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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, the reason I came in this community was actually that I wanted to revive my 400l tank.
120 x 50-60 x 60. A biiiig Bowfront - my dream tank.

Be warned bit of a ramble incoming.
If you want to skip it go down to the pictures.

I got this tank for a group of goldfish. I even breed them in there and got one fry to survive to adulthood. But after my move the only room we had was in the Garage. I thought I could just make a little fishroom in there.

Unfortunately the temp got down to freezing in the garage just months after moving there. It was an especially cold winter for Germany but it showed a tank there was not feasible long term.
I gave the Goldfish to someone with a fishroom in their basement.

So for this winter the tank was empty.

But I payed a good chunk of money not only or the setup, but also to get it moved. Also it's the biggest tank I ever owned. (And probably the only one this size I will ever own)

Well luckily my tv is not usable for my anymore. It is flickering and I actually don't want to get a new one I only used it for playing on switch anyway. I even found using the little screen without glasses is better for my migraines. So the will be empty space there.....

But as I said in my introduction my health is not the best so the tank should be able to stand for longer periods of time without maintenance.

I bought Dianas book on a whim. And I think this will actually be doable without to much money involved.

Pics of Tank


What my Goal is. Make a jungle out of It. I had tanks like this many years ago. Even without soil and crappy lights. I probably just have a green thump and would really like to go back to my roots.



Now for my plans. If I forgot something essential or you have better ideas, please tell me!

First my tap water.

I get very soft water. I actually had tanks where vallisneria got rid of all my kh and chrashed the ph down to 5 (and under). My channa loved that.
Snails never thrive for me, but my Neocaridinia never had problems...

Out of the tap:
ph under 7
kh 3
gh 8
Nitrat around 10

So I will need to supplement the soil with calcium, magnesium and potassium.
(Dolomit and potash are my plan, also supplementing eggshells and sepia).
I also plan to mix in a bid of cheap red clay

The soil mixture I used for experiments is just very cheap potting soil (standing outside for over a year) and our topsoil that is unfortunately mostly sand. Mixed 40:60. For the big tank I will probably go for more 50:50.

Both are thoroughly sived. Our sand with a fine sive and the potting soil with a 5x5 mm mesh.

I plan on getting cheap gravel (Rhein kiesel) 2-5mm for a cap. In most of my other tanks I have black sand 0,7-1,2 mm and will use that for capping when converting.

The Tank.
I will use reef scaper and coat one of the sides with it. Did it in a little tank and it works great. That side will be planted with all sorts of epiphytes. Like java fern normal, trident and windelov. Anubias nana, nana petite, buce, moos etc.

Backside will get painted black.

As lights I will keep the old blue & white led and get a growlight for normal plants (power led 50w) I have had good experience with this. Just the old light + full spectrum grow light.

The tank will also get diffused sunlight from a south west window. I applied some private screen and my tanks get light from it right now so that should be fine.

For water movement I will get a little filter with an uv bulb like Diana suggested. Because I also had problems with guppy dieing. Have switched to wild typ they are mostly fine.

The Tank will be completely unheated. It will be in my room so in winter under 18 Celsius in summer upards of 26 Celsius.

Now my biggest questions.

1. Wood
I want to use some that had been in different tanks over several years. Do you think I can pull it off? Would put a stone plate on the bottom before filling the tank with substrate.
These things are so dead ot even biofilm grows anymore.

2. Fishies

So first thing I thought was koi sword tails, had them some many years ago and they where so pretty. They also don't get too big. (Since they are crosses with platy)

Then I thought back to some of my favorites I never got to keep.
Least Kilifish Heterandria formosa.
Nano fish in an gigantic Tank.

That would be interesting but not really for a show tank...
They would be expensive and hard to get.
So what would you do?

Heterandria formosa
Cnesterodon decemmaculatus
Elassoma okefenokee

Or

Platy (red/yellow/white)
Swordtails (Koi)
Guppy (Koi)
Molly (Gold)
Cory cats

I allready have the platys - swordtails, molly and corycats are easy to get and koi guppies I can get from lokal breeders. The tank will also look alive, I can sell the young ones and the colors will pop.
I will start with a few from each 2 males 3 females.

