Water filtration


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Jun 11, 2013
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Hello, I'm rather new to all of this (creating a self sustaining ecosystem in a tank) but have been doing a lot of research. This site has been awesome so far, and I was just wondering if there are any plants that are good for helping with maintenance of the tank (filtration, oxygenation, ph levels, managing waste, anything and everything!) They would also need to feed the smaller creatures I plan to have(springtails, blackworms, water fleas, stripped dwarf shrimp, amiphipods, water louse, some sort of snail?). Additionally would there be any small fish that anyone would recommend as well?
Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
So would you be aiming to set up an aquatic tank or a semi-aquatic tank (paludarium)? Good plants for the water section of a tank would be java moss, anacharis, and java fern. Just look up hardy low-light plants on the internet. A very good plant for the terrestrial section of the tank or with its roots in the water would be pothos. If you're looking to have mostly plant filtration try to heavily plant it from the start. Also, as with any tank, choose the largest size that you can support (afford, fit in the house, etc). The larger the tank, the more stable the water parameters will be. As for micro-fauna, terrestrial isopods like springtails work very well at cleaning up waste and reproduce very quickly. Note that the terrestrial part of any vivarium will support much more micro-fauna and processing of wastes. Its mainly because there is much more gas exchange on land than in water. I don't know much about micro-fauna in an aquatic but I do assume that most (like water fleas) would just feed of the waste/detritus in the tank. Red cherry shrimp can handle cooler temperatures and are very hardy.
Be sure to realize that even with a heavily planted tank, water changes will have to be done to keep the water parameters stable. With an animal like a newt living in an aquarium, the bioload will be too high.
I plan to build a paludarium, and would there still need to be water changes if i have a large amount of small organisms/small waterfall with a filter?
If you want a healthy ecosystem and rare water changes, plant as many plants as you can (both land and water), but those plants need to GROW, not just be there for few weeks after putting random species in there. I would strongly advice reading "Ecology of the planted aquarium" by Diana Walstad, the book explains a lot how an aquatic ecosystem works and how much plants have to do with welfare of the other inhabitants. There is a lot to understand at the beginning, but once you learn it, it's much easier to set up and maintain both aquarium and paludarium.

PS keep in mind that putting in fish would strip your tank off water fleas and blackworms, also smaller amphipods.
I think, even if you do provide strong biological filtration via filters and plants, you still need to do some water changing in order to keep the system stable. In an tank with no water changes, tank parameters (ph, mineral, and nitrogen) will constantly fluctuate, causing great stress to you inhabitants. Also to get away with few water changes, you would have to very lightly stock your tank. As for fish White Cloud Minnows or shrimp are your best bet. Look at the Caudata Culture articles: they have an article on compatible fish for caudates. Newts are not often found in waters with fish, so I think shrimp would be the better option. Shrimp also have a tiny bioload and would coexist better with any microorganisms in the tank.
Growing terrestrial plants with their roots in the water works very well at keeping the water clean. Terrestrial plants, when exposed to air, grow faster, so would rapidly pull nutrients and wastes out of the water column.
With a heavily planted, lightly stocked tank, I would go with at least 25% water change once a month.
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