35g Walstad Venture
I recently became enamored with planted tanks after finding an old fish bowl in my grandparents house. I did a lot of lurking on this site, particularly on the Newman's Shrimp Bowl thread, and I loved the concept of a natural, Walstad tank. Fast forward a couple weeks and now i have 4 bettas: one in a 2.5 from Petco, one in the 3 gallon bowl I found, 1 in a planted 2.5 drum, and one in a 2.2 sun tea jar. After seeing so many beautiful tanks on this site though, and finding the PERFECT piece of driftwood while camping, I absolutely could not resist trying my hand at a larger, more established tank. I suppose I'm looking for advice in the form of setup suggestions, fish, plants, etc.
The Goal: A Walstad Naturally Planted Tank of 35 gallons, to house a betta sorority. Looking for this to be low maitenance, beginner-friendly, as I am quite a newb in these matters.
35g tank:salvaged from my brother's old reef failure. It's old, and it had a leak and a very large mineral build up on the glass, but I've managed to restore it to a satisfactory level.
light system: i can't recall the exact wattage of these lights, but I know that they were quite top notch lights a few years back, as my parents still complain about price.
driftwood: a perfect specimen i found in a lake while camping. I had to hitch it to my kayak and drag it from the center of the lake, haha. It's been drying in the sun for a little over a week now. I'll need to cut it down for it to fit though.
Substrate: Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil. I bought a bag, to use as the bottom layer. I have some sand left over from my brothers old tank. Perhaps I should invest in some gravel?
Filtration I know the Walstad method doesn't exactly incorporate filtration, but it seems so odd not to have it. I was thinking perhaps to utilize it until the tank gets settled. Also, my tap water is very heavy in minerals, so mechanical filtration will be necessary. I have an old fluval canister filter. I don't know the model, however I do know that it runs perfectly fine with this tank.
Plants This is where I am very...spotty. I know that Ms. Walstad recommends a mixture of fast growing and slow growing plants, but again, I'm very new to the whole planted tank scene. I've noticed that my LFS does not have a very good selection of...anything, really. Suggestions on plants would be immensely appreciated. Oh! another thing...I read somewhere that you can collect wild plants and make them suitable by soaking them in a weak bleach solution. I was wondering if this would be advisable, because I live next to a creek and not far from a lake.
Specimens I really wanted to turn this into a sort of betta sorority, however I don't know how many I would be able to keep. I was thinking around 8? I already have 3 beautiful girls, although one of them is recovering from a very rough time...I was also thinking of some black mollies? Or maybe some neon tetras. Minnows would be fine too...Nothing flashy or delicate me thinks.
I'll post pictures when I can take them/figure out how to insert them. Thank you for any help/suggestions/tips/advice/comments!