(Deep in me I want the second but the first is just so interesting)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The picture is from someone from reddit. Its actually a dirted tank. I mean even in my normal tanks without co2 I get plants like this. So I think its an achievable look 😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hello!
Some updates.
I aquired some nice basalt crush for the 400l as a cap. Very cheap :D and its dark colored.

I will go with some nice livebearers (Koi Swordtails and golden mollys, some Platys (blue Butterfly? or my Mixes?), maaaaybe some Guppys (blue Topaz)) and some of my Yellow Fire shrimp.
That will look nice and lively.

I found some old pictures of old tanks of mine.

I also converted all my 'big' tanks to soil. I wanted to test it while I save some money for the big Tank (need new lights and more plants). The plants are going off with soil, very nice.

Day1 54l / 13G



Day10


Natural Sunlight in my 30 Gallon


Best Place for orchids:



And my converted 10 Gallon.


(Documented the Progress here: https://www.reddit.com/r/walstad/comments/ts2s09 )


I really hope the Soil helps the plants, my Vallisneria nana was not impressed with pure gravel...Some Limnophilia also turned white.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you Diana.

All of the Tanks do great!
Best idea ever with the soil. Way easier then all the high tech stuff.

I sold some plants and deco and have most of the stuff for the big Tank. I still need 50€ for lights and 100€ for plants, and Fish...
I have: Potting mix from a grocery store chain, dolomit, potash, crushed eggshells, dark cap gravel, mortar for the sidewall, epoxy putty for glueing the plants on....

Problems so far and how I managed them:

1. The little 10 Gallon was most problematic. I just could not get balance going.
What was the biggest difference? Less fish.
Tossed in some of my endler guppys and with more feeding it goes great!

2. Diatomes/brown slime.
Took over the 10 & 13 Gallon.
But why not the 30 Gallon?
My bristlenose plecos....
I broke up the group.
1 Pleco each for the small tanks and 4 remain in the big one. Bye Bye Diatomes.

3. The plecos eat the new leaves in my big tank 😭 or leaves that are not 100%. Namely the echinodorus, nymphea and hygro polysterma
More feeding? More Veggies? Still trying it out.

My plan for the Big Tank plantwise and some progress pics
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Its going in the hot phase :love:

I got a few friends to move the tank so I can now paint the back and install the grout on the sidepanel for the epiphytes.

I bought everything except the plants.
I still need to clean tank and lights and stand. I still need to make the cover where I will install the new led lights but at least I found enough things in our garage to build it without needing to buy more.

I allready had:

-400l Tank + stand
-Led Light 120 x 17 in blue and white
-Topsoil from garden
-Odd bits and ends for a selfmade lightfixture
-Black sand 0,7-1,2 mm
-Laterite ball root tabs
-Wood & Stones
-Lava chrush
-White peat
-Super glue
-Plants
-Small filters, timers etc...


I bought:

-Better mat for underneath tank ~10€
-Potted plant soil 'geranium' Lidl 20l ~2€
-Potted plant soil 'gartenkrone bio' 40l -from Hagebau ~9€
-2x Balsat crush 1-3 mm 25kg ~8€
-Grout black 'sicherheitsfuge' 1kg for ~10€
-Black acryl lacquer 500ml ~10€
-Dolomit 25kg ~3€
-K2CO3 1kg ~14€
-Epoxy putty 3x125g ~7€
Plant led lights warm sunlike 12x 30cm ~30Watt, ~40€
-Plants ~ 60€
-Forex sheet for under stones ~3€
 

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You've made this a very complicated project. It's as if you don't trust or understand natural processes. In my book, it's a layer of potting soil covered with a layer of sand/gravel and lots of plants.
Maybe this will work for you, but if it doesn't, Heaven only knows how you will be able to sort out any problems. ;)
My advice is start simple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ah, I can see why you think that.

I know my water. I had tanks for almost 20 years. And my goal is to tackle most problems before they start so I don't need to tweak to much.
I started the other tanks to see how the soil will behave and what changes to my normal setup.

