What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank? - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 06-16-2020, 04:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

When you test the water in your Walstad method tanks, what do you want the ranges to be for ammonia, nitrates and nitrites? Or even Ph? What min and max numbers?

When you don't like the results for each, what do you do to address them?

I have read and re-read Diana's book and many threads here, and although I have a basic understanding now of the nitrification process and how plants do their thing with ammonia, etc., it would just be really helpful if I could get just this basic info, if you will indulge me.

Thank you!
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Old 06-16-2020, 05:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

You should have 0 for ammonia & nitrites for fish health.
pH can vary. You'd want gH of 2+.
Don't let the tds go insanely high since you rarely change water on these things. When it's 400+ tds, it's time for a water change.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

The toxins are ammonia and nitrite. They should be close to zero.

Nitrates are not toxic. But if they get above 20-30 ppm they could cause problems in an NPT. At that level, I'd do a water change.

pH can range from 6 to 8. I don't mess with it, nor measure it.

For best plant growth and keeping shrimp, snails, and livebearers, I think GH should be above 5.

I just spent the entire morning preparing stock solutions of KCl, MgSO4, and CaCl2 to increase water hardness from the current GH of 3 to get it above 5 in all my tanks.

Sadly, in the past my well water produced great tapwater with a GH of 10-17. In the last few years, though, it has rained so much that GH is now 3. Hard to believe, but true! I think current water is too soft for growing guppies (all those bones and teeth), molting shrimp, snails making shells, and plants. In particular, they all need calcium and have responded well to a few recent Ca additions.

I plan to write more on increasing water hardness if anyone is interested. In my book (p. 87), I provide a recipe but I can elaborate on that with this morning's work.
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

Count me as "interested". The water here (just outside NYC) is very soft (pH 6.8, GH ~2, KH ~1), so would be very keen to hear in more detail how to deal with this situation, even though I have read and sourced all the ingredients from p. 87.
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

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The toxins are ammonia and nitrite. They should be close to zero.

Nitrates are not toxic. But if they get above 20-30 ppm they could cause problems in an NPT. At that level, I'd do a water change.

pH can range from 6 to 8. I don't mess with it, nor measure it.

For best plant growth and keeping shrimp, snails, and livebearers, I think GH should be above 5.

I just spent the entire morning preparing stock solutions of KCl, MgSO4, and CaCl2 to increase water hardness from the current GH of 3 to get it above 5 in all my tanks.

Sadly, in the past my well water produced great tapwater with a GH of 10-17. In the last few years, though, it has rained so much that GH is now 3. Hard to believe, but true! I think current water is too soft for growing guppies (all those bones and teeth), molting shrimp, snails making shells, and plants. In particular, they all need calcium and have responded well to a few recent Ca additions.

I plan to write more on increasing water hardness if anyone is interested. In my book (p. 87), I provide a recipe but I can elaborate on that with this morning's work.
Oh, what a pain. I had a well in WA, but haven't had to deal with a well in a long time. Here in San Jose, we actually have soft water via wells and reservoirs, but the city adds minerals to harden the water so it will suds up when people wash their hair, etc. The downside is getting hard water deposits all over everything.

This is really helpful info from everyone. It helps to know I don't have to worry about nitrates. My parameters are looking good, then. Thanks all.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are usually at 0ppm when I test the water. Ph is about 7.4-7.6. I live in Southern California, and that's the ph of the tap water I use. I haven't got a water hardness test kit yet (limited budget).
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Old 06-19-2020, 06:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

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Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are usually at 0ppm when I test the water. Ph is about 7.4-7.6. I live in Southern California, and that's the ph of the tap water I use. I haven't got a water hardness test kit yet (limited budget).
Sounds good. Water hardness for Southern California should be hard unless it all comes from snow melt in the Sierra Nevadas. Save yourself money on a GH test kit and check with the water treatment plant for your city/town.

Due to encouragement, I started a new thread on recipe I devised for increasing water hardness. https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...ml#post1006661
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Old 06-21-2020, 07:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

I'm really confused about the whole nitrification process and nitrates vs nitrites vs ammonia.

So, my water is at 0 ammonia. But, I do have some nitrites and even higher nitrates.

If the goal is zero nitrites, how can that be? You need nitrites to turn them into the benign nitrates. So, how can a tank have high nitrates and yet zero nitrites? You need one to get to the other.

It seems to me that you'd have to time your water tests to some intricate degree to get zero nitrites, and yet have significant nitrates, and zero ammonia, and assume that nitrites are bad but nitrates aren't.

Forgive me if this is really an ignorant deduction, but I can't wrap my head around this. Thanks.
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

A species of nitrification bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite. When there is a large colony, the conversion is fast and you won't detect ammonia. Same thing for nitrite to nitrate. Another species of nitrification bacteria converts nitrite to nitrate. If the colony is not large enough, you will detect nitrite. You need to let time and good O2 environment to let the colony grow.

When there's a good environment for plants, they will consume these nitrogen source too.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What water parameters do you want to see when you test your Walstad method tank?

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A species of nitrification bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite. When there is a large colony, the conversion is fast and you won't detect ammonia. Same thing for nitrite to nitrate. Another species of nitrification bacteria converts nitrite to nitrate. If the colony is not large enough, you will detect nitrite. You need to let time and good O2 environment to let the colony grow.

When there's a good environment for plants, they will consume these nitrogen source too.
It's funny how different brains are good at different things. I can analyze law all day long (well, not tax law lol), but this stuff explodes my brain.

I sincerely apologize for asking you all to break this down to 6th grade level for me and really appreciate your patience and kindness while I absorb it.

It sounds like what's needed is more nitrifying bacteria that convert nitrite to nitrate. I'm wondering if I should add some more API Quick Start to the tank?

The good news is the plants are growing really well. I added a bunch of Vallisneria a few days ago, as well as some blackworms. My survivor shrimp is looking more active all the time.

Oh, I also decided to remove a piece of wood that had a white slime mold growing on it. I don't know what type of wood it was, but the chunk of redwood I boiled and glued to a rock is great - zero algae grows on it. I tied some moss to it yesterday. The worms love the moss.

So, even though the water quality isn't perfect, things seem to be moving along in the right direction.

I've never had blackworms in a tank without predators already in the tank (corydoras and cardinal tetras), and they are a whole different creature when they have the rule of the tank. There were even some up in the floating plants this morning lol. They love the corner of the tank where the soil ended up on top due to my clumsy efforts trying to get the plants to stay put (why do some sellers cut off the roots?)

So far so good with adding the blackworms to the mix, there are also ramshorn snails and a couple of other generic pond snails.

I put some daphnia in the tank, but they haven't survived. I don't think there is enough floating algae, etc., to sustain them. There are a few seed shrimp that were in with the daphnia here and there swimming around.

So, overall, I think things are fine. I'm just trying to understand the water science that's going on. I have to remind myself not to stress and have fun! My worms really are hilarious. I wonder if I could somehow upload a video of my blackworm acrobats for you all. I think when I add some baby corydoras, they may be afraid of them.

I'll try to upload a photo of the tank as it is today. Thanks again, everyone. What a great forum!
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