35g Walstad Venture
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
thisisriss
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35g Walstad Venture


Hello, All.

I recently became enamored with planted tanks after finding an old fish bowl in my grandparents house. I did a lot of lurking on this site, particularly on the Newman's Shrimp Bowl thread, and I loved the concept of a natural, Walstad tank. Fast forward a couple weeks and now i have 4 bettas: one in a 2.5 from Petco, one in the 3 gallon bowl I found, 1 in a planted 2.5 drum, and one in a 2.2 sun tea jar. After seeing so many beautiful tanks on this site though, and finding the PERFECT piece of driftwood while camping, I absolutely could not resist trying my hand at a larger, more established tank. I suppose I'm looking for advice in the form of setup suggestions, fish, plants, etc.

The Goal: A Walstad Naturally Planted Tank of 35 gallons, to house a betta sorority. Looking for this to be low maitenance, beginner-friendly, as I am quite a newb in these matters.

Materials Possessed:

35g tank:salvaged from my brother's old reef failure. It's old, and it had a leak and a very large mineral build up on the glass, but I've managed to restore it to a satisfactory level.

light system: i can't recall the exact wattage of these lights, but I know that they were quite top notch lights a few years back, as my parents still complain about price.

driftwood: a perfect specimen i found in a lake while camping. I had to hitch it to my kayak and drag it from the center of the lake, haha. It's been drying in the sun for a little over a week now. I'll need to cut it down for it to fit though.

Substrate: Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil. I bought a bag, to use as the bottom layer. I have some sand left over from my brothers old tank. Perhaps I should invest in some gravel?

Filtration I know the Walstad method doesn't exactly incorporate filtration, but it seems so odd not to have it. I was thinking perhaps to utilize it until the tank gets settled. Also, my tap water is very heavy in minerals, so mechanical filtration will be necessary. I have an old fluval canister filter. I don't know the model, however I do know that it runs perfectly fine with this tank.

Plants This is where I am very...spotty. I know that Ms. Walstad recommends a mixture of fast growing and slow growing plants, but again, I'm very new to the whole planted tank scene. I've noticed that my LFS does not have a very good selection of...anything, really. Suggestions on plants would be immensely appreciated. Oh! another thing...I read somewhere that you can collect wild plants and make them suitable by soaking them in a weak bleach solution. I was wondering if this would be advisable, because I live next to a creek and not far from a lake.

Specimens I really wanted to turn this into a sort of betta sorority, however I don't know how many I would be able to keep. I was thinking around 8? I already have 3 beautiful girls, although one of them is recovering from a very rough time...I was also thinking of some black mollies? Or maybe some neon tetras. Minnows would be fine too...Nothing flashy or delicate me thinks.

I'll post pictures when I can take them/figure out how to insert them. Thank you for any help/suggestions/tips/advice/comments!
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Old 07-21-2011, 04:06 PM   #2
firefiend
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I'm very new to the NPT method myself, though I've been keeping fish for a long, long time.

First, the bettas... you can only keep 1 male in the tank... in 35 gallons you might be able to keep two if they are both unsually docile... if it's a long and shallow 35 gallons yo'll have a better shot.

If you're bettas are female then you shold be okay with 5ish... sometimes them females can be a little snarky also! Since you said "sorority" I'm assuming you're going the female route. I know you're goal is 8 but I'd be hesitant to jump to that. I'd start with 5 and if the tank maintains stability and the fish get along okay, you can add another female every two months or so... at least, that's what I'd do.

Plant... you're local collection method sounds great. Also check the forums here for members with clippings they can ship to you. I haven't done this yet myself but I've been reading lots of happy trades and sales so I'm not hesitant to give it a go. there are also some online retailers that are good. I used Aquariumplants.com to get my 10g going and was pleased with the quality. You can also look for local groups and club via these forums and craigslist.

As far as what species to use, there is a great stickied list for low light plants. There is also the plant finder at Aquatic Plant Central. It has a great search feature. Also, take some time to look through the tank journals for tanks that match your set up. It's way worth the time.

Filtration... filters aren't used in the traditional way with NPT tanks. Water circulation is the goal here, plus it makes the temporary use of carbon and mechanical filtration (if needed) easier.
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Old 07-21-2011, 10:19 PM   #3
demonr6
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Low light plants I am successfully growing in a dirt tank are pigmy chain sword, aponogenton crispus, anubias petite, rotala rotundifola, pennywort, crypt wendtii and flame moss. I know, it sounds like a lot but it all works. Also any java fern should be fine in there so long as you keep the rizome above the substrate level. I would definitely say a resounding no to use any sand whatsoever for a saltwater tank. For starters the silica would be ill advised in a freshwater tank.. If you can swing it get pool filter sand or playsand which is much more fine so that would be a last resort. Word of advice, white sand gets nasty looking fast. It looks stunning for about two weeks then you say to yourself "gee I wish I went with black sand." Caribsea sells Tahitian Moon Sand which looks nice, you cannot see the yuk buildup as obvious as white sand. Heavily planted you should not need filtration but something to circulate the water would be good to have.
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:12 PM   #4
brooklyngal
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while I dont know much about planted tanks, I do know something about mixed bettas tanks and betta sororities...

I wouldnt try mixing males with females in anything less than a 4' tank with heavy planting and lots of surface vegetation and even then you'd have to get a hold of all exceptionally peaceful fish; IME anything less and you end up with lots of shredded fins on the male's part. I wouldnt try mixing even exceptionally peaceful males in anything less than a 6' tank with heavy planting, and you'd likely still end up with problems then.

as for a sorority, you will likely be able to get away with more than 8 girls. IME, once they set up their pecking order, their is little/no aggression, and what aggression their is isnt too bad, mostly mild chasing. I kept I think 6 in my 10g; started with 3 and introduced the others all together. a few torn fins at first, but I cant remember the slightest bit of aggression after the first month or so. of course, it will vary from tank to tank and the personality of the girls. I'd say 8-10 is a good sized group.

start off with 3-5, and then add them in clusters there-after. I'd advise against adding a single girl to the tank, and realize that with each new addition the hiarchy is thrown off.
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Old 07-22-2011, 05:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisriss View Post
Materials Possessed:
light system: i can't recall. but I know that they were quite top notch lights a few years back
Are the bulbs T8 or T5HO or T5NO which is important.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisriss View Post
Substrate: Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil. Perhaps I should invest in some gravel?
I use river sand ($3) over top soil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisriss View Post
Filtration I know the Walstad method doesn't exactly incorporate filtration, I have an old fluval canister filter. really.
Canister filters are the best. Sometimes you can good deals on them at EBay. Walstad doesn't have a filter but uses a UV sterilizer which is more costly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisriss View Post
Suggestions on plants would be immensely appreciated.
I read somewhere that you can collect wild plants and make them suitable by soaking them in a weak bleach solution.
Yes some do get plants from the wild. Solution is 12:1.
Easiest plants are ferns, anubias, Sagittaria subulata, and wisteria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklyngal View Post
I kept I think 6 in my 10g; started with 3 and introduced the others all together. a few torn fins at first,

Start off with 3-5, and then add them in clusters there-after. I'd advise against adding a single girl to the tank
Very interesting.
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