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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
4 Gallon El Natural

I've been out of the aquarium hobby for a few years and I got the itch again - bad - after I started reading some of the great forums and resources that are now available. One that caught my eye was the Walstad method. Plants as filters? Eureka! I instantly realized this was superior in every way to the heavily filtered dirty box of water approach I'd used previously.

With that in mind, I decided I wanted a small tank and settled on the Finnex 4. It is an elegant little tank with rounded corners, a 13w CFL light that should be fine for a low light tank, and a 30 GPH filter for circulation.

The substrate is 2.25" potting soil capped with 1/2" EcoComplete. Hardscape consists of Manzanita (thanks Fish&Turtle Boy).

Flora was added on 1/8/09. The aquarium was pretty full once adding all the plants, but that is one of the tenets of the Walstad method and it has worked out well! I bought from Aquabotanic and had had a good experience contrary to other folks. Flora consists of the following:

Anubias Nana var Petite
Java Moss
Bolbitis Fern
Frogbit
Bronze Crypt
Tropica Sword
Lilaeopsis mauritius
Egieri Najas
Bacopa Monieri

All of the plants have flourished except the sword and frogbit, which are just kind of staying status quo. I think once the sword's root system gets better established it will be fine, but the frogbit may get outcompeted by duckweed or have too little light, not sure which. The bacopa monieri is actually growing emersed. I like the look so I'm going to let it go. A couple stems of the Egieri Najas have reached the top so I cut them 1/3rd of the way down and replanted them. It is evident that the Anubias and Bolbitis' rhizomes have rooted them securely to the manzanita.

Shrimp were added on 1/23. I acquired ~14 yellow shrimp and ~8 tiger shrimp via Aquabid. Had 1 DOA, 2 yellows die over the next week, and 1 tiger mortality. Other than that, everything looks healthy. I can get all of the shrimp to aggregate by dropping a small piece of algae wafer so I can get a good count. I was scared when I initially saw remnants of exoskeletons from moulting, but upon closer examination they looked like "shells" rather than opaque like the dead shrimp. Two of the shrimp are currently "berried".

A dwarf Indian Puffer was added on 1/30. This may prove to be a bad decision since some people have had them eat shrimp but others have not. . . so far he shows no interest in the shrimp. He just hovers around the tank soaking it all in, occasionally pecking at small snails. Haven't seen him take down any of my larger pond snails yet. He eats bloodworms as well. Time will tell. I wanted a dwarf puffer as a cool nano fish with personality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Looks nice. Isn't 2.25" of soil too deep? Is it making a lot of gas? Just to let you know both my NPT's have turned out very good its a great method, I hope you like it.
Tony
I don't know if 2.25" is too deep. I confess I have read a lot about this method in forums but haven't actually read Ms. Walstad's book. Two months in and everything is thriving, so hopefully the substrate is ok. I'm doing 50% weekly waterchanges so hopefully this mitigates any gas problem.
 

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4All of the plants have flourished except the sword and frogbit, which are just kind of staying status quo. I think once the sword's root system gets better established.
The substrate depth is much more than I recommend or what is necessary for rooted plants. With this deep a substrate (organic in nature), it can easily go dangerously anaerobic killing plant roots and then the fish/invertebrates.

Please continue to monitor your rooted plants and fish. It wouldn't hurt for you to poke the substrate every once in awhile with a pencil or similar sharp object. This will introduce some oxygenated water and perhaps prevent a tank "meltdown".

Who knows? With the good lighting you have provided and adaptable plants you may be okay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, after 7ish months from my last post, here is an update. Everything is thriving, and my bronze crypt is now the centerpiece of the tank - it has taken over a good portion of it. The bolbitis and frogbit have been out-competed, the frogbit by duckweed (although I don't mind). I have to take out a fair portion of Egieri Najas monthly and about 1/2 the frogbit weekly. The tank really took off after I put it in a new location where it gets a fair amount of sunlight.

As far as the fauna is concerned, my yellow shrimp have multiplied like rabbits, probably have ~75 or more now. I added a bristlenose pleco and four ember tetras, which have enjoyed their present surrounds for three months. Soil depth luckily hasn't been an issue even though it is deeper than recommended. I can happily recommend Ms. Walstad's method based on my results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think it's time for a trim and thinning. Somebody get a bowl! :D
Thanks all! It probably is time for a trimming! The crypt(s) are actually just one massive crypt that has sent out some runners, so I guess I do have about 4 crypts now. Other than pinching off the runners, what is the best way to trim the mother plant? Just cut off some random leaves until the desired bushiness is achieved?
 

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Other than pinching off the runners, what is the best way to trim the mother plant? Just cut off some random leaves until the desired bushiness is achieved?
I have the exact same problem with my bronze crypts and it was suggested you can cut them off with relative abandon without hurting the plant. I haven't tried that yet, instead reaching in and pinching them off at the bottom of the stalks, leaving at least four or five of the original rosette. The out-runners have been pretty easy to pull up if you get them soon enough before they start sinking their own roots.

Of course, having too much growth is way better than not enough! :)

Jim
 
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