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It's not the lights. Why are you doing 50% water changes every week (has the tank cycled?) You have no soil to speak of. Very little livestock. And you're emptying whatever nutrients that are left down the drain every week. Try planting something in a tiny container of soil and cap it with a tiny bit of gravel and place it in the bare corner and compare the growth. Trader Joe's sells a brand of k-cups that would do nicely in a betta tank.
 

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The tank is fully cycled only took about 3 weeks for a fishless cycle when i set it up.

Im doing 30%-50% water changes because in my research and experence in the hobby thats just what you do. Espically when your doseing ferts in the EI method. It what i had read and what i had been told by other experienced hobbyist.

My understanding was that my light and limited co2 do not allow for optiomal plant growth. So the plants only use x% of ferts/nutriants do water changes on weekends to remove excess which wpuld not be used and posdibly lead to toxic build up trace elements and alage growth.

Also i tend to overfees my fish which i know is esswntally a capital offence in the fish keeping world.
Are you actually tracking your water's nitrogen parameters (i.e., testing it?)
 

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Yes of course. The great importance of water testing was drilled into my head before i even touched planted tanks.
I have a calibrated API masterkit along with gh/kh i test weekly and keep track.
My ammqonia and nitrite are always 0ppm and my nitrate is usually ranges from 15-25 on sundays.
If it tests out close to or over 20
i do the water change.
I can get the rest of my water paramaters if needed.
I am probably still on a bit of a learning curve, all my initial knoelwdge on water paramaters was for plantless tanks and that nitrate 20ppm or over warrented water changes.
Thanks. That was helpful. You're in the same position I was about eight months ago - and still am, to a certain extent. I, too decided to start a Walstad tank, or at least adopt/adapt some of its techniques to a tank that had already been set up to hold a minimal number of fish and plants. I didn't even have a decent light fixture until last May!

But, like your betta tank, my somewhat larger bowl always had decent parameters: 0 ppm for ammonia and nitrites and seldom more than 20 ppm or nitrates. The nitrate level is pesky even though it is the least toxic of the three nitrogen bi-products we normally test for (I sometimes wish API had a way of differentiating between harmful ammonia and less harmful ammonium - but, that's another story!)

In an ideal world we would all have ways to magically move our fish to another tank while we make the transition to full blown Walstad because the key, of course, is that you should have so many rapidly growing plants with enough rapidly growing roots that they

1) become the dominant source of ammonia/ammonium predation,

and,

2) are able to aerate the highly organic soil enough to prevent it from becoming anaerobic.

But, it doesn't always work out that way. Your plants need a certain amount of nutrients in order to stay healthy and, if they are constantly competing with beneficial bacteria (which gained control back when we cycled our tanks) for ammonia - which is their preferred food source - then, you have to allow them a decent supply of nitrates to tide them over.

I've done pretty well with 20% water changes every two weeks and a fairly constant level of 20ppm for nitrates.

And, though you haven't mentioned it, I'd also advise against vacuuming the gravel. With one fish - and even with overfeeding - you're not in any great danger of poisoning your livestock.
 

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The ultimate decision is u to you. From everything I've seen, your betta appears happy and you have the potential for more plant growth with just what you have. Putting your plants into pots is one suggestion. The slowly decomposing organic matter in ordinary potting soil produces enough CO2 to obviate the need for artificial sources for about four to five months. Another CO2 "hack" is to invest in a few plants that grow long, floating "pads". They derive their CO2 directly from the air. A banana plant or two would top my list for that vacant left corner.
 

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Just order Diana's book from her website, so on the right track. Gonna keep my eyes out for another 3 gallon tank or bowl of some sort. I need the book figure out if im going to filter this tank/bowl.
Good move. And, just to tide you over until it arrives, the articles on DW's website are free and full of lots of information, Scroll down until you get to the list (the first three, colored in green are especially pertinent:)
Planted Aquariums – Diana Walstad's Books and Articles

HTH
 

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So i almost have the soil ready for the tank im going to pick up one of the bowls from micheals the largest size.
I was looking for a light as well had the one from petsmart thag someone already reced but was also considering one of these
Now im not sure which wattage to use im too used to figuring all lighting in PAR now.
This is the dimensions of the bowl according to their website 12" (30.48 cm) bowl is 12" diameter x 9.5" tall (30.48cm x 24.13cm), with 9.125" (23.17cm) diameter opening so im not sure how many actual gallond it is.
If someone can give me some suggestions that would be great.
It depends on the size and shape of the bowl. At 9.5" inches high, the bowl's water surface would be a full 10 inches away from the light's beam, maybe more (if, you don't fill the bowl all the way up!) And, 450 lumens is not all that bright to begin with. A clip on light can get much closer and the light would be more concentrated..
 

