My Underwater Jungle - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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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 02-05-2020, 03:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My Underwater Jungle

Hi everyone,

I'm proud to share my second attempt at a Walstad set-up - done by the book.

This time, I decided not to over-worry about how it 'looks' (hardscaping, arranging things), and rather, focus on the core principles of what I understand a no-tech setup to be about (high concentration of plants to work as the filter).

(Funnily enough, my first attempt which you can find in the forum is actually thriving. Here is a photo I took yesterday. But I worry - and am kind of anticipating - things to die eventually die to the anaerobic gas build up probably happening.)

My process:
  • Using a 12 litre/3 gallon bowl.
  • I used Scott's Pure Organic Potting Mix (the Australian equivalent of Miracle Gro), sifted multiple times before being mixed with water to get out as many floaters as possible. Added 2.5cm to the bowl.
  • Purchased standard aquatic gravel in black and added 3.8cm.
  • Filled the tank with dechlorinated water (that was quite a pain to do, boiling 12 litres for 20 minutes and having to let it cool down to room temp).
  • I bought and used as wide a variety of plants as possible, as per the list of plants Diana recommends as well as Foo The Flowerhorn on YouTube.

Plant list:
  • Echinodorus Grisebachii
  • Riccia Fluitans, Rotala Bonsai
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Coontail (Ceratophyllum Demerson)
  • Dwarf Hair Grass (Eleocharis Acicularis)
  • Narrow Leaf Chainsword (Echinodorus Tenellus)
  • Thin Vallisneria
  • Java Moss
  • Waterweeds (Elodea/Anacharis)
  • Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum)
  • Duckweed (Lemnoideae)

Here is how it look on Day 1!

Anything I should watch out for in the coming days/weeks?
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Old 02-05-2020, 06:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: My Underwater Jungle

Beautiful to see! I don't see how you could possibly miss with this setup. I'd consider adding shrimp or tiny fish whenever (and if) you want.

As for dechlorination, if it's just chlorine gas (not the chemical chloramine), you could just bubble air through the water for a couple hours before adding to the tank. Or let it sit in a bucket overnight before adding to the tank. Or aerate it vigorously for a few minutes with an egg beater? (I never heard of boiling water to remove chlorine.) Traces (i.e., no chlorine smell) aren't that toxic and degas quickly, so you should be able to do a 10-20% water change without any manipulations beforehand.
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: My Underwater Jungle

Your setup looks great. There are lots of plants from the start, so by-the-book all should be fine . I guess you use water with reasonable hardness, so not pure RO water.

I don't think you "should" worry too much about your first setup. That one also seem to have a healty plant growth which should prevent such problems you mentioned.
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Old 02-05-2020, 04:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: My Underwater Jungle

I really like your setup too! Despite preferring neat layouts, your approach is very tempting to try!

Is there a reason you don't treat water with products like aquatan, or biotopol? Their mixing ratio is 1ml/4lt so it will be very manageable for your bowl. That was the amount I was preparing when I was doing water changes in my 15lt tank (4gallons). I had a spare 4lt container, so filling it with tap water plus 1ml of dechlorinator with the syringe was very easy.
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Old Yesterday, 01:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: My Underwater Jungle

Thanks for your feedback everyone! I'm really excited to see where this one is going.

The main reason I haven't used a water treatment for chlorine is because to be honest, I don't know enough about them. I also didn't know whether the chemical makeup of those products would throw of the balance of an all-natural tank. But it seems like it would be fine.

It's assuring to hear though that 10-20% water changes with no treatment should be fine. I probably won't bother.

Will keep you all updated over the next few days and weeks.

Looks like I need to buy some shrimp soon!
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