Tips for Scaping Walstad, El Natural, Tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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I am starting a 10 gallon Walstad method tank this weekend and would love some advice of where to place plants
(I have seeded media so the tank will insta-cycle and I'll be keeping zebra Danios in it at first until I can get Pea Puffer, then Danios will go in the big tank After a week or two I'll take the media out and just using the filter for water movement. Is that a good idea?)

Anywho! Sorry for the rambling, can I have suggestions on where to put these? I have never worked with so many plants and I don't plan on doing a hardscape in here.
These are the plants I am getting:
Dwarf sagittaria- x5+ (Fore)
Crypt x4 (Mid/corner fore)
Hygro Corymbosa x3 (back)
Rotala bunch (anywhere)
Windelov Fern (Mid)
Dwarf sagittaria 5+ (Fore)
Water Sprite bunch (Corner back/mid)
Anarchis bunch (Mid)
Apontagon Sp. x2 small (Back Corner)
Anubias x1 (5 leaves)

Do the stems need to stay together in a group? Or should I space them out around the tank?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-11-2017 at 11:16 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 05:30 AM
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I would just keep the media no reason to remove it. Also unless you really want those Danios in your bigger tank, using Ammonia to cycle would be better.
Stems tend to look better planted in groups, but don't plant them too tightly that they choke each other out for light.


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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opare View Post
I would just keep the media no reason to remove it. Also unless you really want those Danios in your bigger tank, using Ammonia to cycle would be better.
Stems tend to look better planted in groups, but don't plant them too tightly that they choke each other out for light.


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I do want to keep them in my big tank. Someone is giving them to me so they're going to be quarantined for a month or so and then I'll get a pea puffer.
The danios won't be cycling the tank, it will be cycled instantly by the 'seeded' (used) media that already had beneficial bacteria. I never use fish to cycle a tank

How much space do you think I should keep between each stem, like a 1/2 inch or so?
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 05:38 PM
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I'm getting ready to start my 20 gallon Walstad tank as well. I'll be following this post closely and hope you don't mind if I ask questions as well for my own build and we can share ideas on this thread rather than starting a new one?

My current regular filtered 20 gallon tank houses for the past 1 year:
3 glass catfish
1 sunset gourami
2 black tetras
2 rainbowfish (I believe that's what they are but small variety no more than 2" max size)
2 Harlequin Rasbora
1 Bristlenose Albino Pleco (He's about full size 4.5-5" already, but I know I have to get rid of him and will not be putting him in new Walstad tank)

So I know I'm maxed out on my fish, and like I mentioned I'll be getting rid of Pleco but I really don't want to get rid of the others. I have a small 5 gallon tank in the attic was thinking of turning that into a Walstad tank as well for my daughters room, but can I put any of the fish from above in my 5 galloon to help offset the load on my 20 gallon?

New Walstad 20 gallon tank (16" tall x 24" wide x 12" deep) will include:
*2 - 20 watt flood LED lights 6500k (I just bought these https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
*1 - Penguin Bio-Wheel 150 (No filter going to use only Bio-Wheel or should I not use that? Using just to have some water movement)

I'm looking to put down 1.5" layer of Miracle-Gro Organic soil, 1" layer of Monterey beach sand on top of that. My question though is won't the sand be dangerous for the fish? Could they possibly eat the tiny sand and chock or get it stuck in their digestive system? Or should I not worry?

I like the list of plants you have and may follow you on that just because I have NO IDEA what plants to start with because of the million threads I've read and everyone mentions something different lol.

Looking forward to seeing and sharing pictures of this new adventure! Feel free to reach out to me anytime. GOOD LUCK!
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 07:32 PM
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First guy:

don't ditch your media... you need a bio filter. use the pre-seeded media to seed NEW media so your bio filter is established. don't just run a filter for water movement.

also don't plant stems in a bunch. you need to separate stem plants when you plant them so each stem has it's own little space (like 1" apart)

Second guy:

harlequin rasboras and tetras definitely need to be in larger groups. they will be happy if there are only 2 of them. I would pick one and get a group of like 5. also wouldn't add the pleco... he alone will basically cap out your bioload in a 20g. 4" pleco will cover the ground in poop daily by himself

