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IMO, the guppy is the best option because the diet of these fish can include live, frozen, and high-quality dry food.
 

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Interesting question and for me, a largely theoretical one until about two months ago. I'm not sure how or whether it will be easy to maintain, but I was able to achieve -0- nitrogen by-products across the board after about seven months of adding different sorts of plants (mainly emergent types like lucky bamboo and umbrella palms) and a DIY bio-filter full of STS. I've been topping my 7 gallon bowl ever since with only the smallest occasional uptick in ammonia which if I test for it a few days later seems to go away.

I live in New York City and my biggest problem is soft water so I'm grateful not to have to measure a half-dozen different water parameters every two weeks.
 

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Walstad low-tech 40 B, central FL biotope, creator of Jordanella floridae x Mobula birostris hybrid
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I wonder if in nature, it may actually be good for the fish, plants, and underwater ecosystem in general to not only have their water refreshed by runoff and rain, but to have variations in the chemical parameters of the inflow. Rain is generally pretty pure, but runoff can vary widely in minerals, sediments, etc. Unless it's actually unnaturally polluted, perhaps dealing with environmental variations due to different sources of inflow might help strengthen the animals and plants living there. Or in other words, it may be non-optimal for aquarists to have truly stable, unchanged water for prolonged periods, as it doesn't really replicate what the inhabitants of their aquariums are genetically programmed for. Even the healthiest natural water bodies see variations.
 

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Just remember that Ms. Walstad has updated her thoughts on the matter and now believes in water changes and filtration.
 

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Well, when I mentioned that I had a DIY bio-filter in my porcelain bowl, all I meant was the fact that I had a solitary pair of old cannister compartments stacked on top of each other filled with STS just sitting at the bottom of the bowl. I have no idea how it works or why it works. I suspect Diana will have more to say about STS as a magnet for beneficial bacteria as time goes by. People need to read her thread on "Fish Tanks With Potted Plants and No Filters."
 

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IMO, the guppy is the best option because the diet of these fish can include live, frozen, and high-quality dry food. Also, breeding these fish will not cause any difficulties, because the process can take place without any intervention right in the general aquarium. Btw, Ancistrus,( as well as other types of catfish like Brocade Pterygoplicht, the most beautiful kind of catfish, or Tarakatum, which I bought at Anubias aquarium plants, one of the top sellers on the Australian market ) also known as "Catfish clinger", can scrape algae fouling – the main source of its food. This helps to keep the aquarium glass and decorations clean, and that’s why this fish is one of my most favorites too.
 

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As far as I know, this is the last thing @dwalstad has posted on the subject:

Time will tell on this one. My goal is to continue to raise and breed guppies in these potted tanks without filters, pumps, and mechanical aeration. Tanks will depend on plant growth with STS as a backup.
Fish Tanks with Potted Plants and No Filters | Page 2 | Aquatic Plant Forum (aquaticplantcentral.com)

I think she also states elsewhere that not every tank, even a heavily planted one, is going to be immune to nitrogen build-up in one form or another. Obviously, in those cases where the parameters reach unacceptable levels, some sort of intervention will be necessary. when I first started posting on this forum, I was pretty much resigned to partial water changes every two weeks. I probably could have gone longer, but I was a newbie and wanted to be cautious.

Even so, I felt it was a small price to pay for the peace of mind that I could go away and not worry about my house becoming flooded because of a loose tube or a leaky cannister. Not to mention the electricity I was saving by not having a tiny electric pump running 24/7.

In the meantime, I received a ton of good advice from the "El Natural" community on lighting, soils, snails, and all sorts of plants that I never knew existed. So, sometimes its the journey that's important, not the endpoints.
 

