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Old 11-06-2020, 10:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Are deep sand beds bad or good?

Hey there everyone,

First time posting here so I apologize for breaking any rules that I have not learned yet.

I'm looking to develop a method that I can use and standardize across all my planted tanks. I'm very infatuated with natural low tech tanks and I wanted to follow the Walstad method as closely as possible but I found some videos that contradict the depth of the substrate bed that was proposed in her book. She stated that 1'' of organic soil and 1'' of (2mm - 4mm) gravel was ideal but the tanks in these videos have upwards of 4 inches and the owners swear by them. Can any of you shed some light on this topic for me? I'd like to know the pros/cons of each setup. I'm wondering if one is just better than the other or if they both have benefits that I need to consider.

The videos I'm referring to are these ones: http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfAJ3ITS3Nw&ab_channel=AquariumCo-Op http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-iFlMGOpZo&ab_channel=FatherFish

Any help that you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Angelf
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Old 11-07-2020, 05:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are deep sand beds bad or good?

Yeah, they are contradictory but Both work. The deep substrate depends on anoxic conditions to reduce NO3 but you need to provide high oxygen to combat any H2S. Walstad method say why bother with anoxic conditions, might cause issues.

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Old 11-07-2020, 06:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are deep sand beds bad or good?

First, welcome to APC! Our rules are pretty simple, so as long as you are writing about aquariums, fish, water and aquatic plants you are not likely to stumble over any rule.

The El Natural aquarium is different from other methods, because it puts organic "stuff" in the substrate, where it does things that plain sand cannot do. That causes it it have limits on how deep the substrate can be and still work right. But, if you have inert materials like sand/gravel, grit blasting mediums, floor sweeping materials, cat litter box material, or sand-like materials made for aquarium substrate, the depth of that material can be several inches without causing problems. I doubt that having more than 2 or 3 inches of inert substrate is an advantage, other than making the aquascape look good.

An aquarium without living plants does need to have the nitrate concentration, from fish waste, monitored and reduced regularly. But, the aquariums all of us have, have growing plants in them, and those plants need nitrates (or ammonia) as food for the plants. The plants keep the water from ever having excessive nitrates.
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Old 12-02-2020, 01:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are deep sand beds bad or good?

Thank you for the welcome and the very quick responses! For some reason, I thought it would take weeks for anybody to answer. I apologize for not replying sooner it's been a rough month haha.

The reason I ask is that I would like to find a good stable way of breeding fish of high value and rarity and in my mind, the most natural way to me seems also the safest. Many people have suggested both substrate setups and also just a bare bottom tank with tons of vacuuming and weekly 20% and up water changes which isn't an issue. I just want the most robust and safest way to breed and keep fish and plants altogether.
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Old 12-03-2020, 01:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are deep sand beds bad or good?

Personally im the guy who swears by the 4" deep soil cap.
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are deep sand beds bad or good?

AngelF, if your goal is to breed fish in tanks with the many benefits of live plants, the easiest way is to use shallow trays or bowls. About 2-3" deep is ideal. Put an inch of soil in the bottom, cover with an inch of gravel, then plant. When you need to catch fish or do a thorough cleaning of the the tank, just lift out the planted tray and keep it wet until you are finished.

Diana Walstad breeds guppies, and she uses this method in all her breeding tanks. About the only fish it won't work for are plant eaters and digging cichlids. We'd love to know what fish you are breeding and see some photos of your tanks.
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