The Planted Tank Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Been keeping traditional FW tanks (w/ fake plants) on and off for a couple decades and just started with live plants in mid 2020 (just putting simple plants like Java Fern in existing tanks and dosing ferts). But after learning about Diana Walstad and devouring her book, decided I was going to give it a try. Here is the progress so far:



Equipment and Specs

  • Tank: generic 40g (150L) Breeder w/ glass lid
  • Heater: Eheim Jager 125w, set to 78F (25.5C)
  • Powerhead: Sicce Voyager 1000. Because I am not using a filter, wanted a small powerhead to gently circulate water and nutrients. Seems to be a nice light flow, though I might want even a little gentler, not sure.
  • Lights: 3x Finnex Stringray (1st gen). Set to 12 hours daylight with a 2 hour siesta in the middle
  • Thermostat: Nicrew N20040. I'm using this as a safety net. If the heater fails ON, then the thermostat will cut power to it when it hits the critical temp I set, preventing the tank from cooking. As an added bonus, also has a digital temp display.



Since I have some kiddos, needed to secure the stand to the wall. Drove a couple long lag screws into studs. I then leveled it, and added anti-slip drawer liner to the top of the stand to prevent the tank from being slid off of the slick metal.





My wife is a lover of plants (plant hoarder) so we had some quality organic soil in the garage. Even though this soil really had no giant chunks, it took forever to strain it. I started with typical kitchen colander which got rid of all the larger chunks but I was left with a lot of small pieces of perlite. So I got some window screen material, stapled it in place over a cardboard box, put on a good audiobook, and set to round two. Ended up with super fluffy and fine soil with most of the perlite and small wood chunks gone. Lesson Learned: Just start with the screen and skip the colander.



1" soil in the tank. Sorry for bad angle, was trying to avoid my reflection since this was taken late at night. I then added some water to the tank to moisten the soil so it would start to pack down and to get major air gaps out. Unfortunately, I ended up adding too much water and turned it into mud. This resulted in some of the gravel sinking into the "mud" rather than nicely capping it. Lesson Learned: Light on the initial moistening.



Washed the gravel reasonably well in a 5g bucket and scooped it carefully onto my muddy mess. Started with the edges to prevent the mud from being pushed up the side of the tank. Ended up using about 60lbs. I also added a few lbs of (rinsed) crushed coral into the gravel to raise kH to help with pH buffering and add some trace elements. As with most municipal water, it is very soft. I've had good luck with this in my other tanks.



Filled the tank with water while adding Prime to dechlorinate. Used a plate to prevent the gravel and dirt from being disturbed. Lesson Learned: 50ft of python hose was not enough. Bought a 10ft extension.




Despite my attempts to keep it in check, dirt made it above the gravel cap and floated to the surface. Damn you Foo The Flowerhorn and your perfect execution! I used a brine shrimp net to skim most of this off the surface, then drained the tank and used paper towels to wipe the dirt that had collected on the glass.



After draining the tank, started to experiment with "hardscape". Ended up adding some rocks my wife dug up while landscaping our front beds. I tested them with some acid to ensure they wouldn't play hell with the tank pH.



One concern I had was getting enough plants and a good variety. I have always ordered from Aquarium Coop but my wife found some neat plants from Dustin's and ordered a few. I was really impressed at how heathy they were that I decided to order their $100 combo since that was gonig to be way more cost effective than buying plants individually. Plus, being a n00b to plants, I had no idea what to get anyways to this allowed me to tell them what tank I had and what my plans and goals were and they custom made the combo. And wow, that is a lot of plants! The only downside is that they did not include a list of the plants sent and being a n00b, I had to guess at what most of them are.



I'm not a huge fan if Java Moss because my past experience with it is that it either dies or end up floating around looking ugly. I decided to rubber band clumps to stainless steel mesh to see if I could get a carpet like effect. We'll see what happens.



Started by putting an inch or so of water in the tank and planting the small plants. Then added more water and planted the taller plants. Used that flower pot to help disperse the water and prevent kicking up dirt/gravel. Rhizome based plants were super glued (outside of the tank) to the décor, everything else was pushed into the gravel gently (had to use plant weights on some things that just wouldn't stay put). Bless my beautiful and patient wife for doing this. I don't have the patience, tiny hands, or artistic/creative vision for this type of work.



