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Old 09-02-2010, 02:02 PM   #1
slb
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Default 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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Old 09-02-2010, 02:11 PM   #2
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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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Old 09-02-2010, 03:21 PM   #3
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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
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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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
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:47 PM   #5
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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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Old 09-02-2010, 03:52 PM   #6
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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!
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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Old 09-02-2010, 06:41 PM   #7
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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!

Yea I keep looking for the giant co2 tank at my lake,,I know its hidden somewhere.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:14 PM   #8
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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!


You mean plants actually live in nature without Aquasoil and someone changing the CO2 tank once a month.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:49 PM   #9
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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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Old 09-02-2010, 06:34 PM   #10
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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
I use a simple hang on garden hose to the shower for filling, draining goes outside for irrigating, but you can drain right down the tub also, no buckets, no water spills etc.

If she really wants them, make her do the work.

You do not need, nor should do water changes if you do the method I suggested there, read it, Diana's suggestion is the same as well, no water changes. Nothing builds up much because plants remove it, the rates of growth are very slow, so the demand for ferts is also correspondingly low.

Discus could be done, but it'd be under stocked or perhaps something more like this but at 135 gal to 300 gallon scale:

Then you could do water changes or not as long as the fish load/feeding was moderately low relative to total tank volume/plant biomass.

Problem is.......many over load the fish and then wonder they have health and plant/algae problems.




Regards,
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:14 PM   #11
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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

Regards,
Tom Barr
Tom (or someone familiar with his non-soil method)

I read the link and some of your other forums. Thanks for pointing me to it. Being a newbie, I'm still a little confused. Tom mentions onyx sand, leonardite, and peat. How thick of layer do I need of each and in what order? And, can I put my decorative gravel on top or will that disrupt the system?

Also, wouldn't peat have the same issues with NH4 as soil?
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by slb View Post
Tom (or someone familiar with his non-soil method)

I read the link and some of your other forums. Thanks for pointing me to it. Being a newbie, I'm still a little confused. Tom mentions onyx sand, leonardite, and peat. How thick of layer do I need of each and in what order? And, can I put my decorative gravel on top or will that disrupt the system?

Also, wouldn't peat have the same issues with NH4 as soil?
No, it's just one method adds ferts to the sediment, the other to the water column.

I took the assumption that water column ferts do not lead to algae.
This was shown to be correct for CO2 and non CO2 enriched aquariums.

Now.........this does not imply you should not use both of these locations for ferts either:ico n_excl

You can use either or, or you might use both, we all use both to some degree, but in general........we often go with one or the other.
Hopefully that attitude will change and more will use BOTH locations.

Peat has little nutrients in and of itself.

I would opt for ADA AS or a good clay top soil that's been washed, or Worm compost that's been boiled about 10 minutes in water, then dried and worked into some sand, say 2-3mm size with a 2-3" cap.

Those are 3 options, some use a thin layer, say 5-8 grams per square ft of osmocoat.

They all add similar things.

Some floating plants are a good idea, since they can mop up any excess and block intense light and do not require added CO2. But say 10-20% coverage only.

Regards,
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:54 PM   #13
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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?
As well as "Total Liquid Concentrate" (with no analysis, due to trade secretes)
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:18 PM   #14
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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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Old 09-02-2010, 02:23 PM   #15
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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.
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