1.5" thick of soil sounds like too much... I would look into that
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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@mihzyd77: Of course you can post ideas and questions, I don't mind at all. However, this forum is more for aquascaping so if you have more specific questions about stocking,lights etc. you might want to post your questions there so people with expertise can help out. The lights should be enough and I would keep the biowheel for water movement. The theory is (and I'm no pro but from what I've read) you want enough movement to create flow but not bubbles or anything that is going to break up the surface and cause lots of gas exchange with the air/surface since the plants need those gases/co2. Oh, and most sites say stick with 1" of dirt and mixing it 50/50 with 100% clay, fragrance free etc. cat litter will help prevent the substrate becoming anearobic. The sand is not a problem for the fish at all. Most catfish (I have cories in another tank) actually do much better on sand because it doesnt wear down or injure their barbels (wiskers )like gravel does.
@klibs: the reason I am going to remove the filter media is so the plants can do all of the work. From what I understand, keeping the media in the filter would almost defeats the purpose of a Walstad tank. They are supposed to be low tech to the point of only lights to grow the plants, a powerhead (using the filter until I get one) for water movements, and a heater if necessary.
Okay, that's what I was wondering in my last comment, I was unsure if 1/2" was enough.
So 1" of space between each stem it is. I'm really looking for opinions about where to put the plants based on peoples personal experience with them, like the other day someone pointed out they planted all stems in the back and an amazon sword in front but now its so big its blocking all the light for the dwarf sag so they have to move it.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 09:38 PM
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Klibs - Thanks for the response and info appreciate it.

ermpickle- Thank you as well. I hear ya on getting my post to the right forum topic, I think I got how to put it all together and stuff but my main concern right now is plants and how to plant them in there too, so I think I'm ok You did mention something I didn't think about which was the filter not breaking the water and causing gases to escape the water, the filter I have Penguin Bio-Wheel 150 moves a good amount of water and it pours it back into the tank somewhat hard and breaking the barrier unless I keep my water fill about 2 inches from the top then it just flows right into the water no like a waterfall. So can I use it you think as long as I keep water filled?

Thanks all again!
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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These are really helpful : Water movement in a Walstad tank - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central, Do I need a powerhead?
From what I understand you want enough gentle movement like a ripple to keep the water oxygenated. If you have to much like a air pump you risk removing the co2 that the plants need
I would keep it filled all the way up, that's what I plan on doing to just keep movement but not 'too much'
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 09:23 AM
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Tips for Scaping Walstad, El Natural, Tank?

The plants do different things from the media. The media house bacteria which converts ammonia from waste to (eventually) nitrate which plants then use. Plants can also use ammonia, but it is much better to have the media there to convert it to nitrate first. Like there is really no need to remove the media, you would just be removing it for removing its sake.
Regarding plants just plant them highest in the back and then get gradually shorter till the front as a general rule (just Google how tall your plants will get). Where certain plants will go etc. is all up to you, without seeing the tank and how it is looking at each moment after a change in the scape it can be hard to dictate plant placement.


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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ermpickle View Post
@klibs: the reason I am going to remove the filter media is so the plants can do all of the work. From what I understand, keeping the media in the filter would almost defeats the purpose of a Walstad tank. They are supposed to be low tech to the point of only lights to grow the plants, a powerhead (using the filter until I get one) for water movements, and a heater if necessary.
Yeah but if you already have a filter why would you just throw away most of your beneficial bacteria? What benefit does this provide? Having a tank without a bio filter will only makes things more difficult. I just don't understand why you would replace a filter with a powerhead.

My point is that removing filter media can only potentially cause problems while keeping it in could only benefit you...
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah but if you already have a filter why would you just throw away most of your beneficial bacteria? What benefit does this provide? Having a tank without a bio filter will only makes things more difficult. I just don't understand why you would replace a filter with a powerhead.

My point is that removing filter media can only potentially cause problems while keeping it in could only benefit you...
I understand where you're coming from because it's a very different way of doing things. It's just the whole point of a Walstad tank. No biofilter and very few water changes. Its self sustaining, I feed the fish, the fish feed the dirt, the dirt feeds the plants, the plants clean the water so the fish can keep feeding the dirt
Some people choose to use mechanical filtration only which is what I am doing right now until the water clears. And then the only filter will be the plants
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 02:58 PM
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Tips for Scaping Walstad, El Natural, Tank?

