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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
RE: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Hello all, I was told to come here with further questions since Diana is very busy and cannot answer every question I may have, I am going to start off with what I wrote to Diana.

"I was having trouble at home and had to move in somewhere else, so I wasn't able to keep maintenance on the plants, so they have over run the tank and I can't really do anything about it, however, testing the water the ammonia is basically 0 and so is the nitrite, nitrate is quite low, and the PH seems to be around 8.2ish if I recall correctly.

I have Trumpet Snails and some other snails that hitched a ride from the fish store, now I also have orange Cherry Shrimp that seem to be thriving.

Unfortunately my tank is nowhere near as gorgeous as your tanks or other peoples, but I think I remember you saying that looks aren't always reminiscent of fact(?). "

Now, just to clarify, looking at my photos I have linked the picture looks really bad but the water is actually more so clear with green tint.


Diana said
"For keeping water clear, you need to have growing plants, not just stagnant plants. I would thin out about 20 of the plants in the foreground. Just snip off the top portion. This will encourage new growth. The rotting of dead roots in the substrate will generate CO2. A water change and the addition of a few new plant species wouldn't hurt."
So I'm going to do that. One more question, would my tank still be considered healthy? Even though it's really messy?
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

No photos showed up??

Welcome to APC, where we are lucky enough to have Diana Walstad as one of our members and moderators. Try again to post the photos and I'm sure you will get some opinions about how healthy your tank is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

No photos showed up??

Welcome to APC, where we are lucky enough to have Diana Walstad as one of our members and moderators. Try again to post the photos and I'm sure you will get some opinions about how healthy your tank is.
Hmm, it seems it won't show up so I have to post it as a link, is that okay?
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Your original post now has a link to a couple of photos of the tank, so that problem is solved.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

So I'm going to do that. One more question, would my tank still be considered healthy? Even though it's really messy?
Welcome to the forum! And thanks for posting here.

I'd say your tank is plenty healthy. There are some folks that would be very glad to have a tank where the fish, plants, snails, etc are doing well. No fish diseases, dying plants, contaminated water, etc.

All you need is a little tweaking to get rid of cloudy water. (If you have to get rid of it, a UV sterilizing filter will fix it in 24 hours.)

How long do you keep the lights on per day? You may just need to damp down the lighting. If you've got LED lights on 9-14 hours per day, it probably is too much. In my 2019/2020 revision, I provided some information on adjusting LED lighting and made some recommendations that should help control greenwater algae.

Photos of your tank are now up and running.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Welcome to the forum! And thanks for posting here.

I'd say your tank is plenty healthy. There are some folks that would be very glad to have a tank where the fish, plants, snails, etc are doing well. No fish diseases, dying plants, contaminated water, etc.

All you need is a little tweaking to get rid of cloudy water. (If you have to get rid of it, a UV sterilizing filter will fix it in 24 hours.)

How long do you keep the lights on per day? You may just need to damp down the lighting. If you've got LED lights on 9-14 hours per day, it probably is too much. In my 2019/2020 revision, I provided some information on adjusting LED lighting and made some recommendations that should help control greenwater algae.

Photos of your tank are now up and running.
Hi Diana, I'm incredibly sorry for taking so long to respond, life is tough.

Anyway, I have done some "major" trimmings, recently, I might do more, what do you think?

Tank 1:
Tank 2:
If I recall correctly, you said that after I trim the plants some of them will rot? Which will clear the water? Or did you advise I should leave some of the trimmings in the tank? I have thrown most of them a way as there was a huge pile.

As you can see the first tank is overrun basically by Jungle Valve (I think that's the plant), I'm not sure how I am going to plant more species like you suggested in the email. The second take is a different story, as it hasn't been up for as long as the first tank. I have tried planting a carpet plant like Hair Grass, but it's proving to not be spreading, although it is alive as you can see in the pics.

Should I just keep trimming the plants in the fore ground in the first tank? How much more? I am a little afraid I'll disturb the life in there, as it is I have already accidently chopped a snail in half :-(.

About the UV stuff, I don't have that, I do have LED lights though, 1 for the first tank and 2 for the second, they are on from 8:00 AM to 1:00PM, then turn back on from 5:00PM to 10:00PM. Should I change it? They are around 806 lumens if I am correct.

