New Walstad Method Tank - 10 Gallon
I’ve always had aquariums in the home and helped maintain them, but never had one of my own. So, I decided to go straight for a walstad method planted tank, although my girl advised against it (since she has no experience with these kinds of setups and wouldn’t be of any help, so she says). She has a 10 gallon betta tank with a HOB filter, some neons, an otocinclus, and two mystery snails. Everything is healthy and thriving!
For my tank, I went with a 10 gallon tall aquarium. I used 1” of magic dirt organic potting soil (sifted) with a 1.5” black sand cap. I have a piece of sandstone, dragon rock, and driftwood for the hardscape. I planted Cabomba, Hornwort, Dark Red Ludwigia, Scarlet Temple, Hyro Araguia, and Dwarf Sagittaria. I also added duckweed for floating plants.
The sequence of setup was somewhat different.. I knew it would be a week before the plants I ordered online would arrive, so since I had the aquarium already, I put the potting soil in, followed by the cap and filled it with dechlorinated water just to ‘prime’ the soil. Dunno if this was helpful, harmful, or neither. Haha.. I hoped I could give the bacteria opportunity to multiple, but I was also just excited to get started. Anyway, I did this on April 16th, then drained the aquarium on the 22nd before the first planting.
I’ve officially had it completely set up, running/cycling since April 22nd. The Cabomba, Hornwort, Ludwigia, and Scarlet Temple are all thriving. I was surprised at how quickly everything grew.
The dwarf sagittaria melted in spots, but grew really well in other areas. The Hyro Araguia lost some leaves, but grew others as well - definitely the slowest growing of all the plants I bought.
Had some hitchhiker’s included in some of the plants, as well. Pretty sure they came in on the duckweed. Ramshorns and bladder snails. Kinda dig the ramshorns, actually. We’ll see how I feel about them after they multiply. Lol..
I checked the water conditions pretty much every day, to every other day after the initial planting.
Here’s what I’m at currently:
GH - 30ppm
KH - 40ppm
PH - 7.0
Nitrite - 0.5ppm
Nitrate - 0ppm
Gonna take a sample of my water to Petco today so they can test for ammonia, but I’ve felt confident on my water quality so far.
I want my aquarium inhabitants to be dwarf/amano shrimp, maybe a couple nerite snails, and two or three Peacock Gudgeon.
I’ve read some controversy on when the tank should achieve balance and be safe for inhabitants. I read that Diana will introduce fish or shrimps same day as set up, or at least that’s what she mentioned with her Shrimp Bowl setup. However, this is a 10 gallon aquarium and not a 1-2 gallon shrimp bowl.
Some people say 2 months, no exceptions. Others say it’s ready from the get-go. Some say to test the water every day for a few weeks, and if it doesn’t spike, it’s probably safe for fish.
ALRIGHT... So, I told myself I’d wait two months minimum to add any fish.. However, I decided that if I started to get algae, I’d give a go at adding some shrimp.
So, about 3 days went by, and my impatience got the better of me. I caved to my own excitement and bought 2 rainbow shrimp to introduce into the aquarium. They were the last two at Petco, and as far as I knew, my water was ‘perfect’.
I floated them, but didn’t know really how to rig a drip line. So, I just removed a little bit of the water from the bag and replaced it with tank water about every 10 or so minutes for about an hour, then I netted them to get them into the tank.
The did really well for about 36 hours. They scavenged amongst the plants, the duckweed, ate biofilm. I tried to put a piece of baby carrot boiled in dechlorinated water in for them, but they preferred to just graze on biofilm on the surface. I woke up one morning to a dead rainbow shrimp. The other was alive, but eventually just disappeared. I’m sure he also died and I just never found his body./:
I had tested the water the day I introduced the shrimp and again when I saw the dead shrimp. But, the water hadn’t fluctuated much from the results I shared above.
I removed the dead shrimp and just left the tank as it was for a few days. Noticed the Ramshorn snails getting significantly bigger. Looks like they’ve been grazing on plants and biofilm. The plants (except for the Hyro Araguia) have grown double in size. I was quite pleased with how much the tank had developed over the week.
I frequently tested the water and the results were almost always the same as above. The GH fluctuated very slightly between 30-40ppm, but the nitrite was almost always 0.5ppm and nitrate at 0.
I’ve been under the impression that the ammonia nitrifying bacteria should already have been present in the potting soil and should be established enough to properly cycle the tank. So, I never worried about ammonia.
After watching the snails and plants grow so significantly, and after getting consistent water test results, I decided to go ahead and try getting some more shrimp.
I got 6 cherry shrimp and I acclimated them for 2 hours. Floating the bags, removing water every 10-15 minutes and replacing it with aquarium water. Netting them for the release.
This was all done yesterday, May 1st around 8:00pm. I woke up this morning to 5 dead cherry shrimp and 1 lone survivor. 😞 He seems to be doing fine for now. He’s eating and moving around, so fingers crossed.
GH - 30ppm
KH - 40ppm
PH - 7.0
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0.5
Temp - 79 degrees Fahrenheit
As mentioned earlier, I’m heading to the pet store now to test my water for ammonia. I was never worried about ammonia before, but with the overnight loss of 5 shrimp, I’m worried that I’ve overlooked it.
I’m also wondering if my acclimation method was just poor. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to remove and add water from the bags. I know everybody recommends the drip method for acclimating shrimp. I read that I could achieve a similar effect by using the method I went with. I know they could have died from Osmotic Shock, but I’d surely hope that they didn’t die from the lack of ammonia nitrifying bacteria in the tank. I suppose this ammonia test will let me know if that was the problem or not.
What do you guys think? I assumed that if Diana’s shrimp bowls could handle shrimp from the get-go, that mine could too, but now I’m feeling rather foolish. Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
Will post pictures and updates to follow!!!
P.S. - Please forgive me for how long-winded this got! I just wanted to provide as many details as possible.