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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Plant Light Rectangle Wood Interior design


Hello, APC!

This is “The Corner Desk”.
It is a simple L-shaped table that I built in the corner of my office, and I hope for it to one day be a thriving jungle of both aquatic and terrestrial plants.

I’m starting this thread as a place to document progress, share photos, ask questions, etc.
To start things off, here are a few photos after initial setup this morning.

Plant Wood Shade Grass Terrestrial plant


Plant Green Rectangle Wood Shade
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
INITIAL BUILD DETAILS

Glass

ADA 60P (17 Gal)
ADA 60F (10.8 Gal)

Substrate
Kellogg Garden Organics - All Natural Garden Soil
CaribSea Super Naturals Peace River Gravel (Main Cap)
CaribSea Super Naturals Sunset Gold Sand (Decorative)
CaribSea Super Naturals Zen Garden Gravel (Decorative)

Lighting
Kessil A360X Tuna Sun

Plants
Ludwigia Arcuata
Ludwigia Peruensis
Ludwigia Natans
Staurogyne Repens
Hemianthus Micranthemoides
Nomaphila Stricta
Ammania Gracilis
Alternanthera Bettzickiana
Alternanthera Rosanervig
Nesaea Pedicellata
Rotala Indica
Vallisneria Spiralis
Limnobium Laevigatum
(Currently waiting on additional floating plants: Lemna Minor, and Phyllanthus Fluitans)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very cool arrangement of the the two tanks! It fooled me at first, it looked like a custom build. What PAR is the Kessil giving you?
Thank you! The reflection where the tanks meet creates a fun optical illusion when viewed at the right angles - wasn’t planned, but I’m not mad about it. 😃

The lighting is still “in progress”, to be honest.

Currently, it is mounted ~3’ above the water surface on the 60P. This height was desired to simply give me more room to observe/maintain the aquaria, as well as enhance the general look (I personally feel that equipment on/in a rimless aquarium destroys the aesthetics).
I’ve also added the 35 degree reflector to help narrow the spread, and bump up the light intensity for this height.

Plant Tap Plumbing fixture Water Wood

It is a bit hard to tell from the photo, but the light is horizontally positioned over the seam where the two tanks meet - I assume this is adequate for the smaller tank, as the left side of this desk does receive some natural light from a window.

A quick shot of my PAR testing this morning:
Computer Personal computer Laptop Table Netbook

I used the Apogee Instruments SQ-520, and their ApogeeConnect software to grab a few readings.

I took 6 readings in each tank: Left, Center and Right - both at the surface, and at the substrate. All readings were taken “centered” in terms of front to back depth of each tank. The actual readings were rounded +/- a few PAR to produce the below numbers:

ADA 60P:
Surface: [L:80, C:80, R:40]
Substrate: [L:15, C:40, R:20]

ADA 60F:
Surface: [L:10, C:40, R:90]
Substrate: [L:10, C:30, R:40]

So.. This gives me an average PAR at the substrate of around 25 for each tank.
I have lots of room to lower the light, if additional intensity is required - but this configuration seemed to get me closest to the general lighting recommendations.

Wow, it already looks so nice! I'm looking forward to watching it mature (that is, if you intend to post regular updates ;) ).
Thank you! Of course - my intention is for this thread to be my “build journal” - I’ll circle back periodically with updates as things progress.

UPDATE

I tested the water paramters for the first time today - the tanks have been live for ~1 day, so I figured this would be a good time to get some initial readings.
One thing that I found interesting is that both tanks share identical params. I expected the tanks to have some difference, given that they contain different levels of substrate and plants. I’m curious to see how they might both take different paths over time.

PH: 7.3
Ammonia: 0.5
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Temp: ~72F

Given the above, my interpretation is that the soil is leaching ammonia into the water column, however the presence of a nitrosomonas or pseudomonas colony is not yet detectable.

I’ve also received my shipment of floaters in:
Flower Road surface Plant Grass Urban design
 

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Healthy plants can absorb ammonia faster than beneficial bacteria will become established. In Walstad tanks, plants assume the role of biological filtration.

PAR of 10 to 15 mmol at the substrate is pretty low. I like to see it at 20 or above. You might lower the Kessil, or let the plants work it out on their own. If I understand you correctly, it seems that the back corner is getting the least light.

