5.5g Walstad Style Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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5.5g Walstad Style Tank

I'll admit right off the bat that I haven't read the book. This is just a fun experiment based off of some how-to guides and personal experiences I've read online.

Equipment
Tank: Aqueon 5.5g tank, top rim removed
Lighting: Sunlight supplemented with 13w compact fluorescent
Filtration: None, may add a small internal one later
Substrate: MGOPM capped with Flourite Black
Heater: None yet, will add Tetra 50w preset

Flora
cryptocoryne parva
hygrophila corymbosa var compact
anubias barteri var nana
microsorum pteropus
rotala sp 'Gai Lai'/'Singapore' mixed (recieved this in a RAOK so I listed it exactly as the seller did)
ludwigia palustris
echinodorus 'vesuvius'
bacopa caroliniana
cryptocoryne crispulata var balansae
hydrocotyle leucocephala
salvinia minima
dwarf water lettuce (had trouble finding the scientific name)

Fauna
TBD, but probably a betta

Current photo


Disclaimer: I'm pretty new to the hobby of planted tanks, and tanks in general, so please forgive any errors in naming, care, water chemistry, etc.

Last edited by rocksmom; 04-24-2012 at 10:45 PM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Day 1 - Setup

A couple months ago I started derimming a spare 5.5g tank, cut my finger in the process of removing the silicone, and shoved it under stand to be forgotten. When I decided to set up a little Walstad tank, I thought the derimmed tank would be perfect. I pulled it out and finished cleaning up the silicone. After sanding the edges with my trusty Mouse sander, here's what I had:



It wasn't perfect by any account. I was a little overzealous with the dremel when I initially cut the rim off. Here you can see a couple of the marks I left on it:



I originally bought MGOPM, then a bag of cheap topsoil after reading a lot of people's preference for the latter. Unfortunately upon opening my topsoil it looked moldy, so I went back to the MGOPM.



Here you can see some of the larger chunks sifted out by my hardware cloth sifter.



Here's the tank with about .75" of the sifted MGOPM.



Here it is after initial planting. No cap yet.



Flourite cap and additional plants (anubias on rocks and two java ferns suction cupped near the bottom - they'll probably come out later).



After initial fill and floating plants added. No real cloudiness, just an incredibly dirty window.





This was really fun to setup and didn't take very long at all. I know a lot of these plants will get large and may eventually need removed and/or lots of pruning, but I wanted to use what I had on hand. The only thing I bought specifically for this tank was the MGOPM and the light which will be here Wednesday.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Day 2

On Day 2 I tested the water and had some interesting results. The ammonia was just barely showing up. Not quite at .25, but not at zero either. No nitrites or nitrates. The pH is the one I wasn't prepared for though. It was reading 6.0 which is the lowest the API test reads, so it could have actually been lower. I've been reading about how water hardness affects pH and I still don't entirely understand it, but from what I read I'm assuming the water didn't have a high enough KH (or is it GH?) to buffer the organics in the MGOPM. I'm using RO and RO right so I might just not have added enough to my water before filling the tank. I ordered the API hardness test kit which will be here Wednesday.

Day 2 pics:





The plants really seemed to like the sunlight. Quite a few were pearling. Here's a shot of the balansae plant:

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Day 3

The tank is looking very clear today. Tested the water again and got a pH of 7.2, .25 ammonia, and 0 nitrites or nitrates. The big upswing in pH confuses me. I thought it would still be low if the soil was causing it. I decided to go get a couple gallons of RO since I was out and do some tests on it. The pH of the straight RO was about 6.4 and once I added the RO right (a little less than a teaspoon per gallon) it went up to about 6.4-6.8. I was going to do a water change, but now I want to wait another day and see what the tank water says. Hopefully it stabilizes, and with no inhabitants I don't really have to worry about the ammonia.

No sun today so I borrowed a light from another tank. It's not doing a whole lot though with the floaters in the way.

Shot from day 3. Nothing exciting other than the very clear water.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 10:58 PM
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I thinks it's looking good, you might want some water movement, I think the tank is more prone to certain kinds of algae without it, I could be wrong though...

I have walstad style too, and I like it, now that plants are growing and have enough of them water changes are minimal and my parameters are golden, but I did find that my plants grow faster with a water change here and there.

Goods luck too!
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I hadn't planned on any filter/water movement because I had a betta that didn't like any movement at all, but it turned out he was sick and died just last week. Since it will no longer be his tank I may end up adding something, but I wanted to see how it goes without it.

I'm actually glad you responded. I checked out your goldfish tank journal because I have fancies as well. I just moved them outside for the summer, but I'd like to set up a planted tank to move them back into in the fall. Yours looks really nice, and I'm glad to see that you've been successful mixing dirt and goldfish.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksmom View Post
A couple months ago I started derimming a spare 5.5g tank
I would like to do this as well! I'm a little concerned about the structural integrity, though. Does your tank seem stable? What would you do differently for the next time you de-rim?

