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So, you’ve decided to want a low maintenance, budget friendly tank that has a huge impact in any room. Low-tech is a great option to go for if you don’t have a lot of spare time to do a lot of maintenance on a tank

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What is a low-tech tank?

A low-tech tank is an aquarium which is very simple to keep. It consists of “easy” category plants, a good plant substrate and low lighting output. It’s a very budget-friendly tank in terms of both starting and continuing to run. All that is required to keep this tank in check is weekly water changes and every once in a while, a plant trimming. 

How does it work?

A low tech tank works by creating a somewhat natural cycle in your tank. This means that you feed your fish, your fish produce waste and the plants soak up that waste and use it to grow. This helps to balance an aquarium very nicely for your fish by helping reduce harmful chemicals like ammonia, nitrite and nitrate which can harm your fish. It’s also great for your fish to have places to hide and relax reducing stress on your fish which will expand the lifespan of them.


What do you need to make a low-tech tank?

A low-tech tank really doesn’t need much more than your average aquarium or aquarium set. Firstly you will want to pick out a tank. Easy to set up kits are listed below, which I personally feel will help any planted tank beginner get into the hobby:

AquaOne AquaNano (55 Litre)

FluvalFlex (34 Litre)

Ciano Aqua LED (58 Litre)

You’ll also want to pick up a good planted tank substrate which will help by providing nutrients to heavy rooting plants which we will go through later in the blog. This also helps to stabilise your water quality. I personally like to use Caribsea Eco Complete. This substrate is great because not only does it help the plants to grow is also has Beneficial bacteria in it which helps to kick start your aquarium which means less waiting time for the initial cycling stage and a more stable environment in the long run for your fish.

You might also want to buy some wood or stone which can use to create even more of a natural feel to your tank. By placing these is you not only make the tank look even more natural but again it's great for the fish. The best wood to start with is usually fingerwood as this doesn’t leach tannins so your tank water won't go yellow. For rocks, I would usually start with lava rock which has great texture and is inert meaning it will not affect your water parameters.

You can also pick up some liquid fertilizer such as Easy-Life ProFito which I think is a great product for easy dosing. Just following the dosing instructions on the back and all should be great. Seachem Flourish is also a great choice if you have a lot of fish in the tank as it doesn’t dose extra nitrogen which is already produced by the fish. 

What plants are easy to start with?

Most “easy” category plants are great to start off with. Most species of Cryptocoryne are a great beginner plant which can grow in a lot of different conditions in terms of water quality and light intensity. These are classed as heavy root feeders which means they have very long, complex root systems which mean they make use of that substrate you have put in your tank. 

epiphyte plant plants such as java fern, bucephalandra and anubias are also great for these tanks because they love lower light conditions, these plants are attached to rocks and wood using glue, string or just putting it in little gaps on or between rocks and wood. 

Stem plants like rotala rotundafolia, hygrophila siamensis 53B and bacopa compact are great plants to place in the background which can grow tall and are great at creating a natural background in your tank. These just need to be planted in the substrate where they will begin to root and grow tall. Image result for rotala rotundifolia

How to put together the tank

So, this is the really fun bit. You now want either try and find inspiration or just throw it together, whichever works best for you. I personally go online and look up “low-tech aquascapes”. I then browse through different websites, images and even YouTube which helps give you plenty of tips on how to layout your tank. Then you go and create your very own planted tank scape and enjoy the beautiful view!

The do’s and don’ts of the low-tech tank

  • Do trim plants when needed. This helps to stimulate growth which helps keep algae down
  • Do run lights for 6-8 hours a day. Picking up a light timer would help with this
  • Do clean any algae that get the chance to grow
  • Do weekly water changes
  • Do filter maintenance monthly

  • Don’t overdose fertilizers as this can be harmful to fish or produce algae
  • Don’t overfeed fish as this can cause algae issues
  • Don’t keep moving plants as they will need to keep adjusting
  • Don’t Rinse the substrate
  • Don’t stir up the substrate

Thanks for reading