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I am still in my formation years so to speak regarding aquaria, scaping, and fish keeping. I tried some different things, and still sorting it all out. This week I decided to order a DIY CO2 kit (those metal cylinders with solenoid, etc.) to see how it can help my plants and how it might influence future scapes. Mid term goal is to have one high tech alongside a true Walstad tank (the latter being in the planning stage, 20 gallons). Regarding WCs and filters, I think the peace of mind that comes from a natural tank is priceless if forgoing several water changes doesn't spell disaster. At the same time, dropping wcs altogether for good I don't find practical if it renders the new addition of fish impossible.

Running the whole show without an electrical filter is convenient if you setup multiple tanks. At the same time I enjoy the sound and sight of water circulating.
 

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Cite please.
You can read this thread and it contains a citation:

I suppose I could dig out the citation for you but since you seem to be in disbelief i'll let you dig it out yourself.
 

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You can read this thread and it contains a citation:

I suppose I could dig out the citation for you but since you seem to be in disbelief i'll let you dig it out yourself.
Thank you for your efforts. However, I'm pretty sure a summer of 2021 article on her website is a more reliable statement of her present views:
potted-plant-article.pdf (wordpress.com)

For decades I have been preaching about how plants remove ammonia and nitrite toxins, about how much better they are for purifying water than biological filters.1 But because of conventional wisdom and inertia, I continued to use filters and pumps. Around 2019, I finally cut the umbilical/electrical cord and went with plants entirely for water purification. No filters. The results have been wonderful. Healthy fish, healthy plants, healthy tanks
 

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You can read this thread and it contains a citation:

I suppose I could dig out the citation for you but since you seem to be in disbelief i'll let you dig it out yourself.
All comments in the tread are from 2016. A quick skim of the thread shows no actual quotes or citations from Walstad herself.

I have filters on most of my tanks for water movement and removal of particles. I also do occasional water changes. This is my adaptation of the Walstad method because my water is hard and I keep more fish than is recommended But I still call my aquaria "Walstad tanks" because I was guided by her book and rely on those principles to manage the tanks.
 

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You can read this thread and it contains a citation:

I suppose I could dig out the citation for you but since you seem to be in disbelief i'll let you dig it out yourself.
Actually, Diana addressed this issue directly to you several months ago. Scratching my head as to why you would not remember:
Going Porcelain | Page 3 | Aquatic Plant Forum (aquaticplantcentral.com)
 

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For newly submerged soils, you may need to do water changes to remove excess nutrients released by the soil the first few weeks. Folks, during this 'soil chaos' time, if you see a thick scum on the water surface or cloudy water, then by all means change the water. If the water is clear, fish are fine, plants are growing well, you may not need to. After the tank is established, you may not need to change water at all. There are no hard and fast rules.

The 9 tanks that I am running now, I do a 50% water change about every 2-3 mos. It's just part of a routine clean-up to cull excess shrimp and guppies, rearrange plants, and tidy up the tanks. The beauty of my method is that it is 'low-maintenance'. But I have never thought of it as 'No Maintenance'.

Recently, I encountered a woman who couldn't grow plants, but her young son could. Same water, lighting, plants, filter, etc. But there was one difference. She kept her tanks very clean, pulling out any debris with a turkey baster, etc. Her son apparently was not so meticulous. We concluded that her excessive cleaning was removing plant nutrients and holding back plant growth.

Then, I was advising a man who also couldn't grow plants. He was keeping his lights on 7 hr a day, doing all this stuff trying to control algae. He had it all wrong. His focus should be on fostering better plant growth and letting the plants control the algae. A photoperiod of 7 hr a day is not enough; it should be at least 11 hr/day.

Folks, it's time to use some common sense. Keeping a tank is not like running a computer program. There are hundreds of variables. My book provides a general guide, but it is not a recipe. The problem is there's all this conflicting advice on the Internet. If you want to do the Walstad method, go to the source rather than search for You Tube videos.
 

