1.5 gallon very low tech planted vase

Jul 17, 2017
I'm almost a month in to my planted vase and it hasn't been a disaster. I had hair grass growing well in a mayo jar on my windowsill (despite my neglect) and instead of throwing it out I created a vase tank.

Water: 50% well water: GH = 13.5 dH, KH = 10.1 dH and 50% RO.

Substrate: a layer of bagged topsoil, recycled substrate from the mayo jar (safe-t-sorb + potting soil), capped with more safe-t-sorb. Osmocote isn't available here so I mixed in some Miracle Grow slow release 9-4-12 + micro nutrients. It's the same company (Scotts) and seems to be a very similar product.

Light: Ambient light. I started with it in the windowsill but chickened out as algae started to appear. Where it's sitting now it gets an hour or two of direct sunlight

Plants: All collected native plants. A hairgrass that grows pretty tall (~15 cm?) (Eleocharis ?acicularis?), one stem of Ludwigia palustris, and 3 stems of what I'm pretty sure is floating-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria ?cuneata?). A small clump of Riccia, floating like nature intended.

I'll post more tomorrow but for now, photos:

Day 3:

Day 27 (today):
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Jul 17, 2017
Sagittaria cuneata is the floating-leaved arrowhead and that is what I believe I have planted. I'm interested in it, but it may not work out (will it get too big? go dormant? not do what I want?). Here's some photos from the wild. Submersed rosette:

Floating leaf from a submersed rosette:

Small individual with emersed with arrow leaves (foreground), even smaller emersed rosette (background):

Larger emersed plant with flowers:

In the vase I started with three. One grew a floating leaf while sitting in tupperware (damaged by the cat):

It then through out an emergent leaf presenting the cat an opportunity. He pulled the whole plant out of the vase and ate part of it. So now there are two. One is staying a rosette with delicate ribbon leaves. The other is spamming various leaf morphologies: ribbons, submersed arrows, floating lances, submersed lances.

The ribbon leaves are quite nice but very delicate and the plants seem to regard them as highly expendable.


Finally, the Ludwigia palustris is doing well. I had one plant. I planted the top and the roots + stump. Both are growing (the stump has two small side shoots) but, as expected given the low light, all the new growth is green. This is what it looked like in the wild:
Jul 17, 2017
I've never quite decided what fauna to have in the vase. The Eleocharis mayo jar got some hitchhiking baby Fossaria (now Galba) snails (small native Lymnaeid pond snails). Half a dozen of the 2nd generation went into the vase at setup and disappeared (I discovered yesterday that it turns out they came out with the Sag the cat ate and are living with the remnants of that plant in another jar). I had nothing to eat the algae (some green spot but mostly GDA and diatoms). Two days ago I scooped two Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles and one American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) tadpole out of a water garden and tried them out as a cleanup crew. They worked great; cleaned off all the Ludwigia leaves and the wood in one day. I wish I had taken before photos!

Hyla tads:


As an aside, both these species should be transformed by now (metamorph treefrogs began showing up about month ago on our windows) but the water garden is an ecological trap: it is small but attractive enough to breeding adults and has few if any predators (Grey Treefrog tadpoles develop red tails when predators are around) which results in drastic over crowding. In addition it has a huge population of Stagnicola pond snails that compete with the tadpoles. The pool never dries but freezes solid in the winter. This seems to really favour the Stagnicola. Last winter I chipped out a chunk of ice with a frozen Stagnicola in it and it popped back to life and began reproducing in a week. The result is that this pond has a lot of tadpoles that are unable to grow enough to metamorphose.

Yesterday I tested NH4 and got >1ppm. I did a quick 60% WC and will likely do another one tonight. I'm not terrified the tadpoles will immediately kick the bucket (these species often experience ammonia levels in nature in crowded drying pools) but I'm sure it's not good for them or the tank. I may keep only one in the vase but I haven't decided what to do with the others. I'm also not sure what to replace them with because they will be transforming soon anyway if they get enough to eat.

Ideas for replacement/additional fauna include Fossaria, native isopods, one or two RCS, a Bull or Greenfrog tadpole (they take 2 years to grow to metamorphosis). I don't have any sort of filter so I may just need to stick to low bio-load inverts. Thoughts?


Junior Poster
Mar 8, 2017
Looks good, im not a big vase fan unless its like WELL kept, but I like this one, without that ludwigia though, idk if I would.
Keep that ludwigia nice!!!!
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Lifetime Members
Lifetime Member
Aug 25, 2016
Interesting post, I always neglect the plants that are growing in my local area, instead I spend money and get imported weeds, hmmmm. Nice pictures, your cat is hilarious.
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Jul 17, 2017
As intended, I moved two of the three tadpoles into my 20 gal. This is a treefrog tadpole at 10:45 pm:

The back legs have gotten bigger and the front limb buds are showing under the skin (that pale patch midbody). Then at 10:15 am I noticed my polywog is a polyfrog!

Metamorphosis happens fast. I've put it in a container of tank water with a bark island. Once it's reabsorbed its tail I will release it.
Jul 17, 2017
I released the metamorphed tadpole this morning!


I also came across several of its further-along compatriots:

The remaining treefrog tadpole in the vase has continued to grow but doesn't seem ready to transform yet.

Vase this morning:


There are two competing visions of nature, the unspoiled verdant paradise vs the wilderness as the Green Hell "an undifferentiated, dense, disordered mass of leaves and branches, twisted fronds caught up in knots of vines that claw each other by the legs." -Alberto Rangel's Inferno Verde.

Looks good, im not a big vase fan unless its like WELL kept

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