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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm doing my first Walstad-style tank and I just put it together today! I'm not really going for style points or a pretty aquascape, I'm just trying to see if I can make this whole ecological experiment work and hoping to have a little personal eyecandy inside my drab little bedroom/office. So here's what I've got:

Equipment:
Aqueon's cheapest 10 gallon filter
Oceanic 15 watt ballast with stock fluorescent

Substrate:
Generic gravel (sold as River Sand in the store) w/ some decorative black mixed when I ran out
Organic Choice Potting Mix

Plants:
Azolla
Water Lettuce
Hornwort
Chinese Ivy
Pennywort
Crypt Undulata

Fish:
None yet. Gonna pick up a mail and female Sparkling Gourami and/or a trio of Dario Dario (1 male/2 female)

Any comments from anybody or suggestions from people who've done this before will be appreciated. I'll upload some pictures soon if I can figure out how!

Rock on fishpeeps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Day One

The plant placement's a little weird... I asked for Rotala Indica in the store and when I got home I found that the worker had given me some unknown plant instead. I just planted it in the Rotala's position because I had already started putting the tank together. Later I figured out it was Chinese Ivy which grows completely different and is more of a mid/foreground plant. Oh well... As long as it grows well and the fish like it, I won't mind.











 

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Luffy, you are off to a good start!

I notice that you have no filtration. Even if you don't want a filter, it is really helpful to have something to circulate the water. A small power head or submersible pump would be fine.

If you used Miracle Grow Organic Choice straight from the bag, with will take about a month for the ammonia and nitrites to subside enough to be safe for fish. This might be even longer if you have no water movement.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I did do it straight from the bag! If it is as you say, that's fine. It'll give the plants time to get a bit more established before I put the fish in :)

Also, I do have a filter. It's hiding behind the Hornwort. It's an Aqueon QuietFlow 10. I'm assuming that I should take out the media that came with (dense-floss cartridge with carbon) at some point, but I read that it could be helpful at the beginning.
 

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Now I see it!

Leave the media that came with the filter in it for several weeks to a month. The carbon is helpful at first. I don't know how this filter is set up, but after the first month, you will want to change to all bio-filtration media. In my AquaClear filters, I use lava rock. The 1/2" size is ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the suggestions! How do you make the lava rock work in your filter? Mine has a cartridge and a little cartridge holder so I'm not sure how I could make that work... maybe do a little dissection to the Aqueon cartridge and replace the carbon on the inside with some leftover gravel? The 55 gallon tank filter my friend uses has a carbon bag that can just be filled with gravel but my filter's made quite differently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Also... I just tested my water. The Ammonia's at 0, nitrites 0, nitrate 5-10 ppm. When does the ammonia usually spike?
 

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The AquaClear filters have a basket-like compartment that takes their sponges and cartridges, but you can easily put anything in it you want. I don't know how the Aqueon filters work, and this may not be possible.

The ammonia spike usually takes several days to 2 weeks to develop. Packing the tank with lots of fast-growing stem plants really helps to prevent or lessen it. You can take the fast-growers out as the tank matures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Update:

Still no spikes. I added a couple shrimp and everything was fine then a couple Sparkling Gourami. All seem very happy. Ammonia's at 0, Nitrite at 0, PH was 7.4 last time I checked. It's a little bit on the high side for my little sparklers and the water was light tea colored so I did a small water change yesterday and will retest tomorrow. Just about everything's growing like nuts, especially the Pennywort and Hornwort, which have nearly doubled, and the water lettuce (I had to remove some cause they were starting to block light).

Here's a picture with the fish:

These guys are characters. They seem to dislike how my plants are arranged because they have been moving the hornwort and floating plants, and repositioning Val strands that seem to offend them. Not sure whether they're male or female yet... I guess I'll know when they either start fighting or flirting.
 

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Hi,

I'm not familiar with the "Oceanic 15 watt ballast with stock fluorescent" but you need at least 3 watts per gallon in a 10 gallon tank to grow the plants that you have, and maybe more.

Good luck,

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Bill!

I've heard 3 watts per gallon in the world of high tech planted aquariums, but Diana Walstad writes that she uses less in her tanks. My plants are all growing like crazy with just the stock lamp and indirect sunlight from my east-facing window. They all have low-mid light requirements which probably helps.
In any case, I'll be making a reflector for the ballast so that the output is better. We'll see if the growth is sustainable.

Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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Hi, Luffy,

You are right - 3 WPG is usually associated with high-light aquariums.

But that "rule" doesn't hold with small tanks, like 10 gallon ones. Others can give you the reason, but it has something to do with the fact that in smaller tanks a higher percentage of the light energy is wasted illuminating areas outside of the tank.

Diane makes a lot of use of sunlight in addition to other lights.

One can grow plants with less light, but the number of species that would thrive in that environment is limited.

I just set up a 10 gallon NPT tank with about 3 WPG. It's only been a week, but the plants are doing great and there isn't a trace of algae.

Good luck,

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'd never heard that before about small tanks but I guess that does make sense. I'm ok with the restricted plant varieties this kind of light creates for now. I just want to find a few things that grow well and the Cardamine Lyrata, Pennywort, and Crypt Undulata are all taking off. I'll probably opt for higher light when I go from a poor student/experimental aquarist to a real aquarium hobbyist and want some cool plants.

Good luck to you too! I'd love to see what you've done with your tank. If you're willing, it'd be great to have you to share some pictures and flora/fauna descriptions on this thread.
 

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Hi, Luffy,

It's great that your plants are doing well. Over time, some will probably not survive but that is part of the fun of this hobby - learning which plants will prosper in the environments that we have created, and which won't.

(BTW, hornwort is a floating plant. if it is rooted, the rooted part will break off.)

Some folks create beautiful NPT's but many of us are more interested in seeing how our aquariums develop without a lot of intervention, and they wouldn't win any landscaping prizes. I have a 29 gallon NPT that's been set up for about 6 years, and has featured a constant battle for light and space among crypts, vals, and dwarf swords. At one point the crypts took over the whole tank, and I had to cut them back. Then the vals took over. It's ongoing. But the tank and the fish are very healthy.

I'm trying to get some good pictures of that tank, but I'm still figuring out my camera and photo editor. Once I do I'll send you a picture of it.

Good luck!

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You're right about the hornwort! I just stuck the bottom of it under a rock so that it wouldn't float over and take the other plants light. It's main purpose was to suck up nutrients in the case that the crypt took time to establish or the other stem plants didn't do well.
I removed the hornwort today since the crypt, hornwort and val are doing fine. I replaced it with some other plants.
 
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