Thanks for responding Diana, I really appreciate it. I know my aquariums look ugly, but as long as I can keep everything healthy, I don't mind. Though I would like to keep things neater, although I'm unsure if it's possible with the first tank anymore.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

If I recall correctly, you said that after I trim the plants some of them will rot? Which will clear the water? Or did you advise I should leave some of the trimmings in the tank? I have thrown most of them a way as there was a huge pile.
She said that, as a result of the trimming (and yes, toss out the trimmings as you did), some of the roots will begin to decompose, releasing CO2. The tops and roots of plants form a sort of balance, you could say.

Picture the grass in your yard: taller grass has longer roots under the soil. If you mow the grass really short, the living roots will be shallower (because the plant no longer needs* deep roots, nor can the short "tops" support growth of deep roots). If you keep the grass taller, it will have deeper roots, because the plant needs the extra root mass to feed the "tops", and the tops, in turn, foster more root development.

(*I say this cautiously...looking in the realm of an aquarium. Your yard grass DOES kinda' "need" deeper roots, to help it survive drought and such things. But that gets into another topic altogether.)

Regarding your tank with all the Vallisneria (if that's correct): If you want to make room for more species, to get a variety in there, you'd probably have to start hand-pulling to make sure you get all the runners. But you don't necessarily HAVE to (if you are satisfied with a mono-culture scape). It seems to be working for you. But yeah, cramming additional species amongst a healthy stand of Jungle Val isn't likely to work for those new plants. ;)
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Not sure what to say. It seems like there's something in both tanks that's causing cloudy, tea-colored water. The second tank looks like you've got driftwood in it. Driftwood could cause the cloudiness problem and/or there's something weird about the substrate.

Do you have driftwood in both tanks? Did you use the same substrate in both tanks?

Usually cloudy water is due to green water algae or bacterial growth in new setups. In a 1 and 1/2 year-old- tank packed with Vallisneria, I would expect to see crystal clear water.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

She said that, as a result of the trimming (and yes, toss out the trimmings as you did), some of the roots will begin to decompose, releasing CO2. The tops and roots of plants form a sort of balance, you could say.

Picture the grass in your yard: taller grass has longer roots under the soil. If you mow the grass really short, the living roots will be shallower (because the plant no longer needs* deep roots, nor can the short "tops" support growth of deep roots). If you keep the grass taller, it will have deeper roots, because the plant needs the extra root mass to feed the "tops", and the tops, in turn, foster more root development.

(*I say this cautiously...looking in the realm of an aquarium. Your yard grass DOES kinda' "need" deeper roots, to help it survive drought and such things. But that gets into another topic altogether.)

Regarding your tank with all the Vallisneria (if that's correct): If you want to make room for more species, to get a variety in there, you'd probably have to start hand-pulling to make sure you get all the runners. But you don't necessarily HAVE to (if you are satisfied with a mono-culture scape). It seems to be working for you. But yeah, cramming additional species amongst a healthy stand of Jungle Val isn't likely to work for those new plants. ;)
So my soil isn't deep enough? This is all starting to puzzle me :confused:

Would it be okay for me to go in there and "start pulling"? I mean, is it okay to disrupt everything like that? Everything seems really sturdy and completely rooted in there, it was hard enough getting some out of the 50 gal.

Not sure what to say. It seems like there's something in both tanks that's causing cloudy, tea-colored water. The second tank looks like you've got driftwood in it. Driftwood could cause the cloudiness problem and/or there's something weird about the substrate.

Do you have driftwood in both tanks? Did you use the same substrate in both tanks?

Usually cloudy water is due to green water algae or bacterial growth in new setups. In a 1 and 1/2 year-old- tank packed with Vallisneria, I would expect to see crystal clear water.
This is where I confess I made some miscalculations, the substrate I got was too small, and what ended up happening apparently is that the dirt from underneath actually came up to the top, I'm guessing this happened in the 50 gal as well. I used the same substrate in both tanks, this one to be exact: LINK.

The second tank has quite a lot of drift wood, my first one however, the smaller tank, has no driftwood. The water has a greenish tint.

Would it be okay for me to go ham in there and pull out roots and plant a more varied selection of plants? I'm thinking if worse comes to worse I could always try and start over. In the second tank, I don't know if you saw, but I tried planting dwarf hair grass, and while it seems to be alive, it just won't spread, so I'm kind of stuck for what to do.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Nothing wrong with vacuuming the mulm and do a water change to make it look good.
Fish health would be better for it.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

So my soil isn't deep enough? This is all starting to puzzle me :confused:

Would it be okay for me to go in there and "start pulling"? I mean, is it okay to disrupt everything like that? Everything seems really sturdy and completely rooted in there, it was hard enough getting some out of the 50 gal.

