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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone! I have a 2.5 gallon bowl that I wasn't sure what to do with, but I am now leaning towards turning this bowl into a walstad setup. How does my idea sound?

Bowl; The aforementioned 2.5 gallon bubble bowl, with 1 inch organic soil under 1 inch turface (I considered 1.5 inches of each, but I suspect that would take up too much space)

Light; 400 lumen LED bulb. I will use a siesta photoperiod (so about 4-5 hours on, 5 off, 4-5 on) to improve CO2 levels. (On a side note...would there be any benefit to such a 'siesta' period on my CO2 injected tanks?)

Filter; I will be installing a simple air lift tube (basically an undergravel filter) that will circulate water in a circular flow through the tank.

Fertilizers; No nitrate or phosphate most likely. I will dose a weak micronutrient dose once a week.

Setup; The tank will be dry started for the first month to allow the plants and beneficial bacteria to establish and fill in before the tank is flooded. For the first month, the tank will receive two 20% water changes a week; the next month it will receive a weekly water change; after that it will receive a water change every four weeks.

Thanks :)
 

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Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
No benefit for high tech tanks then? OK. Good to know that that I have some semblance of an idea what I am doing :) I was going to dose some potassium bicarbonate in the new WC water, along with the GH (in the form of calcium chloride dihydrate and epsom salt) and perhaps some baking soda (as a cheaper KH source...potassium bicarbonate seems to be many times costlier per pound than baking soda, at least online).

On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
 

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No benefit for high tech tanks then? OK. Good to know that that I have some semblance of an idea what I am doing :) I was going to dose some potassium bicarbonate in the new WC water, along with the GH (in the form of calcium chloride dihydrate and epsom salt) and perhaps some baking soda (as a cheaper KH source...potassium bicarbonate seems to be many times costlier per pound than baking soda, at least online).

On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
What is your pH and KH? If your KH is above 4 then I see no need to raise it with carbonates/bicarbonates. If you add these to your tank daily, the KH as well as your pH will continue to rise.

If your GH is soft, then you can follow Ms. Walstad's water hardness recipe. It'll raise your GH without affecting your pH and KH.
 

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On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.

Bump:
On a side note...would there be any benefit to dosing a small (about half a degree) quantity of carbonates daily? I was talking to someone on a reef forum who had some macroalgae tanks, and they found that dosing a degree's worth of KH (in his case, with baking soda) drastically improved his macroalgae's growth (to the point that he had to fertilize the tank) and even initiated pearling.
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
What is your pH and KH? If your KH is above 4 then I see no need to raise it with carbonates/bicarbonates. If you add these to your tank daily, the KH as well as your pH will continue to rise.

If your GH is soft, then you can follow Ms. Walstad's water hardness recipe. It'll raise your GH without affecting your pH and KH.
Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.

Bump:

Reef tanks are a different beast entirely. Almost every organism in a reef tank is after calcium in the form of calcium carbonate, even many of the algae. Dissolved calcium keeps pH elevated, which makes it difficult for other micronutrients to dissolve into solution. Very long story short - The addition of a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) allows for some fluctuation in dissolved solids with a stabilized effect on pH.

The pH of a planted tank is so low (compared to reef) that every micronutrient is available in solution. If your goal is to never change water and allow for natural waste breakdown, then there will be a time when carbonates and buffers are useful. Otherwise, regular water changes and maintenance combined with micros will be plenty for freshwater plants. If you are using RODI water, where TDS is low, then magnesium sulphate is a common freshwater buffer. Dechlorinated tap with micros will have more than enough buffering capacity for a nonCO2 injected tank so that there is no pH crash over night.

*This is all my opinion formed from my experience.
KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells :grin2: ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.

EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?
 

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KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells :grin2: ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.
That is some soft water! I now understand your concerns! Yeah, I wouldn't think many freshwater plants would evolve that adaptation since freshwater has comparatively higher free CO2. You are pushing the envelope of my aquarium chemistry knowledge/experience here, so I'm going to respectfully bow out. Good luck!
 

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Siesta periods are strictly for low tech tanks. The purpose of a siesta period is to stop photosynthesis in the plants to allow your aquarium water to reach CO2 equlibrium with atmosphere again, then restart photosynthesis again. This is intended to limit tank exposure to higher intensity light when CO2 levels are low, which could greatly contribute to algae issues. Therefor, if you inject CO2 into a tank, siesta periods are not needed. Sounds like you have a solid plan. I'm not sure of the macro content of your substrate selection, but be sure there will be potasium available so that nitrogen and phosphate can be taken up efficiently.
I schedule siesta periods for my high tech tanks for the benefit of my viewing, one in the morning hours and one in the evening. Having a continuous photo period starting in the afternoon hours is useless to me as I’m typically not home to enjoy, and I like to view and feed my fish early in the morning and again in the evening. As to whether a siester period will make plants grow better or worse I don’t know but feeding fish twice a day will benefit their growth. Anglers know fish bite more in dawn and dust and why not plants be hungrier then.
 

