Abbeysdad's 60g Journey in time
The back story:
In and out (mostly in) of the hobby for the past 50 years. In my teens and 20's I had a small fishroom with 8 tanks (6-10g, 1-20g, 1-29h). Life took me away a time or two, then Abbey won a goldfish at a fair which led to a few goldfish in succession, then a transition to tropical fish. About 8 years ago I went to Petsmart to get a hood/light to setup my 29h, but instead came home with a 60g Marineland set (tank, stand, lights and bought heaters filter and plastic decor).
I set it up old school with just a few fish and I was off and running. In time I added more fish and was doing 50% water changes from my country well. The fish didn't seem to be doing all that well. I had some black molly's that kept getting a mouth fungus. I'd put them in a hospital tank, treat with antibiotics until I was sure they were cured, then put them back in the display tank only to have the problem recur. About the same time I started losing fish slowly one at a time for no apparent reason. I finally tested the tank water to realize that the nitrates were through the roof. Worse still, I discovered that my well water was high in nitrates (60-80ppm)! My water changes did little or nothing to keep nitrates down in the tank!!!
I opted for an API Tap Water filter (DI) to filter my well water for water changes AND did everything I could to get/keep tank nitrates low. I used pouches of API Nitra-Zorb in the filter. Although I had routinely gravel vacuumed the gravel, I decided to switch to cleaner silica (pool filter) sand for the substrate. I got another Aquaclear 70 filter and totally filled it with Seachem Matrix and seeded it with Seachem Stability in an effort to culture anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrates into nitrogen gas. I later 'invented' a denitrate filter using nearly 4 liters of Seachem Matrix & DeNitrate bio-media. It never really worked so it was a constant 'fight' to both filter water for water changes and keep tank nitrates down.
The cost of the Tap Water Filter cartridges in addition to additives for pH and hardness made it nearly as expensive as buying spring water. I later took a cartridge, emptied it and filled it with API Nitra-Zorb. The was cost effective because it would yield about 200g before recharging with salt water.
Then began the journey with plants to create a Walstad inspired nearly natural biotope. Diana Walstad had observed 100g stock tanks with sludge in the bottom but lush green Jungle Vals growing up and out of them. She took an inch or so of organic potting mix and capped with an inch or so of fine gravel. She planted and the plants grew well. She opted for good water flow but felt that filtration and water changes would just remove nutrients the plants could use so only had modest filtration and did not do water changes. This was/is very successful and led to what is now called the Walstad method.
I call my setup Walstad inspired for two reasons: 1) I don't have 1" of washed out soil in the bottom, just 3-4" of pure silica (pool filter) sand. I feel her method had less to do with that and more to do with balancing the natural organic fertilizer through minimal filtration and no water changes. And 2) I continue to do modest weekly water changes of approximately 20%.
In addition to the new lighting and heavy planting of hardy plants suitable for low tech, I added some Malaysian Trumpet Snails whose population has dramatically increased. These snails burrow in the sand aerating it and depositing plant usable nutrients down under (their function is not unlike earthworms in my garden soil.
My tank was well established 60g Marineland, two 15w fluorescent lights, two Aquaclear 70 HOB filters, two 200w Aqueon heaters, and silica (pool filter) sand substrate.
I bought a 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 and planted...
Jungle Val, Wisteria, Green Crypt Wendtii, Anubias Nana, Java Fern, Java Moss, Dwarf Sag, Amazon Sword.
Here's a photo series over about 3 months.
Note: I have high nitrates (40-80ppm) in my well water so I filter water for weekly partial water changes. Hoping plants will aid in purifying the water to allow for 10-15g weekly water changes.
This is ultra low tech, leveraging organics to feed plants and only adding chem ferts as necessary to keep plants healthy.
> This has become a Walstad Inspired method. Although I do not have 1" of dirt in the substrate. I do have silica sand and lots of Malaysian Trumpet Snails. The MTS burrow into the sand and will aerate as well as deposit organic fertilizer for rooted plants. (Not unlike earthworms in the garden). I have backed off on water changes and chemical ferts. Water flow is good but filtration is minimum.
> I'm using a bubble bar on the left side. This not only increases O2 but also injects CO2 from the air in equilibrium.
> The principal 'fertilizer' (along with fish and plant waste) is high quality fish food with primary ingredients being fresh fish...
Whole Salmon, Halibut, Black Cod, Whole Herring , Whole Shrimp, Whole Krill, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Fresh Kelp, Lecithin, Astaxanthin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Natural and Artificial Colors, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Biotin, Inositol, Tocopherol (Preservative), Ethoxyquin (Preservative).
Min. Crude Protein….41%
Min. Crude Fat………12%
Max. Crude Fiber…….2%
Max. Moisture…….. 8.5%
Min. Omega 3 ……... 2%
Min. Omega 6….…...1%
Last edited by AbbeysDad; 03-07-2017 at 12:05 AM.