Plant salesman says Walstad method is flawed - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
slb
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Plant salesman says Walstad method is flawed

I have read Diana Walstad's book and several posts on this forum. I set up my tank and am ready to add plants. I live in a small town with few plant choices, so I contacted one of the big freshwater plant suppliers to order some plants overnight. I told him my plan to use a soil substrate and he proceeded to dissuade me. He said every customer he has talked to who tried to use soil has regretted it. I was able to counter all of his arguments except one. He said the biggest problem is that the organic matter (peat, bark, etc.) will decay releasing more ammonia and nitrites than the plants can absorb. This has me worried. (For example, the Miracle Grow Organic potting soil Walstad uses is almost 100% peat and other organic material, very little sand, silt, clay).

As I read Walstad's book, it seems to say that the primary benefit of soil is a long-term supply of nutrients. Can't this be achieved by occasionally adding substrate nutrients. My primary goals are no CO2, low maintenance and minimal water changes.

Is Walstad wrong? Is it possible to have a low maintenance tank with a commercial substrate, with out the decaying matter, simply by occasionally adding nutrients to the soil (something like Seachem Flourish tabs)

I'm not trying to be a purest, I just want live plants with the least amount of trouble.

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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:11 PM
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Hi slb,

Interesting post! Let me guess, they also tried to sell you their substrate and fertilizer tablets?

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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:18 PM
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My tanks are ever changing and the use of real "soil" would be a total mess. Pulling plants out would turn the substrate upside down.

Doesn't the top sand or gravel cover want to migrate to the bottom in time?
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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:23 PM
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i can say that walstad tanks work great if you set them up correctly. i have quite a few running with no problems.

125g Mud tank.
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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:35 PM
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the soil can decay only as fast as the bacteria in the soil process it. As long as you have it capped properly, you'll only ever see nitrates, and even then, nothing your plants can't handle. The method is solid. A bit too slow-as-you-go for my likings, but for some it works perfect and you can't go more low maintenance than her methods.

that said, I think the guy just wanted to sell you some dirt with a barcode attached.
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 02:37 PM
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In my opinion their really is no 'BEST' method. Some tanks and plant respond better to certain methods... The truth is their are minor flaws in just about every method, depending on your tank. People will swear by whatever works best for them. I have read countless books on planted tanks, all swearing by different substrates and dosing and Co2 methods. All these tank had amazing tanks.

No need to fix what isn't broken right?
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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi slb,

Interesting post! Let me guess, they also tried to sell you their substrate and fertilizer tablets?
No. He didn't try to push anything. His concern seemed sincere

Fish don't talk back.
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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 03:31 PM
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I think given your goal, it's a good choice of a method.
You can also go a water column dosing method without soil.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...on-CO2-methods

This might be more along with some LFS's feelings, but both this and Soil both work very well.

A combination of water column and sediment is what I often suggest, this way you get longer life out of each, this is perhaps more critical as you increase rates of growth typical with CO2 enriched systems, but it works well in any planted tank also. A good fish load can suffice as water column dosing also in a non CO2 soil tank.

Many folks unfamiliar and obviously.....never having mastered the method, may attempt to suggest something else, or tell of their horrors/failures..........

But there are many here that have long term success and little failure.
You could also try the mineralization process or worm castings as alternatives of a DSM to also pre mineralize the sediments, all these still work nicely and might placate and resolve some of the issues that this LFS person has/had.

Many move their plants around too much or do water changes/too many etc.......over stock the tank or under stock the plants. Those are some of the main issues, others: too much light, wrong plant species chosen, lack of patience.

It is the method for your goal I think.

Regards,
Tom Barr

Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 03:47 PM
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If the salesman was correct then how are there plants growing in nature?? I don't think someone is coming along and filling lakes and streams with ecocomplete then dosing every day!
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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I think given your goal, it's a good choice of a method.
You can also go a water column dosing method without soil.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...on-CO2-methods

This might be more along with some LFS's feelings, but both this and Soil both work very well. ...

Regards,
Tom Barr
Mr Barr

I feel honored by your reply. If I dose the water column, how often will I need to do water changes? I must be honest with myself. I just can't see myself trying to run hoses out the window or lugging buckets outside in the winter. My wife really wants Discus, but I told her it probably won't work because I don't want to do the water changes

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post #11 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Baadboy11 View Post
If the salesman was correct then how are there plants growing in nature?? I don't think someone is coming along and filling lakes and streams with ecocomplete then dosing every day!
I don't know what he would say, but I would guess his reply would be there is much less ammonia per gallon of water in a lake.

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post #12 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 04:31 PM
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if the short coming is the energy to do water changes and daily dosing...
spend some time reading up on
Auto-Water Changing or employing a Python for Water Changes.
And read under equipment Wasser's Auto Dosing Sticky.

Perhaps these techniques may make some sense and offer you a different outlook on your overall goal.

PS - Very few of us have our wives (or significant others) interested in our obsessive hobby. Having your wife interested in Discus may save you more trouble than changing the water!
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post #13 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 04:38 PM
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In nature, there are rarely 'perfect' conditions and it's even rarer for those perfect conditions to persist. Plants come and go, rivers change course, and flora and fauna adapt and move on. Hence, there are lots of good techniques and no 'right' ones, in my observation.

I think Mr. Barr's ongoing openness to other techniques and the viability of different approaches to successful growing speaks volumes.
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post #14 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 05:14 PM
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There is no perfect method. Try everything and use what works best for you. I don't like using soil and would have trouble recommending it to someone new to the hobby.

Last night I tinkered with a couple tanks. In my soil tank, it was like playing operation as I carefully moved a few plants around and was still punished with a murky mud cloud. I'm swearing off everyone's favorite aquasoil as I am incredibly tired of it breaking down and nuking my tanks. To each their own.
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post #15 of 49 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 05:35 PM
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ADA AS is your friend. Works very well in "low tech" tanks. Just check my 20L tank in my sig for reference.
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