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KH and GH in my tap water are both around 1-2, and the TDS after dechlorinating is around 50-55 ppm...they definitely need the add ins. When I first moved here, I killed many of my animals (desert gobies, a mystery snail, a dwarf gourami...) within weeks from how soft this water was. I'll definitely look at that recipe, though my calcium chloride/epsom salt recipe would not increase the KH (the potassium bicarbonate would, but that is probably a good thing in this context)

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate...marine macroalgae don't need the sodium and cannot get calcium from it (unless they have little nuclear reactors hidden in their cells :grin2: ), but they (and many microalgae...and seagrasses...and the symbiotic dinoflagellates in corals...) can rip the bicarbonate apart and use the carbon for photosynthesis. I just wasn't sure how useful it would be to freshwater plants, seeing how only some freshwater plants can use the carbonates in a similar fashion.

EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?
Wow! You have really soft water! Mine is almost liquid rock with a GH of around 28 and a KH of 14. Lol The recipe will only raise your GH. It won't affect your KH. Carbonates and bicarbonates will increase the KH for you. Since my water is hard, trying to increase these levels is something I've never had to do.

The main concern for freshwater tanks when it comes to KH is to keep your pH stable. With your low KH, you run the risk of your pH crashing which can kill your inhabitants. Other than that, aside from CO2 and nitrogen, the GH will provide the plants with much needed calcium, magnesium, etc.

Now as for your last paragraph, I'm sorry to say that I can't help you with that. My tank is a Walstad tank so I don't add fertilizers to it because extra fish food supplies the nutrients needed for the plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow! You have really soft water! Mine is almost liquid rock with a GH of around 28 and a KH of 14. Lol The recipe will only raise your GH. It won't affect your KH. Carbonates and bicarbonates will increase the KH for you. Since my water is hard, trying to increase these levels is something I've never had to do.

The main concern for freshwater tanks when it comes to KH is to keep your pH stable. With your low KH, you run the risk of your pH crashing which can kill your inhabitants. Other than that, aside from CO2 and nitrogen, the GH will provide the plants with much needed calcium, magnesium, etc.

Now as for your last paragraph, I'm sorry to say that I can't help you with that. My tank is a Walstad tank so I don't add fertilizers to it because extra fish food supplies the nutrients needed for the plants.
Funny enough, in most PH crashes, it is the large changes in the KH that stress/kill fish...PH changes are relatively benign by comparison so long as they don't fall so far that the fish cannot survive the new Ph level at all (IE a mbuna tank falling into the 4's). People with high tech tanks regularly have the PH shift by 1 or more over the day due to the CO2 coming on and off, but since nothing else changes that does not bother the fish and inverts in such tanks so long as the PH does not dip below their tolerance range (my 'high tech' tanks all use yeast reactors, so these regular shifts do not occur for me...the only time they might occur is when I switch out a reactor for a new one every 2 weeks, but since I always do that after the photoperiod ends the plants are not obviously affected). Not to say I am skipping the KH (which many animals need anyway)...after all, most animals appropriate for such a small walstad tank as this (neocaridina shrimp, Heterandria formosa, snails, etc) need the KH to osmoregulate, and in a low CO2 environment like a walstad tank many plants are likely to resort to using carbonates as a carbon source (and thus removing KH from the water)
 

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EDIT: I know ferts are anathema to the walstad method, but would there be enough bioload in the bowl to support the plants, or would it be better for me to dose a small amount of nitrate and phosphate (maybe 2-3 ppm and .5 ppm respectively) over the course of the week in the event the tank's ammonia is insufficient?
I prefer a nutrient starved tank to a high nutrient tank, specifically with respect to nitrate and phosphate. This may be from my reef tank experience, but it seems to carry over to freshwater plants more or less. When I dosed full recommedned EI for my tank, Algae and disfigured leaves on some plants were big issues. I now only dose potasium sulfate and micros and have no issues at all. In my opinion, correcting a nutrient defficiency is much easier than correcting for excessive nutrients, especially once certain algae becomes established. I guess moving slowly either way would be key.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the input so far! Here is one bulb I am considering for this bowl; https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips...d-Light-Bulb-Daylight-2-Pack-556621/311192955

It is a little brighter than I had planned...500 lumens for one of these bulbs (for comparison, my two 5 gallon high tech CO2 tanks both have a 430 lumen, 3000k undercabinet light on them...not very bright, but it is supporting good growth on both tanks). Is that an OK amount of light, or should I get something weaker? (Alternately, I have some 50% shade cloth I could use as part of the lid, OR I could make the lighting periods a little shorter - perhaps 3-3.5 hours with a 4-5 hour siesta between them)

EDIT: Since this bowl is so small and is not going to be CO2 injected, do I even need to have an air pump or any other kind of circulation in it?
 

