06-13-2019, 02:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2019
| | Thought I'd improve the Walstad method - I was wrong!
I own the first edition of Ms. Walstad's superbly written book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, but thought I could improve the "El Natural" method by combining high and low tech. How wrong I was - I've experienced mostly stunted plant growth:
Instead of using plain gravel and soil, this is what I did when setting up the 29 gallon tank:
a) The bottom layer is about 1/4 of an inch of of the previous aquarium substrate (where vallisnerias where once thriving): gravel and crushed coral blend.
b) On top of that I placed a bunch of plant fertilizer tabs as well as aquariumplants.com Iron and Trace substrate pellets, maybe one 1.5" apart from the other.
c) On top of that I put at about 1.5" of Espoma Organic Potting Mix.
d) Around it (a border to hide the soil from view) and on top of it is a bag of Flourite Black Sand; I chose sand because I wanted to keep the soil from going all over the place and staining the water too much, as my past effort when I used plain gravel.
e) On the very top of it all is a bag or two of Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate.
The total substrate's depth is about 2 - 3 1/4" (sloping).
Except for the Water lettuce (which I don't remove often enough - there may be part of the problem as it shades the other plants*), the growth is surprisingly stunted.
The tank is filtered by a Fluval 50, has a heater, and currently supports guppies as well as Java Fern, Christmas Moss, Sagittaria subulata, Crypt wendtii, and Echinodorus xinguensis. I had other plants but they were over-shaded by the Water Lettuce and perished when I went away for a few weeks (a relative fed the fish).
I don't know what is going on, but I thought that the dynamics here of the interaction between the soil and the Flourite/Eco Complete substrate would interest the more science oriented folks among you. - I had used the same tank with less light output and just plain topsoil and washed gravel years before, and the results had been amazing (except for the filter getting clogged with soil and the water being more stained)! The only other difference had been my use of a larger canister filter. It seems to me that the plants that depend on their roots for nutrition are doing poorly; Water Sprite was the only other plant that was thriving - until it was overshaded by the Water Lettuce.
Any advice? I've been back for a couple of months now, and the Water Lettuce is the only plant that seems to be thriving; everything else is just... hanging on by a thread, except for the Jungle Vallisneria, which is growing at a slow pace.
*PS. In my previous attempt at El Natural, when plant growth had exploded, I was unable to keep the Water lettuce alive; I now think that they were kept in too high humidity, as I didn't leave enough space between the leaves and the aquarium's glass lid.