The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This will be my third Walstad tank build, doing this with my two sons. We did a 29 gallon and 20 gallon so far. I posted pics of those in the lounge section. I'll add a direct link later if I can manage. The 29 gallon turned out great, the 20 gallon less so. It just never took off.

Current build is a 125 Petsmart tank from a kit. Came with a stand and lights, but we decided to build our own stand out of 2x6s and 2x4s, following instructions by Rocketengineer that can be found on the web. Still need to install the walls of the stand, haven't decided on how to finish them. I am considering building a wood hood with simple LED strips. Those can be found on amazon, even waterproof, and seem to cost way less than aquarium specific light.

We used a plain organic compost base layer, then coral reef sand from City Mill (Hawaii hardware store), then lava rocks found in a creek behind our house. A large "Saba Wood" root from LFS. I neither cleaned nor soaked the root. I doesn't sink, but it has wedged itself in place under the top rim. We did not wash the compost as carefully as with previous tanks, but we did filter out any loose stick and wood chips.

We filled the tank Sunday. The water looked unexpectedly clear, it was much worse with our smaller tanks.
1026707

1026708


This is what it looked like 24 hours later:

1026709

1026710


Pretty nasty looking, and today it is even worse.

Any advice at this point? Do water changes, or simply wait it out? Is this discoloration the compost leaching, or the tannins from the root? Both?

Today (2 days after filling), I added duckweed and feeder shrimp from another tank. At this point, I feel that it could either succeed like the 29 gallon, or end up a huge muddy soup that never clears up. We'll see... I plan to post updates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,921 Posts
Definitely do water changes, big water changes, as much as you can do without disturbing substrate. Dirt tanks are active substrate tanks and like any active tank there should be at least a 50% water change every day for the first week (I would do 90+% until the water clears and stays clear), every other day for the second week, 3 times in week 3 and twice in week 4. This will cut back the number of nutrients loose in the water column and potentially help a lot with algae blooms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks both for the helpful replies, I am glad I posted here!

OK, I will start some large water changes today. I will try and hook up a long outlet house to the FX4 filter, so that I can just pump the water out through the window into the yard. Hopefully that works, it would make it painless.

About the sand, I realized I lied. I have a large pile of sand bags out in the garden. There are two kinds (see pics below), and I had assumed both were coral sand. But I just checked, and it turns out, only the light brown sand is coral sand, while the black is "basalt sand". So basalt sand is what I acutally used here for the 125 gallon build. For the previous two Walstad tanks, I did each with one kind of sand. The black basalt sand looked better, and seemed to work better, too, though many variables are involved, so hard to say for sure. Anyway, this black sand is real cheap and I love it.

coral sand:
1026729

basalt sand:
1026727
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Did a 60% water change today. The FX4 water change feature works well, but it doesn't let me drain further, due to the design having a leaky joint. Perhaps I'll modify this at some point. But the 60% already made a huge difference. I'll keep doing water changes.

- before water change (no changes first 72 hours after filling)

1026759

- after water change:

1026760


The tiny feeder shrimp in there look hilarious against the huge tank, they seem to enjoy having it all too themselves... for now...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have kept going with 60-70% water changes every second day, and the water has been slowly clearing up. I've been adding more plants, feeder shrimp, and duckweed regularly. Water parameters are fine for now. Two days ago I added one Platy.

Today I added nine emerald green Corys. They seem really comfortable, are digging in the sand, and zooming around the tank. They also like to perch on the rocks and root. The platy also seems really interested in the Corys.

I think now I will wait for a while to see how the tank settles, gradually crank up the light intensity, and keep adding plants. I ordered two 36" NICREW ClassicLED Gen 2 LED lights that arrive Friday. If that's not bright enough I'll build something custom later, which seems like a fun project.

I don't have any solid stocking plan yet. But I found out today that our local Petco lets you custom order fish. I didn't know they would do that! Here in Hawaii ordering fish online is not straight forward, as you need to apply for an import permit. So ordering through Petco really opens up the options for me. I will put together my dream list and place a large order in a few weeks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
I would also use fine filter mesh and constantly change it every few days will help alot! I personally would have 2 larger canister filters on an aquarium of that size ofcourse it's up too you it can be quite expensive! But water flow is important! Less Algae and waste getting stuck. You can also use a power head to help move the water around the aquarium.

