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Old 01-12-2013, 05:19 AM   #31
bigbassbob
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From what I have read about the walstad method and the scientific concepts behind it I believe you will be fine as long as you set it up properly. I am no expert by any means and would never claim to be one even if I had a phd. I am, however, a fisheries biology major in college. The walstad method relies on the same basic biochemical processes as found in nature. The whole point of an over planted natural tank is to mimic nature. We, however, as hobbyists can't fully mimic all of the growing and living biological organisms and nitrogen "fixers" and wouldn't want to. Most of the nitrogen fixation is done by Cyanobacteria and green algae. Who wants green algae bloomed water in their tank. On the flip side of the hobby, many reef tanks incorporate a refugium where algae growth is encouraged for this very reason. This is a concept that the walstad method and aquaponics enthusiasts use to they advantage. Most plants can't take up the free nitrogen or ammonia (NH3 and NH4) but nitrifying bacteria can and does and it produces a form of nitrogen that the plants can use. There are full scale aquaponic farms in Australia that never have to do water changes because the plants take up all of the nitrates and nitrites. From what I have gathered about walstad's method of planting a tank it is nothing more than a submerged aquaponic system. In short, so long as you set up the tank in the method described by Dr. Walstad than not only should you be fine but you have a low maintance beautifully planted tank.

Last edited by bigbassbob; 01-12-2013 at 05:28 AM.. Reason: Grammar errors. And additions.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:59 AM   #32
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Dang old threads...........

Bigbassbob, refigiums are more like plant filters for the freshwater people. Large macro algae mimic the fresh water plants in many ways, and then there are 40 odd species of seagrasses as well.
Unlike most reef people, the Fresh water p[eople use the plants as the scape, not just a utilitarian approach. A refuge can look very very nice or a planted marine tank can look as good all on it's own, it's not that popular, but you can find plenty of Reef Central forums.
ATS, use small microphytic algae and these can work on FW and Marine systems easily but they can be somewhat problematic for fresh water planted tanks.

Many, if not most planted tanks require additional NO3 from salts like KNO3. Fish waste alone cannot supply it. Even no CO2 tanks run low on NO3 IME.
Plants can and do take up NH4 from the water. Likely a typo on your part(I've been known to many plenty of those!). N2 gas they cannot take up, only bacteria can do that job for them.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:55 AM   #33
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Tom, may I ask a few questions on your comments?

A good fish load can suffice as water column dosing also in a non CO2 soil tank.

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.

Very newbie-basic questions, but I only came over from the dark side (aquarium gravel and plastic plants) since finding this site. I added plants thinking it would make life more pleasant for the fish, but without knowing why.

So on the first comment; A good fish load can suffice as water column dosing also in a non CO2 soil tank.
I have non CO2 dirt tanks, low/medium light (par). One of the things that always gets me confused when I read about ferts is the macro/micro difference, and what wouldn't be supplied by the soil, fish, or the osmocote tabs I use for my crypts and swords. So unless my plants show obvious nutrient deficiencies, I don't need to do water column ferts? (which I don't now). I pair my plant selections to match my lighting, so I don't have to fight that battle. But how do I determine when I've found the right fish load?

Which leads into; 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. How does one know when they hit that magical balance? Will it be because the water tests will show no accumulating ammonia/nitrites and the nitrate readings stabilize? I still have a heavy fish ratio to plants, but I am adding plants as I can. In the meantime it just means more frequent water changes. However the last few times I've done water changes in my 125, the readings have been identical both before and after the w/c. (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 40 nitrate.) Some tell me the nitrate is too high - so I keep doing water changes - some tell me it's ok because of my pH. (6.8) I should add that I also have a Hamburg Mattenfilter as well as a Marineland Emperor 400 HOB in the tank, and behind the HMF I have bundles of Matrix bio media. I'm sure that adds to my nitrification bacteria, helping to compensate for my current light plant-to-fish ratio. The 125 tank also has 1/3 surface coverage due to floating Brazilian Pennywort.