All and all, the most original and interesting set up I've seen in a long time. It is modern and minimalist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are the alternanthera one of those species that have emergent as well as submersed versions of itself?
I don't have experience growing Alternanthera above the water, so I'm not sure if the growth would be drastically different.
That said, I recall reading that most (all?) of the Ludwigias I purchased will have different appearances when emergent vs submersed.
I'm curious to see how these plants react to the lighting/co2/temp/etc - I believe several are generally considered mid/high tech species - fingers crossed that some of the red persists.

Good luck with the duckweed.
Cool, didn't know Apogee made a sensor you can plug into a computer.
I'm observing rapid growth with the duckweed - and its only been 10 minutes! Clearly, no luck is needed.

(pray for me)

Healthy plants can absorb ammonia faster than beneficial bacteria will become established. In Walstad tanks, plants assume the role of biological filtration.

PAR of 10 to 15 mmol at the substrate is pretty low. I like to see it at 20 or above. You might lower the Kessil, or let the plants work it out on their own. If I understand you correctly, it seems that the back corner is getting the least light.

All and all, the most original and interesting set up I've seen in a long time. It is modern and minimalist.
Thanks for your feedback on this, Michael.

The side nearest the corner of the wall (the left side of the 60P if you were to face it) is getting 15, and the left side of the 60F (where the sand is) is getting 10.
With the 60P, it was a bit challenging to get my arm in there in such a way that would not block some level of the lighting, so a PAR of 15 (while likely close) is not 100% accurate.

I've lowered the light ~ 6", and it appears that I have ~12" of additional room to lower as needed. Any lower than that, and I would need to come up with a new solution for wall mounting this.
I have not yet remeasured the PAR, but I assume I'm much closer to (or over?) 20 in all planted areas.

Follow up question for you:
How concerned should I be with the "hot spots"? The area directly under the light exceeded a PAR of 20 at the substrate (by 2x prior to lowering the light).
 

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Don't worry about the hot spots, all aquaria have them. It is common to get a higher PAR reading next to the glass compared to the center of the tank. You can use this to your advantage by placing plants that require higher light level in the hot spots and using low-light species in dimmer areas.
 

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Clever and promising setup. You need more light. I have a PAR at water surface of 200-400. At substrate 20-40 umoles/m2/sec. I would lower that light until you get a decent light intensity, especially for floating plants.
Also, consider the photoperiod. I use 13 hours, with or without a 3-4 hour Siesta. (I still don't understand why people are recommending a photoperiod less than 12 hours?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Clever and promising setup. You need more light. I have a PAR at water surface of 200-400. At substrate 20-40 umoles/m2/sec. I would lower that light until you get a decent light intensity, especially for floating plants.
Also, consider the photoperiod. I use 13 hours, with or without a 3-4 hour Siesta. (I still don't understand why people are recommending a photoperiod less than 12 hours?)
Thank you for your feedback, Ms. Walstad.
I’m going to lower the light as far as I can with the current mounting system, and will circle back with updated PAR readings.
May I ask - are there instances in which you would not want a siesta on a particular aquarium?
When reading about the benefits of this in your book, it seemed compelling enough to always use a siesta.
 

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May I ask - are there instances in which you would not want a siesta on a particular aquarium?
When reading about the benefits of this in your book, it seemed compelling enough to always use a siesta.
I would try to get more lamps for your tanks. Here, you've made a valiant effort to grow plants in a beautiful setup and you've shortchanged them on the one thing they need most--light. I don't think that a single spotlight is enough no matter how much you lower it. And once you lower it, the light beam will be more and more confined to a single area. I would add two desk lamps, at each end of your "L." shape. You need "spread" as well as light intensity for this particular setup.

If you were just growing ferns, you might be able to get away with that one spotlight. But here you've got floating plants and submerged plants underneath.

As to Siestas.....In my current tanks for guppy breeding, I don't use a Siesta. My reasons are somewhat arbitrary. I am retired now and spend a lot of time fussing with the guppies during the midday. I didn't like the lights shutting off while I was catching guppies, etc. More importantly, though, I wanted to keep the floating plants growing for that extra 4 hours. They can get air CO2, so a Siesta, theoretically speaking, will not benefit them and will probably slow their total growth. So with this exception, I highly recommend Siestas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
UPDATE

Well folks, I've got some bad news on this project...

A power outage in my area has fried the Kessil.
I've tried plugging it in to different outlets - nothing.
I've tried disconnecting the controller to test if the light would work manually - nothing.

