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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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First timer with questions.

I've been keeping a reef for a few years but work has me traveling so much and the wife is sick of its upkeep. We all know the living room isn't the same without fish so I've been doing a lot of reading and lurking and it looks like the walstad method is the low maintenance way to go, if it can work as advertised.
I've got a 40b that I'd like to use. Is like to stock as many cardinal tetras as the tank can handle with a few algae eaters, maybe shrimp for that purpose, and one dwarf African frog. I'd like to stick with the easier plants, but a boat load of them. I'm thinking Lilaeopsis to get some form of carpeting, also amazon swords, anubias nana, water wisteria, and Java fern. I've gathered these are all pretty basic plants.
I've got a scape in mind with a pretty basic layout, one large rectangular rock and a longer narrow piece of driftwood. I'd like to cover the rock in Java moss but haven't found an online source yet.

My questions have to do with equipment. I hate seeing stuff inside the tank but some of my reading doesn't encourage filtration in the walstad method. I'm looking for a way to hide the heater, would a small canister with an inline heater be to much flow? I could remove the provided media.
Lighting, I've been looking at a two bulb t5ho 36" with two 39w lamps. Too much or not enough? Hoping it would cut it as the 40b is a fairly shallow tank.

Anyone have anything similar to this going on? Money isn't much issue but not trying to break the bank. Any other plant suggestions? Fast growing easy to keep preferred. And livestock ideas are welcome too. How many cardinal tetras do y'all think a setup like this could handle? Thanks for reading such a long post, and thanks for the help.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 03:16 PM
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I think you would be happier if you skipped the walstead. Dirt with a sand cap can be a big mess of you disturb it to move a plant or something.

go low tech with an inert substrate (like eco-complete), canister filter with inline heater, lights on the lower end (to avoid algae - look at Finnex Fugeray or planted+)

might want to skip the carpet idea, go with lots of crypts, anubias, java, temple plants (there is a small version) - pack them in.


with a setup like that you would have a nice display, water changes and minor cleaning every 2 weeks to a month with no issues, canister cleanout every 3 months or so. nothing to do daily except feed and maybe fish out a floating dead leaf or 3.

I use a sponge pre-filter on my canister, keeps the leaves and stuff from clogging the intake.

see the 36 gallon in my signature - that's the general idea. I have moved up to adding ferts and just recieved the stuff to add Co2 - but all of the pics on there right now are very much like I describe above.


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jbrady33 View Post
I think you would be happier if you skipped the walstead. Dirt with a sand cap can be a big mess of you disturb it to move a plant or something.

go low tech with an inert substrate (like eco-complete), canister filter with inline heater, lights on the lower end (to avoid algae - look at Finnex Fugeray or planted+)

might want to skip the carpet idea, go with lots of crypts, anubias, java, temple plants (there is a small version) - pack them in.


with a setup like that you would have a nice display, water changes and minor cleaning every 2 weeks to a month with no issues, canister cleanout every 3 months or so. nothing to do daily except feed and maybe fish out a floating dead leaf or 3.

I use a sponge pre-filter on my canister, keeps the leaves and stuff from clogging the intake.

see the 36 gallon in my signature - that's the general idea. I have moved up to adding ferts and just recieved the stuff to add Co2 - but all of the pics on there right now are very much like I describe above.
Disturbing the dirt isn't a concern, I'd like to have it fully planted upon setup and let it grow in. Why avoid any carpeting? I had one other idea about the heater, to get an ac70, empty it out and put a heater in it. Other than the dirt, why avoid the Walstad method?

By the way, that 36 looks great, very close to what I'm looking for but I'd keep a little open in the center.

Last edited by SlickWill613; 04-11-2014 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Added
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 08:54 PM
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You skip carpeting plants because:

1) its difficult to get them to carpet unless you have co2 injection
2) the lighting you mentioned is a tad too low for carpeters. I have a 30 gallon with the same lights and mine wont carpet
3) your stated goal is low maintenance. If you get a carpet going you have to trim them alot and the trimmings get everywhere. Then you gotta use a fish net or siphon to capture the trimmings.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fish jihad View Post
You skip carpeting plants because:

