I just started a Walstad tank last night when my plants arrived!
This is how I did it,
-Let Miracle Grow Organic potting soil sit in a bucket for the last few days. The first day I poured off the top and refilled, I only did that twice just to get out most floating matter. This dirt smells soo
-Bought all natural fragrance & dye free clay cat litter.
-Then I did a 50/50 mix of potting soil and cat litter to help prevent the soil from becoming anaerobic.
-I placed a border of sand around the front and sides of the tank to that the dirt would not be visible
-Added dirt! I used my dogs food scoop to do this so he got very excited thinking I was going to feed him the whole time, just to be let down with smelly dirt
-Then I used some rocks that I broke up with a sledgehammer to create a small hardscape
-I added enough water that the substrate was covered plus one inch of water
-Then ... I planted!! So many plants! This felt like it took forever but that's a great thing because it means I had looots of plants!! Don't laugh but I actually used eyebrow tweezers to plant the stems (just kidding you can laugh!) This did help a lot with getting them into the substrate and not stirring up tons of dirt. When I got to the rooted plants things got messy. I have a little bit of dirt and clay (which you can see in the pics) sitting on top. I'm going to take some sand out of my 29 gallon to cover it up (that tank has way more sand than it really needs).
-Once everything was planted I placed a shallow tupperware container to sort of deflect the water as I filled it up so everything wouldn't get swooshed around. Luckily my kitchen faucet hose thing is long enough I just put in the tank and let it fill.
-While it filled I replanted anything that floated up. I got so caught up with that I almost overflowed the tank all over the counters!
-Set up heater, lights and filter and plugged it all in
I put poly-fill (pillow stuffing) in the filter just to get the tank clear and let it run overnight. I am using two 15 watt CFLs in the hood that came with the tank
-Once its all clear I'll only use the the filter for water flow and eventually get a powerhead for movement.
That's all for now! I plan on getting a Pea Puffer for this tank in the next month or so. I am very excited about that! I'm hoping with their high bioload that just one will be enough to feed the plants. At that point I might need mechanical filtration .
For now I will be quarantining Zebra Danios in the tank and breeding snails and shrimp