This third school, often referred to as "el Natural," and sometimes Natural Planted Tanks (NPTs), is based on a low maintenance, low-tech approach pioneered by Diana Walstad. Outlined in her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist, the approach has several basic tenets:
- Regular potting soil, capped by small gravel is used as substrate
- No filtration is needed, aside from a powerhead for water movement
- Lighting is low, 1-2 watts per gallon, and is often supplemented by sunlight from a window
- No fertilization or CO2 is used, only liberal fish feeding
- Water changes are done only ever 6 months or so
- Plants will act as filters and fish will act as fertilizers, creating a balanced ecosystem
For step by step pictures to setting up an "el Natural" style tank, check out Step by Step: Setting Up a Walstead Natural Planted Tank by Betty Harris. For more of Diana Walstad's tanks, check out her gallery.