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About Me

  1. I keep many small aquariums in my apartment, mostly Walstad-style, with organic soil from a local composting spot. I enjoy running really stable ecosystems. These photos don't show much of the fish and shrimp. I also keep some outdoor tubs here in Vermont. Cheers, Jason
  2. Hello! I recently tried setting up a soil substrate aquarium after years of just keeping anubias and Java fern. I went with about an inch of organic potting soil and then 1.5 inches or so of medium gravel. Following along pretty closely with the Ecology of the Planted Aquarium by Diana Walstad. I know that nitrogen leaking from the soil was going to be substantial at least at first, but the ammonia was around 1ppm for a week straight and I didn’t feel comfortable stocking it. Also, I found the biofilm that developed from lack of surface agitation really nasty, but I didn’t want to agitate the surface with an air stone or sponge filter and release all the CO2 from the water. At this point I stumbled across Diana Walstad’s website, and she had a supplemental article on potting plants instead of a full soil aquarium. https://dianawalstad.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/potted-pl-revisions-1.pdf I potted a few of my sword plants with the same soil and gravel cap in my 55 gallon with a sponge filter, and the water parameters have all been fine. Has anyone else experimented with potting root growers like sword plants or val? And how much does loss of CO2 from the surface agitation of a sponge filter REALLY hinder plant growth? What are your thoughts/experience? Thanks!
  3. Starting a new Walstad inspired scape tank:
  4. This thread is to document the setup, care and lifetime of my newly created 20 gallon long Walstad deep sandbed tank! I've been planning this project for a while now, and after assuring that the cabinet the tank was destined to sit on was sturdy enough, I took advantage of the latest Petco sale. My husband was a total enabler on this one, which was fun! I've been fascinated by Walstad tanks (and other dirted tanks that use plant-only filtration) since I restarted in this hobby a few years ago, and though all of my other tanks are dirted, none of them have that deep substrate or the no water changes / no filter rule. So this will be a new experience. The planned live stock will be a colony of bloody mary neocaridinas, a vampire shrimp, and perhaps some rabbit snails (among my usual hitchhikers). Edit: It's come to my attention that what I'm doing is slightly different than Diana Walstad's method, but the idea is still the same. After spray painting the back black, I was sure to center the tank and the runner it sits on as best I could. I might have to move that hyena picture above it... it looks off center now! This is the brand of dirt I chose to use. I've never used it before, but I couldn't find the cheapo stuff I used before. I didn't bother sifting the dirt, I just pulled out bigger pieces of wood if I found them. I spread an inch deep layer and pressed it down, and then sprinkled some crushed coral over it, as my water has pretty low Kh. I then sprayed the dirt down with a spray bottle to get it wet, before capping it with two inches of Black Diamond blasting sand - my go to substrate, I like the black color and how cheap it is. I didn't bother washing it, because I'm convinced it doesn't matter. I used a wooden skewer with an inch and three inches both marked off, so I could ensure I had the proper layer depths. Now to fill 'er up! I put a ziplock bag on the sand to soften the water flow. Worked like a charm. As it began to fill, I sorted out the air pump and bubblers. I used Aquarium Co-Op's black airline tubing that they sent me in my care package, and I gotta say it hooks up like butter. Very nice. The bubblers are these fancy ones that came with my Eheim pumps. I wanted lots of flow for the vampire shrimp, so I added two bubblers. Time for hardscape. I'm keeping it simple, and just used some slate pieces I had sitting around. And then it was time for more filling. This time I used a bowl to disperse the water flow. I filled it almost all the way, and then decided it was planting time. I grabbed out a bunch of Val from my 29 gallon. Here's how it looks with the plants in. I do intend to get some moss or maybe Susswassertang. If my new pink flamingo crypt settles in the 75 well I might put some in here too. But for now, I'll let the val fill in The first inhabitant - a pink ramshorn hitchhiker. I'm sure there's eggs on the plants, too. It's getting too warm to safely order livestock here in AL, so this has all summer to get grown in and seasoned. I'll post updates on plant growth and whenever I add a new plant for now.
  5. What soil to use for planting a tank? I see many on the forum here use miracle grow performance organics. I have a bag however its mostly pieces of wood, more like dirty mulch than soil. I can order from Home Depot, Lowes or Tractor Supply but I don't want to get another bag of sticks.
