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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Day 1 versus day 35

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I know I haven't been following the Walstad method strictly in terms of plant choice, but I want to try things out and see what happens. :p

Tank size: 10 gallon
Substrate: 1 inch organic soil, topped with 1/2 inch 2-3mm size dark gravel
Temperature 24-26 Celcius
pH 7.5 / gH 6 / kH 5
Ammonia: 0 mg/L
Nitrite 3+ mg/L
Nitrate 5-10 mg/L

==ONGOING issues==

High nitrite :eek:
It has been 3+ mg/L for more than 2 weeks now, the rainbow forktails don't seem to be impacted, but CRS are dying one by one. Daily 12% water change didn't seem to help, and I can't figure out where the nitrite is coming from. The ammonia is 0, and nitrate is between 5-10 mg/L. I am hesitant about larger water change, as it will reduce nitrate and stunt plant growth. Any thoughts?

Monte Carlo browning :eek:
They were whitening for the first few weeks, followed by browning, but they are slowly recovering. I filled the gaps with dwarf hairgrass and Glossostigma. I will wait for a few weeks, and decide which ones to keep. Similar problem with Pogostemon helferi, another slow grower, the existing leaves completed melted for first few weeks, then new leaves started appearing. Patience patience patience...

==RESOLVED issues==

Green water
I didn't realize I had a very strong light, it was a 50 watt over a 10 gallon, not to mentioned I had it on for 12 hours per day, the green water exploded. I cut it down to 12 watt and 5 hours, with daily partial water change, the green water eventually went away. I have since slowly bumped up the lighting to 20 watt with 5-4-5 siesta schedule, so far so good.

Green dust algae
I had this on the tank glass and slow growth plants like repens, it is not as bad as green water but it was expanding fast. With reduced lighting, the expansion stopped, and the nerites and amano shrimps eventually cleaned it up.

Dying floating plants
I started with frogbits, but the long roots are overwhelming the tall plants below. So I replaced them with red root floaters, which died off within 2 weeks. I couldn't figure out the cause, but I replaced them with giant duckweed, they are the ones you see in day 35.
 

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Looking great pic #2. Straight from a picture book.

My 5 gallon tank is going to be 3 weeks old on Sunday. Not pretty enough yet to take pics.

Regarding the Walstad method: it ain’t a dogma. Everyone’s water, soil and light is different, so experimenting with what thrives and what not is necessary.
 

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Photos show what kind of plant growth you can expect when plants really take off. I would not have removed the Frogbit since it was growing so well. I would consider doing large water changes (50%) temporarily to remove the nitrites. Water with 5-10 ppm nitrates is more than enough to meet the nitrogen needs of plants. I doubt that your plants are in danger of N deficiency. They are doing fine draining the water of copious ammonia. (Has to be a lots of ammonia generated with those kind of nitrite and nitrate levels.) I think that time will solve the nitrite problem. The nitrites should eventually decrease. Beautiful tank!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Looking great pic #2. Straight from a picture book.

My 5 gallon tank is going to be 3 weeks old on Sunday. Not pretty enough yet to take pics.

Regarding the Walstad method: it ain’t a dogma. Everyone’s water, soil and light is different, so experimenting with what thrives and what not is necessary.
Experimenting is the fun part of Walstad method!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Photos show what kind of plant growth you can expect when plants really take off. I would not have removed the Frogbit since it was growing so well. I would consider doing large water changes (50%) temporarily to remove the nitrites. Water with 5-10 ppm nitrates is more than enough to meet the nitrogen needs of plants. I doubt that your plants are in danger of N deficiency. They are doing fine draining the water of copious ammonia. (Has to be a lots of ammonia generated with those kind of nitrite and nitrate levels.) I think that time will solve the nitrite problem. The nitrites should eventually decrease. Beautiful tank!
Thanks Diana for taking the time to respond! It has made my day! :D

I am going to start with big water change today. Hopefully it would reach a equilibrium soon, then I can just sit back and watch.
 

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Day 1 versus day 35

View attachment 73272 View attachment 73273


I know I haven't been following the Walstad method strictly in terms of plant choice, but I want to try things out and see what happens. :p

Tank size: 10 gallon
Substrate: 1 inch organic soil, topped with 1/2 inch 2-3mm size dark gravel
Temperature 24-26 Celcius
pH 7.5 / gH 6 / kH 5
Ammonia: 0 mg/L
Nitrite 3+ mg/L
Nitrate 5-10 mg/L

==ONGOING issues==

High nitrite :eek:
It has been 3+ mg/L for more than 2 weeks now, the rainbow forktails don't seem to be impacted, but CRS are dying one by one. Daily 12% water change didn't seem to help, and I can't figure out where the nitrite is coming from. The ammonia is 0, and nitrate is between 5-10 mg/L. I am hesitant about larger water change, as it will reduce nitrate and stunt plant growth. Any thoughts?

