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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am an avid supporter of Diana Walstad's method and set up this 1.2m aquarium 2 years ago.



The substrate comprises of:
splattering of clay balls from the river - baked in the oven for 2hrs @ 200deg Celcius
4cm 50-50 mixture of river soil (dug deep from the river bank) and rose and shrub potting mixture
2cm layer of fine gravel (2-3mm stones)

Plants:
mainly Java fern
Crypt lucens
Crypt tonkinensis
Crypt blassii
Crypt wendtii brown
crypt balansae
monosorium tenerum
(thats' about it)

There is a heater in.
120W lights (4x30W 865s of which 60W is 2yrs old)
A canister filter.

Fish:
5x botia kubotai
4x java loaches
3x kuhli loaches
2x weather loaches
13 harlequin rasboras
10 scissor tail rasboras
15 red line rasboras
2 moonlight gouramis
6 pearl gouramis

I never do water changes (ok, maybe 10-20% once every 6-8 months).
I never clean the filter.
I clean a slight film of algae off the front glass once a month (not much).
I don't dose fertiliser at all. I feed the fish and put in a bit extra for the plants.

My question: can I remove the filter? I want to use it to start up a cube. As far as I am concerned, it should be ok to do so because of all the plants I have (especially the java fern, which are very nitrite and amonia hungry)

What do you think?
 

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Looks sweet. So I assume you have essentially a 75g or 1.6wpg. That's not a lot, are you using window light as well? I'm no expert at this size, for my 10 and 20, I don't use filter media, just use the power filter to generate some current. It looks so heavily planted, I would give it a go from what I have read. Just make sure you have something to move the water a little, tank that size need to have some water movement to evenly distribute the temperature and move carbon, oxygen and nutrients in the water around the plants.
 

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I have had bad luck a trying to remove a filter after the tank is running. The tank is well established and the filter sponge is well part of the biological filtration. By removing it you will have an ammonia spike creating and algae out break. Yes the plant will start to take up ammonia but this will take time and in the mean while algae will be more then happy to put it to use. The best way to go filter less is to start that way.
 

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Still, I would give it a go. I did for my 10 gallon and all seems fine. His tank is so heavily planted, I don't see the filter sponge playing that much of a role. I doubt any significant role since he doesn't clean them at all. Besides, when he does filter sponge replacements, it's like the same thing going cold turkey with a new filter sponge. I would not even bother with this but you can do it slowly. Since it's canister, you have a staged filtering media. You can remove one stage at a time over course of 2-3 weeks or you can remove half the bio filter or whatever in steps.
 

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Every system eventually reaches equilibrium with the elemnts in that system. If you remove a major element like the filter, it will take some time before equilibrium is met again. In that time you'll develop an algae outbreak, maybe green water too. I'd spring for another filter for your cube, or start it up without a filter.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I understand about the equilibrium and like the idea of gently phasing out the canister so as to give the echosystem chance to adjust. I was in fact hoping to be able to simply transfer the good bacteria along to the cube.

As for setting up the cube WITHOUT a filter... that's a bit scary for me. It will be a South American aquarium having E. tenellis, valisneria, maybe E. ozelot or E. aflame, and some java moss. Fish will be: 15-20 rummynose tetras, pair of angels, 6 corydoras, and a bunch of otos. Will it be wise to set this one up without a filter? The cube is 700x700x700mm, so it will make better sense to put the canister in there than using an internal filter. It will hold 300L water as opposed to 200L.


Coming back to the question of removing the canister from the Southeast Asian aquarium: I understand about the equilibrium, and also about having a slight water current. SO - would it then be a better option to put in a small interal power head with a sponge filter whilst gradually removing the canister instead of a sudden death, cold turkey - ZERO canister. Zero filter.


(By the way: The aquarium is not using sunlight).
 

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IME a well established tank can donate up to 25% of its filter media and not show any problems. I would simply take what filter media you need, not the whole filter. I do this whenever I start a new tank. I will take media from several filters, not too much from any one tank, and the new tank starts off with a pretty well cycled filter.
 