1) its difficult to get them to carpet unless you have co2 injection
2) the lighting you mentioned is a tad too low for carpeters. I have a 30 gallon with the same lights and mine wont carpet
3) your stated goal is low maintenance. If you get a carpet going you have to trim them alot and the trimmings get everywhere. Then you gotta use a fish net or siphon to capture the trimmings.
Never thought about trimmings. Looks like I need more research. Would the other plants I mentioned be suited to that light. Any three or four lamp fixtures I should be looking at?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2014, 09:12 PM
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You can most definitely have carpeting plants in a low light/low tech/non-CO2 tank if you pick the right lighting and plant species. All the tanks in my signature were set up that way. Carpets in the tanks on the right and left are Lilaeopsis mauritiana and in the middle is Helanthium tenellum 'pink.' Dwarf Sagittaria and Marselia minuta are two other options that can carpet quite nicely in low tech setups.

Lighting on this tank might be tricky just because it's a relatively deep (front to back) tank. Getting good light spread throughout the entire depth of the tank without getting too much light will be the challenge. In your shoes I'd probably look at getting two T5NO fixtures, like these: http://www.amazon.com/Aqueon-AQE40201-Lighting-Aquarium-30-Inch/dp/B00893F492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397250616&sr=8-1&keywords=aqueon+t5

Alternatively, you might consider getting a 3 or 4 bulb T5HO fixture and suspending it up off the tank to moderate the light somewhat, or look into LED fixtures (though that will probably be a bit pricey on this size tank?)





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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
You can most definitely have carpeting plants in a low light/low tech/non-CO2 tank if you pick the right lighting and plant species. All the tanks in my signature were set up that way. Carpets in the tanks on the right and left are Lilaeopsis mauritiana and in the middle is Helanthium tenellum 'pink.' Dwarf Sagittaria and Marselia minuta are two other options that can carpet quite nicely in low tech setups.

Lighting on this tank might be tricky just because it's a relatively deep (front to back) tank. Getting good light spread throughout the entire depth of the tank without getting too much light will be the challenge. In your shoes I'd probably look at getting two T5NO fixtures, like these: Amazon.com : Aqueon AQE40201 T5 Dual Strip Lighting Hoods for Aquarium, 30-Inch : Plant Aquarium Light : Pet Supplies


Alternatively, you might consider getting a 3 or 4 bulb T5HO fixture and suspending it up off the tank to moderate the light somewhat, or look into LED fixtures (though that will probably be a bit pricey on this size tank?)

This post has made my Friday. I'll check out that link. The first carpet you mentioned was the one I had in mind. A four lamp fixture is no problem, any recommendations would be great, and the LED is not out of the question either, I'm not a broke college student. Have you tried the walstad method?

Edit: I was looking at this http://www.marinedepot.com/AquaticLi...FIT54U-vi.html

Would this be better?
http://www.marinedepot.com/AquaticLi...FIT54U-vi.html

Open for more options.

Last edited by SlickWill613; 04-12-2014 at 03:51 AM. Reason: Added
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 04:09 AM
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No, I have her book and think it's fantastic, but the Walstad method sacrifices stocking levels in order to avoid water changes. I personally am in the hobby because I enjoy livestock, so like fully stocked tanks, and therefore do regular water changes.

The Aquatic Life fixtures you linked are T5HO. HO stands for High Output. They're going to put out quite a bit more light than the T5NO (Normal Output) fixture I linked earlier. You could possibly work with them and avoid CO2, but you'd have to elevate them probably at least a foot off the tank.

Aquatic Life is also one of the cheaper brands around. If you're wanting to go with T5HO fixtures, there are some better quality brands for not that much more money. Lots of options to choose from, I personally happen to really like the Catalina Aquarium Solars- http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/stor...p?cPath=71_136





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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 04:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
No, I have her book and think it's fantastic, but the Walstad method sacrifices stocking levels in order to avoid water changes. I personally am in the hobby because I enjoy livestock, so like fully stocked tanks, and therefore do regular water changes.

The Aquatic Life fixtures you linked are T5HO. HO stands for High Output. They're going to put out quite a bit more light than the T5NO (Normal Output) fixture I linked earlier. You could possibly work with them and avoid CO2, but you'd have to elevate them probably at least a foot off the tank.

Aquatic Life is also one of the cheaper brands around. If you're wanting to go with T5HO fixtures, there are some better quality brands for not that much more money. Lots of options to choose from, I personally happen to really like the Catalina Aquarium Solars- http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/stor...p?cPath=71_136
Easy now, I've been in the game long enough to know about high output. The only fixture you linked was a 39w 2 lamp fixture. I'm just unsure about FW planted lights. In reefing WPG doesn't mean anything anymore.

