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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

I have experience with planted and reef systems, but have spent the last two years without any tanks.
Next week I"ll set up a new planted tank, using Walstad's book as inspiration.

I'll use a DIY led kit, for which I haven't yet tested the PAR rating but expect it to be high, in which case I can adjust it down.

It's gonna be a 100 liter (~26 gallons) cube, open topped. I will grow some Golden Pothos plants outside the tank with their roots immersed in the aquarium, and have a few questions:

  • Diana says she uses a small sponge filter to add a little water movement; shoul I use a small HOB filter, or something of the sort? Or a small internal pump just to add circulation?
  • Also, I have some CaCO3 rocks, should I use them as decoration so as not to let the water get too soft? (my water is on the soft side)
  • Considering I want to keep guppies and corys only, what should be the soil-covering sand substrate granulometry?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hi.

I have experience with planted and reef systems, but have spent the last two years without any tanks.
Next week I"ll set up a new planted tank, using Walstad's book as inspiration.

I'll use a DIY led kit, for which I haven't yet tested the PAR rating but expect it to be high, in which case I can adjust it down.

It's gonna be a 100 liter (~26 gallons) cube, open topped. I will grow some Golden Pothos plants outside the tank with their roots immersed in the aquarium, and have a few questions:

  • Diana says she uses a small sponge filter to add a little water movement; shoul I use a small HOB filter, or something of the sort? Or a small internal pump just to add circulation?
  • Also, I have some CaCO3 rocks, should I use them as decoration so as not to let the water get too soft? (my water is on the soft side)
  • Considering I want to keep guppies and corys only, what should be the soil-covering sand substrate granulometry?

Thanks in advance.
if the light is too bright add floating plants, the fish will appreciate them - and if you avoid duckweed then its very easy to control.. too much? take some out and throw it away. nothing wrong with using a HOB filter.. put some more plants in that, I've seen this often on YT. stick the rocks in and monitor the hardness. sand isn't the preferred medium.. why not mix it up? have gravel with the soil underneath in the areas that are going to be planted and a sandy area without any soil.. it will mix a bit at the edges unless you have a physical barrier, but it wont look bad, using different substrates is very common in the 'arty' planted tank world. so why not use it yourself.

The real joy about this method, for me at least is its simplicity. theres no need to overanalyse because as long as you get the fundamentals right - it just takes care of itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks!

The tank was just finished today, and my cats were very curious :) :


I will try to relax a little more on the setup, which I intend to start on as soon as the silicone is cured and I have a chance to test the tank for leaks...

There is one other thing though: I have access to lab grade chemicals, including calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, etc. Today I measured my tap water and it is completely soft, 0dKH and 0ºGH :(

I was thinking of calculating the right dilution and, using these pure substances and sodium bicarbonate, raising the water hardness of my tap water to something a little harder, what do you guys think?

Cheers!
 

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hello again. If I were in your position I would be paying close attention to the part of Walstads book that deal with "hardwater Nutrients". I don't have the same access to chemicals as you, but fortunately she lists the 'kitchen cupboard' type alternatives and other readily available alternatives. see pages 86-on of her book. I think all the answers you need on this topic are there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
hello again. If I were in your position I would be paying close attention to the part of Walstads book that deal with "hardwater Nutrients". I don't have the same access to chemicals as you, but fortunately she lists the 'kitchen cupboard' type alternatives and other readily available alternatives. see pages 86-on of her book. I think all the answers you need on this topic are there.
Thanks!
I have read her book many times already hehe.
The chemicals I have access to are lab grade, very pure. I'm fine using them. The thing is, she mentions magnesium sulphate in the book, and I have access to magnesium chloride. Since it is a salt, just like calcium chloride that she also recommends, and she said somewhere in this forum that chloride ions are ok, I was thinking of using these. I'll try and report on my results ;)
 

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Welcome to APC!

The tank looks good, and you have gotten good advice so far. One of things that I like about the Walstad method is that you can start with her basic technique, then enhance it to suit your needs. For example, I tend to keep higher fish populations than she recommends. So I use filters with relatively high turn-over, 5 to 10 times the tank volume per hour. I load the filters with nothing but biomedia, and put coarse sponges over the intakes. This gives me extra biofiltration to take care of the extra fish, and some mechanical filtration from the sponges (and they keep shrimp and fry out of the filter).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome to APC!

The tank looks good, and you have gotten good advice so far...
Thanks Michael!

I am really excited about this new tank. I have been keeping aquariums since I was 12, and now at 33 I'm at last starting a dream, biology college. And though it is amazing and way more fun than I hoped, it results in little free time to fiddle with high maintenance aquariums.

Luckily I came across Diana's book last year, and I must've read it thrice by now; For me as a biology student it is absolutely fascinating, I couldn't wait to try. So I dismantled my old high light CO2 system (the 120gallon reef had gone a few years ago due to the same issues with free time), and started planning this 100L cube as a Walstad setup. I"m really curious about how it will turn out!

Some new pictures from yesterday below; I haven't yet done the first water change, will do it this weekend. My water is extremely soft, not registering any general hardness or carbonate hardness... I have lab grade solutions of KCl, MgCl2 and CaCl2, as well as powdered lab sodium bicarbonate. I was thinking of raising the hardness of the aquarium after the first water change using these, but haven't decided yet on the amount of hardness I should try for. Any suggestions?

Your idea about the large filter with heavier bioload is very interesting; I'll start with few fish and a small filter just to move the water, but for the future that is not a bad project :)

 

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I have moderately hard water, so have never had to deal with those issues and can't give you advice. Try starting a thread about this in the fertilizer forum. A number of our members do use reverse osmosis water and need to remineralize it as part of their normal maintenance.

What is the blue flower?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What is the blue flower?!
Thanks for the tips!

The flower is blue because the camera was set to auto white balance and I didn't go thru the hassle of correcting it, since the photo is not that great.

All's fine, till now. And these Cabombas LOVED the soil substrate:

Timelapse Video of first WEEK

Today I'm adding the first fishes, only a few. I wanted to wait one more week, but the water parameters seem to have stabilized and there is one more issue: I live in Sao Paulo, and we're going through a Dengue fever epidemy. The virus' vector is a mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that lays eggs in semi-stagnant water. Yesterday I saw some mosquito larvae and decided some predators were needed ASAP. I'm thinking of a pair of hardy mollies or platies for a start.
 

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Mollies, platies - only if you want a fish infestation in the near future. They make a lot of babies really fast.

To deal with super soft water I suggest finding some powdered Dolomite. Also use MgCO3. The idea behind these two chemicals is to not add anything extra to the water. With the conventional RO water reconstitution chemicals you always add Chloride and Sulphur. The MgCO3 raises the KH too so it works very well. There is another benefit to MgCO3 and powdered Dolomite - no matter how much you premix them you end up with a dispersion only, not a real solution, and they dissolve slowly in the tank - over the course of several hours. During this time it looks like the plants are capable of utilizing the Ca and Mg exceptionally well. The effect is very obvious and very different from just using real solutions (not a dispersion).

Glad to see how you are starting this tank - with a good mindset. One thing to watch in the long run are the tank's "seasons". Since this tank is truly a living system, and not an artificially maintained box of water + chemicals called "fertilizers" it will go through "seasons" very obviously. Some plants will slow down, others will grow better, then it will change again. Be aware of these natural undulations. What you are really doing here is setting up a tank that allows for the right biofilter to develop. Most people interfere with its development and end up with strains of microorganisms that don't let the tank run itself clean.
 
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