Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally finished setting up my Walstad method tank yesterday and I'm super excited to start my first planted tank! Here are the steps I took to put this tank together:

- Sifted through a whole bag of Miracle-Gro Nature's Care 8 qt. Organic Potting Soil Mix to remove the large bark and Perlite. The MGOC soil recommended by Diana was discontinued so I decided to use this one after reading the Wiki and seeing that the other recommendations weren't in stock at my local Home Depot.
- Let the sifted soil sit in the tank filled halfway with dechlorinated water to let the small buoyant pieces of bark and perlite float to the top. It took a few days and lots of stirring up the dirt for all the usable soil to sink to the bottom of the tank. The yield from an 8 qt. bag for the 20 gal. tank was just short of an inch.
- Siphoned out the water so the dirt was saturated but not in a pool of water.
- Mixed in a couple lbs. of rinsed Flourite black gravel to increase the CEC ratio in the soil and I think it also decreases the chance for the substrate to become anaerobic if I read the El Natural thread about soils correctly. This mixture put the bottom layer at just over an inch.
- Topped it off with the rest of the 15.4 lbs. bag of rinsed Flourite gravel. I thought this would be enough gravel for the top layer but it came out to be 3/8"-1/2" tall and not closer to 1" like I'd hoped. (Will this be a problem in the future?)
- Filled up the tank halfway with dechlorinated ~75°F water.
- Waited for the plants to get delivered and when they did, I planted them all around the tank not really paying attention to aesthetics but more to even distribution. They all started pearling up as soon as I was done planting.
- I put the sponge filter from my cycled 10 gal. tank in the corner of this one. Before dropping it down, I pushed aside the soil and Flourite to keep the substrate from becoming anaerobic underneath the base of the filter. I quickly realized I should've placed the filter before I topped off the soil because pushing it over kicked up a soil storm that spread across the entire tank.
- Spent the next four hours pulling out each plant, carefully cleaning each little leaf with Q-tips in a bowl of the aquarium water, and replanting them. Some look like they still have a little soil on their leaves but I did the best I could.
- The water level was around half full at this point because I kept using clean water in the bowl every time it got dirty from cleaning the plants.
- Set up the 5-4-5 hrs. on-off-on Siesta lighting schedule on my Fluval Plant 3.0 and turned on the sponge filter and heater.
- The water cleared up and I topped off the tank with temperature-matched water so as not to shock the plants.
- Checked pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels and will continue to do so once a day. (Is it already cycled if the sponge filter is from an established tank?)
- When the lights turned off, I introduced my Betta to the tank. He did laps around the tank, exploring the bottom and then slowly making his way up.
- By morning, he seemed a lot more comfortable in the new environment. Eventually, I want to try keeping him with a school of 8-10 Chili or Phoenix Rasboras because they naturally live in very similar conditions.

That's it! Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this far. If you have any advice about what to expect these coming weeks in terms of water quality, plant growth, etc., please leave a comment! Thanks!!

 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,791 Posts
Welcome to APC!

Looks like you are off to a good start. Your thin layer of Flourite probably will not be a problem as long as you don't keep any digging fish. You can always add more later if you need it.

Walstad tanks, and planted tanks in general, do not "cycle" in the way fish-only tanks do. Plenty of healthy plants do all the work a biofilter does in a fish-only tank, so you don't need to wait for a colony of beneficial bacteria to establish for the tank to be cycled.

Lucky betta!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you! That's good to know about the cycling process. I may purchase a small bag of Flourite in the future to get it a bit deeper but I don't plan on having any digging fish so maybe it won't be needed.
One more thing I forgot to mention, I added about 11g of a 2:1 molar ratio mixture of Calcium and Magnesium in the form of crushed egg shells and Epsom Salt. NYC water is relatively soft so I thought it'd be safe to do this since it would only raise the hardness a bit. I decided to do this since I learned my soil didn't contain much of either ingredient (mostly just N, P, and K) and plants use them both. How do people usually add macronutrients to their Walstad tanks, is it even necessary?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Welcome to APC!

