Tiny Walstad alstad tank. What could go wrong? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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Tiny Walstad alstad tank. What could go wrong?

This will be more of a blog post thread I think. If people want to chime in I'm all ears.

I found a jar I liked at Target and the goal is a wet run at home for a desk version in my new office in 2 months. Goal is a balanced symbiotic environment with shrimp. I have been looking at ecospheres for years, and just couldn't pull the trigger. So 1.5 gal should be way easier than something the size of a light bulb.

Tank is 1.5 gal water column, 2 gal overall. I didn't buy the miracle gro organic, just the regular potting mix. This may or may not be foreshadowing.

Light source is a 5000k 15w led also from target. I'm not completely sure on the plants I bought , but they were streaming bubbles on day 2 so they can't be all bad and I like the diversity and look.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 04:20 AM Thread Starter
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The dirty chemistry deets:

Started 8/4/17
1.5-2" miracle gro potting mix (not the organic)
.5-1.5" quikcrete play sand. (this is an experiment, so 1 side thin sloped to other side thick.

Tap according to tetra 6 in 1 strips:
6.8ph, soft hardness, 0kh

After 48hrs no difference between tap and bowl.

Replacing 12ozs daily. Added 1/8tsp baking soda to 5 gals of dechlorinated water to bring up KH a little
Day 3 added small piece 2"x1"x0.5" of old broken coral to help with calcium and kh. It got pretty bubbly. Not Alka seltzer bubbly, but inside a glass of coke bubbly.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 07:55 AM
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Plant's look to be Ludwigia,Anacharis,Hair grass,and Sword plant of some type.(sword plant' s too big for jar's + nutrient hog's).
Walstad method requires few water changes rather than daily.
Piece of cuttlebone used in parakeet cages can also work for calcium for shrimp(moulting).
Nothing wrong with just plain top soil IME.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 04:24 PM
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Setup seems solid to me. Like roadmaster said with the Walstad method water changes aren't nearly as frequent as in a traditional tank, plus you're still cycling and you need that ammonia to build up to feed your bacteria. The sword plant will definitely take over your entire jar, maybe swap it out for a crypt?

If you haven't already I'd suggest putting your light on a timer since it's going to be your primary weapon in the algae war.

With soft acidic water, rather than remineralize to keep neos you might be able to keep caridina shrimp without changing your water chemistry. Take that with a grain of salt as I have no experience with caridina.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 02:44 AM Thread Starter
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The stable:

So, on day 2 (Saturday) I was feeling all proud of myself. After reading a few dozen forum posts and articles it seemed that these do best by introducing something live to make some ammonia, err plant food. Shrimp are hardy they said. Plants replace the cycle right away they said. I kept frontosa and brichardi cichlids for years and these plants must really be magical stuff.

Off to the pet store and grabbed a zebra nerite and 2 dark red RCS and 1 paleish RCS. Hey ladies... Added a shot glass of tank water every 15 minutes to the bag containing my new friends for about 2 hours and did the dump and pray. 3 days later the nerrite is happily active and constantly on the move sucking face with my tank innards. The shirmp? Well...science and stuff.

Oh, it appears I got some freeloaders with the plants. So, for now, we shall define this experiment as a snail tank in the short term.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Plants + Lights = alka seltzer:

Thanks for the info on the plants. I appreciate it. Only 2 were labeled.
Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (New Zealand Micro Sword) and Echinodorus paniculatus (Bleheri)

Anacharis- This stuff is ridiculous. It's day 5 and it is already touching the surface. It's growth is about 1/2" a day from several shoots. and branching in several places. I'm not sure if it's the most beautiful thing yet, but daughter and I are referring to it as the christmas trees. Most articles said find some fast growers to stock the tank and get it going. I think I found my huckleberry. They bubble like alka seltzer when the lights are on. I'm satisfied, even with the ones I thought were dead and wilty on arrival. They are growing strong from the tips at least. Wondering if I should trim off the new growth and toss the brownish sections or just leave well enough alone.

Lighting schedule:
I thought I read 12 hours a day to simulate summer somewhere to get the tank started. More I read says no way, no how.
First 3 days schedule was 14 hours on.
Cut schedule back on day 4 to 3 hrs in the AM, 5 hour siesta, 5 hours on in the evening
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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Day 5 test strip progress. Start of a cycle. First hint of Nitrite:

Nitrate=20
Nitrite=1
GH=75
KH=0
PH=6.8

I was doing the 12 oz water changes since my replacement water has been treated with baking soda and trying to get the KH up to something readable. Hasn't been helping, so stopped them yesterday. Goal is for a perfectly balanced tank eventually so may as well make a dry run now.

Added 3 more small pieces of coral hoping it does the same as the cuttlebone. No movement yet. We will see what a few days bring. Probably not enough to do anything. Hopefully the snail is a bright lad though and goes and chews on the coral if it feels depleted. If still no movement in a few days, I am going to try and grind some of the other coral I have to a powder and see if that does anything.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-10-2017, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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No wonder the tank is so clean. Mr Clean uses ammonia right?
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2017, 12:48 PM
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Ehhhhh...

To much ammonia will kill your plants. They turn black and shrivel up from the burnn. I would keep it under 4ppm with plantss in the tank, myself.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2017, 03:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I did a 50% water change and will keep an eye on it. Came down to around 2. Plants are growing quickly and producing steady streams of bubbles still with no adverse signs at least.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2017, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Added 2 glass shrimp last night to see how they would do since the RCS didn't go so well. They are doing OK after 24 hours.
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