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· Registered
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I sincerely admire the work of Dr. Walstad (the only flaw would be the units...)

Finally after reading her book 3 times and waiting for a long time for a lot of reasons, i have been able to set up my aquarium.
The plants arrived on Friday and as soon as I got back from work, I set up my tank in excitement and in a hurry...mistreating the plants by mistake (akadama soil all over the plants :( ).
I could not sleep and the following morning (yesterday/saturday) I emptied the tank and replanted it for good.

Let's move on to the technical description:
Volume: about 60l (60x30x35 cm)
Light: Daytime, 3 strips LED, neutral white 5000k, Blue Red 465 + 625 nm, ultra white 7000k. 2240 lumens and (excluding the red / blue strip) CRI> 90. Light cycle of 5h light, 4h pause (off), 5h light and then night
Filter: HMF sponge 45ppi 35x20x3, 170l / h pump (nominal)

Soil: 6l (ca 3cm) bio garden soil for plants with a slight addition of clay and pre-treated via a process of "mineralization" and composted with a banana peel to raise potassium. Covered with akadama (4l, 2cm)

Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini'
Ceratopteris thalictroides
Echinodorus 'Reni'
Helanthium tenellum "parvulum"
Heteranthera zosterifolia
Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Hygrophila costata
Lilaeopsis brasiliensis
Limnobium laevigatum
Mayaca fluviatilis
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Persicaria sp. 'Sao Paulo'
Taxiphyllum barbers

3 physa (what did you expect after just one day? :p)

Now I do not know where to start...but i got a few problems and I seriously need your help ...

1- white stuff on the coconut: mold?
I cut a coconut shell into quarters and after boiling it a long time 2 times a couple of days before, I put it in the aquarium.
Now the white stuff grows on us:

2- Hygrophila and Heteranthera
The leaves seem to me everything but healthy. I think that it has been caused by me when I poured Akadama over them on friday :Cry:


Hygrophila 4h after x_x:

I would exclude deficiencies or allelopathies, considering that they have just been inserted.
The main cause could be mistreatment ... but I also fear chemical poisoning ... (see point 3)
What to do to save them? Or is it "just" normal melting because of switching from emersed to submersed cultivation?

3- The values of water: have you ever heard of silicon?
I just received the jbl testlab and I wanted to have fun examining all the values
, even those that are not normally measured (and maybe I did well) ...
Values measured almost 5h after switching on the lights. All the aquarium has been filled only with tap water (but I plan on changing part of it with distilled water to lower hardness and pH and get a bit closer to a dwarf cichlid tank)
T = 23.5 ° C
pH = 7
KH = 5 ° dKH (-> CO2 16 mg / l?)
GH = 7 ° dGH
NH4 (ammonium) <0.05 mg / l
NO2- (nitrite) = 0.3 mg / l
NO3- (nitrates) = 3 mg / l
PO43- (phosphates) <0.02 mg / l
Fe (iron) = 0.035 mg / l (yet I thought the red clay would give a boost to the iron values)
K (potassium) = 15 mg / l (could it be the banana effect? :) )
Mg (magnesium) = 8 mg / l
Cu (copper) <0.1 mg / l
SiO2 (silicates)> 6 mg / l !!!

The last measure struck me. I have never heard of silicate problems, apart from the algae on the glass, and the red alert indicated by the jbl test scares me.
I redid the test a second time and got the same result.
I measured the tap water (only for silicon), getting 3 mg / l. Always in the red zone for jbl but not enough for > 6 mg / l.
I imagine 2 possible causes:
-the big stone placed on the root to keep it in place (it still floats after being boiled twice)
-or (more likely) the clay
As for the stone, I proceeded to put it in a plastic bag for safety, but if the cause is the clay, i am pretty f....d up.

Now the issues are (in order of priority)
1! - please help me save the plants!
2 - what should I do with silicon? Produce PC processors? Apart from possible algae blooms, is it really dangerous for plants, fish or invertebrates? How much? A change of water with distilled water is only possible in 2 days, and i don't think it is worth to use the tap water to lower the silicates, considering its starting values...
3 - (definitely off topic about fertilization, but ..) Is the coconut molding? Is it dangerous for plants, fish or invertebrates?