I'm pretty sure some Walstad tanks still run a filter, it's just not seen as crucial. Regardless if you have biological media there will always be biological filtration happening in your tank, that is the nitrogen cycle and just how stuff works. So you can't say you 'I don't have biological filtration', as that is one of the fundamental parts of aquariums in general, bacteria breaking down waste into nitrate, and YES this also is an integral part of Walstad tanks. The bacteria doesn't have to be in filter media it can be on the tank glass, soil (especially in the case of Walstad tanks), etc., regardless they will be there. The plants are not the only things doing the filtering.
The point klibs and I are trying to get across, is that the bacteria has to be there anyway so you might as well keep the bio-media which is housing a lot of it, rather than removing it for a frankly arbitrary reason, it is counter intuitive. It literally makes no difference where the bacteria is so you might as well keep the bio-media. Having bio-media won't suddenly make your tank unable to run as a Walstad tank does.
EDIT: I apologise if I came off as rude in this post I was kinda tired when I wrote this. Another thing you probably want to plant the Elodea canadensis (Anachris) and Rotala at the back cus they will get pretty tall.
Also consider a small piece of wood to attach the Java Fern and Anubias to. You can plant them in substrate but they just look better attached to hardscape IMO.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 04:37 PM
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My whole thing with the filter (I'm fine with keeping it with the Biowheel) is that I read somewhere online that with a hanging filter like my Penguin Bio-Wheel 150 you have to keep the water almost to top of tank because you don't want the water "Falling" into the tank and creating bubbles for 2 reasons: The first was when you introduce air bubbles from water that "falls" into
a Walstad tank it allows the water to release beneficial gases that get carried up and out through the bubbles. The second was falling water can cause a break in the "bio-film" that is created at the top of the tank which makes for a not as healthy Walstad tank.

Does that make sense? I'm new to all this so just looking for advice. I also read not to use air bubbles in Walstad tank because of the same reason of as the first above.

Thanks all!
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 04:43 PM
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^^^ this is exactly what I was getting at. you will have a good stock of bacteria in your filter then you will totally remove it hoping that the rest of the tank is fostering enough to sustain itself going forward. to me it sounds like this is a good way to mini-cycle your tank and cause problems (ammonia spikes) as there will be no guarantee that you'll be fine.

removing the filter literally provides no benefit so why not just keep it? if you want to try the tank without it, that's fine. I just don't understand the reasoning beyond 'it won't be a TRUE walstad tank'

Quote:
Originally Posted by mihzyd77 View Post
My whole thing with the filter (I'm fine with keeping it with the Biowheel) is that I read somewhere online that with a hanging filter like my Penguin Bio-Wheel 150 you have to keep the water almost to top of tank because you don't want the water "Falling" into the tank and creating bubbles for 2 reasons: The first was when you introduce air bubbles from water that "falls" into
a Walstad tank it allows the water to release beneficial gases that get carried up and out through the bubbles. The second was falling water can cause a break in the "bio-film" that is created at the top of the tank which makes for a not as healthy Walstad tank.

Does that make sense? I'm new to all this so just looking for advice. I also read not to use air bubbles in Walstad tank because of the same reason of as the first above.

Thanks all!
please explain these 'beneficial gases' you read about. I always thought it was GOOD to have gas exchange / surface agitation to continually introduce atmospheric gases into the water. i'd be interested to hear why this may not be the case

also always thought that buildup of biofilm is negative because it prevents the exchange of gases as mentioned before. that stuff is nasty and also looks gross imo. i just feel like i would be suffocating my fish in their own filth without gas exchange lol

what do you think this tank will look like in the end? like what is your end goal / expectations? if you ask me it will probably get nasty pretty easily. whatever floats your boat though. some people are into that kind of thing. I think tanks with minimal water movement / maintenance / water changes get gross and look ugly. they are more science experiments than nice-looking tanks most of the time. there are exceptions (difficult to achieve), but generally I am not a fan so I always preach more frequent water changes, more than enough filtration, surface agitation, etc...

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-13-2017 at 05:08 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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I mean all of this in the least rude way: I should have been more specific when I asked "After a week or two I'll take the media out and just using the filter for water movement. Is that a good idea?" I did not mean is it a good idea for me to remove it.. I meant is it a good idea for me to use it in the first place.
I created this thread to get advice on aquascaping not to only discuss filtration, that's why it is posted in the 'Aquascaping' section.
Opare I actually ended up putting the rotala in the back right corner and the anacharis along the back wall.
This is the tank now, it cleared up a lot last night but its still a hazy. If you have suggestions of where to move things, I'd love to hear them. The plants came a day early so I was rushing a little to set the tank up. Something looks off but I'm not sure what
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