Khennessy's 10g Walstad-inspired tank (first planted tank!)
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Old 01-12-2014, 04:08 AM   #1
khennessy
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Khennessy's 10g Walstad-inspired tank (first planted tank!)


As a kid I kept a couple of aquariums. In hindsight, I was doing _everything_ wrong. About a year ago I was inspired to restart an aquarium, and picked up this ten gallon off a friend. So we tossed some gravel, a few plastic plants, and a rock. While it was nice, it definitely didn't have the "natural" look I was seeking. I started researching, and decided to give plants a shot.
I am currently working on a 55 gallon, but in the meantime, we decided to convert our established 10 gallon into a Walstad-inspired planted tank.

Before shot:


So, I netted our three Zebra Danios, drained the tank, and we set to work. We first sifted the soil through a cheap colander to remove the large pieces of sticks/bark/debris.



We poured the sifted soil into the bottom of the tank and added enough water to make a thick milkshake-like consistency. The dirt is approximately 1-1.5 inches deep.



I added a gravel cap (again, approximately 1-1.5 inches deep, a nice piece of driftwood found at our LFS, and got planting.

Here's a (crappy) shot on setup:



Lighting is the hood that came with the aquarium doctored up with some 3M foil tape to direct the light into the water more efficiently.



Bulb is a GE 15w "daylight" T8 6500k

I've been testing the water daily since set it up. I used the mature media from the HOB filter and about 50% of the water drained from the tank. So far the parameters have remained stable. I will continue to test the water daily, monitoring for an ammonia spike from the soil decomposition.

This morning I was checking out the tank a bit, and noticed what appeared to be eggs sticking to the leaves of the Cabomba.




I watched the fish a bit, and it appears as if they are spawning! In the three months that we've had them, they have never spawned. I don't really think any of the fry will live (the filter, the cannibalistic parents...), but if anyone has some suggestions, I would love to have a few more Zebras for when we set up the 55 gal!

If anyone is curious, we don't plan to keep the zebras in this little tank. I think they'll be happier in the 55gal, once it's set up.

Today I took the charcoal out of the filter cartridge so that the DOC stays in the aquarium. I know this tank will be hazy for a bit. I didn't soak the driftwood. From my understanding, it is not dangerous to the fish, but purely aesthetic. I did one water change (yesterday) to help dissipate some of the haze.

I got a few better shots this evening with our "real" camera.







I plan on getting a black background (the LFS was out the other day!) in the near future. I'm also realizing that I should have added clay into the soil when I set it up. Would it be okay to "plant" some small pieces of clay into the soil now?

Please share your thoughts, especially regarding what I can do if I'd like to keep a few of eggs (is it too late?)
Also, I'm curious about what those of you low-tech/non CO2 people do as far as lighting (siestas, in particular).

Flora:
watersprite (floating)
Broad Leaf ludwigia
Water Wisteria
Microsword
Cabomba
Amazon Sword
Java Fern

Fauna:
Three Zebra Danios (seemingly, 2 males, one female)

Namaste!
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:00 AM   #2
khennessy
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No thoughts? Bummer.
Today the ammonia jumped to 0.25 ppm. I did a 50% water change. The water is clearing up really nicely.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:02 AM   #3
zetvi
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That's the pest snail eggs, remove it immediately, hope its not too late!! But yes for the first time dirt a tank, you did a great job!
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:54 AM   #4
khennessy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zetvi View Post
That's the pest snail eggs, remove it immediately, hope its not too late!! But yes for the first time dirt a tank, you did a great job!
Thanks! I looked for the eggs today on the Cabomba, and they're gone! I wonder if they were eaten or hatched? I guess we'll find out soon! In regards to the Danios--I really think they spawned. I saw eggs floating about in the tank, and they were definitely acting different. After some research, I imagine that none of the Danio fry will survive, but who knows?

Today I "planted" little balls of red clay into the soil. In doing so, I clouded the water a little. I re-tested the water, and the ammonia is back to 0. I opted out of a water change for the haziness tonight. Our toddler seems to have caught some crazy illness and was out of sorts all evening. I think some of the haze will settle overnight anyway. I also applied a black background, which makes the tank look pretty sharp.
Some of the microsword has died back and is looking a little weak. I'm hoping it's just part of the initial die off, and it starts to grow back! The watersprite we have floating is growing like wildfire, and has a 2" stem already poking out of the water!
Yesterday I programmed the timer as well. I have it set for the light to be on from 8a-1p, 4 hour siesta, and then on from 5p-10p (10 hours of lamp time). It is positioned nearly across from a southern-facing window, so it also sees a good amount of natural sunlight.
I love passing my tank a few times in the day, peering in, and observing new growth.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:02 AM   #5
magnum
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Those eggs look similar to ramshorn eggs and which I and others would not consider a pest. If the eggs have disappeared they have most likely hatched. Do some research before you decided you don't want them as an inhabitant.

As for the potential danio fry, you'd be hard pressed to raise fry in the same tank as the parents especially in a tank that isn't very dense with plants. You're better served setting up a small breeder tank if you're really interested in fry.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:24 AM   #6
peachii
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Looks very good for a first time soil planted effort. You will also have leaching of tannins from the soil for a little while as well as the driftwood. Sometimes a heavy amount of tannins can drop your PH a bit but usually not to badly. I hated snails when the first batch hatched on my first plants but I absolutely love them now and have all different colors, species and kinds in every tank in the house. They amuse me almost as much as shrimp to watch.
Good luck and can't wait to see how it develops.
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:02 PM   #7
khennessy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnum View Post

As for the potential danio fry, you'd be hard pressed to raise fry in the same tank as the parents especially in a tank that isn't very dense with plants. You're better served setting up a small breeder tank if you're really interested in fry.
That's what I figured. >.< Oh well. As of now, this is my only tank at this point. I figured they were doomed after I did a little reading.

I'll keep my eyes out for snails. There were plenty of ramshorn snails in the tanks that I got my plants from at the LFS. I guess I'm off to learn about them. I certainly am not opposed to a small population of snails in the tank.
As for the pH, it has dropped with the plants/driftwood. It has gone from 7.8-8 to 7.4. Our town has some pretty hard, basic water.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone!
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