This is where I confess I made some miscalculations, the substrate I got was too small, and what ended up happening apparently is that the dirt from underneath actually came up to the top, I'm guessing this happened in the 50 gal as well. I used the same substrate in both tanks, this one to be exact: LINK.

The second tank has quite a lot of drift wood, my first one however, the smaller tank, has no driftwood. The water has a greenish tint.

Would it be okay for me to go ham in there and pull out roots and plant a more varied selection of plants? I'm thinking if worse comes to worse I could always try and start over. In the second tank, I don't know if you saw, but I tried planting dwarf hair grass, and while it seems to be alive, it just won't spread, so I'm kind of stuck for what to do.
Okay, so it's not the driftwood. I wouldn't do anything (no planting, pulling, etc) until I know what you used as a substrate in these tanks. That said, your link was very helpful.

According to the link you provided, you used quartz sand (0.1-0.3 mm) as a substrate. Does the substrate consist entirely of this sand? Or did you just use it as a cap? Did you add any other solid material to your substrate?

If the substrate in the two tanks consists entirely of this sand, that would explain all your problems. Sand provides no nutrients, so plants grow poorly in it. Once mulm accumulates, a tough plant like Val can do okay, but not other more demanding plant species.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Okay, so it's not the driftwood. I wouldn't do anything (no planting, pulling, etc) until I know what you used as a substrate in these tanks. That said, your link was very helpful.

According to the link you provided, you used quartz sand (0.1-0.3 mm) as a substrate. Does the substrate consist entirely of this sand? Or did you just use it as a cap? Did you add any other solid material to your substrate?

If the substrate in the two tanks consists entirely of this sand, that would explain all your problems. Sand provides no nutrients, so plants grow poorly in it. Once mulm accumulates, a tough plant like Val can do okay, but not other more demanding plant species.
I apologize once again for the very late reply Diana. I'll explain what I did;

I followed your book, what I could remember or at least understand, I added 2 inches of soil, regular potting soil, and topped it off with that sand that I sent you in the link. I then added a few different plants like you suggested in my first emails to you.

On another forum not too long ago, someone said the that the sand that I used to top was too small (the grain that is), and basically it's fallen to the bottom, which is why in the first tank you may notice that the bottom is white and the top is brown/black.

I am thinking I have probably made a mistake that's gonna cost me my tanks now, should I restart over again? What do you recommend? I guess all I can do is learn and move forward.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Normally we use 1-3 mm sand, not 0.1-0.3 mm. And, it is true that tiny particles always migrate to the bottom, while larger particles migrate to the top. I think you have identified what your problem is!!
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

On another forum not too long ago, someone said the that the sand that I used to top was too small (the grain that is), and basically it's fallen to the bottom, which is why in the first tank you may notice that the bottom is white and the top is brown/black.
Been there, done that; the very fine sand eventually displaced all the soil at the bottom of the tank. I ended up siphooning out all the dirt, but the plants never really did great, and when I finally dismantled those tanks (after a few years), the roots of even huge Echinodorus uruguayensis were partially rotten. Additionally, new waste doesn't penetrate into the sand, and just sits on top of it.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

I added 2 inches of soil, regular potting soil, and topped it off with that sand that I sent you in the link.
On another forum not too long ago, someone said the that the sand that I used to top was too small (the grain that is), and basically it's fallen to the bottom, which is why in the first tank you may notice that the bottom is white and the top is brown/black.

I am thinking I have probably made a mistake that's gonna cost me my tanks now, should I restart over again? What do you recommend? I guess all I can do is learn and move forward.
You're getting invaluable input from other members of this forum. Thanks guys!

Note: I recommend 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil.

I would be inclined to start over following my book's recommendations. One inch of potting soil covered with 1 inch (or less) of gravel (1-3 mm size). Note that the gravel compacts the fluffy potting soil and increases its ability to deliver nutrients to plant roots. Lots of factors...
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Normally we use 1-3 mm sand, not 0.1-0.3 mm. And, it is true that tiny particles always migrate to the bottom, while larger particles migrate to the top. I think you have identified what your problem is!!
Just so I'm not missing anything, I ended up using the wrong topping substrate?