Sent from my SM-G998W using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks. I'll consider adding a power head in the future, as I have one corner with lowish water movement. At this point, though, the FX4 is already creating a crazy amount of current in much of the tank, it seems like plenty of filtration, and I'm a bit concerned it might be too much current for some south-american biotope fish species I am considering. I'm my 29G Walstad tank I have only an Eheim classic canister, but eventually added a sponge prefilter. Without that pre-filter, dirt would clog the canister within a few weeks. With the pre-filter added, I can run months at a time (at least four months so far!) with great water quality and without the filter clogging. I really added this sponge to protect against shrimp getting sucked in, so it was a bit of an accidental improvement. In the 125G, I wrapped the FX4 inlet with water polishing pad material (I think that's what it's called --- very fine synthetic fibers) to try and get the same effect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here's a pic from today, showing my favorite corner of the tank. Water is still a bit hazy, but steadily improving. The thank has been filled for eight days now. The lone platy sometimes schools with the corys! They zoom along the lenght of the tank together. I wonder if he thinks he is one of them? I am trying to get a video of them.

That rock in the picture is porous, but it must have weighed about 30-40 lbs. I was real nervous lowering it into the tank!

I'm a bit disappointed that the emerald green cory cats don't show up well against the sand. But perhaps that is also what makes them comfortable... We'll see how it looks when the water clears up more and I install brighter lights.

1026951
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The new LED lights arrived today. 2 x 36" NICREW ClassicLED Gen 2. Construction seems real solid, much better than I expected at this low price point. The tank seems bright enough for now (brighter than it appears in the picture), and should get significantly brighter still once I remove the thick layer of duckweed.

I am starting to see some growth. The foxtail on the right has been in the tank for six days, and almost doubled in length. I actually can't really believe how fast it is growing. There are some small jungle val runners, but I'm not fully sure if they are really new.

The root still floats, so I'll have to keep it wedged in like this for now... :)

Suggestions of any kind are very welcome. I'm not so thrilled with the overall scape yet, especially I don't like the symmetrical look with two mounds of rocks on both ends. There was basically no planning involved, we totally improvised. But there are three amazon swordplants, planted where they can really spread out. So I hope these will get huge, and eventually make for a more balanced composition. I'm also hoping for a jungle val forest on the left, but so far I have not had good experience with val. In our 29 gallon Walstad tank, all val eventually died, while other plants thrived.

Now that the light has been increased, I'm bracing myself for an algae bloom. I think I will start out with 10 hours of light per day, with two hour of darkness midday, as I think D. Walstad recommended. That also make for more viewing time in the evening. I think I might try to control this tank with the apple homepod :)

Water Plant Wood Pet supply Aquatic plant

Any stocking suggestions? I was initially considering a group of Angels, but the current might be to strong for them? That FX4 is really blasting out the water. Also, Angels would rule out a huge school of neons, which I would enjoy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Yesterday I added four young angel fish. The tank is now housing:

1 Golden Platy
7 Emerald Green Cories (2 died in first 24 hours)
1 Albino Bristlenose Pleco
4 Angelfish (two of each kind shown in picture)

Everyone seems happy, water parameters look good. Currently doing 50% water changes every 3 days.

This is my first time having angelfish. They are really interesting! They seem social, curious, and inquisitive, even about things happening outside the tank. The current from the FX4 filter seems to be no problem for them, though they get tossed around when they swim directly in front of the outlet.

I am considering adding
  • another four angelfish
  • a school of silver tip tetras
  • a pair of south american drawf cichlids
  • more platys [or I'll move the single one out again. he seems lonely, and tries to interact with the other fish]

If heard conflicting advice on the number of angels that are viable longterm, so I'm still reading up on that. Sounds like it is hard to predict how things will evolve when they start to pair up and establish hirarchies. Some breeders say more angles in group = less aggression.

Any advice on the angels, or creative stocking suggestions would be very welcome! I'm especially interested in suggestions for bright, colorful schooling fish that won't get eaten by the angels.


