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Discussion Starter #1
I have done high-tech planted tanks in the past and am starting the hobby again. I had already begun a tank with the dry start method (DSM) before coming across Diana Walstad's work. I was so intrigued I bought her book immediately. However, my DSM is already 2 weeks old and I have already planted Glosso in aquasoil. From here on out, I will try to "convert" this tank into a Walstad tank. Based on what I read so far, this tank probably has a high chance of failure but I will keep a journal to enhance my learning and perhaps leave a record for other to learn from.




Tank and Dimensions
35x22x28 cm
19 liters / 5 gallons
x2 pieces of free standing driftwood
generic aqasoil from my local aquarium store

Location
Singapore
Average temperature 26 -29 degrees Celsius
Average humidity is 80%

Lighting regime
11am to 11pm
7w LED
600 lumens
3000k

Watering
Misted 3 times daily. There is glass cover covering 90% of the tank opening.
I did not saturate the soil with water. Many aquarists in my region have much better success misting the tank vs saturating the soil. Saturating the soil in our region tends to lead to massive algae outbreaks at the "dry" stage.

Next steps
Let the tank grow out for another 2 weeks before flooding and adding other plants.
Intended plants
Glosso - already in the tank
Dwarf Sag
Java fern
Hydrilla
Frogbit
Vallisneria

Not sure plants
Vallisneria - My tank may be too short?

Questions if anybody can help out
1)Should i try to cap the aquasoil?
 

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I think your tank has a good chance of success. I notice that ADA Aquasoil Amazonia has organic matter and humic acids in it? That's good, because the main objection I've had with "older model" packaged soils (Fluorite, Laterite, etc) is that they have/had no organic matter. That's fine in a CO2 injection tank, but not in a natural tank where you want the soil to add some CO2 to the system. Also, the soil humic acids reduce metal toxicity to plant roots. (They bind the aluminum and iron released by the soil particles.)

Your tank looks nice. I notice plant roots growing at the front of the glass? That's a good sign. I hope that those big pieces of driftwood are resting on the glass. You don't want to smother the soil bacteria.

I have Valisneria spiralis in my 5 gal tank. It's one of the smaller Vals.

I don't think that I would cap the Aquasoil. The substrate depth looks fine for such a small tank.

That's interesting about the misted soil working better than saturated soil. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. I may have to revise my shrimp article and include this new information. :)

Keep us posted on this tank!
 

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Yeah, cap should be unnecessary unless you'd like a different appearance on top. W/ potting soil it's necessary because otherwise the dirt clouds the water constantly; with aquasoil it's not as much of a problem.

It's interesting, I've seen people do scapes with aquasoil where they easily have 5+" of it, building hills with it and whatnot, and don't mention any issues with it going anaerobic. I suppose this could be true if they are only temporary (which is a shame in my opinion), but could there be some other reason that aquasoil would be less likely to become anaerobic?

Either way, excited to see how this tank turns out :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
73210

Updates to the tank
I have changed the LED to a 12W CFL giving me a 2.4W/Gallon
Implemented Lighting period 7am - 11am and 6pm to 10pm

Comments
I have changed the photo period from 11am to 11pm to the siesta period with shorter hours with the anticipation of flooding the tank next week.
Getting good root growth from the Glosso
Decided to plant the back of the tank with Glosso as well
I will only flood the tank once I get my water test kits as I am curious to see how the aquasoil affects the water
73211
 

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Sweet! With all those mineral particles, Aquasoil must have less organic matter than potting soil. So you probably could have a thicker layer without soil going anaerobic. The proof will be how this tank--fantastic start-- does over time after it has been submerged. Thanks for posting!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Today I have flooded the tank, I honestly don't know what plants I bought cause the local fish shop didn't have names on them. I'll start taking water readings tomorrow, I know tanks looks good when just started. Let's see how well this tank keeps up. I may start to stock with some snails and shrimp if the water condition is stable for at least 3 days.

73249
73250
73251
 

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Some of the plants have started to pearl.
Some of the plants have dislodged. I will let them float and hopefully they will grow some roots and I will attempt to stick them back into the substrate.
Water reading 24 hour after flooding

Nitrate 20 ppm
Nitrite 0
GH 75
KH 0
Ph 6.8

Anyone have recommendations when the tank should be stocked?
Any feedback or comments welcome.

