2.5 gallon walstad bowl setup - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-19-2020, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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2.5 gallon walstad bowl setup

Hi everyone! I have a 2.5 gallon bowl that I wasn't sure what to do with, but I am now leaning towards turning this bowl into a walstad setup. How does my idea sound?

Bowl; The aforementioned 2.5 gallon bubble bowl, with 1 inch organic soil under 1 inch turface (I considered 1.5 inches of each, but I suspect that would take up too much space)

Light; 400 lumen LED bulb. I will use a siesta photoperiod (so about 4-5 hours on, 5 off, 4-5 on) to improve CO2 levels. (On a side note...would there be any benefit to such a 'siesta' period on my CO2 injected tanks?)

Filter; I will be installing a simple air lift tube (basically an undergravel filter) that will circulate water in a circular flow through the tank.

Fertilizers; No nitrate or phosphate most likely. I will dose a weak micronutrient dose once a week.

Setup; The tank will be dry started for the first month to allow the plants and beneficial bacteria to establish and fill in before the tank is flooded. For the first month, the tank will receive two 20% water changes a week; the next month it will receive a weekly water change; after that it will receive a water change every four weeks.

Thanks
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Last edited by Grah the great; 08-19-2020 at 08:31 PM. Reason: Minor formatting fix
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 01:45 PM
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Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
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75g...medium tech...?
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Crazylegs78 View Post
Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
No benefit for high tech tanks then? OK. Good to know that that I have some semblance of an idea what I am doing I was going to dose some potassium bicarbonate in the new WC water, along with the GH (in the form of calcium chloride dihydrate and epsom salt) and perhaps some baking soda (as a cheaper KH source...potassium bicarbonate seems to be many times costlier per pound than baking soda, at least online).

On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
No benefit for high tech tanks then? OK. Good to know that that I have some semblance of an idea what I am doing I was going to dose some potassium bicarbonate in the new WC water, along with the GH (in the form of calcium chloride dihydrate and epsom salt) and perhaps some baking soda (as a cheaper KH source...potassium bicarbonate seems to be many times costlier per pound than baking soda, at least online).

On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
What is your pH and KH? If your KH is above 4 then I see no need to raise it with carbonates/bicarbonates. If you add these to your tank daily, the KH as well as your pH will continue to rise.

If your GH is soft, then you can follow Ms. Walstad's water hardness recipe. It'll raise your GH without affecting your pH and KH.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.

75g...medium tech...?
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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What is your pH and KH? If your KH is above 4 then I see no need to raise it with carbonates/bicarbonates. If you add these to your tank daily, the KH as well as your pH will continue to rise.

If your GH is soft, then you can follow Ms. Walstad's water hardness recipe. It'll raise your GH without affecting your pH and KH.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazylegs78 View Post
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.

Bump:

Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.
KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.

EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?

Last edited by Grah the great; 08-20-2020 at 08:33 PM. Reason: Little edit
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.
That is some soft water! I now understand your concerns! Yeah, I wouldn't think many freshwater plants would evolve that adaptation since freshwater has comparatively higher free CO2. You are pushing the envelope of my aquarium chemistry knowledge/experience here, so I'm going to respectfully bow out. Good luck!
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-20-2020, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazylegs78 View Post
Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
I schedule siesta periods for my high tech tanks for the benefit of my viewing, one in the morning hours and one in the evening. Having a continuous photo period starting in the afternoon hours is useless to me as Iím typically not home to enjoy, and I like to view and feed my fish early in the morning and again in the evening. As to whether a siester period will make plants grow better or worse I donít know but feeding fish twice a day will benefit their growth. Anglers know fish bite more in dawn and dust and why not plants be hungrier then.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-21-2020, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.

EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?
Wow! You have really soft water! Mine is almost liquid rock with a GH of around 28 and a KH of 14. Lol The recipe will only raise your GH. It won't affect your KH. Carbonates and bicarbonates will increase the KH for you. Since my water is hard, trying to increase these levels is something I've never had to do.

The main concern for freshwater tanks when it comes to KH is to keep your pH stable. With your low KH, you run the risk of your pH crashing which can kill your inhabitants. Other than that, aside from CO2 and nitrogen, the GH will provide the plants with much needed calcium, magnesium, etc.

Now as for your last paragraph, I'm sorry to say that I can't help you with that. My tank is a Walstad tank so I don't add fertilizers to it because extra fish food supplies the nutrients needed for the plants.
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Wow! You have really soft water! Mine is almost liquid rock with a GH of around 28 and a KH of 14. Lol The recipe will only raise your GH. It won't affect your KH. Carbonates and bicarbonates will increase the KH for you. Since my water is hard, trying to increase these levels is something I've never had to do.