Been there, done that; the very fine sand eventually displaced all the soil at the bottom of the tank. I ended up siphooning out all the dirt, but the plants never really did great, and when I finally dismantled those tanks (after a few years), the roots of even huge Echinodorus uruguayensis were partially rotten. Additionally, new waste doesn't penetrate into the sand, and just sits on top of it.
Okay, oh well, I guess this will have to be a learning experience!

When I dismantle my tanks, what do I do about the snails and shrimp in there? I usually end up tipping everything out of my tanks into the garden (except the driftwood of course, I keep that), but is there a humane way of getting rid of all those Shrimp and Snails?

You're getting invaluable input from other members of this forum. Thanks guys!

Note: I recommend 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil.

I would be inclined to start over following my book's recommendations. One inch of potting soil covered with 1 inch (or less) of gravel (1-3 mm size). Note that the gravel compacts the fluffy potting soil and increases its ability to deliver nutrients to plant roots. Lots of factors...
Oh yes! It was 1 inch I used, I'm used to the "cm" metric so I got them mixed up. Diana, and everyone else, I can't thank you enough for the help, even though I stuffed up my first two attempts at the Walstad Method, at least it's been a fun learning experience.

Diana (or anyone else), one last question before I go, what gravel do you recommend? When I first started the tanks I used sand because I was thinking of adding Cory's in, and I heard they like soft sand because it's easy on their whiskers. When I restart over, will carpet plants thrive in the gravel? I'm probably mistaken but I thought possible if the gravel is too big it might crush the plant roots and they won't be able to get nutrients from the potting soil below the gravel.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Stace, haven't set up a Walstad style tank yet, only just got the book, but my long term plan is to keep corys. Starting with plants first.

Currently experimenting with a high-light and low-light section of tank so I can keep both high light loving and low light plants together in the same tank, but my goal eventually is to have a sand section for the cory's, maybe 1/4 of the tank in space. Just fine sand, nothing else.

If you have a large enough tank you could consider different sections - a planted section, fish catching end like described in the book, etc... The Corys can have their ideal substrate and the plants their section too - just a thought. My dream has always been to have a huge tank with different areas in it - not sure I will ever get that far.

To acheive different substrates in the one tank may take some ingenuity though - rocks as dividers etc... This way it would be a say 70% planted tank, 30% other....
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Just so I'm not missing anything, I ended up using the wrong topping substrate?
...........
Diana (or anyone else), one last question before I go, what gravel do you recommend? When I first started the tanks I used sand because I was thinking of adding Cory's in, and I heard they like soft sand because it's easy on their whiskers. When I restart over, will carpet plants thrive in the gravel? I'm probably mistaken but I thought possible if the gravel is too big it might crush the plant roots and they won't be able to get nutrients from the potting soil below the gravel.
Yes, you used sand with too small particles. If you have access to swimming pool filter sand, that is the ideal size particles. I have used that sand many times with very good results.

Corys are not harmed by the sand particles. They can dig around in whatever sand you use. All aquatic plants do well in pool filter sand. Remember, nothing is very heavy when in the water. Buoyancy affects sand particles just as it affects human bodies. Roots don't support the sand particles, the roots grow in the open areas between particles, so they can't be crushed by heavy sand. Plant roots grow towards where they can get nutrients, so they will probably end up in the soil below the sand. Soluble nutrients in the soil will spread into the sand too, and into the water.
 

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Re: Update on 1 1/2 year tank

Easy to get cm and inches mixed up. I admire your persistence.

I'm not sure that potting soil mixed with very fine sand would cause a major problem. After all, soil often contains fine sand. I would not give up entirely. The first tank looks like it just needs a water change and some carbon filtration. You could try adding potted Amazon swordplants, Red Tiger Lotus, stem plants, etc. There's no reason to start over. You can just cut off the tops of the Val and squeeze in a pot or two, making sure bottom of pot rests on the bottom.

I noticed that the second tank has driftwood that seems to be sitting on top of the substrate. Be careful about putting driftwood and rocks on top of substrate. They will "smother" the soil layer.

I think you're just going to have to experiment a little until you get something that works for you. This is why I always recommend that people start out with small tanks. There's often a learning curve to keeping planted aquaria.
 
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