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In this tank i do 2 50% water changes a week; yet it grows and grows:
Plant Flower Window Leaf Organism


The primary maint on this tank (other than water changes) is to remove 50% of the hornworth weekly. Now to be honest the two primary growers are the hornworth and the a. bolivianus. As in all my tanks the substrate itself is inert because I am paranoid of substrate leach (fish health). The swordtails are descendant of a pair i purchased 5 years ago (the male of that pair died a month or two past so he lived around 5 years in my care and was an adult when purchased). Two other things of note while this tank has been setup for 30 months (the swordtails i had in a 40b and then moved cross country putting them in a container as i drove); but had a total die off earlier this summer (may? june?) when i purchased an infected betta and had to use furan-2. The plants mostly lived but all leaves were dropped - the italia val is just now resprouting next to the matten filter (guess it didn't like that furan 2). What is my point - i'm not sure what works best but this seems to work. The one huge negative to this tank is that i can't grow red plants (other than crypts) in it - it just lacks the nutrient a soil would provide but i guess that's ok since the swordtails are red...
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I guess there is another point I use sponges for my beneficial bacteria because well I'm chicken to take that leap into actual soil BUT i frequently wonder how much poop has to collect in the substrate for it to become soil? (btw the substrate slop in the tank has occurred over time due to fish activity at one time it was actually level).
 

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In this tank i do 2 50% water changes a week; yet it grows and grows:
View attachment 74156

The primary maint on this tank (other than water changes) is to remove 50% of the hornworth weekly. Now to be honest the two primary growers are the hornworth and the a. bolivianus. As in all my tanks the substrate itself is inert because I am paranoid of substrate leach (fish health). The swordtails are descendant of a pair i purchased 5 years ago (the male of that pair died a month or two past so he lived around 5 years in my care and was an adult when purchased). Two other things of note while this tank has been setup for 30 months (the swordtails i had in a 40b and then moved cross country putting them in a container as i drove); but had a total die off earlier this summer (may? june?) when i purchased an infected betta and had to use furan-2. The plants mostly lived but all leaves were dropped - the italia val is just now resprouting next to the matten filter (guess it didn't like that furan 2). What is my point - i'm not sure what works best but this seems to work. The one huge negative to this tank is that i can't grow red plants (other than crypts) in it - it just lacks the nutrient a soil would provide but i guess that's ok since the swordtails are red...
---

I guess there is another point I use sponges for my beneficial bacteria because well I'm chicken to take that leap into actual soil BUT i frequently wonder how much poop has to collect in the substrate for it to become soil? (btw the substrate slop in the tank has occurred over time due to fish activity at one time it was actually level).
It's a beautiful tank. I don't know what sort of substrate you are using but, I am 99% sure it is loaded with beneficial bacteria.
 

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In this tank i do 2 50% water changes a week; yet it grows and grows:

The primary maint on this tank (other than water changes) is to remove 50% of the hornworth weekly. Now to be honest the two primary growers are the hornworth and the a. bolivianus. As in all my tanks the substrate itself is inert because I am paranoid of substrate leach (fish health). The swordtails are descendant of a pair i purchased 5 years ago (the male of that pair died a month or two past so he lived around 5 years in my care and was an adult when purchased). Two other things of note while this tank has been setup for 30 months (the swordtails i had in a 40b and then moved cross country putting them in a container as i drove); but had a total die off earlier this summer (may? june?) when i purchased an infected betta and had to use furan-2. The plants mostly lived but all leaves were dropped - the italia val is just now resprouting next to the matten filter (guess it didn't like that furan 2). What is my point - i'm not sure what works best but this seems to work. The one huge negative to this tank is that i can't grow red plants (other than crypts) in it - it just lacks the nutrient a soil would provide but i guess that's ok since the swordtails are red...
---

I guess there is another point I use sponges for my beneficial bacteria because well I'm chicken to take that leap into actual soil BUT i frequently wonder how much poop has to collect in the substrate for it to become soil? (btw the substrate slop in the tank has occurred over time due to fish activity at one time it was actually level).
Some people are blessed with magic water.
 
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