Thanks everybody for any possible help!:hail:


· Registered
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Hygrophila today
and 4h after i got the first 2 pics (the one with the red ellipse)


· Super Moderator
6,151 Posts
First, welcome to APC! Second, there is no reason for panic.

In the photos I see a very new but normal looking Walstad tank. All of your plants are still very much in the adjustment stage as they acclimate to new conditions. They haven't even straightened out yet from being in the shipping bags. Heteranthera especially has delicate leaves that can be bruised by shipping and handling. Be calm.

The white growth on the coconut shell most likely is fungus, which will grow for a while then die off. If it is easy to take the shells out, you can scrub it off and put them back. Or gently scrub it with a toothbrush while still in the tank. Siphon out the debris. This may continue for several weeks.

I know akadama as bonsai soil, but not as a cap for soil in an aquarium. So I don't know if it is contributing to the silicates or not. In any event, silicates seem to be of more concern in saltwater tanks. And since your tank is only 3 days old (!) they aren't hurting anything yet, and I'm not sure they ever will hurt anything. Hoppy is more knowledgeable about silicates than I am, he will probably offer some wisdom. If not, try posting a thread entitled "Are high silcate levels a problem?" or something similar.

In any event, large water changes (even with your tap water) will help reduce the silicate level.

Relax, take deep breaths, and be patient.

· Premium Member
7,439 Posts
People assume that diatoms, which do use silicates for food, will be worse the more silicates are in the water. I don't think that is necessarily correct. Several years ago I looked at water quality reports from water companies all around the USA, and most of them had some silicates in the water. But, not everyone has a bad diatom problem, and most that do have it, have it last for only a short time. But, when you add more water or replace some of the water, you are adding more silicates, so it would make sense that diatoms would not go away. Based on that I decided to ignore silicates, and I have.

I think your tank looks about like most new tanks look. You could use a net to dip out anything that is floating around, and trim off any obviously dead plant leaves, just as a part of routine tank maintenance. Then I would just wait for the plants to start growing.

Do you have a link to the LED strips you are using? I have no idea how much light intensity you have.

I would never add anything like a banana peel, composted or not, to the substrate, so I have no idea if that will cause any problems. And, red clay needs to be all natural clay, with no polymers added. Clay for art use often does have polymers in it. I don't see anything wrong with using the coconut shell.

· Registered
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thank you guys a lot :)

Do you have a link to the LED strips you are using? I have no idea how much light intensity you have.

I would never add anything like a banana peel, composted or not, to the substrate, so I have no idea if that will cause any problems. And, red clay needs to be all natural clay, with no polymers added. Clay for art use often does have polymers in it. I don't see anything wrong with using the coconut shell.
the clay is 100% natural, i checked.
The website is in German, sorry (but if you are interested google translator helps a lot from german to english)
but as wrote before it is around 2240 lumen with a color rendering index (CRI) of 90

The banana peel have long been decomposed now (i started treating the soil more than a month ago) and when i put it in the tank they could not be seen.
Thank you guys again for your replies :D

· Super Moderator
4,233 Posts
Sand is made out of silicates. In the natural environment, it would be totally harmless.

Thanks for the praise of Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.

While writing the book, I strongly considered using the metric system. As a scientific researcher, I love the metric system for its simplicity and logic. But using terms that are unfamiliar to American hobbyists stopped me. For non-scientists to understand scientific concepts, I wanted to make the material as easy as possible.

Then, there are books that try to cater to both worlds with inches and centimeter conversions side-by-side. Again, it would have added another layer of complexity to an already challenging subject.

Ecology of the Planted Aquarium caters to the non-scientists of America. Since Americans are buying 90% of the books--thank you, very much--I believe I made the right decision. However, I see most of the world, with the exception of America, UK, Myanmar, and Liberia, have converted to the metric system. A logical and praiseworthy move, but then Americans are sometimes very stubborn and non-logical. :rolleyes:

BTW, there is a nice German translation and I see that it uses metric units throughout. It is available from Amazon:
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