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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! I got into fish tanks around January of this year, and I did a lot of research. I had a high tech guppy tank a few years ago when I was younger, but it was mostly maintained by my parents. Now I have my own 10 gallon and 20 gallon currently set up, and I am working on a 29 right now. During this whole process I came upon the Walstad method, and thus all of my tanks are set up using this method. I am currently reading Diana's book right now.
For a school project, I am designing a fish tank. The tank I designed is a 12 ft by 12 ft office room, which you can see in the picture below. The actual tank has a width of 4 feet, and height is floor to ceiling. It is meant to be a giant Oscar tank.*
So my questions are:
1. Is it even possible to set up a tank this large using the Walstad Method?
2. If so, then what plants would be recommended? (I currently live near lots of freshwater rivers and lakes, and am open to using plants from there -because I doubt stores sell the size plants I would need to this tank-)**
3. What fish could I keep with a group of Oscars in a tank this large, if any?
4. Who would I have to talk to about custom tanks?

* I also plan on having another tank of about half this size for smaller schooling fish (it would still be at least 6-8 feet+ in length, about 3-5 feet tall, and about 2-4 feet wide), and then a 75 gallon or 210 gallon for guppies.
** There is no way that I could actually build this tank right now. As I said, this is a school design project, but I have to know all the tank mates and plants, substrate, decor, etc. So if I were to actually go make this tank what plants would I use?
FishTankDesign.jpg
Fish Tank Design G. Drawing.png
 

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You would need to calculate how much wattage would produce enough light to reach the bottom of a four foot tall tank, with the understanding that water diffuses light. Or, you could just use floating plants. Or, you could plant a lot of anubias which in that environment would barely register as ground cover. Heck, if I had that kind of money and ambition, I'd consider making it a saltwater tank!
 

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Heck, if I had that kind of money and ambition, I'd consider making it a saltwater tank!
And time!

Yes, you can do Walstad for larger tanks but I wouldn't do the whole substrate with dirt. I would put the dirt in containers for easier maintenance. I would think of it as a pond.
I'm not sure but cichlids are diggers so dirt would make it a mess. You can have other big aggressive cichlids and fish with Oscars. Common plecos to clean up algae would work too.
 

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Welcome to APC!

Agree with mistergreen, a tank this large is managed more like a garden pond than a typical aquarium. You don't mention your location, but if local aquatic plants will thrive in temperatures the Oscars need, definitely use them. Otherwise, look for tropical species sold by water garden stores or websites.
 

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I would set it up as a pond, but the problem is that ponds have sunlight to get good emergent plant growth. Lighting will be the main problem. Maybe try some of those submerged LED lights or use lighting from the side. All experimental! Then you have Oscars that are going to dig up any rooted plants. The big size multiplies potential problems logarithmically. I would not put in a soil substrate on the bottom. Use potted plants and floating plants as in ponds.
 

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Since you're dealing with diggers, I would leave dirt out of the equation altogether. Go with epiphytes you can glue to wood and rocks like Anubias and ferns.
 

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Since you're dealing with diggers, I would leave dirt out of the equation altogether. Go with epiphytes you can glue to wood and rocks like Anubias and ferns.
Then it's not really a Walstad right? Could you get enough growth out of these plants to act as the filtration for the aquarium?
 

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Depends on how many plants and how many fish. You could certainly get sufficient biofiltration if you use all the available strategies (potted plants, emergent plants, and floating plants) and stock the huge tank lightly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Depends on how many plants and how many fish. You could certainly get sufficient biofiltration if you use all the available strategies (potted plants, emergent plants, and floating plants) and stock the huge tank lightly.
I plan on having the entire surface, minus a feeding spot, to be covered in floating plants which will be lit by flood lights, then have submersible lights under the floating plants to light up the rest of the tank. I got the idea from Bass Pro Shop/ Cabela's fish tank. Their tanks are huge and are sufficiently lit up. I'm pretty sure they use flood lights, but I haven't asked yet.
 

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Out of curiosity, would it be in any way wise to add gravel on the bottom surface around the submerged potted plants?

If there are added snails (or whatever would help get the job done), couldn't they break down waste into mulm? This would be incorporated into the gravel and create a space for additional bacteria? This is hypothetical coming from me btw, I don't have experience with it. It could cause other issues?

Also, some pond owners place their plants (whether pot or not) and then add a cage like structure around it so the fish can't get to the soil or dig up the plant. Often times egg crates are used, but since this is a show tank, you could find something more aesthetically pleasing (such as building a rock structure around the outside of the cage section without completely sealing it off).
 

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Out of curiosity, would it be in any way wise to add gravel on the bottom surface around the submerged potted plants?

If there are added snails (or whatever would help get the job done), couldn't they break down waste into mulm? This would be incorporated into the gravel and create a space for additional bacteria? This is hypothetical coming from me btw, I don't have experience with it. It could cause other issues?

Also, some pond owners place their plants (whether pot or not) and then add a cage like structure around it so the fish can't get to the soil or dig up the plant. Often times egg crates are used, but since this is a show tank, you could find something more aesthetically pleasing (such as building a rock structure around the outside of the cage section without completely sealing it off).
Yes, large gravel or stones so fish don't dig. A cage would work. I have gravel capping soil pots in my goldfish pond.
 

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BIG rocks on soil surface in pots prevent digging by koi, which are even worse than oscars. Gravel on the bottom would be important for the oscars natural behavior, which includes digging pits as part of spawning.
 

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Ooo, also! (I built garden ponds in high school and college, but as an amateur). Many pond owners have a second "pooling" section (often incorporated with waterfalls) that is filled with plants and inaccessible by the fish. In your case, this could even be a small tank within the stand. The water would be sent from the main tank, to the small tank full of even more plants, and then sent back to the main. It could be thought of as as a helpful bonus.
 

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Out of curiosity, would it be in any way wise to add gravel on the bottom surface around the submerged potted plants?

A light 1/4" scattering of gravel on the bottom would be okay. Anything deeper would collect organic matter, rot, and poison the fish.
 

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You can go with sand as the substrate instead of gravel. It's easier to clean and if deep enough, it'll create an anoxic condition which helps in lowering nitrate. Look up deep substrate for more info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ooo, also! (I built garden ponds in high school and college, but as an amateur). Many pond owners have a second "pooling" section (often incorporated with waterfalls) that is filled with plants and inaccessible by the fish. In your case, this could even be a small tank within the stand. The water would be sent from the main tank, to the small tank full of even more plants, and then sent back to the main. It could be thought of as as a helpful bonus.
Oh yeah! One of my friends has a koi pond that uses plants as filtration. That's smart. I'll take that into consideration.
 
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