I hope this isn't a thread hijack - I thought it might help others if they have the same questions! Now I'm off to check out the Barrreport link

Thank you for your time ~
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:57 AM   #34
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Wow! I didn't notice how old the thread was! LOL Sorry!
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:10 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slb View Post
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)
Yes. There's a website dedicated to this. It's called Natural Aquariums. Some use soil, some use plain gravel. Most don't use filters. Some use plain gravel, no filter, and just sunlight for lighting.

I used to have a 29 gallon tank that got several hours of afternoon sunlight, plain gravel, old full spectrum lights, no filter and it was pretty. Clearest water I ever had. There's a pic of it in the Luscious Low Tech thread if you search my name. It was jungle-like because I liked it that way, but I suspect you could neaten one up easily enough.

Oops, I just saw the previous post about the age of this thread. Sorry too!

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Old 01-12-2013, 08:54 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by EntoCraig View Post
In my opinion their really is no 'BEST' method. Some tanks and plant respond better to certain methods.

No need to fix what isn't broken right?
1 had 3 tanks together with 1 light over them. The tank in the middle had BBA. All 3 were set up the same with nutrients dosed.

1 thing I have done, which was told is in her book, is have a siesta period (4hrs off)with my lights. This helps control algae for allows Co2 to build up.

Also you have to consider what plants you have. Some require a rich substrate. Also substrate peeters out in a year at the most.

It it works don't fix it.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:14 PM   #37
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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 07-16-2013, 05:35 PM   #38
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just adding my thoughts since i too found a lot of resistance before going dirt, a thin layer is great about 1" no more, or even 3/4 capped with gravel, i used activ flora gravel just as an extra pop.

if you mineralize the soil first you do get over that initial bloom where the organic material is broken down, or if you just plant super heavily as i did the first time you get over it that way i never had any algae issues beyond the smallest amount, which the bristlenose loved.

mineralize the top soil by putting it on a tarp outside or in a greenhouse if you can, water it let it really dry then water it again, this activates the process of break down and improves the quality very significantly according to people who use this a lot, its my first time doing it this time for the 90g and i can see why it will make a lot of difference.

but i think you will LOVE the results with dirt, save a tonne of money and never look back ! i was able to run very low lights and extremely heavy planted tank with a lot of fish in there and everyone looks super happy and healthy, i waited a week before adding fish. lots of water changes if you dont mineralize the soil, because there will be excess nutrients and while the plants are settling in you need to get rid of that algae fodder ! but again i had never ever gotten a plant to live before going dirt, and i will never go back now !
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:39 PM   #39
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my first attempt ever

i dirted it with 1" dirt topped with gravel (because it said instant cycle and thats just not true, it really helped though, and it is good gravel for plants)

i did a water change a day for a week then added fish then did small water changes for another week or so and now i do one a week and top it up often. no co2 low lighting and i am in love with the results ! i do add root tabs now and im in month 4-5 i think.
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Old 07-17-2013, 04:10 AM   #40
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Im running 5 NPT/Walstad tanks, most are under 5 gallons. I get great growth and have 1 tank with very prolific WCMs. If your really worried you could start with a small bowl I guess.
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Old 07-18-2013, 04:48 PM   #41
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The only thing I've changed about Walstad's method is more frequent water changes. It's not flawed, it's just different.

