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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I decided to start a nano walstad tank for shrimps and snails (right now, only snails that came with the plants). It is a 5 litre bowl to which I added earthworm humus, river sand and plants (lemna minor, limnophila, egeria and vallisneria). It's been 16 days since I started the project, and three days ago I started noticing that water was turning yellow and some worms appeared. Plants were doing fine, some vallisneria leaves died but I removed them and the rest were totally fine I think.

I thought these worms were planaria, but today I see many of them and they are at the top border of the bowl, what are they? Are they harmful?
Hand Hood Finger Wood Thumb


This is the bowl so far, the water is cloudy and yellowish :( I believe that there is a lot of organic matter here, however how can I solve this? 100% water change?
Water World Grass Fish supply Pet supply


The bow looked this beautiful last week.
Plant Drinkware Light Nature Green
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The cloudiness looks like bacteria to me. Did your tank come with a filter?
Hi johnwesley0, thank you for your answer. I planned to have no filter in this tank. However, I have a little air pump that I can use to build an external filter for the tank. I wanted this to be a no-filter shrimp aquarium, but it's looking horrible! Water is cloudy, yellowish and smelly.

Yesterday I put a small pot with ham inside and little holes for about 1'5 hours, because I thought the worms were planaria and I read that this home-made trap was useful to catch them. However, I catch none :/ Maybe this is what made the water smelly?

I plan on doing a 30% water change for several days to see if this becomes more stable, and meanwhile build a little filter for the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ya think? The bacteria might be tough to get rid of with partial water changes. I have a "experimental" nano tank right now with all sorts of living things swimming around in stagnant water and no amount of changes with fully chlorinated tap water has any effect. I know you would like to go filterless ASAP. Maybe a little aeration would do the trick?
If I used the external little pump I would be able to use it as filter and, thanks to the cascade effect, it would create aeration. Do you think it's a good idea? I thought of adding a small endler when the cycle is completed so that it eats the worms. However, right now water is really dark and smelly... I don't know if this strong smell is normal or not.

It's my first attempt at a filterless, planted tank, and I've read a lot but still don't get if this smell is normal and this worms are normal. As an experiment, I don't mind adding a little filter in cascade form for aeration, but would it be possible to remove it in the future?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Run a filter with some charcoal for a few days and see what happens.
I thought charcoal absorbed ammonia that is useful for the plants, because plants prefer ammonia instead of nitrite/nitrate. Although maybe there is enough organic matter already in the tank for the plants to be ok even if I add charcoal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That doesn't make sense. When was the last time you tested your water for ammonia?
I don't have ammonia tests, just nitrite/nitrate, gh, kh, ph and cl (Tetra strip test 6 in 1). Today the nitrite/nitrate marked very high levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
In general, don't worry too much about small critters that appear in your tank. It is an ecosystem and without an apex predator (i.e. fish) to keep their population in check, you're likely to get some interesting little critters in there. These look like they could be detritus worms which could indicate an excess of decomposing material in your tank. That's normal for a new tank. Even in my established tank I have lots of them. Totally harmless.


Also very normal for freshly submerged soil to discolor the water. It could be a bacteria bloom too. I would recommend doing regular (daily or every couple days) 25-50% water changes until the ammonia readings are down. I would highly suggest getting some ammonia test strips or a liquid kit. But in a pinch you could use nitrites and nitrates as a measurement, or just gauge the health of your tank based off of the plants growth rate. Yes, some ammonia is good for plant growth. But too much can be bad for them too. Your soil is pretty hot (meaning chock-full of organic material) so it will be pouring out a lot of nutrients for a while. This is why the waters changes will be important until the soil gets a bit more established.

I think you need many more plants. You have some vall in the back, but the rest looks like stem plants. I would suggest adding floating plants (looks like you may have some but difficult to tell) and more rooted plants (more vall, dwarf sag, swords, something along those lines). Having roots growing throughout your substrate will keep it healthy and prevent it from going anaerobic. Right now there's a large portion of your substrate that looks blank - aim to fill it in. The ideal NPT will be a jungle! How are your current plants growing, esp the vall? After the first couple of days of acclimation, they should really start taking off.

Lastly, are your rocks sitting on top of the sand/dirt or are they laying against the bottom glass of the bowl? If they're on top of the substrate they can reduce aeration there and potentially cause anaerobic conditions that can be harmful to your plants. If they're on top of the substrate I'd remove them or push them gently down to the bottom (try not to kick up too much dirt doing this).

Good luck! These bowls are a great way to learn the method and play around with different plants.
Thank you for your answer! I have lemna minor as floating plant, doing great. Almost all plants are doing great... Except vallisneria. I see lots of roots in the vallisneria zone, however their leaves kept getting brown and dying since the first day. I left them there. Couple of days ago I removed those dying leaves and left the green ones. I'll watch them carefully to see if they keep dying. The rest of plants are good, they are sprouting and growing, I take a photo everyday to check the growth since day 1. I'm going to get some more plants and remove the rocks. I'll fill everything up!