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So here is what really confuses me... You are willing to throw a tank out of equilibrium to add a filter to a new tank. You are not however willing to start a new tank without a filter, thus establishing its equilibrium without a filter? Put the tank together, add a couple little powerheads for flow, and be happy. Or, buy a new canister for your new tank, take your pick. Diana, from the sounds of it, he does not have another filter to seed with old media. If he did, I doubt this would even be a question.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So here is what really confuses me... You are willing to throw a tank out of equilibrium to add a filter to a new tank. You are not however willing to start a new tank without a filter, thus establishing its equilibrium without a filter? .
El Exorcisto you are quite right - it does not make sense. However, when I initially posted, I had ZERO intention of getting another filter, or power heads, etc. Simply removing the filter.

However, we can put this matter to rest. I have managed to secure another canister (a small one 750L/hr) for R100 (approx 12USD) which I will put in the proposed angel aquarium (300L) because they like slow water movement. When I do that, I'll seed it with media from the existing canister (Cascade 1000)

Hiowever, my initial question has still not been answered.
 

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My question: can I remove the filter?
What do you think?
To answer your initial question: yes.

For more detail, I am assuming that because you live in South Africa that your environment (temperature) is warmer and more steady than the temperature where I live in Upstate New York (USA) where the temperature can range from 80's and 90's in the summertime to -20 degrees (Farenheit) outside. In a well planted aquatic tank, if temperature is steady and you do not need a heater in your tank - then you may not need water circulation. The fish may provide all the water circulation that you may need. The plants provide all of the biological and chemical filtration that you need and or want.

Next question: Will this work for freshwater Angelfish? Jack Whatley who writes a column in Tropical Fish Hobbyist may be able to answer this because he raises Discuss which I understand are more picky. Or better yet, if you have some baby angelfish - try this - and tell us how it works.

From what I have read freshwater angelfish have stripes so that they can blend in with the plants. What determines how well they do in your aquarium may have more to do with whether they were wild caught or farm raised. Farm raised or captive raised are hardier and do better in aquariums.

So to answer your inital question: yes.

Question to answer: Is the temperature in your area warm enough or steady enough? If so, then you will not need water circulation to assist any heater that you may not need in your tank. Your fish will do that.

I wish you the best with your aquariums.

Please post a photo of your aquariums. I would love to see.

Jimbo205
 

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I have heard of some people trying a filter less tank. No PH or other pump, no heater. Nothing to provide water movement.

Problems: Most fish die, leaving one hardy species (usually Guppies or Platies) to populate the tank.
With no water changes, just topping off, the GH and KH (and therefore pH) are skyrocketing. The tap watering one case used for top off has more minerals than the plants are using. This happened to my tanks this summer, I was doing fewer water changes and more topping off, and my tap water is not very hard. (KH and GH around 5 degrees)

Answer to original Q: Each person has their own experiences with less than average filtration, even if only by accident, and will have a different answer for you. Filters or powerheads quit, and a tank may need to survive for several hours or a day or so until something can be worked out.

When this sort of problem happens to my tanks the fish are gasping at the surface suggesting that the circulation is providing the required oxygen. Circulation stops, and oxygen levels go down. I have air pumps that I can add immediately, and certainly I look into why the filter or PH has quit (or slowed)

I would not completely remove the filter, or even swap filters (new filter onto established tank, established filter onto new tank) without also removing some of the fish to the new tank. As good a job as the plants are doing at nitrogen removal there is still all the other things that the whole aquarium ecology is dealing with, and removing the well established microorganisms from the filter will disrupt this ecology.

As I noted above: I have had good results removing a maximum of 25% of the media from an established tank's filter. This is enough to jump-start the new tank, and not so much to stress the old tank.
 

