December 12, 2010 6:00PM Eastern Atlantic time.
I purchased three cheap small transparent plastic buckets with lids. I used different colored lids for ease of identification. Lids are not placed on top for blocking gas exchange nor prevent evaporation.
I placed 3" deep of acrylic coated, inert black gravel in bucket #1 (clear lid). 3" depth of Eco-Complete from a sealed new bag (some of the water it comes with remained with the substrate); and used a mixture of 1" deep natural black soil (aka Tierra Negra) that allegedly comes from a "virgin" spot North of Santo Domingo city to which a 2" deep layer of Eco-Complete (from the same bag) was added.
Bucket #1 with inert gravel:
Bucket #2 with Eco-Complete:
Bucket #3 DIY-enriched Eco-Complete (1" deep layer of "Tierra Negra" shown)
I use RO processed water sold in 5gal containers. This one with a TDS of 4ppm,
Added Seachem's Equilibrium and Sodium Bicarbonate for 4.5dGH and 2.0dKH respectively, achieving a TDS reading of 68ppm
Planted three specimens of Eleocharis parvula that I took from my planted Blue Discus tank (from the same batch, purchased 2 months ago, imported from Thailand)
Used a simple siphon to fill the buckets and placed them where they should receive fair gas exchange and sunlight (most indirect but at least they'll get a few minutes of direct sunlight daily).
Now, let's wait and see what happens. Maintenance schedule is intended to be once a week as huge as possible water change but water top off with the same prepared water will be used if needed before that.
Suggestions? I intend to run this for as long as needed. Promise to keep you updated.