1027236
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
364 Posts
At some point you'll want to consider a quarantine tank. It's pretty important. I've had as many as 6 nice sized angels in a 75 gallon tank, every one got along. And I've had one angel that was such an ******* that my wife and I got him his on, jail, tank, he was just that insufferable. We named him Thug.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,179 Posts
Yesterday I added four young angel fish. The tank is now housing:

1 Golden Platy
7 Emerald Green Cories (2 died in first 24 hours)
1 Albino Bristlenose Pleco
4 Angelfish (two of each kind shown in picture)

Everyone seems happy, water parameters look good. Currently doing 50% water changes every 3 days.

This is my first time having angelfish. They are really interesting! They seem social, curious, and inquisitive, even about things happening outside the tank. The current from the FX4 filter seems to be no problem for them, though they get tossed around when they swim directly in front of the outlet.

I am considering adding
  • another four angelfish
  • a school of silver tip tetras
  • a pair of south american drawf cichlids
  • more platys [or I'll move the single one out again. he seems lonely, and tries to interact with the other fish]

If heard conflicting advice on the number of angels that are viable longterm, so I'm still reading up on that. Sounds like it is hard to predict how things will evolve when they start to pair up and establish hirarchies. Some breeders say more angles in group = less aggression.

Any advice on the angels, or creative stocking suggestions would be very welcome! I'm especially interested in suggestions for bright, colorful schooling fish that won't get eaten by the angels.


View attachment 1027236
I would hold off on getting any more fish, especially angel fish. Give this tank sometime to settle in. The angels will get bigger and may have aggression with each other. I know its a big tank but less is more. Also your pleco will have a decent bioload. See how things look in a month and keep testing your water parameters. Good luck!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Here's an update on the tank. I finally skinned it this weekend. I found some special front-mount cabinet hinges that allowed me to mount doors close to each other, with the ability to adjust door positions after install. Overall I am happy with how it's coming out. The doors are not totally flush yet. I still need to trim the doors a bit more, sand, clear coat, and fine adjust them. I also plan a hood.

The tank has gone through several phases over the last six months. First, the jungle val grew enormous, with six foot leaves filling half the tank, and I had to trim it back. Then the foxtail dominated, and I trimmed that back. Now growth has slowed down. Ironically, the amazon swords, which I wanted to grow huge and dominate, have been growing veery slowly. Allelopathy? Anyway, finally they seem to be speeding up.

I will post more about the fish later.

Plant Houseplant Water Green Wood
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
Its intreasting seeing your setup. Im going to be swaping my tiny Spec III betta tank over to a Walstad tank. I have high hopes that it will turn out as well as yours is so far.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Living vicariously through your epic massive Walstad adventure that I’ll never have money or space for 😂 Tank looks amazing so far, can’t wait to see more of the inhabitants!!

What happened to Single Platy? I’m invested in his destiny.

Are you bracing your floors somehow to help them carry the weight?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The Walstad tank has been doing well. It's been up and running for a year now, and is pretty stable and low maintenance.

The only real problem I had was that the first four Angelfish all died. Turns out, so too did all the Angelfish in the tank I bought them from in the store. So they sold me sick fish. Argh... Luckily, whatever it was, it didn't affect any other fish.

So I got two new Angelfish and tried again. Those two ended up spawning, and in the end I managed to raise 69 young ones in a separate tank. After a few months, I brought them back to join their parents in the big Walstad tank. We have been slowly selling the young ones locally, but still have about twenty left, see below. They all get along, for now. The parents sometimes decide to take over part of the tank and chase the kids away, but there is no biting. They look stunning when they all swim together.

The angelfish did kill off all my shrimp, and started chasing my cardinal tetras, which I then moved out.

Lidija, the Platy has done well. I moved in a few of his relatives, and they have been hapily reproducing. I move out the occasional fry that manage to not get eaten by the Angelfish. The tank has also produced a series of baby Bristlenose Plecos.

Plants have been growing fine. I trim the Jungle Val back regularly. The swords never fully took off. The tank has been mostly very clear and without algae. But recently I had an algae bloom, which you can see in the pics below. I think it happened when my smart plug controlling the light failed, and I started manually controlling the light. I originally had the smart plug set for a mid-day dark period of several hours, which I did not enforce manually. Now the system is back on a smart plug, and I hope the algae will clear up again. We'll see.
Plant Water Organism Pet supply Wood

Plant Terrestrial plant Organism Grass Aquatic plant
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top