As expected, tank was really cloudy after the initial fill. Really this is the 2nd fill I guess. I spent some time skimming more dirt and debris off the surface as well. I added a heater and let it sit like this over night.



24 hours later, slightly less cloudy, and decided to do a water change. This allowed me to wipe down the glass again where dirt had accumulated.




It was much more clear after this water change! Again, more skimming or dirt from the surface and some plant leaves that had fallen off. Tested that water and Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates all reading 0. I decided to add some fish food with the intention of it decaying and generating some ammonia. I wanted to see some Nitrates before adding fish. This was a bad idea.



72 hours later: No image, sorry. Tank is starting to look a little cloudy again which I am thinking is a bacterial bloom. The fish pellets that I added started to mold which is why I think that was a bad idea. Ended up skimming them off the surface and the plants wherever possible. Reading maybe .25-.5ppm Ammonia now, so the cycle seems to be starting! Will test ever day or two for nitrates.



So that's the status so far; definitely a learning experience. Most of the equipment is 2nd hand off CL and FB Marketplace. Hope the wall-o-text didn't make your eyes bleed. If there is interest, I'll post some more updates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I wouldn't bother adding any other source of ammonia to the tank. The soil will produce a lot of ammonia just on its own. Good start to a walstad. Just keep doing water changes daily for the first week. It will help a lot with the nutrient release.
Thanks for the feedback! Yea, it was a dumb idea to add additional ammonia. As of today, I am reading 3ppm Ammonia. I've only done a couple water changes so I am going to start doing them daily for the next few days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Well done on setting up the tank, and good luck with the next days and weeks. I'm excited to see how the build comes along, and what issues you do/don't run into with just the powerhead and so on. Did your plant bundle include some floating plants? These might be helpful for competing with algae in the early stages.

Bump: Woops, I see you've already posted about floaters that elsewhere! Nevermind. :) Look forward to the next updates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Well done on setting up the tank, and good luck with the next days and weeks. I'm excited to see how the build comes along, and what issues you do/don't run into with just the powerhead and so on. Did your plant bundle include some floating plants? These might be helpful for competing with algae in the early stages.

Bump: Woops, I see you've already posted about floaters that elsewhere! Nevermind. :) Look forward to the next updates.
Thanks! Any suggestions on the floaters?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,229 Posts
Thanks! Any suggestions on the floaters?
If your surface doesn't have much movement red root floaters are pretty. I have had mixed success with them. I prefer giant duckweed (not regular duckweed), which grows easily even if there is a little current on the surface which most of my tanks have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
If your surface doesn't have much movement red root floaters are pretty. I have had mixed success with them. I prefer giant duckweed (not regular duckweed), which grows easily even if there is a little current on the surface which most of my tanks have.
I only have minimal/moderate surface movement from a small submerged powerhead. Does giant duckweed become a nuisance like standard duckweed? I'm going to avoid frogbit because I don't want super long roots. I love the look of the Dwarf water lettuce roots, but they might end up being too long as well. RR floaters, Salvinia Minima (Water Spangles) and Giant duckweed might be my best bet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
No specific recommendations! I have been living with small duckweed for a while, and would recommend something else :) If you need to use something temporary for algae reasons while waiting to source your salvinia or what have you, you could float hornwort or wysteria in the water column.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
No specific recommendations! I have been living with small duckweed for a while, and would recommend something else :) If you need to use something temporary for algae reasons while waiting to source your salvinia or what have you, you could float hornwort or wysteria in the water column.
Thanks for the feedback! I think I am going to grab some RR floaters and giant duckweed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Well, we are having a bit of a family emergency and need to travel from the house for a few days. Here's hoping it doesn't crash before I get back!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Sorry to hear you've had a family emergency. I am several months to a year away from setting up my own tank, but your setup is practically identical to what I'm planning! I'll be following to see how it grows in. Great work so far!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
51 Posts
Looks good, hope to see more updates! I've had my Walstad setup for about year and a half and it's fish and plants are loving it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
I like the walstad method I’ve done a couple tanks this way. My most recent one I had set up for about 3 years with minimal water changes. I love it! I’m big on a more natural set up. For filtration I only ran a Hamburg matten filter with a pump which isn’t fully walstad I guess but worked great! Right now I’m playing around with dirt under a deep sand bed. Congrats on your first walstad set up sounds like your off to a good start good luck!
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top