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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 02-17-2019, 12:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

Hi all,

I just started my first walstad tank (see picture with the cat lying in anticipation: )
It's pearling like crazy as there are no fish in and I just filled it yesterday.
The substrate is low-fertilized topsoil for cacti, about 1 inch and about an inch
fine white sand.



The plants in the pots (back left) are waiting to be planted (or not?) because I'm not entirely sure
how many plants I need for the tank to be (almost)self sustaining.

I'm curious to hear your ideas about it!

J
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

Welcome to APC!

I suggest that you go ahead and plant the potted ones. It would be very unusual if you found you had "too many plants". In fact El Natural tanks may never see that happen.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

thanks, I figured as much, so I planted them today, and bought some extra, so now it looks like this:





if possible, I'd like to keep the open space in the center of the tank. I'd love to hear if you think this is enough.

cheers,

Jochem
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

It looks like enough to me, but I suspect Diana will comment soon, and give you a much better opinion. I like keeping some open space in the middle, too.
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Old 02-18-2019, 06:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

Looks good. You can never have enough plants!

A small area in front to better see the fish is fine. I set up my 50 gal [in 2008] with a center area in front rimmed with rocks. See photo of tank at 1 week. Worked very well. I didn't put any soil in this front area, just sand.

One thing you can do is to lower the water level temporarily. This will make it easier to do water changes and increase the amount of light getting to your young plants. At this time, you don't need 65 gal of water.
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

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Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post

......One thing you can do is to lower the water level temporarily. This will make it easier to do water changes and increase the amount of light getting to your young plants. At this time, you don't need 65 gal of water.
I am pretty sure that you get less light at the substrate level if you lower the water level. This is because much of the light is from reflection from the glass to air interface. Reducing the water level reduces the reflection, allowing more of the light to escape through the glass. I was amazed when I did some testing with my current light system, and found that the intensity was much greater outside of the center of the tank, not less as I was expecting. Theoretically this is always the case with the glass clean both inside and out.
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Old 02-18-2019, 12:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

thank you Diana, for your kind reply! I understand that lowering the water increases ir/uv light access to the plants, but I must admit I really enjoy the bubbles travelling up and having no visible watertable for the moment. I'll see how the plants do in the coming days and if growth is too slow, I'll lower the level as you suggest. (I completely believe you that it will make water changes easier : )

@hoppycalif, thanks for your reply as well!. My reasoning about your measurement is as follows: both uv and ir radiation get absorbed by glass. Even though the visible part of the spectrum may increase because of reflection, the useful part of the spectrum for plants decreases (rapidly) with higher watertable. Even if by total internal reflection both ir and uv radiation make it to the bottom, this will be only under a shallow angle, and will definitely be offset by the (dramatic) loss of radiation through water absorption. see http://www.koppglass.com/blog/optica...lass-interact/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...ption_by_water Did you measure the total lux or the intensity of ir and uv separately? I'm interesting to hear what the distribution is of those wavelengths.
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Old 02-18-2019, 06:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

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Originally Posted by jochemspek View Post
thank you Diana, for your kind reply! I understand that lowering the water increases ir/uv light access to the plants, but I must admit I really enjoy the bubbles travelling up and having no visible watertable for the moment. I'll see how the plants do in the coming days and if growth is too slow, I'll lower the level as you suggest. (I completely believe you that it will make water changes easier : )

@hoppycalif, thanks for your reply as well!. My reasoning about your measurement is as follows: both uv and ir radiation get absorbed by glass. Even though the visible part of the spectrum may increase because of reflection, the useful part of the spectrum for plants decreases (rapidly) with higher watertable. Even if by total internal reflection both ir and uv radiation make it to the bottom, this will be only under a shallow angle, and will definitely be offset by the (dramatic) loss of radiation through water absorption. see http://www.koppglass.com/blog/optica...lass-interact/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...ption_by_water Did you measure the total lux or the intensity of ir and uv separately? I'm interesting to hear what the distribution is of those wavelengths.
Plants use light in the range of 400-700 nanometers, from near ultraviolet to near infrared. Very little radiation outside of that range is usable by plants. Light reflection from the glass sides of an aquarium occurs for that whole range also. The reflection occurs at the outside face of the glass, making it vital to keep both sides of the glass as clean as possible if you want maximum light intensity. I used a PAR meter, which covers almost all of the 400-700 nanometer range, and a little bit more. I noted as I moved the sensor from the glass towards the center of the tank, the intensity dropped significantly, instead of increasing as I was used to seeing with typical fluorescent lights. (I use a LED light panel, which spreads the light over about a 120 degree cone, so a lot of light hits the glass.)

Water does not significantly absorb light until the depth of the water is around a meter, the absorption of light isn't at all significant at 25 cm, for example. The drop in intensity with distance in an aquarium is just the result of the cone of light causing the area, the energy is in, to get larger proportional to the square of the distance the light travels, no matter what medium it travels through.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

@hoppycalif thank you for your elaboration, that is quite surprising! but indeed, the absorption coefficient of water is much lower than I expected. Thanks for setting me straight, good to know

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Old 02-19-2019, 03:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: new 65G Walstad tank - with pictures!

Very interesting, Hoppy. And explained quite nicely. I may have to borrow my aquarium club's PAR meter to test this.
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