I really like your tank, the sunlight really adds to the natural look! If you are looking for an internal filter, I'd recommend the Hagen elite mini filter. I have it on several of my smaller tanks.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 11:40 PM
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I'll be watching with interest, I'm trying to achieve something similar. Nice start, looks good.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
I would like to do this as well! I'm a little concerned about the structural integrity, though. Does your tank seem stable? What would you do differently for the next time you de-rim?
i de-rimmed a 5.5 gallon as well, only the top rim. my tank is plenty stable. as for what i would do differently, i would have started with the inside. i started by trying to pry from the outside, and broke a couple of razor blades (!!!) in the process. the inside is where the silicone is, flip it upside-down and cut the silicone you see. after all the silicone in the inside is cut, go around the outside.
i did, however, notice that the glass underneath the rim wasn't very smooth, like they didn't bother to sand it because it was going to be covered.
next time, i think i'll get some glass sanding paper to remove the rough edges/excess silicone. i still have the rough edges on my tank.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Lee04, so far the integrity of the tank seems fine. It's been holding water for a few days now with no leaks, and only minor flexing (about 1/16"). From what I've read even tanks with the rim have some flex, you just can't see it because the rim hides it. The only thing I would do differently would be to take my time splitting the rim with the dremel. I ran the dremel with a cutting wheel along the very top of the rim and sometimes it would nick the glass. Just carelessness on my part. And thanks for the filter recommendation. I had been looking at the Fluval nano filter, but was concerned about the size.

fairgate, thanks! I checked out your 7g and the aquascaping looks really nice. Good luck with it.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatB View Post
i de-rimmed a 5.5 gallon as well, only the top rim. my tank is plenty stable. as for what i would do differently, i would have started with the inside. i started by trying to pry from the outside, and broke a couple of razor blades (!!!) in the process. the inside is where the silicone is, flip it upside-down and cut the silicone you see. after all the silicone in the inside is cut, go around the outside.
i did, however, notice that the glass underneath the rim wasn't very smooth, like they didn't bother to sand it because it was going to be covered.
next time, i think i'll get some glass sanding paper to remove the rough edges/excess silicone. i still have the rough edges on my tank.
I didn't use any special sandpaper on mine, just a pretty coarse grit (I want to say 120 maybe?) standard mouse refill sheet. I was careful to only do the edge, giving it a bit of a beveled/routed edge.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 12:29 AM
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Thanks, to both of you! I think I'll try it soon and take the precautions you mention.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Day 4

Another big pH drop today. It was down to 6.4 at 10am and back up a little to 6.6 at 2pm. I think I'm definitely going to have to increase the amount of RO right I add to keep it more stable. I added 4 tsp to 5g which according to the bottle is "medium hardness." My API test kit should be getting here tomorrow so I'll see what it says and that do a water change accordingly. Ammonia is still at .25 with 0 nitrites or nitrates.

I was looking closely at the plants and it seems like the ludwigia has some sort of fine, thread algae on it. I'm thinking it was probably already on it when I planted it though. That brings me to a good point: I wish I'd had some better "stock" when starting this tank. I know it's going to be slow growth and difficult to do any replanting without releasing dirt so it would have been nice to start off with some really healthy plants. Most of mine were from a LFS and a RAOK. Before I started I wasn't too concerned, thinking this tank would be no big deal, just an experiment... But I'm really starting to like it.

On a positive note, there seems to be some growth already. Several of the crypts have new leaves popping up and the rotala has about .25" of new growth with some great color.



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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2012, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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Day 5

Water hardness test came today as well as the light I ordered for the tank. Let's just say it's no wonder I was getting pH swings. The KH and GH were really low. I'm not sure what's the standard for writing them out is, but the results were 1 dKH and 2 dGH. I ran some tests on the RO water after adding various amounts of RO right and even with 2tsp/gallon was still only getting 3 dGH. I gave up on the RO water since it looks like I'm getting some diatoms in the tank already (that was the purpose of using RO, to try to avoid suspected silicates in our tap water). I did a pretty big water change, over 50%, using tap and retested the GH. this time it came out to 8 dGH. I didn't test the KH because I was out of test tubes and was tired of doing tests at that point. Yes I was too lazy to rinse out a tube.

Other test results were as expected: .25/0/0

I'll do the full range of tests tomorrow to see how the water change affects everything.

Other notes about the tank... There was a slight amount of tannin discoloration which was gone after the water change. Quite a few of the old leaves on the ludwigia had melted so I sucked them out with the hose. The new leaves that had grown in the holding tank seem fine, if lacking in color.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2012, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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Day 6

Not much to say about the tank today other than test results. The ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are holding steady at .25/0/0. There might be a trace amount of nitrite, but I'm not sure. I think it's just my imagination.

The pH was between 7.2 and 7.6 on the API card, which is about what I was expecting with the tap water added yesterday. I normally call our tap 7.5 because it tests at 7.6 with the "regular" pH test and 7.4 with the "high range." Hopefully that's where the pH stays at now, no more big swings.

The hardness tests also came back as expected: 4 dKH and 8 dGH. That will go up some more with more water changes as well.

As far as plants go, not a whole lot of change. From comparing pictures it looks like they've perked up some, but no real discernible amount of growth. After seeing how green the new ludwigia leaves are coming in (not to mention the bare stem from the melted leaves) I'm considering pulling it out and sticking in some type of sword. I was really hoping to find a 'tropicana' since they stay smaller, but haven't had any luck finding one.

This will probably be the last update until Monday which will be day 10. The husband and I are building a chicken coop and have a busy weekend coming up as long as the weather cooperates. Hopefully there will be some noticeable changes by then.
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