  6. I think it would be fun to start 3 similar aquariums at the same time, but try 3 different strategies for the substrate and fertilizer. First a Walstad type dirted substrate - in this case dirt from my yard Second, CaribSea's Eco-Complete And third, a 'normal' tank with CaribSea's Peace Rive substrate supplemented with Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Root Tabs and Easy Green liquid fertilizer. For this experiment (okay, this is definitely not an experiment as I do not have a hypothesis, any controls, or replicants) I will use three 40 gallon breeder aquariums that will likely have sponge filters, heaters, and Finnex lights. It should take me about a week or two to gather all the resources for this experiment (again, definitely not an experiment as my N on each tank will be 1, but my fun quotient ought to be greater than 1 because this will also be an attempt to setup 3 aquariums that are some more than green water fry tanks or mulm factories).
  7. This will be my first Walstad tank and I’m super excited! I used miracle grow soil capped with gravel and black sand. My plants are Anubius (not sure what kind), dwarf hair grass, flame moss, water sprite (floating), Amazon swords, and I think some kind of crypt. More background plants to come, but I wanted to show my semi finished tank!😁😁😁 Also! Any advice or tips would be much appreciated!! 09/19- got some Ludwigia repens today for the background! Hopefully it will keep its red color. Does anyone have some that kept the red color without co2? Also, ordered some red root floaters for the surface that should be arriving in about a week😁
  8. Okay. So. My 55 gallon was originally supposed to be a Walstad setup. I got impatient when the pet store didn’t have the sand I wanted, so I capped the soil with a layer of imagitarium gravel. Fast forward a year and a half. The pH of my heavily planted, full-of-driftwood, barely-water-changed tank is 8.4, with 300ppm hardness and 300ppm buffer. (Max level on the aquarium coop test strips.) The water out of my tap is almost RO, it has so little in it. The black coating on the gravel is wearing off. So given that plants and driftwood are supposed to lower your pH over time, and the fact that I don’t have this problem in any of my other tanks, I’m 99.9% sure the gravel is sending my pH through the roof. The fish are doing fine—they’ve adjusted to this over a long period of time. I think they’d be happier in a lower pH environment but they’re doing okay. But I know if I ever want to add new fish, they’ll have a rough go of it in this very very hard, alkaline water. I’d also like to be able to grow stem plants in here. At the very beginning of this tank I had beautiful stem plants! But based on the fact that they all died and I’ve never gotten them to grow again, I don’t think they can handle the high pH. (The swords are also nitrate hogs. I fertilized yesterday and today the nitrate is 0.) Plus, the gravel does a terrible job keeping the dirt where it’s supposed to be. There’s always particulates floating everywhere, which I think contributes to my small-leafed plants growing tons of algae. The mulm collects in those plants and the algae love it. So the question is… do I dare change my substrate? I think I’d replace everything with a fine gravel, something on the darker side that still looks natural. Forget the Walstad. I love that method, but the Walstad ship sailed for this tank long ago. I really want to, but I have no idea how, given that this is a dirted tank. I could empty the whole thing and try to scoop the substrate out, but that seems really hard. Even if I get the tetras and gouramis out of there, I’ve got two plecos, two yo-yo loaches, and two otos that I highly doubt I could catch without tearing out the entire scape. And I know my sword plants will not be happy if I uproot them. I could try to replace the substrate one bit at a time, vacuuming out another section each time I do a water change. I had to do that when I replaced the rock in the front right corner. It kicked up a toooon of dirt but that cleared in time. Does that make the most sense, so I don’t have to move anyone? I’d never get all the gravel out, but maybe I could remove enough that the pH goes down. I’m just imagining that between the loaches and the Malaysian trumpet snails, the old and new gravel will get mixed together and then I’ll end up throwing out a lot of new gravel every time I try the next section. That or I’m stuck sorting gravel. 😛 Help!!
  9. My LFS has a 5 gallon bowl that they are selling for $20. It has the perfect dimensions and everything! I am so close on buying it. My plan would be to put it on my desk next to my window, and have it be another dirted walstad aquarium with neocardinal orange pumpkin shrimp. For plants heres what I was thinking... Varius Anubias Hornwort Bacopa Bolbitus Tiger Lotus Bulb Amazon Frogbit Knowing that the anubias, hornwort, and frogbit should all do fine with ambient lighting from the window I am wondering if Bacopa, tuger lotus and Bolbitus would do fine in a low light setting. If it matters I'm looking at bacopa carolina. This bowl also has a internal air filter. From my inspection I thought it looked like I could remove the filter compeltley, using instead the plants to filter the tank. It being a walstad tank that is only a few gallons, I think it'll be fine with no waterflow/ filtration.
