Walstad 55g Natural Planted Tank UPDATED: 1/9/12
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:43 PM   #1
dundee
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Walstad 55g Natural Planted Tank UPDATED: 1/9/12


Latest full tank shot 1/7/12:


Original start of thread:
This tread might have a slow start since I'm very busy right now with work. Currently, I'm collecting parts for my 55 gallon Walstad tank.

What's a Walstad tank? Check out Diana's book for more details: Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist

Basically, it's a low maintenance soil-based tank with no CO2. My personal theme for this project is going to be KISS aka "Keep It Simple Stupid" Not the band, I strongly dislike them, now AC/DC is a different matter and different subject for a different forum... =)

Moving on... Here is the basic outline for the tank:

Basic Equipment:
55 Gallon All Glass Aquarium
Fluval 405 Canister w/ DIY spray bar running only course foam. (Mechanical filtration & circulation only)
Marineland Stealth Heater (can't remember the wattage)

Substrate:
Miracle Grow Organic Potting soil
Flourite for cap.

Flora:
I'll get to that...

Fauna:
Defiantly Angels (I've been keeping them for 20+ years). Maybe Altums if I can find some...

Lighting:
OK so I've been doing tons of research into this area. And I initially ordered an All Glass Triple Tube T8 Florescent Strip, but it was on back order and I got impatient. So I changed my order to a 2x54w T5HO Hagen GLO with ZooMed UltraSun(6500K) and FloraSun(5000K) bulbs. I just received that today:



Very nice unit, built solid and is aesthetically pleasing, but I'm returning it because it's defective (turns on for 5 sec and shuts off). Plus it's too much light for this tank.

Remember the KISS concept? For what I'm trying to do I'd have to mount that light 12" above my tank and limit the photo period. Plus, mounted that high it would light up half the room too. So I'm exchanging it for the AGA Triple Tube:



Thanks PetSolutions!
With the AGA Triple Tube I can lay it right on top of the glass tops to reduce light outside the tank. I can also run three different bulbs for a nice spread spectrum. The plan is
- 1 Philips 5000K from Home Depot - cheap! =)
- 1 Philips 6500K from Home Depot - cheap! =)
- 1 AGA Full Spectrum 8000K (They come with the unit)

My other option was a single 54w T5HO, but then I would be limited to the spectrum from one bulb, so I think for my application the AGA Triple Tube T8 is the best choice... OK that's enough rambling for one post...

Last edited by dundee; 01-09-2012 at 06:41 PM.. Reason: Update picture
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:46 PM   #2
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Very nice plans, it will be interesting to see what the spectrum looks like with all the bulbs on.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:46 AM   #3
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great introduction and watching for it to develop
planning well by the looks of what you're listing.
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2in10 View Post
Very nice plans, it will be interesting to see what the spectrum looks like with all the bulbs on.
Yeah, the nice thing about T8's is they are cheap and readily available so I can try a bunch of different combinations for little $$$.
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
great introduction and watching for it to develop
planning well by the looks of what you're listing.
Thanks wkndracer! Your help is definitely appreciated!

Quick question - How many bags of Miracle Grow and Fluorite do I need for ~1.5" soil and ~1.5" cap in a 55 gallon tank?
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:34 AM   #6
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Nice start! Subscribed! I'm also running 3-T8's over my tank right now. I figured this might help you picking bulbs.

In order from front to back

6500k-9325k-6500k (what I use currently)


6500k-6500k-6500k


9325k-6500k-5500k


5500k-6500k-9325k


Just for reference, the 9325k looks almost exactly like the AGA 8000k. Their spectrum's are almost identical.
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dundee View Post
Thanks wkndracer! Your help is definitely appreciated!

Quick question - How many bags of Miracle Grow and Fluorite do I need for ~1.5" soil and ~1.5" cap in a 55 gallon tank?
LOL this stumps me! Exactly how much? I keep the substrates in 5g buckets after rinsing and drying it.

Plan on two bags but hold off on using a couple pounds for a 1" cap.
Wanting 1 1/2" in a capping layer I'd get 3 bags.
Save the extra for when you need touch up materials for the cap.
Even without a burp / eruption of soil sooner or later you will need to add on to the cap after trimming or moving plants.
Buying another bag of Flourite 2yrs. later the color of the crushed brick won't match LOL.
I hold a large ziplock bag of gravel back when I set the cap.

Using MG it comes in bags marked in Dry Qts., 16qt. (17.6L) gives me plenty of material.
After setting edge the dirt is added dry for about 1.5" when I have my palm pressing down firmly on it.
It looks like a lot more before you press it down putting it in dry.
I have not used more than this to date. 1 - 1/1/2" seems to work really well for me.
This year setting up a tank I added the nutrient kickers used by the MTS crowd sprinkling a layer on the glass before adding the soil.

Saw the comments you left in the Fraternity of Dirt thread and you're too kind Thank you.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Nice start! Subscribed! I'm also running 3-T8's over my tank right now. I figured this might help you picking bulbs.
Nice! I've started reading your spectrum thread... I should have read it before I bought some T8's at Home Depot. I just bought the Philips 5000k & 6500K they had. Not sure what model numbers... I'll check that later.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Using MG it comes in bags marked in Dry Qts., 16qt. (17.6L) gives me plenty of material.
Thanks, I just bought 24qt from Home Depot. I have a couple other tanks I can use it in...
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:15 AM   #10
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Ok so here's what we're working with:


The All-Glass 55g tank I bought new 5 years ago.
The Fluval 405 will be running on this tank.
The hoods and stand I got used on criagslist 5 years ago.
I'm going to get some glass cut to replace those ugly hoods.
The stand is solid wood and is showing some wear. So the plan is to paint it satin black to match the tank trim. I am also replacing the hinges and knobs with brushed aluminum parts.


This 29 gallon is my oldest tank. It's been everywhere with me. I have had it since 1995 I think. I'll initially just setup this up as a holding tank to age water. The water around here is pretty crappy. I also have a 20high and a couple boxes filled with random fish tank supplies. Oh and a Fluval 305...


I went to home depot!
- 2 Philips 48" 5000K T8s
- 2 Phillips 48" 6500K T8s
- 3 Bags of Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix
- 3 Cans of Satin Black spray paint (for the stand)
- 1 package of 220 grit sand paper (to prep the stand)

Last edited by dundee; 09-19-2011 at 01:34 PM..
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:49 AM   #11
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Planning seems quite solid. This should look like new when you are finished with it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:14 AM   #12
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I can't get over how neat & clean your trunk is - lol
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:26 AM   #13
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I can't get over how neat & clean your trunk is - lol
Yeah I'm a little OCD about my car... =)
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:30 AM   #14
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Alright question time... What color substrate cap should I use? This is going to be a black background tank with a black stand... so black Fluorite? Maybe natural red mix? Maybe Eco-Complete? Hell... maybe pool filter sand? What do you guys think? I'm getting the itch to order more stuff! =)
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:55 AM   #15
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I just spray painted that EXACT stand black for a 75g NPT I set up today. The guy I bought it from emailed me he wanted it back after he saw a pic of it painted black. You won't be disappointed, it turns out great. I used 2.5 cans, the last half of the can I used to spray paint the back of the tank.

I went with some old mineralized top soil I had laying around, and capped it with Flourite Black. It took me no time to rinse the black Flourite, not anywhere as dusty as the brown Flourite. Water is a little cloudy, but not bad at all.

Good luck with this tank...
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