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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 01-09-2020, 01:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Hi everyone,

Iím very new to both this forum and natural planted tanks and Iíd love to get some help on understanding if my lighting set up is too much or not enough.

Quick recap on my journey so far:
  • Used a 6 litre / 1.5 gallon tank
  • Originally started with Dry Start Method but found mould after a few days, so I removed all mould and submerged
  • After two days, Iím noticing some of my Monte Carlo has turned white/transparent/brown (see photos attached).

I know this could be for a few reasons:

- Iím in Australia and my jar was getting direct sunlight and was at a temperature of 33 degrees for an entire day.
- I know itís also pretty common for MC when in transition to die off and regrow.

To fix this, Iíve moved my jar into a cooler room which gets less direct sunlight, Iím hoping that fixes the problem BUT, I still donít know if the lighting set up I bought is too harsh or not.

Can someone please help me with this?

I bought an IKEA Smart Light set-up with a 1000 lumens bulb.

This is the product description of the bulb Iím using.
  • The bulb is at its brightest setting which is 1000 lumens, itís also 11W. I have no idea if this is too much or not enough.
  • I am currently using the siesta method and running this bulb from 7am to 12pm and 4pm to 9pm.

Am I overthinking this? The product description says Ďthe light from this LED bulb feels as strong as the light from a traditional 72W incandescent bulbí.

Any help on this would be great.

Thanks.


My Monte Carlo after a few days of being submerged:

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Old 01-09-2020, 03:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

As long as the plants grow and not overtaken by algae, you're fine.
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Hi jackmilk and welcome to the forums.

I am new to all this also, ahead of yourself by only a matter of weeks so I'm somewhat hesitant to offer advice and someone more experienced may well step in and override me later.

I can't comment on the plant development but as mistergreen said from my experience if it's going well run with it, if it's not don't panic immediately, have patience and observe for a little while.
When you had your tank near the window the plants were likely getting enough if not too much daylight, now you have moved it away and are more dependant on your artificial lighting you might want to take a look at your choice of bulb. The one you have is 2700k which is warm white and, if I understand things correctly, will not offer your plants the best colour spectrum. I believe colour temperature is more important than lumens (brightness), you want a daylight bulb 6000k or more. I didn't have a lot of choice down here in Tasmania so I didn't even consider lumens when I purchased my 6500k bulb from Woolworths, I think it's 1000 lumens the same as the one you are using, it's a 15w CFL on my 5 gal tank.

Another thing to consider, depending on the lamp you are using, is that you can adjust brightness by altering the position of your lamp whilst colour temperature is fixed. I often use my standard desk lamp to angle the light to darker areas as plants grow and block the path or to raise and lower it depending on the weather we are having, a potentially full time job here in Tasmania .

Here are a couple of links describing lumens and Kelvin:

Lumens - Kelvin

I'd love to see a couple more photos of your jar giving an overall perspective, I find I learn so much from simply observing how others do things.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Plants take several days to adjust to direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause the "photobleaching" you described.

I think that 1,000 lumens of LED light is plenty for such a small tank. A lot will depend on the actual distance from the bulb to the plants and how many hours per day you keep the light on.

In this new setups, you're going to have to tinker around and find out what's best for your situation. That part of the fun. Keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 01-10-2020, 06:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Is Monte Carlo compatible with an El natural tank?
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

From what I have read about Monte Carlo it requires a lot of CO2 which it is happy to take from the soil at first but eventually the soil will become depleted and the plant will struggle and die unless you add CO2 manually.

I bought some before I knew this and it is growing really well in my tank and makes a very pretty addition, currently it's about six weeks old and my tank is about nine. Having read the above I am expecting it to die off eventually but in the meantime I just enjoy it with the outlook to using it as a gauge to the soil CO2 becoming low/depleted at which point if it begins to die I shall remove it but will also know to look closely for other potential changes in the tank due to lower CO2 levels.

By itself it's probably not a good long term investment.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Thank you everyone for the responses - they've been an immense help!

This journey is definitely a bit of trial and error for me.

It's interesting to know that Monte Carlo isn't really suitable for the Walstad method. Considering it's currently the only plant I have in the tank, it sounds like I best get a few other varieties in there before algae shows its face.

Question - Once the soil 'depletes', is it useless? Will plants that are less CO2 reliant still be okay in it?


I'm using ADA Aquasoil with a layer of the ADA Powersand Advanced below it.

If anyone's interested in my journey, here is a Google Photos album where you can see my progress. I update most days and leave comments.

I originally stated using the dry-start method but very quickly found that a piece of drift wood I had in the tank was getting moldy, so I flooded early and am now just waiting to see how the MC settles.

I will research now the best fast-growing plants I can put in here so make it a rich environment, and then once everything seems to have adjusted properly, I'll hopefully add some critters.
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Old 01-11-2020, 05:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

If the Monte Carlo is by itself in a tank and doesn't have to compete for CO2, it may do okay long-term.

However, once you add more competitive plants, this species will probably die out.
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Old 01-11-2020, 08:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Your jar looks great, love the new images with the amazon swords and frogbit. A complete restart was a big choice but it is looking good, I'll be interested to watch your progress.
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Old 01-12-2020, 01:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Completely new to this - is my lighting too harsh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
If the Monte Carlo is by itself in a tank and doesn't have to compete for CO2, it may do okay long-term.

However, once you add more competitive plants, this species will probably die out.
Have added many more in today - so let's see how it goes!

Quote:
Your jar looks great, love the new images with the amazon swords and frogbit. A complete restart was a big choice but it is looking good, I'll be interested to watch your progress.
Thanks a lot, I really appreciate that.

I agree, it looks much nicer now. Fingers crossed that most things don't die lol.

The store I went to had pretty limited options so I'll probably look to source a few more.

I'm a bit worried that the rock is actually way too big, but too late to do anything about it now.

For those who are curious and haven't seen my Google Photos album:


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