So I want to use some mineral boost in the soil to buffer my water. And the first deficiency to come for me is always K.

Rest is mostly for hardscaping my dream tank.
As soon as the tank is setup it will be hands off (except for trimming).
 

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We don't have your water, of course, but we used a simple arrangement with topsoil and some black sandblasting medium (instead of aquarium gravel) on the top. We planted everything and let it settle. I think we used a DE filter to clear the water initially to save some time, but it isn't necessary. No fertilizers. It worked out well. You may be making this too complicated, and if something goes sideways, you will have too many variables to sort out. You may not have a lot invested in the aquatic life, but I'd hate to lose even a single fish. Consider starting with the Walstad basics in the book.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well I do have already 5 Tanks with soil layer underneath and try to apply what I lerned to the 100 Gallon tank. So far I have not lost 1 Fish. Only one tank stays a bit cloudy. I'll try more waterchanges next week.

What do you think is to complicated exactly? Maybe we think of different parts of my planned setup.

On the other hand I keep making discoveries while observing my tanks.

Most stable is the 54l. Not much to do, everything works even with way to much fish in there.
Most of these fish will go the the 400l when ready and I will add the shrimp and fry from my skittles cull tank. That needs to go to make room for the big tank.

The 45l I still have problems with an white cloudiness. Will try more waterchanges next week. While doing sme changes I disturbed the soul layer, thats probably the reason for this.

112l will get some changes, my group of plecos has continued eating the leaves of the echinodorus, nymphea and hygrophila. Also mixing Vallisneria/Sagittaria and cryptocoryne is not a good thing.
My plan now is taking the Vallisneria, Sagittaria, Echinodorus and Hygrophila for the big 400l tank.
Instead I will add different kinds of Cryptocoryne. I got a female for my male GBR yesterday and they seem to like each other - win for me!
The Nymphoides is taking over the tank, its gorgeous. I will make some pics later and post them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well I do have already 5 Tanks with soil layer underneath and try to apply what I lerned to the 100 Gallon tank. So far I have not lost 1 Fish. Only one tank stays a bit cloudy. I'll try more waterchanges next week.

What do you think is to complicated exactly? Maybe we think of different parts of my planned setup.

On the other hand I keep making discoveries while observing my tanks.

Most stable is the 54l. Not much to do, everything works even with way to much fish in there.
Most of these fish will go the the 400l when ready and I will add the shrimp and fry from my skittles cull tank. That needs to go to make room for the big tank.

The 45l I still have problems with an white cloudiness. Will try more waterchanges next week. While doing sme changes I disturbed the soul layer, thats probably the reason for this.

112l will get some changes, my group of plecos has continued eating the leaves of the echinodorus, nymphea and hygrophila. Also mixing Vallisneria/Sagittaria and cryptocoryne is not a good thing.
My plan now is taking the Vallisneria, Sagittaria, Echinodorus and Hygrophila for the big 400l tank.
Instead I will add different kinds of Cryptocoryne. I got a female for my male GBR yesterday and they seem to like each other - win for me!
The Nymphoides is taking over the tank, its gorgeous. I will make some pics later and post them.
 

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What do you think is too complicated, exactly? Maybe we think of different parts of my planned setup.
As Diana stated earlier:
"You've made this a very complicated project. It's as if you don't trust or understand natural processes. In my book, it's a layer of potting soil covered with a layer of sand/gravel and lots of plants.
Maybe this will work for you, but if it doesn't, Heaven only knows how you will be able to sort out any problems."

Simply put, you've added more variables to the mix than a regular natural planted tank would have. It's no longer a "Walstad" tank. If something goes amiss, it will be very difficult to sort out what happened, if it was something you did when deviating from the book, etc. Sand, gravel, lots of plants and nothing else keeps it simple, it works, and there's nothing else in the mix to add unnecessary complexity to the setup, which makes it easy to figure out what happened if something goes wrong. Why try to reinvent (by adding more things to the mix) what already works for thousands of people?
 
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