73256
73257
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Water Readings for today
Nitrate 20
Nitrite 0
GH 75
KH 0
Ph 6.8

Comments
I expected tannins from the drift wood to leach out into the water but it doesn't seem to have happened. Perhaps tannins leaching out into the water is a function of water Ph level,
I was also expecting the white film to develop on the drift wood but also has not happened.
I expect the glosso to die back within 2 weeks. If it does die back, i will wait for it to regrow before stocking tank. If it does not die back then that would be an excellent result for this tank.
The plant on the left hand side is pearling more which seems like a good sign.
There are occasional and infrequent bubbles coming up from the soil. Don't know what it is but doesn't seem too worrying.

73260
 

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Apr 9 2021 4:00pm
After doing some thinking, I have decided to a 10% water change every other day. As this is a new tank, there will definitely be chemicals leaching out of that drift wood and new soil. There is also some plants that had leaves dying. Apart from the chemicals being measured everyday, the drift wood, soil and dying material will be definitely leaching other chemicals. I don't want an accumulation of any sort of unknow chemical that could lead to an algae outbreak. Better safe than sorry.
 

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There’s no need to change the water that frequently. I would take the wood out if tannin is an issue. Soak it in a bucket until the tannins are gone. You might get anaerobic spots under the wood in the tank anyway.
 

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There’s no need to change the water that frequently. I would take the wood out if tannin is an issue. Soak it in a bucket until the tannins are gone. You might get anaerobic spots under the wood in the tank anyway.
Hi mistergreen. Thank you for your feedback. I hoping that the wood will not cause a tannin issue. I boiled the wood for about 1hr 30mins to try to remove as much tannin as possible and kill any bacteria before drying it out. I also put the wood flat on the glass before adding soil. I will see how it goes.

My current concern is the build up of unknow chemicals that may still be leaching out.
I am also concerned abt the zero KH readings. I understand that Diana has her own recipe to deal with this but it seems a little complex to make. I am thinking either crushed coral or take a bet with Seachem Equilibrium (I am aware from this forum that Equilibrium is less then ideal for a NPT.
 

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Do you know what type of wood that is? If it’s pine, there will be terpenoids that will leach into the water but besides that you shouldn’t worry about the wood. For KH, I’d put crush coral in.
 

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I am also concerned abt the zero KH readings. I understand that Diana has her own recipe to deal with this but it seems a little complex to make. I am thinking either crushed coral or take a bet with Seachem Equilibrium (I am aware from this forum that Equilibrium is less then ideal for a NPT.
Note that Seachem Equilibrium is for GH, not KH. For KH (carbonate hardness, your pH buffer) you can just add some baking soda. For GH (which may be what you mean; it's essential for plant and fish health), I definitely would stay away from Equilibrium. The build up of sulfates in the substrate would be very difficult to counteract (if even possible w/o replacing the substrate). If you don't want to figure out the measurements from Ms. Walstad's recipe, try a Wonder Shell, which I don't believe has harmful sulfates like Equilibrium (or at least, I haven't seen any negative effects in the couple of months I've used them). They're fairly cheap and dead simple. Just plop it in and let it dissolve, measure afterwards to see if you've reached the right hardness. If not, add another.
 

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Have you been able to ID the plants? The tank looks amazing.

Your floaters look like frogbit, and I believe that's Cabomba on the left. The middle plant looks like Guppy Grass. -- but don't quote me, haha!

Also, concerning tannins, I soaked my driftwood for a few weeks and gave it a scrub (because I didn't have a pot big enough to soak them fully). However, I also added a Purigen bag to my HOB filter. It soaks up tannins remarkably well. I only wanna leave it in there for a few weeks or a month at most, but I've found it helpful in the start up.

Also, I'd let your floater have free reign over the top of the tank while it is establishing. They are extremely good at absorbing ammonia and such. The more the merrier while a tank is stabilizing. You can then begin removing bits as you see fit once the correct water parameters have been reached.
 

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Note that Seachem Equilibrium is for GH, not KH. For KH (carbonate hardness, your pH buffer) you can just add some baking soda. For GH (which may be what you mean; it's essential for plant and fish health), I definitely would stay away from Equilibrium. The build up of sulfates in the substrate would be very difficult to counteract (if even possible w/o replacing the substrate). If you don't want to figure out the measurements from Ms. Walstad's recipe, try a Wonder Shell, which I don't believe has harmful sulfates like Equilibrium (or at least, I haven't seen any negative effects in the couple of months I've used them). They're fairly cheap and dead simple. Just plop it in and let it dissolve, measure afterwards to see if you've reached the right hardness. If not, add another.
I agree with jatcar95.
 
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