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Good to know thats what i kind of figured, im used to figuring things out in PAR. I already started looking at clip on light instead. I still have the that topfin light saved as a possibility, maybe ill just go with that. Im just always cocerned about longjevity when it comes to lights and topfin has always been in my experience a iffy beand quality wise.
Thanks
Yes, no one seems to swear by that brand. But, this is just an experimental bowl, right? Are fish going to go in there?
 

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It's possible we're both overthinking this. By "experimental", you mean you won't be using this setup on a permanent basis. You want a place where you can deal with a big nutrient dump while you kick-start some rapid growth among your rooted plants. It could take a few days or it could take a few weeks for all of that nitrogen to reach a level safe enough for aquatic animals. Then, you want to move your betta to that setup while you repeat the process in its vacated nano tank. Am I reading you correctly?

In a sense, every tank is an experiment; something's going to be different no matter how many previous tanks you may have set up. I would be asking myself whether it's really necessary to go through this process twice in two separate tanks?
 

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Yah thats exactly what i had planned to do. I wouldnt be surprised if i was overthinking this im notirious for overthinking combined with massive amounts of research.

I just had no clue what to do with my resident betta while i try to shift the Spec over to soil. I cerently dont want anything to go wrong that i kill him. I mean the tank is about 4 monthe old and is cycled......

So thats why i started the idea of another tank that would be soil from the very start and then move him to that tank and repeat process on spec... and its just clearly snowballed....😑
So i either figure out how i can saftly transition my spec with betta to soil tank and then tackle an additional tank at a later date or figure out a cheap option for a whole new tank right now....
Or, just temporarily transfer your betta to a low tech bowl without soil or plants while you get the spec up to speed.
 

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Ive never done this before. Would i just take water from his current tank and put it in a small bowl? How long can i saftly keep him that way. I mean i know they hang out in bowls like that all the time in the petstores.
But it would give me more time to think about another tank and possibly wait for black friday deals lol 🙃
Well, you already have a 9" in. high bowl now, right? I would use that.
Full Disclosure: I've never kept bettas. But, from everything I've read oxygen would not be a problem since they get their air directly from the surface. Your main worry would be keeping the water free of ammonia. Definitely use water from the spec since it's already been cycled. Heck, if you have access to STS, lay a thin layer of that on the bottom in order for beneficial bacteria to propagate. And a few sticks of lucky bamboo. It's hard to imagine the water changes would be much more frequent than what you're doing right now which is 50% water changes a week.
 

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View attachment 73969
Checked water last night. Ammonia was between 0.25-0.50.
Nitrites and nitrates were nonexistant as expected.
So looks like ill be going through a tank cycle. It will intreasting to see how quickly it progresses considering the filtee is established and the gravel is from the pre soil setup.
Did a 50% water change and the sol is clraring up. Not long considering ill be going to my LFS for a sword plant on monday.
Ill check the water again this evening and probably do another water change.
If im able to pick up a sword ill put it in the back left corner and move the crypt thats curently their foreward.
Also wonderinv if i need to find a more unique piece of driftwood. Dont know if this the case for other people but i had a hell of a time finding a small enough piece that was still servisable.
I apologize, if I sound like a broken record, but I'm still not sure why you are doing so much water changing. There are no fish to worry about. The water looks pretty clear. You actually aren't trying to cycle the tank in the conventional sense: What you really want is for the plants to get a head-start on the beneficial bacteria so that they out compete it for the available ammonia/ammonium. If successful, you won't have much in the way of nitrates.
 

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All the water peraminters have strightned out
Full stop. This is huge (!) Take some time to give yourself a pat on the back. This means the plants are probably outcompeting the beneficial bacteria for the available ammonia. Not every dirted tank gets this right on the first try.

The tannic haze may be something you will just have to live with until things really stabilize. It's coming from the soil and it's harmless. Some people say STS is able to absorb tannins, but I haven't tested that theory.

If you still have algae problems after cutting your lighting hours down to 8, I would certainly think about bladder snails especially since you have a betta who might provide some predator control over their population.

I'd be interested in what DW has to say in view of her recent advice to another poster regarding lighting and plants getting a fast start in a shrimp bowl.
 

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In rereading some of your posts, I'm theorizing that between the algae and the beneficial bacteria which marked your tank's "cycling" your plants are not getting enough ammonia/ammonium and having to rely on the nitrates in your tank as a secondary food source. Aquatic plants favor the uptake of ammonia but will settle for nitrates, if not enough of the former is available. But, it comes at a cost in the plant's uptake efficiency, resulting in slower growth.
Counterintuitively, the solution may be to add more plants and to consider putting Captain back in the tank.
 

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Im not sure where i would be able to add more plants, but then maybe im thinking too much like a landscaper/desginer would, considering the mature size of the plant and allowing for that growth to prevent overcorwding which then leads to its own set of issues.
You're worried about having too many plants? I'm looking at your tank and scratching my head. :)
 
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