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I have since switched to a water pump. I use to have 10 and 20 gallon with no filters. When the weather turned colder somehow my tank had green water and in a week they turned so green I can't see the fish unless they are a couple inches away. Don't know what happened but the fishes and the plants were doing well without filter. The water did have a little algae smell back then. Now the scent is less noticible. Currently I have the tank together connected by a siphon and water pump pumps the water between the two tanks. I still don't have a filter but I really really like the setup. The plants seems to grow a little faster and some of the fishes like to swim against the water current. Most of the fishes actually staying on the 10 gallon side right now. They haven't learn how to swim back to the 20 gallon side. A few guppies travel back and forth. I guess they are smarter than my platys,cory,barbs. Plus my water temperature is more evently distributed. I am still battling green water a little, it's not getting worse and I can see the tank from one end to the other but you can tell it's not remotely close to clear. I am using western facting direct sunlight now too since water hasn't worsen. Hopefully the water will sort itself out in a few months.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Firstly, thank you for all the comments. It seems as though the Walstad method has come under some controversy with some saying change water, add filters, and others not. We have a local biochemistry professor who swears that her methods are flawed. I use a bit of both schools and generally have a lot of success.

What I have done in setting up my Brazil Stream Biotope is as follows:
I used 30% of my South-east Asian community aquarium water, and also all the mulm and 1/2 the filter medium from the Cascade 1000.

I set up using a soil substrate (mixed with more coarse sand than usual) and a topping of coarse river sand. Total substrate is very thick (10cm) because I believe that is what Echinodorus sp. like.

I introduced 7 otocinclus and 3 rummynose tetras the following day (along with some MTS).

The aquarium has been running since the 17th and so far no problems. I don't expect any either. I'll introduce more fish in 2 weeks time.

Thanks for the info.

Please post a photo of your aquariums. I would love to see.
Jimbo205
Glad to, Jimbo. (Thanks for asking) :cool:


Southeast Asian Community aquarium (1.2m; 200L)


Brazil Stream biotope (700mm cube; 300L)
 

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Nice. Good looking aquarium. Gnarly roots. It looks like my tank water. Partially cloudy. Wonder it's algae or bact. Regarding the controversies you mentioned. I don't think there is one. Changing water is a given. We have to change water. It's the interval that varies because every aquarium setup is different. But the agreement is that the interval between water change is much longer than the traditional 2 weeks. Filtering is not needed since plants doing this job. Some who put filters are not really NPT. No controversy that I see. Her methods work for me and so I have no complaints. I like to hear the flaws that you mentioned on her method. Your professor may have validity. We can always improve and make things better. So let us know.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Alex
The milkyness in th water is neither algae or bacteria. It was taken 2 days after setup. The water is crystal clear now but I didn't have time to take another photo.

As for "flaws" in Diana's method, I can't lis tthem as I don't really care about them. I am an avid Walstad'ter and have 3 aquariums working like that (no filters, heaters, light and only water top-ups when it gets a bit low) with NO problems whatsoever. And the water is drinkable and tastes lovely! ;)

However, in my Brazil Stream biotope, I will try and do some water changes because I am not fa,iliar with Echinodorus sp. and have no idea what they require or not. So I'll change water save every month and dose with the proff's fertiliser mixture. I've seen his tanks and the plants grow well.

Other than that, I do as little as possible.

cheers!
 

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I would like to hear of the "flaws" but if you are not interested in providing that's fine. I don't suggest you drink aquarium water! In wilderness survival books, most saltwater fish you can eat them raw but not freshwater species. That should tell you about the water. If you have uv sterilizer, it should be better but still I would not try. But yeah I get your point. Too bad I can't say the same thing about my tanks. I have an amazon sword in my tank. It's not growing too well. I have about 1.5 watts per gallon in my tank so it's on the low side. It's really slow in growth. Almost like it's just maintaining the current size. I have hard water with high ph. So the hard water plants I have are growing great. I think if your water is not very hard and more neutral ph with good current, your sword plant will grow well. It's one of those plants that have massive roots which indicate it grows in rivers with some decent current.
 
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