  10. I rescued a betta off of Kijiji today! I named him DarthVader, but Vader for short! The original owner said "I always forget to feed him, and he's such a pain" But the betta is super cute! It was free too, so I had to take it home. It came with a bowfront 3 gallon aquarium, gravel and decor. I have decided to keep the decor in the aquarium until I can get a light and plants for the aqaurium. I will be switching out the gravel shortly though. I have been wanting to setup a walstad aquarium for the LONGEST time. And after reading through most of diana walstads books I think I'm ready. I want to try and use plants that I already have (hygrophillia compact, salvania, pogostemon stellatus octopus) And then I will be ordering more plants shortly. I am just waiting to purchase that light. I wish I had a window to put it by because then I could use natural light. After getting the aquarium I replaced the gravel and did a 100% waterchange. Then added the substrate (1inch of soil, 1 inch of gravel). I have a temporary light, but its suppeer crap Also please dont tell hugo about the new betta, he cant think I am cheating on him.
  11. I'm starting a third tank because I am a crazy person. I am just super curious as to how to make a dirted tank work. Now, I live in a very old, tiny house so we don't have room for another tank and frankly, I don't really want another full blown tank. So I bought a jar. From Target, 2 gallons and it was only $14. I would like to do it Walstad style, so I bought some organic potting soil, sifted it and covered it with sand. Put the rock and the plants in and let it sit over night. I now realize I want to take it all out and try again... this time I want to put the sand around the outer edge first, then put in the potting soil, then a deeper sand cap because the soil keeps wanting to peek out in spots and I think that will just be a mess if I don't fix it now. I tried to do a good mix between slow growing plants and fast growers. I have an anubias nana, a java fern, scarlet temple, dwarf grass, pearl weed, spiral val, java moss on the rock, s. repens and crypt undulata red. I might even go crazy and add a stick. I am just using a regular old desk lamp over it and I'm getting a little nano air pump with a little valve regulator thing so I can do a super minimal air stone in it to keep it from getting stagnant. Once I get it more figured out, I will add some floaters (red rooter cooters and I caved and ordered some frogbit on ebay that's coming soon, if it doesn't fry on the way here). Ultimately, I'd like to add some of my new super cute red ramshorn snails, some shrimp and put one of my zillions of guppy fry (or maybe one of the Endlers that annoy the guppy females too much). I'll probably add the snails relatively soon, once its set up again but the rest will wait until the plants are established and I feel like this will actually work without a filter and all that. It's a fun little project/experiment! I assure you, the jar is not breaking the laws of physics. I canNOT figure out how to get pictures to not post sideways... I seriously cannot sort this out on my own. I've tried editing the picture, control-right clicking the picture and so on.
  12. So I have dwarf hair grass in 3 tanks--I love the stuff, when it works. Here it is planted in a dirted tank with a fine white sand cap. It is going CRAZY. I planted in larger clumps, because I happened to score a petsmart pot of it that was cheap and ridiculously healthy. When I planted it the roots were healthy and robust. This tank is barely 2 months old. I don't even bother to dose with easy green here, since all the plants are root feeders, and the soil is giving them plenty of nutrients. There is shockingly little algae in this tank. In my other tanks, with a mix of Eco-complete and ADA amazonia, it is struggling BADLY. Poor growth, lots of melt, infested with algae. The original plants came in as bunches, bare root. They looked pretty rough to begin with, and I spread them out in smaller clumps. These tanks are about 3-4 months old. They get easy green, but I am not using root tabs. I did give them some passive CO2 to start, for a month or two. I am ready to give up on them here. I would like to give my next attempt at growing a carpet a better shot. Options are: Start fresh with new dwarf hair grass plants Add root tabs Abandon hope with this substrate and choose a different plant for this space Some additional option I haven't thought of yet?
  13. I have become so fascinating with walstad tanks as of lately. I want to set one up in the near future, and all though this wont be for another month or two I have some questions. Its my understanding that you do 1" - 1.5" layer of soil and then you cap that off with another inch of gravel/ sand, is this correct? Is there anything in the some soils that I should avoid? or will any soil do? I also understand that because its heavily planted the nitrogen cycle is not necessary. I can add the fish the same day I add the plants? But I also heard that you should wait two months before adding the fish to let the aquarium balance out. Whats your opinion on this? And of course in walstad tanks because theres no filtration, Diana Walstad reccemends to have some flow in your aquarium. This would probably help with preventing the bio film that lives on the surface of the water when theres no flow. But then also if something were to go wrong with your plants you have that added source of oxygen. Is this right? Anything else I should know? Its going to be a 5 gallon that will probably house some pumpkin shrimp. I'm also considering ordering the book off amazon because my local library doesn't have it. Thanks guys!
