Mary's 20 gal Walstad
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:27 AM   #1
redmary51
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Mary's 20 gal Walstad


Well, I was talked into doing a journal, so here goes.

Background:

I have had an aquarium for about 5-6 years with plastic plants. I was talked into trying a planted tank about Dec. 2010. I jumped in without knowing what I was doing. Someone told me just get some wisteria and stick it in the gravel, so I did. Then I got more plants. Then I got into a mess with brush algae. Someone on another forum (fjf888) helped me a lot by answering questions and pointing me to this forum. I started reading and got interested in the El Natural, bought Diana Walstad's book, and here I am.

This won't be very technical. I do very little water testing. (I will be checking for ammonia until this tank seems like it is doing ok.) That's why I liked the idea of this type of tank. No dosing to figure out, fewer water changes, etc.

Equipment:

It is a 20 gal high (24" x 12" x 16" high)
Fluval 104 filter
Two 18" strips of T8, 6500K lights
Sits in a southern facing window (living room)
50 watt heater

3/23/11 - starting the tank:

I didn't plan to do a journal, so I don't have any pictures of the various stages of setting the tank up.

I poured an 8 quart bag of Miracle Grow Organic Choice potting mix into the bottom of the tank and let it sit for 3 days while I was waiting for my plant order to arrive. Apparently I missed reading that I should have removed the wood chips. Oops!

When the plants arrived, I put about 1/2" of fine aquarium gravel on top of the dirt and, using a saucer, started putting water in. When the water was about an inch above the gravel, I started planting. What a mess! Some dirt and wood chips floated up every time I poked a hole to stick a plant in. It got hard to tell where I had already planted. I kept plugging away. After I got all the plants in, I added more water using the saucer.

The Plants:

water sprite
3 sagitaria subulata (I rec'd 5 but put 2 in another tank)
5 Italian vallisneria
2 cryptocoryn lutea
moneywort
java fern
red ozelot sword
rotala rotundiflora
cryptocoryne spiralis
lilaeopsis brasiliensis
lilaeopsis mauritius

I intended to move a bronze crypt and some wisteria too, but things got crowded.

When the water level was high enough to safely start skimming the junk off the top, I got to work with a net. After I had cleaned out as much as I could, I added water to the top and cleaned out some more junk.

At this point, I tied my java ferns to a piece of mopani wood (the wood had soaked for approx. a week) and placed it in the tank. I also put the hornwort in to float at this point. I got the heater in and moved the filter from the stocked tank where I had it running to preserve the beneficial bacteria when I cleaned out the 20 gal to get ready for this experiment.

I put another layer of gravel (more of the very fine, BB size, aquarium gravel mixed with very small rock-type aquarium gravel) around the plants and between them. This seemed to make it much easier to see what I had accomplished in the very cloudy water. I was happy with my placement.




There was a lot of dirt(??) floating that worked its way to the edges at the waterline. I managed to clean a lot of it away by trapping it with a paper towel. By the time I went to bed on 3/23/11, the water was looking much better and even better when I got up the next morning.

On my way home from work (3/24/11) I stopped and got two small opaline gouramis. When I got home, the water was quite clear and looked pretty good other than the color from more tannins leaching out of the mopani.

My husband asked me how to check the temperature because he couldn't figure it out on the thermometer I have attached to the front of the glass. Just by sticking my hand in, I could tell it was way too warm. I put an in-tank thermometer in and found out the temp was 86. (I had started out using a new 100 watt submersible heater which apparently was malfunctioning.) I floated the fish in my other tank and immediately siphoned a pail of water out and added a pail of cold water, again using the saucer. Whew, temp at 78! I took the heater out and put in my old trusty 50 watt, non-submersible.

I then took the necessary steps to get my fish in their new home and took another picture.



Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Today (3/25/11), the tops of some of the vals are brown and a crypt leaf looks like it melted, but overall, everything seems ok. I really hope I didn't cook the plants too much.

I already love having the tank in the living room. I can just look over and watch the fish whenever I am sitting.

Well, that's enough for now. If someone would be kind enough to walk me through the steps to post pictures from imageshack.com, I will get some in here.