So... It appears that I'll be reworking the entire lighting setup now.. 😑
I do have some temporary lights I can put on the tanks - unfortunately, nothing with enough intensity to really get me by for an extended period of time.

At least now I can focus on getting adequate lighting for the setup(?). (really trying to find an upside in this lol)

Stay tuned..
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Plug your devices into a power strip to protect them from power surges. I had to learn the hard way when a surge killed my computer.
The light was plugged into a surge protector.
Perhaps the surge protector didn't do its job, however I would assume it (or other items) would be damaged / non-functional, which is not the case.
Thankfully my duckweed seems to be doing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
UPDATE

Lighting


Prior to the Kessil, I had the Fluval Plant 3.0.
I loved the light - I got great plant growth with it, and the level of control provided with their free app was great.
"So - why the 'upgrade' to the Kessil?", you ask.
I saw a system running the A360X and was blown away by the color, and the "shimmer" created by the light... So I ordered one.

Fast forward to earlier today, and the Fluval Plant 3.0 was collecting dust in my abyss of random aquarium products I've purchased while experimenting with this hobby.
So I dusted it off, and put it on the 60P.
I then drove to the local pet store and bought another Fluval Plant 3.0, and put it on the 60F.
I now have seemingly abundant light for both systems, and even observed some of my plants pearling this evening after the addition!

Assuming no power outages take out this lighting system, I'm done making changes to the lights.
While it doesn't have the same aesthetic as the initial setup, I think I owe it to the plants to keep things consistent for a while.

Duckweed Part I

Ok, I have a confession to make...
I've read about the drama surrounding Duckweed, and have generally thought the benefits outweighed the cons.......................
That is until I willfully purchased Duckweed (yes, willfully) and added it to these aquatic systems.
I had no idea that it sticks to ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.
So... You win, mistergreen. :D

My general plan at this point is to let these systems get more established, and then remove.
(With the goal of permanent removal 🙏).

Wow that escalated quickly.

Duckweed Part II

One of the main reasons I added Duckweed to these systems is due to fact that many recommended species of floating plants are considered invasive in my region.

I want to get the benefits of floating plants, however I've found several floating species in the past to be "slower" to grow.
I've used Red Root in the past - it honestly did not do well, however it was in a system that had moderate flow on the surface. So I hope to have better luck given there is zero flow in both of these new systems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
UPDATE

Water Chemistry


Some small shifts have occurred.
**Note, I'm using the API Master Test Kit - I am guesstimating the value in cases where the test tube shows a color that falls between two colors on the provided chart.

PH: Both tanks appear to have risen to ~7.5 (I regretfully did not check the temps, so it is unclear if water temperature may be contributing to this).
Ammonia: The smaller tank (60F) persists at ~0.5ppm, however the Ammonia in the larger tank (60P) has dropped to ~0.3ppm.
Nitrite: Both tanks show no detectable level.
Nitrate: Both tanks show no detectable level.

Observations

I continue to see oxygen bubbles form on several of the species of plants - it is most apparent:
  • In the roots of the Limnobium Laevigatum.
  • Forming on the tip of the leaves of the Nomaphila Stricta.
  • Forming near the nodes(?) of the Hemianthus Micranthemoides.

Several of the plants appear to look as good as (or perhaps better than?) the day they were planted.
Specifically the Ludwigias - they all appear to be doing great! The Staurogyne Repens also seems quite happy.

I'm observing some melt.
Most of the Nesaea Pedicellata has transparent leaves at this point. If I recall, it was the plant that appeared to be in the worst shape on arrival.
Not sure if this is an emergent>submerged conversion happening, or if I'll end up losing these altogether as the tanks mature.
I observe a similar state with both of the Alternantheras.

The rest of the plants appear unchanged.

Free Pets

I did observe some hitchhikers:
  • A few small snails cruising on the glass - most of which have a very circular shell structure that appears to indicate they are Ramshorns(?).
  • A few Bladder Snails that are slightly larger than the Ramshorns.

Questions

  • For the plants that appear to have melting leaves - is it best to let the plants work this out on their own, or is it best to remove any of the organic material that does not appear healthy?
  • I have observed a few small gas bubbles in the gravel substrate - I assume this is simply trapped oxygen from the time the gravel was added to the tanks. Is this okay to leave as is, or should I poke the substrate in attempt to release this trapped gas?
 
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