  14. I started my planted tank in October 2020 with about an inch of organic garden soil topped with an inch of gravel. I planted dwarf sagittaria, Nymphoides hydrophylla 'Taiwan' and water sprite. There were some random red leaves so I planted them too not expecting much and they all grew wonderfully. I had 3 big beautiful red plants and a thriving planted tank. Then I got this idea that having a little pothos plant growing from the hang on back filter canister would look lovely. And it did. However, the plants in my aquarium started getting yellow spots and holes, losing leaves and just melting. The red plants are now just stems. I did a little research then, took the pothos out, and started adding Seachem Potassium supplement. It's been about 3 weeks since I started with this, but the plants are not looking any better. What can I do to save my plants?
  15. I’ve heard a range of differing opinions on dirted tanks. Some say they’re plant crack, and some say basic rot tabs do the exact same thing with the same results. What are your guys’ thoughts on them? Have you had success? Failure? Longevity? Brands? And would it be good for a beginner who just wants to provide the best for their plants?
  16. so I am thinking I want to set up a Walstad method tank, and I have some kribs in qt. the concern is they will dig and cloud up the tank from what I understand a walstad tank is top soil capped with gravel sand. I want to breed them will that be a issue? sorry if that was confusing 😅I got a new tank so I am exited thinking about what I want to do
  17. This picture is a month or two old, but this is my first Walstad and its doing pretty well. The only issue I've had is trying to keep the green hair algae under control. Stock List 5x Pearl Gourami 5x Assorted Platy 5x Amano Shrimp 3x SAE 3x Otto 1x Bristlenose Pleco 2x Nerite Snails Infinity pond snails
  18. Hi!! Hopefully I can manage to avoid making this TOO much of a rehash of my about page- but, hi everyone, my name's Linebeck (they/he pronouns for me, thank youuu)! I'm located in south Texas, and I'm starting community college in the fall! I'm planning to get credits to transfer to TX State for their Aquatic Biology degree, and then I want to pursue certificates and a career in environmental health and safety. I've been in the hobby for about a year and a half at this point- I wasn't actually very interested in fishkeeping for a while, even after I started, I just saw the poor care my sister was giving to her betta, that didn't have a name yet (I named him Totodile) and refused to let it live a miserable life. He died recently, after the freeze, and so did the ember tetras collectively named Red Basculin. But on the bright side!!! Most of my neocaridina shrimp and all of my goldfish and white cloud mountain minnows survived! Which is a good segue into introducing them! I still haven't named the Shrimp Collective, but I recently moved them into the 10 gal from their fluval Ebi. This setup of plants is REALLY new, and has to grow in, still, because I made so many of the small bushy plants closer to the front (I do not remember what they are at All :'] ) from a few bigger ones. I'm going to be adding chili rasbora once everything grows in, and it'll be a display tank in my mom's office! And in my 40 gal, I have 3 ranchu goldfish! A dark brown-gold female named Feebas, a white male with an orange tail named Seel, and another male with more mottled coloring of orange and black and white with one completely black eye named Goldeen (sidenote: Should I look for more female goldfish to add with them? I worry about them stressing out Feebas with their chasing). I also have a small school of white cloud mountain minnows collectively named Blue Basculin! I also have a TON of pothos in there, growing completely submerged! All of the pothos you see in there were propagated from 3 plants! Both of these tanks use matten filters and have dirt beneath their cap of planted substrate and sand respectively! Anyway- I'm really excited to be a part of this community!
