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Old 01-15-2021, 09:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Walstad Method Qualifications

Will the use of Fluval Stratum substrate exclude my tank from operating under the Walstad Method?
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

Welcome to APC!

Fluval won't tell us what is in Stratum except for assurances that it is "Collected from the mineral-rich foothills of Mount Aso Volcano in Japan." That's great marketing copy, but we cannot know if it has any of the characteristics of soil that we depend on for the Walstad method. If you want a Walstad tank, I suggest that you use Stratum as a cap over a suitable soil substrate. Or just use one of the cheap but serviceable caps, and save some money.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

If my tank substrate is just Fluval Stratum, can I say that it is a "Walstad Method" aquarium per se?
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Old 01-15-2021, 03:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

We can't answer that because we don't know what Stratum does.

--begin rant--

Does it contain organic matter which decomposes over time, contributing to natural CO2 levels? Does it have a high cation exchange capacity which sequesters nutrients in the substrate where higher plants can absorb them but they are denied to algae in the water? Does it have the complex physical structure which provides habitat for a large community of beneficial microorganisms?

In other words, does it act like soil?

I suspect the answer to most of those questions is "no" but I can't be certain because Fulval does not tell us what Stratum actually is and does. All we really have is bland assurances from a marketing department of the seller of a very expensive aquarium substrate.

--end rant--
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Old 01-15-2021, 04:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

I think what Winchester was trying to ask is, if they only use fluval stratum as their entire substrate with no base layer of organic potting soil, does this exclude their tank from using the Walstad Method? I would personally like to know if there are strict rules regarding soils, caps and in general substrates that dictate whether or not a tank uses the method.

Thank you for the insight on fluval stratum!
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

If you don't have organic components, I don't think you can call it a dirt tank/Walstad.
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdmcallister View Post
I think what Winchester was trying to ask is, if they only use fluval stratum as their entire substrate with no base layer of organic potting soil, does this exclude their tank from using the Walstad Method? I would personally like to know if there are strict rules regarding soils, caps and in general substrates that dictate whether or not a tank uses the method.

Thank you for the insight on fluval stratum!
The short (and cautious) answer is: no, using "stratum" would not exclude a person from employing the Walstad methods; nor are there any "rules", per se, that dictate whether a tank m,
may operate as "el natural" or via the "Walstad Method".

HOWEVER, it MIGHT hinder success and yield certain problems.

Example: Let's say you use a non-soil substrate, but you have tons of variety of plants, lots of floaters/emersed, a decent fish load, and some decaying plant matter (older plants, roots where you trimmed stems but left the roots behind, etc.) and other "natural" things going on. Let's say further that you have little surface water agitation and somehow you either got lucky or you purposefully started off with ample nutrients in your set up. So, now you've got a good cycle going. It's very possible to treat that tank as "el natural" and be successful. ("Successful" meaning your tank brings you joy and relaxation and you don't have to stress much over it.)

So, can you use "stratum" and still have a "Walstad" type set-up and rely on those methods? Sure. It's going to take some doing (and TIME) to get you there, but it's possible.
But if you want to be able to read a book or a set of step-by-step guidelines and such, it'll be MUCH easier if you are using the same components (including type of substrate), because that's what the guidelines are based on. Changing the soil changes how things are going to act, and react...and you'll have to play as you go.
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Old 01-16-2021, 07:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Walstad Method Qualifications

Any time you want to follow someone's "method" you need to follow that persons "method", or you are not following that person's "method". (I think I saw this inscribed on an ancient Greek statue several years ago.)

Seriously, if you are able to really understand a "method", so you know why each part is what it is, you stand some chance of being successful when you deviate from that "method". But, if you don't have that understanding you are likely to run into serious problems when you start deviating. For example, the EI method for fertilizing includes weekly 50% water changes, and if you don't do that you are likely to build up excessive amounts of some of the nutrients, and making the fish suffer for it. The El Natural method is not that simple, and it takes some studying to understand why it is what it is.
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