermanM

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 24 June 2015 - 06:44 AM

Back again. Seems I'll be here a lot.


No idea what is over here. I can't really tell the little ones. I can tell that two are from different species, but I can't tell what the species is. I went fishing the other night and caught some little fishes with bright eyes, a bright stripe down the back, and their fins are like waving, and they kind of hover in place. Really bad description, I know, but that's the best I can give now. I caught some others but those ones were my favourites, and I wouldn't mind a tank with a school of them darting in and out of the plants and rocks. I'll try to get pictures next time because this time I didn't take them home.


Also, I found a pretty good tank maybe. It's 90 x 32 x 42 cm, if I did the maths correctly it's over 30 gallon. Seems big enough, but it is so long and not very wide (90 long, 32 width). Will this be a problem? Or is it okay?If it's okay I go get it tomorrow before it gets sold out!


Then, once I have the tank, I will go to the lake to get some mud. Maybe just fill up a big water jug with mud and a little water and let it settle down. I like the mud more than the kitty littler because it should contain snails, worms, etc. and also just start the nitrogen cycle, from what I've read.  I'm just not sure at what stage I should be planting the plants. Should I do it on the day one or let it settle first and then plant? As long as it doesn't get too hard to plant if I let it settle down a few days.


Thanks for all your help and kind welcomes.

#11 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 24 June 2015 - 07:16 AM

The tank size is just fine. If it is a good deal, buy it. That is basically a standard 30 gallon tank 36x12x16 inches.


As far as planting and substrates go, I will let somebody who has done more answer those questions. I have always kept my tanks heavily salted which was not a good mix with plants. When I used plants, hornwort was always my go to, so I have done minimal planting.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#12 Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips
  • NANFA Member
  • Allegheny River Drainage, Southwest PA

Posted 24 June 2015 - 08:33 AM

As far as substrate goes, feel free to use mud but be warned it may stir up badly once water is added or if fish are running around in it. I'm keeping several species of plants and seem to have the most luck with pool filter sand even though I'm told it's not the best for plants. But if you want to keep it all natural then go ahead and try the mud or maybe some sand you can find locally.
Sean Phillips - Pine Creek Watershed - Allegheny River Drainage

#13 fishermanM

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:51 AM

Got my tank! A bit bigger than the one I posted before, 1 m long and about 40 US Gallons!  Didn't realize how heavy it is though, lol.


Getting to cleaning it and in the next few days I will figure out what to do for the substrate. Very excited to get started but I know I have to be patient.


If I have any more questions I will ask in another topic, like the forum for beginner questions.


Thanks for the warm welcomes, see you!

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