And yes I am learning a lot, it is the best part of the project! This was an experiment to try something different, as I finally had my 15 litre tank stable. I wanted to try something new and decided to do a planted walstad, but even if I read lots of things, I'm getting problems hahaha

Thank you so much to everyone. I've done a 50% water change and will keep doing regular 30% changes daily. I'll get more plants as well. I'll update :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Poster had a hunk of ham dangling in a heated tank for an hour and a half. Don't you think they should dump as much of the water out as possible?
I've removed 50% of water today, will keep doing daily 30% changes and add more plants. Hopefully this will make my tank better :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@johnwesley0 @jatcar95 @dwalstad @mistergreen So today I added 3 more plants (montecarlo, 2 different cryptocoryne) that I bought yesterday from a store.

Problem 1: the guy at the store told me that my limnophila, vallisneria and elodea are all going to die because they are big plants for 5 litres. I see my plants grow nicely (except perhaps vallisneria), so I don't know why they'd die :/ That's why I bought smaller, rooting plants.

Problem 2: so the roots of the new plants need to be inserted in the sand... I put the roots inside this round piece of brick that comes when you buy them, and then put this inside the sand the best I could. I left some part out of the sand like I did with my anubias in another tank. Is it okay? Curently it looks like this:
Water Plant Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass



Problem 3: so the layer of hummus has mixed a bit with the sand layer, it's like some sand has "disappeared" into the hummus but the hummus hasn't topped the sand, I believed. Layers are still visible but the sand layer is smaller now. Is it ok? Looking like this:
Plant Houseplant Green Drinkware Pink


After plantign and water change, the tank looks like this (I'm removing the floating leaves and the little bits of hummus that have gone to the surface, and the cloudy water will settle and be clearer tomorrow, I believe):
Water Plant Leaf Yellow Aquatic plant



My plan: keep doing regular water changes. I see my plants grow and develop very well (except vallisneria), so I'll keep observing them and taking care of them, won't remove them by now. Add a helena snail to eat all gyraulus that are reproducing very fast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I agree with jatcar95. I would defnitely keep the limnophilla until they grow emerged, prune, replant etc. I have had the exact same plant in a similar bowl (around 4L) and it did great.

I really like your plant combination, you have fast and slow growing plants, with a variety in shape, size and color (shade of green)! I expect your bowl to look fantastic in a few weeks!

If you take care during water changes not to "annoy the sand" the substrate will soon settle and stop staining your water. For such a small volume you can use those single-use plastic water cups that are bad for the envoironment. I keep two for this reason, one in which I opened many small holes to the sides (keeping the bottom intact) and the second one totally intact. When adding water to the bowl, I hold the perforated one in the bowl, and I use the second cup to empty water in the first one. Ocassionally I used to siphon the water out in order to clear some dirt off the gravel, but I haven't done that in a long time now...

Enjoy and post some pics when the plants grow more!
I changed the water using a cup just like you described and it's much more comfortable and disturbs less the soil! Thank you so much for your recommendation! By the way, montecarlo didn't make it :( But the crytps seem nice! Rest of plants are growing a lot, some of them already curving in the surface :D I'll prune soon and replant them in this an other bowls. I'll post a pick soon, when the cryptos are more grown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Dear community, it's been a long time since I showed you the beginning of my bowl. 2 months have passed and my project is quite beautiful. Here you can see how the jungle is looking:

Water Window Plant Fluid Liquid


As you can see, floating plants have long roots, vallisneria has grown a lot, and the rest of the plants offer a wide variety of green shadows and I have to prune them quite often. Montecarlo didn't make it and the cryptos are the weakest of all the plants. The amount of brown algae in the glass has been reduced as well. The water is not transparent, it has a yellow tint, but the parameters seem stable (NO3, NO2, GH, KH and PH).

I introduce you now to the inhabitants of the bowl. Here you can see the king of the bowl, the anetome helena. He is going to eat another snail in this picture. Sometimes I add snails from plants to this bowl to feed him. Whenever I add several snails, they reproduce with each other and the helena controls the population, so somehow an equilibrium has been reached because I never see more than 2-3 snails of other species.

Plant Insect Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass


Finally, the newest inhabitant is this red cherry. It's been almost a month with her now and everything is fine. She swims and explores her home peacefully. Worms and other microfauna don't seem to harm her nor the snails, so maybe the worms are nematode worms instead of planaria. Any way, there are not many worms now, and they don't seem like planarians, and the shrimp is fine so they are coexisting quite well.

Water Plant Automotive lighting Grass Terrestrial plant



Since the shrimp came I make weekly water changes to add micronutrients to the water, however before her coming I changed water every 2 weeks or so and everything went fine. I am enjoying my project so much! And learning a lot as well.
 
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