  19. Hello all, been lurking here a while and greatly enjoying the content. I thought I might contribute back to any other newbies with experiences similar to mine who don't know how big plants will get, etc. I have a 20 long pseudo-walstad I've been working on for a while. It was initially planted a few months ago: Most of the plants were purchased from the Co-op: Vallisneria, Chain sword, Water sprite, Hydrocotyle tripartita, Windelov java fern, a lily bulb, and a few Cryptocoryne wendtii brown and dwarf sagittaria I already had from another tank. Soil layer was about and inch thick with a half-inch of sand per Dr. Walstad's reccommendation in her book. The hardscape is placed on a hill made of filter bags full of Seachem flourite, to keep pressure off the dirt. I didn't originally plan to document this, so unfortunately I didn't take a picture of that stage. I had a very heavy algae and bacteria bloom for the first few weeks but it eventually resolved itself with time and pest snails. I had to remove the coconut, as it created a dead spot and had a heavy amount of bacterial growth inside. Here is a few months later: As you can see, everything is extremely overgrown. I think the lily may have been a poor choice for a tank this size, as the lily pads have to be trimmed almost bi-weekly to keep it from shading out the other plants. And the sword is filling in extremely slowly, making the right corner look a little more empty than I intended. I also added an Aquaclear 30 to the right side, so I suppose this is more of a pseudo-Walstad dirted tank than a true Walstad aquarium, but whatever. Sponge intake cover is also from the co-op. I have a few guppies and approximately 15 or so fry in the tank, all doing well. One more picture from this morning, after I added some pearlweed and Hydrocotyle leucephala courtesy of LRB Aquatics (does he have an account here? would tag him if I knew the handle): Thanks for looking 🙂
  20. First dirted tank start. Soil and many supplements added. Will house plants, cardinals, a few rams and an albino pleco. Decor ideas? All rock? Driftwood? I already have driftwood in my Killi and endler tank so it’s kinda becoming too much of a theme. Lol
  21. Will my Flourite absorb any of the nutrients leeched from my soul. I set up a rubbermaid 50G tub to grow out some Crypts and I thought that a dirted tank would be the easiest to grow the plants and wanted to use Flourite Sand for the added iron. I have ~1"+ of soil with a top of pool filter sand x Flourite black sand 2"+ deep. I thought that some of the nutrients leeching from the soil might get caught in the Flourite (bc of the CEC) but I wanted to know if it is true at all or if it is so minimal that it would not make a difference. Thank you all in advance.
  22. This summer we lost my mom's betta, Inferno. She's 73 and loved having him on the bar. She has a bad shoulder and chose not to get another fish because she had trouble with his 50% weekly water changes (no plants, no tests, etc so she was guessing at how much he needed taken out). I'm taking care of her now and while I'm a fan of bettas, my small tanks always turn into shrimp colonies so I haven't had my own in several years. This setup is for the two of us, but my intention is a gift for her and therapy for me. I'm hoping that the Walstad method of setting up the tank will make the maintenance easy for her (if I do it, it doesn't feel like it's her pet). The plants I chose were rigid hornwort, an unidentified Ludwigia species, and a plant that was called Monte Carlo in a trade but grew far faster and differently than the Monte Carlo in my CRS colony. I'm hoping I can mod the filter compartment to include the heater back there so that it is out of sight. Down the line I want to add floating plants from my other tanks. I'm obviously going to take her to pick out a betta when it's had time to establish (hopefully this can be around the holidays), but are there any other critters that y'all think she would enjoy? I have ramshorn snails (misc colors), MTS (which I don't plan to introduce), and CRS but she doesn't like invertebrates as much. I don't like overstocked tanks very much so I'm leaning towards asking some other local hobbyists for their Neocaridina culls.
  23. Hi everyone! I'm looking into setting up a 5.5g planted tank similar to what @Chrissy has. Hopefully Walstad, but if the bioload isn't correct I'm fine with doing water chagnes or adding Easy Green. The substrate will be Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix, then Fluval Stratum as a cap with a Finnex Stingray as a light. I'll be planting hornwort, moneywort, pogostemon stellatus octopus, red dwarf aquarium lily, anubias coffefolia, anubias nana, hydrocotyl tripartita "japan", crypt wendtii, anubias barteri, and anubias nana petite, with pearlweed forming a carpet in the front. Stocking will be 1 betta and a nerite. My question is will this work, or end up as a dumpster fire since I have no experience with plants except algae, and a cactus? Thanks in advance!
  24. Would it be a bad idea to use osmocoat and roots tabs in a dirted tank with eco complete as a cap? Would the extra fertilizer from the cap have a greater chance for algae production?
  25. I’m about to set up my 2nd tank. The first was a 29 . Half dirt and half pool filter sand. After 3 weeks the tank is beautiful. Now I want to set up a 75, but with dirt and eco complete as the cap. Aquarium gravel is $19 for 20 lbs, eco complete is $22 for 20 lbs. is my logic skewed for using eco complete for a cap?
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