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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 10-20-2006, 04:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Gave up then restarted

About a year ago I set up a 55G Walstad-style tank. While it was initially promising, it began to degrade over time. I had a snail bloom, plant die off, inability of plants to root in the soil, etc. I should point out that I didn't really do any water changes, just top off. I replaced the 110W overhead lights with just the crap that came with the tank, and just decided to go fish only.

At that time I also bought an AquaClear 70 filter in addition to my powerhead, and started doing weekly 15-20% water changes.

Fast forward to last month. I decided to give it another shot. I planted some stem plants, put on the bright lights and let it go. To my pleasant surprise things seem to be going well now. I have had tremendous plant growth, and everything is staying green and rooted in the soil.

Now I'm not going to claim that having additional filtration + water changes is solely what helped, but I think it contributed to the now healthy looking tank. This also shows that extra circulation is not necessarily detrimental to plant growth. If you're having problems with your El Natural tank, consider making these relatively simple changes.

Substrate is plain top soil from Lowes + gravel, as is usual.


variety of swords
anubias sp.
bacopa sp.
ludwigia sp.

Tank occupants are:

1 angel
3 rainbow fish
5 fancy tail rosy barbs
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Old 10-21-2006, 03:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Plants often do better in tanks that have had a little time to mature. Lots of people have issues in new setups - me included.
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Old 10-22-2006, 11:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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By contrast... I've got a very mature tank, housing just a small number of fish, some Java Fern, and Anubias. Negected frequent water changes for a while and algae really took hold and the plants either looked awful or (in the case of the Java Fern) disintergrated. Resumed frequent, large(ish) water changes. Algae minimised and plants turning around...
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Maybe an additional filter provides a lot of room for the growth of the bacteria that turned organic matters into CO2 and plant nutrients. BTW, frequent water changes with tap water also supplies the tank with much CO2.
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