Mary

Last edited by redmary51; 03-26-2011 at 03:09 AM.. Reason: hopefully adding photos
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:30 AM   #2
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Nice to see a natural tank.

Here's info on how to post images.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ta...ion-guide.html
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Old 03-26-2011, 01:50 AM   #3
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Great write up! I could imagine exactly what you were doing simply by the description you wrote. Others are very picture oriented and the thread mrgreen linked for you has great instructions for most of the hosting sites.

Welcome to the site! Subscribed to the thread so I can follow the progress on your tank.
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:32 AM   #4
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Thanks mistergreen. It wasn't easy because I am technological challenged, but I edited and added photo links. I thought I was actually posting photos, but at least people can see them. I'll try to do it the other way next time.

Mary
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:40 AM   #5
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Mary, you just click on 'embed this image' and then copy and paste the code for 'Forum' Like this:



I am glad to see another NPT tank joining the ranks. I saw your posts in wkndracer's tank and I've been making sure to keep an eye out for your journal. Close call on the temperature. Rip that one off the front and pitch it. They are better at telling you the room temperature than the tank temperature, anyway.

It looks really nicely setup and I can't wait to see it grow in. Subscribed. Oh, and welcome to the forum!
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:54 AM   #6
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Great description and great start on the tank! I Look forward to reading more posts.
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:57 AM   #7
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Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the assist with the picture. It looks much better with the actual picture in the post.

Actually, I don't believe it was the thermometer's fault. The temp went off the chart while I was at work. The heater is getting the boot!

Mary
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:04 AM   #8
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Glad to help. Heaters seem to be the most unreliable piece of equipment in planted tanks. I've had more problems with those than anything else I've owned.
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:11 AM   #9
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I like your gravel colour

My heater went OTT too, also at the plants but no fish stage luckily. It got up to 100F and none of the plants keeled over afterwards so you should be fine
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:03 PM   #10
redmary51
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Thanks for the confidence that the heat won't kill the plants.

3/26/11 update - I had my lights set for 5-4-5 with a 4 hour siesta. Yesterday I realized that the sun was coming thru the window very brightly during the siesta, so my plants were getting 14 hours of light. I'm rethinking that now. I'm sure I will get algae anyway, but I don't want to encourage it.

I changed the timer to 11:00 to 8:00 and they will just some extra rays during the part of the day where the sun comes thru the window.

Any thoughts on that? I know not every day will be sunny, but with summer coming up, hopefully most will.

Mary

Last edited by redmary51; 03-26-2011 at 05:26 PM.. Reason: correction
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:40 PM   #11
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8-10hrs with 10 being the average photo period on most of my systems.
If the sunlight drives algae to the point of being a problem you could place construction paper on the window side of the tank as a shade if needed.
HTH
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:15 PM   #12
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I have seen a few very small bubbles coming up from the substrate. So far, the ammonia is still zero.

Does anyone know if the tannins in the water inhibit the light from getting to the plants? I'm wondering if I should do a water change even if the ammonia is not a problem.

The opaline gouramis were acting real friendly last night. I thought I had gotten 2 females and they are a little less than 2 inches long, so I would think they are young. They were rubbing up against each other and one would kind of put its nose into the other's side, a kind of dance that went on for several minutes. I'm not ready to be a parent again! Don't they need special conditions to breed anyway? Hope I am wrong.

Mary
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:27 PM   #13
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if you don't like the tannins you could do water changes to remove them or use some activated carbon. i dont think a moderate amount will effect your light penetration, atleast it hasnt for me. your substrate bubbles should be fine as long as they don't stink like a sewer, which i doubt they would already.
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:55 PM   #14
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You can poke the substrate with a chop stick or meat fork if you see any bulges to release the gas pocket. Even with rank odor a couple of times it didn't hurt my fish and all that was early on in the beginning of the tank settling in. As long as you can see through the water well enough to enjoy the tank tannins shouldn't bother the plant growth.
HTH
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:32 PM   #15
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I can still see thru ok. I don't have any bulges yet. I do however have some hair (sp) algae that looks like a spider web. I expected algae, but not so soon.

I had planned to order some nerite snails and red cherry shrimp, so I guess I will do that now.

Mary
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