I'm ok with sacrificing stocking amount. I really just want something easy to deal with.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 05:06 AM
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Yeah WPG doesn't mean much in FW these days, either LOL If you check in the lighting forum, there's some good stickies with PAR data. You don't need nearly as much PAR if you want to stick with a low tech setup.

I personally think setting up a Walstad tank may not be what you're really wanting. It can be very challenging to find *exactly* that sweet spot between lighting, plant mass, and bioload that will totally eliminate water changes. Just a "regular" low tech tank - where you do filter and do regular water changes - would still be a fraction of the maintenance required for SW. On my old 46gal (middle tank in my signature) I did about 30-50% every 2 or 3 months, and cleaned my filter (Eheim 2217) about 2x a year. I ran a single dual bulb Coralife T5NO over that tank.

Maybe just spend some time in the Low Tech forum, search for some other 40 breeder setups in that forum and in the Journalling forum, see what you do vs don't like about those setups, ask some questions, and go from there?





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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 11:12 AM
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Walstad calls for less light than what is being discussed here... In her book she actually recommends T8 shop lights, half daylight and half cool white. She also advocates partial sunlight as well...

Like mentioned, if you like the looks of higher light fixtures, you can always suspend them higher up, and make sure to include floating/emersed plants to block some of the light. A Walstad method actually includes those plants anyway, especially in the beginning, to help soak up nutrients faster than any submerged plant could.

Also, no reason to gut a filter. Having one with sponges in it won't harm the tank, and I'd go with the canister plus inline heater for a nicer appearance and less maintenance.

Here's my Walstad-like tank. That's a Helanthium tenellum carpet that took months to spread that much. I'm finally now having to think about trimming it, which might be messy, but with gravel the dirt kinda blends in when I disturb it uprooting plants so it's not a big deal. It's also fairly heavily stocked (probably 75+ guppies, Heterandria formosa, mystery snails, ramshorns, and pond/bladder snails), but includes a good amount of floaters and emersed plants to soak up the nutrients. Just did a water test the other day, 0 nitrogen levels and I haven't changed the water in months... It's in front of a south facing window, with a couple daylight CFLs in clamp lights over it. I use two HOBs with sponges on the back to grow more emersed plants in. There is some hair algae (or similar), but it doesn't take over or suffocate any plants, kinda just adds to the natural appearance of the tank. It used to have a lot more stem plants, but got tired of constantly having to trim their rapid growth... so now just has a few.


I have other examples of my journey in Walstad-land if you're interested, including one with T5HOs... but that one is my favorite and such low maintenance...
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 01:22 PM
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If you go led (for your tank I would suspend 2 Finnex Planted +, great light & color). Runs WAY cooler and a fraction of the electricity. Tiny too


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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 01:26 PM
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http://www.petmountain.com/category/...ile-hoods.html
The first two fixtures on this page of lights has T8 for the first one and T5 for the second one. But both are one bulb fixtures. With that 18" from front to back it would be better lit with the lights spread out and two T5 bulbs will put you in the medum light range. Depending on which bulbs used in both of the types(the T8 and T5) you can adjust both the color and amount of light. I would definately chose a T8 over a T5NO
because the T5NO has about two bulb choices total, maybe even three.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2014, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
Yeah WPG doesn't mean much in FW these days, either LOL If you check in the lighting forum, there's some good stickies with PAR data. You don't need nearly as much PAR if you want to stick with a low tech setup.

I personally think setting up a Walstad tank may not be what you're really wanting. It can be very challenging to find *exactly* that sweet spot between lighting, plant mass, and bioload that will totally eliminate water changes. Just a "regular" low tech tank - where you do filter and do regular water changes - would still be a fraction of the maintenance required for SW. On my old 46gal (middle tank in my signature) I did about 30-50% every 2 or 3 months, and cleaned my filter (Eheim 2217) about 2x a year. I ran a single dual bulb Coralife T5NO over that tank.

Maybe just spend some time in the Low Tech forum, search for some other 40 breeder setups in that forum and in the Journalling forum, see what you do vs don't like about those setups, ask some questions, and go from there?

Put like that I think you may be right. Back to the drawing board.
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