I know it's an old thread but still.
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Old 07-18-2013, 05:29 PM   #42
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You mean plants actually live in nature without Aquasoil and someone changing the CO2 tank once a month.
Sandy loam clay is what rice paddies grow on, so there is ADA soil laying there in nature, darn near the same stuff, but it's processed and rolled into grains and fired slightly to make a nice crust to prevent cloudiness.
CO2 can/comes from underground caves/springs etc, and we find the best nicest looking plant growth in such locations. CO2 is still there even if not enriched with a gas tank.......and is often limiting for denser plant beds in natural systems.
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Old 07-18-2013, 05:43 PM   #43
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Tom, may I ask a few questions on your comments? Very newbie-basic questions, but I only came over from the dark side (aquarium gravel and plastic plants) since finding this site. I added plants thinking it would make life more pleasant for the fish, but without knowing why. So on the first comment; A good fish load can suffice as water column dosing also in a non CO2 soil tank.
I have non CO2 dirt tanks, low/medium light (par). One of the things that always gets me confused when I read about ferts is the macro/micro difference, and what wouldn't be supplied by the soil, fish, or the osmocote tabs I use for my crypts and swords. So unless my plants show obvious nutrient deficiencies, I don't need to do water column ferts? (which I don't now). I pair my plant selections to match my lighting, so I don't have to fight that battle. But how do I determine when I've found the right fish load?
You do not need to add ferts with a dirt style tank, but doing so in small amounts poses no issues I've seen in a well run non CO2 tank. NO3 will run low after about 1-2 years and then more fish feeding will help offset that.
Some dose GH booster once in awhile or Traces.
Not required, but can make the plants a bit nicer.

Fish load: I tend to suggest an overabundance of algae eaters which will also eat left over food. I use common sense here and experience.

I'd not add 6 Discus to a 40 Gallon tank, I'd maybe add 20 nice tetras or 10 rainbows etc. Then a bunch of shrimp, algae eaters etc.

Quote:
Which leads into; 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. How does one know when they hit that magical balance?
There's no magic.

You simply use common sense and error on the lower side and then progressively add more fish/food and see. Plants will tell you. Yellowing leaves on emergent pennywort for example, time to add more N.
Nice green color= things are doing well.

Gardening is common sense based really. Watch. Observe.

Quote:
Will it be because the water tests will show no accumulating ammonia/nitrites and the nitrate readings stabilize?
Pretty much, assuming your N testing methods are correct.
N can be anywhere from the single digits to 40 ppm etc without any issues.
Main thing is that they do not have large swings.
Most times, in non CO2 systems, they run low, not high, but if you over load the fish and under load the plants.......well.............

Common sense, set things up so you have to add more N, not remove it.

Quote:
I still have a heavy fish ratio to plants, but I am adding plants as I can. In the meantime it just means more frequent water changes. However the last few times I've done water changes in my 125, the readings have been identical both before and after the w/c. (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 40 nitrate.) Some tell me the nitrate is too high - so I keep doing water changes - some tell me it's ok because of my pH. (6.8) I should add that I also have a Hamburg Mattenfilter as well as a Marineland Emperor 400 HOB in the tank, and behind the HMF I have bundles of Matrix bio media. I'm sure that adds to my nitrification bacteria, helping to compensate for my current light plant-to-fish ratio. The 125 tank also has 1/3 surface coverage due to floating Brazilian Pennywort.
Sounds like you have too many fish frankly, if you have 1/3 area coverage with a floating pennywort, you likely need to change things if the NO3 is in fact 40 ppm. You can use that plant as a good indicator of plant health and N.

Quote:
I hope this isn't a thread hijack - I thought it might help others if they have the same questions! Now I'm off to check out the Barrreport link

Thank you for your time ~
The article I did on non CO2 is specific to not having soil as the basis, rather, water column ferts. Same general approach, but dosing once a week with a small dose of ferts, basically 1/10 to 1/20th EI.

This way, folks can use plain sand etc, but a mix of both sediment and water column yields the best results IME. Which is also true for land plants.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:47 PM   #44
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Im looking to run filter-less in my 2.5 gal tank here at work. There is plenty of light and I have a white fluorescent cfl bulb in the hood. Right now I have about an inch and a half of black sand and some water wisteria and a marimo ball. I have a Marble Gene Betta and 2 Dwarf African frogs. I know I would need other plants but not sure about the soil. I don't use potting soil at home. I use Peat moss with vermiculite and compost added. Really don't want to go buy a fancy soil from the store, but Im afraid of adding general potting soil to the tank whether it has fertilizers added or not. Any advise would be helpful.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:09 AM   #45
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Im looking to run filter-less in my 2.5 gal tank here at work. Any advise would be helpful.
You should start your on thread on this so as to not hijack the thread.

Here are some filter-less tanks.
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