The main concern for freshwater tanks when it comes to KH is to keep your pH stable. With your low KH, you run the risk of your pH crashing which can kill your inhabitants. Other than that, aside from CO2 and nitrogen, the GH will provide the plants with much needed calcium, magnesium, etc.

Now as for your last paragraph, I'm sorry to say that I can't help you with that. My tank is a Walstad tank so I don't add fertilizers to it because extra fish food supplies the nutrients needed for the plants.
Funny enough, in most PH crashes, it is the large changes in the KH that stress/kill fish...PH changes are relatively benign by comparison so long as they don't fall so far that the fish cannot survive the new Ph level at all (IE a mbuna tank falling into the 4's). People with high tech tanks regularly have the PH shift by 1 or more over the day due to the CO2 coming on and off, but since nothing else changes that does not bother the fish and inverts in such tanks so long as the PH does not dip below their tolerance range (my 'high tech' tanks all use yeast reactors, so these regular shifts do not occur for me...the only time they might occur is when I switch out a reactor for a new one every 2 weeks, but since I always do that after the photoperiod ends the plants are not obviously affected). Not to say I am skipping the KH (which many animals need anyway)...after all, most animals appropriate for such a small walstad tank as this (neocaridina shrimp, Heterandria formosa, snails, etc) need the KH to osmoregulate, and in a low CO2 environment like a walstad tank many plants are likely to resort to using carbonates as a carbon source (and thus removing KH from the water)
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-21-2020, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Grah the great View Post
EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?
I prefer a nutrient starved tank to a high nutrient tank, specifically with respect to nitrate and phosphate. This may be from my reef tank experience, but it seems to carry over to freshwater plants more or less. When I dosed full recommedned EI for my tank, Algae and disfigured leaves on some plants were big issues. I now only dose potasium sulfate and micros and have no issues at all. In my opinion, correcting a nutrient defficiency is much easier than correcting for excessive nutrients, especially once certain algae becomes established. I guess moving slowly either way would be key.
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Thanks for all the input so far! Here is one bulb I am considering for this bowl; https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-...6621/311192955

It is a little brighter than I had planned...500 lumens for one of these bulbs (for comparison, my two 5 gallon high tech CO2 tanks both have a 430 lumen, 3000k undercabinet light on them...not very bright, but it is supporting good growth on both tanks). Is that an OK amount of light, or should I get something weaker? (Alternately, I have some 50% shade cloth I could use as part of the lid, OR I could make the lighting periods a little shorter - perhaps 3-3.5 hours with a 4-5 hour siesta between them)

EDIT: Since this bowl is so small and is not going to be CO2 injected, do I even need to have an air pump or any other kind of circulation in it?

Last edited by Grah the great; 08-21-2020 at 06:38 PM. Reason: Forgot a question
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-21-2020, 07:18 PM
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I'd go with more soil, like 1.5 inches.

Good luck!
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-21-2020, 08:34 PM
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EDIT: Since this bowl is so small and is not going to be CO2 injected, do I even need to have an air pump or any other kind of circulation in it?
I'd say no. With my type of setup, circulation is optional because you don't want to take the chance of losing CO2 due to any surface agitation. There are, however, some benefits to adding circulation like it spreads heat and nutrients evenly around the tank.

If you do add circulation, make sure it's a very gentle flow.
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I'd go with more soil, like 1.5 inches.

Good luck!
Thanks! So an inch and a half of soil under an inch of turface?

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Originally Posted by MintyFresh View Post
I'd say no. With my type of setup, circulation is optional because you don't want to take the chance of losing CO2 due to any surface agitation. There are, however, some benefits to adding circulation like it spreads heat and nutrients evenly around the tank.

If you do add circulation, make sure it's a very gentle flow.
Do you think I could add an electrical timer so that the air pump is only running at night or perhaps during part of the siesta period?

EDIT: I have some plant ideas for this bowl...how do these sound?
- Hygrophila difformis
- Cryptocoryne wendtii
- Christmas moss
- Riccia fluitans (floating...can this plant be dry started?)

Are there any plants (perhaps to replace the hygro) that would turn at least somewhat red in a walstad setup? Also, during the dry start, should I mist the christmas moss (which, of course, would have no roots) with a weak nutrient solution instead of the RODI water I would mist the other plants with in the morning?

Last edited by Grah the great; 08-21-2020 at 10:49 PM. Reason: More questions
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