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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello I’m an absolute newbie who has been watching YouTube videos of Walstad style tanks for a long long time.

Finally I took the plunge yesterday and started my tank. It’s a 45x27x30cm tank, with mineralised dirt substrate and a coarse sand cap. I think I added too much sand and too little substrate, but I’ve already put some plants in it. Probably I should give it some time… If it doesn’t work I may have to start over… 😔
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Welcome to APC!

From the photo, the depth of soil and cap look fine. Can you give us a measurement? A thin soil layer is much less likely to cause trouble than one that is too thick. Go ahead and put in some more plants--nothing will help more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply!
The substrate (dirt) is 1-1.5cm (it isn’t totally even), and the coarse sand is 2-3cm.

I may go to my fish store and find some more plants tomorrow, maybe some Java fern / sword type plants for the center and some rotala sp for the back. But the plants are pretty pricey and I really hope they will multiply by themselves…

I started the plants on four hours of light yesterday and increased it to two sessions of four hours with a siesta in between. I hope it isn’t too much but I seem to hear that they need time to adapt .. I hope this is not too much light for now.
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The depth of your soil and cap is perfect. You can probably increase your lighting schedule to 5 hours--3 hours siesta--5 hours.

The hornwort (front left corner) probably will not root into the substrate. It usually grows free-floating just under the surface. It is a good species for a new tank because it grows rapidly and quickly uses ammonia released by the soil. If you let it float it will also shade the tank from excess light (if that is a problem).

When you buy more plants, get a variety of easy strong-rooted species. It is difficult to predict which species will thrive in a given tank, so not all of them may grow. Java fern is an easy species, but don't bury the rhizomes in the substrate. It needs to be attached to a stone or driftwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And I spent so much effort trying to keep that hornwort down! I should have just left it floating.

I‘ve bought a new batch of plants and will add them to my tank tomorrow. I don’t know if they will be easy or not but they looked nice and weren’t too expensive… I didn’t get any Java fern in the end.

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I hope they can stay alive …
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Much better! Walstad tanks depend on lots of healthy plants for stability and water quality.
Thank you!

I just saw plants pearling in real life for the first time today, and I feel very happy.
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(the bubbles are everywhere up top so I hope it wasn’t just from the hornwort alone)

However I am also seeing the tiniest black dots starting to appear on some of the green leaves. Suspect that algae is going to be a problem soon. I don’t think my tank is cycled yet and I don’t want to kill a snail or shrimps by adding them.

Should I just wait it out and let the plants outcompete the algae? Thanks in advance!
 

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It is best to wait and see. Algae often comes and goes in new tanks. If it seems to be growing rapidly, decrease the photoperiod some. Getting the right balance of photoperiod and plant growth to suppress algae is often a process of trial and error.

About "cycling", Walstad tanks depend on healthy plants to remove ammonia, not bacteria (although they help). If there are enough plants and they are growing well, the tank is effectively "cycled". It is still a good idea to test your water periodically until the tank is established, but you can probably put snails in now. Shrimp are a little more sensitive, so let the snails settle in for a week or two first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you so much for your help! Algae started growing in earnest over the past two days and I cleaned the glass today, did a water change and got two nerite snails from my local fish store.
Hope the snails will live and the algae would disappear.
The plants seem okay despite the algae. The red cabomba seems redder now then when I got it, too.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah I guess regular snails would have done the job but there was only the nerite and a yellowish black striped snail (bee snail?- not sure of the name in English) at the store near my home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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I put in amano shrimps, 6 of them.
This is the remaining single survivor Shrimp 456.

My lights got accidentally turned off for one day while I was fiddling with the automatic timer. Maybe the tank ran out of oxygen with all the plants and shrimps fighting for air? I’m not sure.

I tested my water and didn’t seem to see a spike in nitrates or nitrites. I’m going to try again if shrimp 456 survives in a week or two.
 
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