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EDIT: Since this bowl is so small and is not going to be CO2 injected, do I even need to have an air pump or any other kind of circulation in it?
I'd say no. With my type of setup, circulation is optional because you don't want to take the chance of losing CO2 due to any surface agitation. There are, however, some benefits to adding circulation like it spreads heat and nutrients evenly around the tank.

If you do add circulation, make sure it's a very gentle flow. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I'd go with more soil, like 1.5 inches.

Good luck!
Thanks! So an inch and a half of soil under an inch of turface?

I'd say no. With my type of setup, circulation is optional because you don't want to take the chance of losing CO2 due to any surface agitation. There are, however, some benefits to adding circulation like it spreads heat and nutrients evenly around the tank.

If you do add circulation, make sure it's a very gentle flow. :)
Do you think I could add an electrical timer so that the air pump is only running at night or perhaps during part of the siesta period?

EDIT: I have some plant ideas for this bowl...how do these sound?
- Hygrophila difformis
- Cryptocoryne wendtii
- Christmas moss
- Riccia fluitans (floating...can this plant be dry started?)

Are there any plants (perhaps to replace the hygro) that would turn at least somewhat red in a walstad setup? Also, during the dry start, should I mist the christmas moss (which, of course, would have no roots) with a weak nutrient solution instead of the RODI water I would mist the other plants with in the morning?
 

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Do you think I could add an electrical timer so that the air pump is only running at night or perhaps during part of the siesta period?

EDIT: I have some plant ideas for this bowl...how do these sound?
- Hygrophila difformis
- Cryptocoryne wendtii
- Christmas moss
- Riccia fluitans (floating...can this plant be dry started?)

Are there any plants (perhaps to replace the hygro) that would turn at least somewhat red in a walstad setup? Also, during the dry start, should I mist the christmas moss (which, of course, would have no roots) with a weak nutrient solution instead of the RODI water I would mist the other plants with in the morning?
I would only use the pump at night. Sometimes it is needed for the first 6-8 weeks until the plants can establish themselves. After that, you most likely won't need it. I've only started using a siesta period for a short time so I can't help you there but since the lights would only be off for a few hours, I don't think the pump would be needed.

I looked up the dry start method because to be honest, I didn't know anything about it. Lol When I set up a tank, once the substrate is set, I add the plants and then fill up the tank. Aside from the moss, I've had all of these plants at some point and they grow well but the crypt may get a bit big for your tank size. Ludwigia reopens may get some red colour. The stems always stayed reddish for me.

I know you didn't ask me about the substrate but what works for me is 1" of soil with 0.5" of gravel. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I would only use the pump at night. Sometimes it is needed for the first 6-8 weeks until the plants can establish themselves. After that, you most likely won't need it. I've only started using a siesta period for a short time so I can't help you there but since the lights would only be off for a few hours, I don't think the pump would be needed.

I looked up the dry start method because to be honest, I didn't know anything about it. Lol When I set up a tank, once the substrate is set, I add the plants and then fill up the tank. Aside from the moss, I've had all of these plants at some point and they grow well but the crypt may get a bit big for your tank size. Ludwigia reopens may get some red colour. The stems always stayed reddish for me.

I know you didn't ask me about the substrate but what works for me is 1" of soil with 0.5" of gravel. :)
Good to know. Maybe I can use the repens in place of the crypts? (I have H. difformis growing like a weed in one of my 5 gallon yeast powered tank, so I can easily take some cuttings from there to use in this tank) I think I may do 1 inch soil under 1 inch of turface. My idea is that the dry start for 1-2 months would allow me to thoroughly fill the tank out with the plants and get them thoroughly established before flooding the tank, thus making the transition to submersed growth less stressful (it would also allow the plants to eat much of the ammonia that would inevitably be released by the substrate if it was flooded immediately).

By the way...thanks for all the help so far, everyone :)
 

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Good to know. Maybe I can use the repens in place of the crypts? (I have H. difformis growing like a weed in one of my 5 gallon yeast powered tank, so I can easily take some cuttings from there to use in this tank) I think I may do 1 inch soil under 1 inch of turface. My idea is that the dry start for 1-2 months would allow me to thoroughly fill the tank out with the plants and get them thoroughly established before flooding the tank, thus making the transition to submersed growth less stressful (it would also allow the plants to eat much of the ammonia that would inevitably be released by the substrate if it was flooded immediately).

By the way...thanks for all the help so far, everyone :)
You certainly could. H. Difformis is a nice, fast growing plant which will help use up excess nutrients. If you would still like to have a crypt in there though, you can plant c. parva, if you can find it. It is slow growing but it stays small. Here's a thread listing some crypts that stay on the smaller size.

So that's why people do dry start. It makes sense. I'm assuming this is mainly for aquatic plants that were grown emersed.

Good luck!
 

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It could. From what I've read, it needs moderate to high lighting. Low Tech tanks tend to use low to moderate light so it could work. The thing is I don't know if you would get the red colour that you want. I've heard different things about getting red plants to show more red from needing to dose more iron, that starving plants of nitrogen to bring out the reds, to growing them in high light.
 
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