Monte Carlo browning :eek:
They were whitening for the first few weeks, followed by browning, but they are slowly recovering. I filled the gaps with dwarf hairgrass and Glossostigma. I will wait for a few weeks, and decide which ones to keep. Similar problem with Pogostemon helferi, another slow grower, the existing leaves completed melted for first few weeks, then new leaves started appearing. Patience patience patience...

==RESOLVED issues==

Green water
I didn't realize I had a very strong light, it was a 50 watt over a 10 gallon, not to mentioned I had it on for 12 hours per day, the green water exploded. I cut it down to 12 watt and 5 hours, with daily partial water change, the green water eventually went away. I have since slowly bumped up the lighting to 20 watt with 5-4-5 siesta schedule, so far so good.

Green dust algae
I had this on the tank glass and slow growth plants like repens, it is not as bad as green water but it was expanding fast. With reduced lighting, the expansion stopped, and the nerites and amano shrimps eventually cleaned it up.

Dying floating plants
I started with frogbits, but the long roots are overwhelming the tall plants below. So I replaced them with red root floaters, which died off within 2 weeks. I couldn't figure out the cause, but I replaced them with giant duckweed, they are the ones you see in day 35.
Cap with an inch of sand. This keeps the nutrients from entering the water column and creates an anaerobic bacterial layer that digests ammonia and nitrates.
 

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Tammy, welcome to APC!

I must disagree with your advice. We generally want aerobic conditions in the soil substrate so that beneficial bacteria can do their work. There are always anaerobic microenvironments in the substrate, but we do not want large oxygen poor areas.
 

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Cap with an inch of sand. This keeps the nutrients from entering the water column and creates an anaerobic bacterial layer that digests ammonia and nitrates.
A thick layer of sand will not prevent nutrients from entering water. All it will do is make the substrate more anaerobic and cause problems. You want it to allow oxygen exchange.
 

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Wow, looking at the first post, I am shocked by the 1 month of plant growth and now understand just how SLOW my own plants were going! (It's slowly picking up the pace now, but I realize how poor my water quality is!)
 

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A thick layer of sand will not prevent nutrients from entering water. All it will do is make the substrate more anaerobic and cause problems. You want it to allow oxygen exchange.
I believe the sand layer won't prevent nutrients from entirely entering the water column but they will slow them down. I've been experimenting for years. I'm also a HUGE fan of yours and have 2 copies of your book and several of your articles. I also have friends with salt water tanks who've suggested that deeper substrates (at least in marine tanks) are actually beneficial because they have both aerobic and anaerobic layers to them. The anaerobic layers are good at breaking down nitrates. So I tried it on one of my Walstad tanks that had been set up for 6 years that was starting to lose nutrients and gain algae and within a week, the nuisance algae disappeared and plant growth (particularly my cryptocorynes) started to rejuvenate. I've had it this way now for over 2 years and it is stable. Same inch of organic soil plus inch of gravel cap I started out with just an additional inch of sand. Perhaps the trumpet snails and established root system help with the gas and nutrient exchange but not for certain. Another thing I've noticed is with my older soil tanks, after about several years I would have to add a few root tabs for the heavy feeders but the ones I've capped with sand, I haven't had to add any additional nutrients too. I've read that some anaerobic conditions can make nutrients more readily available to plants so that could be the case plus I never gravel vac anymore just let the detritus break down for the invertebrates. But these are my experiences. Before I read your book, I couldn't keep fake plants alive but now I'm giving plant cuttings away left and right. You're definitely the template i go by every time I set up a tank but I still like to color outside of the box and try additional approaches now and again.
 

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I'm glad to hear you're a fan. :) And that you are growing plants well now.

I understand that you added a sand layer to long-established tanks. These tanks would not have the problem of new setups with freshly submerged soils that often are way too anaerobic first couple months. A sand layer would make them worse or create problems. I have never espoused gravel vacuuming so we are in agreement there.

As to your situation--adding a sand layer to tanks that are going downhill after a few years? It is true that a certain level of soil anaerobicity makes nutrients more available, so it is entirely possible that a sand layer could rejuvenate old tank setups.

Will keep in mind what you have written. This truly is thinking outside the box! Good going!
 
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