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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 01-21-2020, 03:55 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

The use of jars has some big advantages.

a) Diana mentions in her 2017 article (link below) that “Beginners learn how to work with soil. They discover which plant species adapt best to their aquarium conditions before setting up a large tank”. This means to me easier damage control if things don’t work out as planned. I’d rather rinse and reset a 1gal bowl than an ordinary tank
b) You have the chance to test different substrates and caps. Some leech more than others.
c) Mobility. Want to try sunlight? How about changing windows?
d) Magnifying effect is really cool for some plants one might not expect.

So the way I see it, one can start learning with easy small hardy plants (cryptocorynes, anubias, floating plants etc) and gradually move on to others. Jars and bowls are really helpful for this.

Reference:
https://dianawalstad.files.wordpress...imprcs2017.pdf
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:17 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

I would disagree. Larger is always more stable than smaller. What kind of life for a guppy or Betta in a jar also? I'm old and now a softy on fish..a Guppy in a ten and hardy low light plants is where I would steer people. Jars to me are only good for shrimp or snails or rotifers for the kids science class. Higher forms? meh.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:35 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Fortunately we don''t all have to have one of every type of aquarium. Some people actually believe that aquariums should have salt water in them - yuck!! Others believe that an aquarium has to have a $250 CO2 system - ouch!!
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:35 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Not that there's anything wrong with having one of every type of aquarium...even though you've only been in the hobby for a few months. Ahem
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Old 01-22-2020, 01:33 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Just wanted to quickly say thanks to everyone who has chimed in. Really great to get all of your advice along the way. I was going to delete the thread, but may leave it up for education purposes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
If that big rock is lying directly on the glass and not smothering the soil, it should not be an impediment to the jar's ecosystem. My apologies for dampening your enthusiastic start.

Small vessels like yours are great learning tools and can be fascinating. The most popular article on my website is 'Small Planted Tanks for Pet Shrimp.' It's all about the setup of two 1 gal bowls and two 2 gal tanks.

Attached is picture I took minutes ago of a current 1 gal glass bowl. You can see one juvenile shrimp (RCS) in the middle. The two females in it pump out babies routinely, which I transfer to my guppy tanks to grow out. What I like about the bowls is that I don't need filtration or a heater. Water changes, which I do weekly on the two bowls, are easy. It's a great way to start out!
Please don't apologise - you did nothing but help me understand a little bit better. I'm making a lot of mistakes but feel like I'm slowly getting there.

I love your tank! Definitely some inspiration for me. I have previously read your article but admittedly got too excited and hit the ground trying to run before I could walk. Won't make the same mistake next time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan510
His use of Swordplants has "It's what they had at the fish store and looks nice"
Actually, I made a note of all plants Diana recommends as per this summary and bought whichever ones were available at the shop from that list.

If anyone's interested in an update, I've been following Diana's recommendations as per her previous post on my thread (poking to get the gas out regularly, water changes and trimming back the frog bit). I feel like the Swords are looking slightly more 'full' (today, on the right, middle several days ago).



My test kit finally arrived, these are my initial reads (after 3 water changes in the last week).
  1. pH: 7.6
  2. High Range pH: 7.4
  3. Ammonia: 0.50 ppm
  4. Nitrite: 0.25 ppm
  5. Nitrate: 10 ppm

At this point, I'll see how this goes for the time being but prepare a second jar at the same time (prepare soil, add water and potentially let it leach/release ammonia for a few weeks before I add plants).

To be honest, I'm more excited to start again fresh with no giant rock, appropriate substrate levels and a greater abundance of plants to help the natural balance of the tank.

One last question: When I originally bought my materials, I ended up buying ADA Powersand Advance as a bit of a nutrient boost. Generally speaking, do you think this would hinder or help a Walstad tank? My fear is that it would help create anearobic gas due to the air gaps it creates?
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:56 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmilk View Post
One last question: When I originally bought my materials, I ended up buying ADA Powersand Advance as a bit of a nutrient boost. Generally speaking, do you think this would hinder or help a Walstad tank? My fear is that it would help create anaerobic gas due to the air gaps it creates?
Don't like to comment on commercial products, but I was blown away by the price ($35.99 for 2 liters) of what is essential a dirt mix. (If Mother Nature could only patent dirt!)

When you say air gaps, I assume we're talking about the air present in the substrate when it is submerged. I believe this is akin to tiny air pockets in perlite? The buried air bubbles would not create anaerobic gas. Rather the oxygen in them would temporarily (a few days) stimulate aerobic bacterial activity, which is good. In contrast, anaerobic gases are generated when bacteria run out of oxygen. This happens quickly, because bacteria--like us humans-- love oxygen. Then a whole suite of new bacteria take over--some with beneficial results (iron processing, denitrification) but some not so good (rapid consumption of root oxygen, generation of H2s and fermentation-produced acids ) (See "Bacteria" chapter in my book.)

If you set up a new bowl... Suggestion: try not using the ADA product. Try an ordinary $5 bag of potting soil designed for growing houseplants. Don't fuss over brands. (If it's chemically rich, the plants may love it. With a small jar, you can always easily do a water change. )
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Old 01-22-2020, 09:15 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan510 View Post
I would disagree. Larger is always more stable than smaller. What kind of life for a guppy or Betta in a jar also? I'm old and now a softy on fish..a Guppy in a ten and hardy low light plants is where I would steer people. Jars to me are only good for shrimp or snails or rotifers for the kids science class. Higher forms? meh.
I think everyone here would agree that a jar is too small for a guppy or betta. I don't think anyone is advocating for that. The jar is for experimenting with plants and soils, and perhaps for enjoying some shrimp. Actually, the point about the kids science class is pretty spot-on - seems like just a casual experiment to see what works.
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:42 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Oh,ok...I thought this was leading to fish being kept in the jar. For plants only..totally different story. I misunderstood the premise.
Sure,even in a jar..that swordplant could be interesting as it grows out of the jar into a marsh plant...heavy pruning to allow finer foliaged plants under it.

Still, a 5 or 10 gallon does give you room to see things on flat glass and you might try some of those "Mexican Gammarus"..or Daphnia..rotifers going every which way is interesting. I've done those. After 45 years only Great White Sharks or Penguins keeping has escaped me.
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:49 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan510 View Post
Still, a 5 or 10 gallon does give you room to see things on flat glass and you might try some of those "Mexican Gammarus"..or Daphnia..rotifers going every which way is interesting. I've done those. After 45 years only Great White Sharks or Penguins keeping has escaped me.
You have provided some interesting ideas for future projects!
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:30 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Hi everyone.

Bit of an update on my end - the jar is actually doing surprisingly well (still cycling).

I am thinking of moving the whole set up into my sheltered greenhouse room and see how it goes with sunlight as its light-source while I use my LED setup for a second Walstad bowl (by the book this time).

I have a 3 gal bowl with Australian equivalent of Miracle Gro and black coloured gravel ready to go.

Based on Diana and Foo The Flowerhorn's recommendations, here is the list of plants I intend on buying. Do they sound okay to you? Would you remove or add any?

Eleocharis Acicularis (Dwarf Hair Grass)

Anacharis/Elodea (Waterweed)

Taxiphyllum barbieri (Java Moss)

Rotala sp. ‘Green’

Rotala sp. 'Pearl'

Rotala Bonsai

Rotala Rotundifolioa (Dwarf Rotala)

Riccia Fluitans (Floating Crystalwort)

Riccia Fluitans (Hornwort)

I can also pull in some Duckweed from my first attempt too if need be.

Any thoughts appreciated!
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