How To Build Ecosystem Tank:

A self-sustaining aquarium that doesn't require much maintenance and can run on its own would be a dream come true for aquarium hobbyist. Like a creek or lake, where there is an abundance of fish, plants and ample supply of food with a natural filtration. However, it won't be possible to build an ecosystem in aquarium similar to the nature but constant care by the hobbyist can be minimized to a greater extent. Outside influence in Ecosystem aquarium would most probably be turning on the light and topping up water that is evaporated. Nothing goes in the fish tank and nothing comes out of it.

How to build ecosystem aquarium
How to build ecosystem aquarium

An aquarium can be closely described as artificial ecosystem if fish and plants can grow and develop in a healthy and balanced way.

It’s been 10 weeks since I set up my aquarium so everything seems okay. The aquarium seems mature & it is time to add baby shrimps to my aquarium that can hold maximum 5-gallon of water. My ecosystem tank is able to operate without filter, heater, CO2 & there is no need to add fertilizers to this tank. I have shrimps in my ecosystem to control algae growth & they can eat dead leaves of aquarium plants. They can create waste which acts as fertilizers for plants, & this aquarium is located indoor so I did not add any heater. My aquarium has been cycled & there is enough good bacteria that provides the best environment for the baby shrimps to grow. Bacteria is available on the tank glass, substrate & on the aquatic plants too, which is the reason why I did not add any filter in this aquarium.

I have used drip system to acclimated baby shrimps for about 45 minute, they did not show any color on day one. But on day two, they showed their color & started swimming in the aquarium.

Check out how to build an artificial ecosystem aquarium in a video below:

How to build artificial ecosystem tank

This article might help you if you want to build an ecosystem in aquarium without using any filter, heater, CO2 & fertlizers. If you have any questions or want to provide feedback or share your experiences with us, then don’t forget to leave comments below.

Choose suitable aquarium for ecosystem:

First of all, you need to decide which tank is best for you & the tank recommended for ecosystem. You can create ecosystem in a small size tank that can hold 5-gallon of water. Going smaller than that would need more maintenance so according to our recommendation this is the least size for setting up an ecosystem that can run without maintenance.

Expose aquarium to fluorescent lighting:

Then your aquarium need exposure to fluorescent lighting. It is crucial to grow aquatic plants in such ecosystem.

Setup substrate in tank:

Setup substrate in aquarium
Setup substrate in aquarium

Set up substrate in aquarium. It is the soil that can be used to fill up the bottom layer that lets aquatic plants to anchor & grow. You need to set up soil before doing any other activity to foster a suitable environment which can help in growth & recovering of nutrients.

I am using Amazonia soil as substrate.

Fill tank with water:

Fill tank with water
Fill tank with water

Fill aquarium with water. It can help grow food, & other organisms will produce in water such as algae. It is recommended to add fresh or dechlorinated water in this tank & then add fish food in it that can help in vital nutrients growth.

Add plants:

Add aquatic plants
Add aquatic plants

Then it is time to buy a variety of plants for your aquarium. Your choice would be based on time for the plants to grow, when they would need trimming, when they grow, what would be their size, & whether they would float on water or would be half submerged or fully submerged in water.

Aquatic plants in my small tank are Hair grass, Pink baby tears, Java Fern, Java Moss & Blue Stricta.

Let the aquatic plants grow inside aquarium before adding live fish.

Trim aquarium plants:

Trim aquatic plants
Trim aquatic plants

I recommend trimming aquatic plants if they grow too long. Cut branches of plants so they do not consume too much space of aquarium.

Regular water change:

Regular water change in required if you have setup an ecosystem. This step is very crucial so make a habit of removing 15 percent of aquarium water & fill up aquarium with fresh water. Also make sure you add dechlorinated water or if you are adding fresh water then allow water to sit in an aerated bucket for 24 hours so that chlorine present in water can escape.

You can use water from filter if you think that water quality is not good.

Remove algae:

Remove algae
Remove algae

Use gravel vacuum tool to remove algae from tank water. Gravel vacuum can help remove 15 percent of water & also wipe out algae present in water & food that is not eaten by aquarium inhabitants.

Clean your tank with scrubber so algae attached to surfaces of aquarium can be removed.

I had noticed a big algae bloom after 4 weeks of aquarium running then I had to clean the aquarium & had changed water, since then algae growth has been reduced.

Remove dead fish:

If smaller fish die in aquarium, then they are decomposed & can convert into harmful bacteria. If you find a dead fish in aquarium, then remove it immediately.

Use test kit to monitor bacteria levels:

Using a test kit can help you in monitoring the harmful bacteria levels. You need to change water if you find out that poisonous bacteria levels are higher.

Pros & cons of Small Tank Ecosystem:

Have a look at major pros & cons of aquarium ecosystem:

Pros of Small Tank Ecosystem:

  • Small tank ecosystem can hold water from 5 to 10 gallons.
  • It offers more space for aquatic plants to grow.
  • This aquarium does not need much space & can be placed indoor.
  • It is simple to setup a small ecosystem aquarium
  • It can produce enough good bacteria

Cons of Small Tank Ecosystem:

  • More substrate is required
  • It is not big enough to offer ideal sustainability for a longer period of time
  • Not enough space for keeping many plants & also this ecosystem is not recommended for keeping larger plants
  • Avoid adding many fish to this ecosystem
  • It is easier to maintain a large aquarium ecosystem.

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