Looks like you are off to a good start. Your thin layer of Flourite probably will not be a problem as long as you don't keep any digging fish. You can always add more later if you need it.

Walstad tanks, and planted tanks in general, do not "cycle" in the way fish-only tanks do. Plenty of healthy plants do all the work a biofilter does in a fish-only tank, so you don't need to wait for a colony of beneficial bacteria to establish for the tank to be cycled.

Lucky betta!
Sorry, I'm still getting used to the forum! I replied to you in the post above.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,436 Posts
Good looking tank, and you certainly followed the El natural recommendation for lots of plants. If you forgot anything it might be the desirability of rooted plants, like Vallisneria, Sagittarius, Echinordorus, crypts, etc. I just started my tank as an El natural tank a couple of weeks ago, and I can assure you that you put 10X the effort into it than I did!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,791 Posts
"I added about 11g of a 2:1 molar ratio mixture of Calcium and Magnesium in the form of crushed egg shells and Epsom Salt. NYC water is relatively soft so I thought it'd be safe to do this since it would only raise the hardness a bit. I decided to do this since I learned my soil didn't contain much of either ingredient (mostly just N, P, and K) and plants use them both. How do people usually add macronutrients to their Walstad tanks, is it even necessary?"

Generally speaking, Walstad tanks obtain nutrients from the soil in the early stages, then from fish food as nutrients in the soil are depleted. But in some cases (like your soft water) we need to supplement. Adding the egg shells and Epsom salt to the soil is a good way to do it.

If you need to add more Ca and Mg later, you can put some in the filter and let it dissolve. Not sure how this would be done in a sponge filter, but you could temporarily add a small hang-on-back filter for this purpose. But you don't need to worry about this for months, and maybe never.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
I like the variety and spacing of your stem plants. Adding strong rooted plants, as suggested by Hoppycalif, could be a positive addition. Even a few Cryptocoryne might be nice. These "long-lasters" would fill in should the stem plants start to fade at some point. (Since most stem plants cannot use bicarbonates, it helps to have those that can.)

In this tank with only stem plants and an organic substrate, I would not make the substrate any deeper than it is.

You did good by adding Ca and Mg. Also, the floating plants to come...

Your post confirms why I recommend that people start their tank setups in the morning! I tend to fuss over mine as well.

Good job!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looking good so far !
Thank you!

Good looking tank, and you certainly followed the El natural recommendation for lots of plants. If you forgot anything it might be the desirability of rooted plants, like Vallisneria, Sagittarius, Echinordorus, crypts, etc. I just started my tank as an El natural tank a couple of weeks ago, and I can assure you that you put 10X the effort into it than I did!
Thanks! I'll definitely pick up a few of those plants eventually. I'm thinking something in the background to cover the full height of the tank will look nice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
"If you need to add more Ca and Mg later, you can put some in the filter and let it dissolve. Not sure how this would be done in a sponge filter, but you could temporarily add a small hang-on-back filter for this purpose. But you don't need to worry about this for months, and maybe never.
I have an air stone in the sponge filter and there's some room below it. If I need to supplement more nutrients then I'll probably crush them into a powder and put them in a pouch like a teabag below the air stone. Thanks for the advice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I like the variety and spacing of your stem plants. Adding strong rooted plants, as suggested by Hoppycalif, could be a positive addition. Even a few Cryptocoryne might be nice. These "long-lasters" would fill in should the stem plants start to fade at some point. (Since most stem plants cannot use bicarbonates, it helps to have those that can.)

In this tank with only stem plants and an organic substrate, I would not make the substrate any deeper than it is.

You did good by adding Ca and Mg. Also, the floating plants to come...

Your post confirms why I recommend that people start their tank setups in the morning! I tend to fuss over mine as well.

Good job!
Thank you so much! I'll try to add some rooted plants in there and knowing the substrate should be deep enough is great to hear. After reading for weeks about your method on various websites, forums, and videos, I probably could've saved some time if I had just read your book! I'm definitely going to buy it now to be more prepared for the next time I set up a tank, thanks!
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top