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Walstad-Inspired Scape


Torrey

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So, I needed a new 10 gallon for qt and since tanks were half off, I bought 2... wouldn't you?

 

I have other Walstad inspired tanks, but have never been brave enough to go zero tech: no heater, no pumps, no air stone, and only using additional lighting for photographs. 

This tank is on a highboy dresser, with a mirror behind it, and plenty of light being reflected from my rack system. 

 

I started with the soil Dr Diana Walstad has recommended in her Walstad Treatise forum: Miracle Gro organic top soil.

1.5" closest to the front, 2" in the back, with a little gravel "river" between the two planted beds. There's a mixed gravel and sand "beach" at the front of the tank, and the soil is capped in black blasting sand. Black worms, and eventually Malaysian trumpet snails, will assist the plant roots in preventing toxic sulfur dioxide buildup in the soil layer.

 

I should have taken more pictures at the beginning. 20210711_193654.jpg.35a9e51b833a182509a22088a1c3ffa5.jpg

I only filled it a couple of inches for the first 24 hours, to let the soil really absorb the water.

 

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After about a week's worth of growth in the plants.

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With zero water movement, I had the novel experience of watching the blackwater tannins settle in the lowest point of the tank, and slowly change the water color.

 

I had never witnessed this before!

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Floating plants, like water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed and Mexican azolla, have rapidly removed ammonia from the water while multiplying to begin covering the top of the tank.

Luckily, light reflecting off the mirror behind the tank gets to the stemmed plants underneath. 

It's been 3 weeks, and ammonia is down to 0.25 ppm. I think I missed nitrites, since I only test once a week with no livestock (except black worms, amphopods and snails).

Nitrates were up to 40 ppm on Sunday, I will see if they start coming down this weekend. 

I am still poking the soil with a stick since the Malaysia trumpet snails have not come in yet.

I have almost 3" of new growth, and for the first time ever I have red leafed plants with no melt happening!

Will try to reliably post updates. 

 

Zero intentions of adding fish for at least 4 more weeks, depending on if I have eliminated the ammonia. I want 4 weeks of no ammonia and slowly lowering nitrates before I add any livestock. 

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The Carolina Bacopa is the slowest growing plant in there, lol. It does have new growth, and the plants are bending toward the rack system. 1627620915745643637700781750773.jpg.4e739e36d28f6fe4044c75c29929451a.jpg

So this is what the tank looks like, tonight. 

The light is so I don't get massive reflections from the rack lights. Darkwater/blackwater is very reflective, and in the right light turns the aquarium into a mirror, lol.

One last picture of the floating plants, and I will update over the weekend. 16276211413163600907348723519198.jpg.cacaece2952acb086d032b4ac98e9fc5.jpg

Thank you for following this far!

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On 7/30/2021 at 1:00 AM, Torrey said:

So, I needed a new 10 gallon for qt and since tanks were half off, I bought 2... wouldn't you?

 

Yes I would, lol! I had a Walstad-inspired tank years ago that started out with Miracle Gro. It was great fun and I remember the fish seemed to have just about the perfect life among all the plants; it was much more enjoyable to watch the platies and endlers I had in there than to watch my goldfish in their sterile-looking tank. 

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Whelp, it is definitely summer time!

 

512515694_20210807_2108202.jpg.9392b6812c15dbd463bb54bf73e84b02.jpg

 

I had to add air stones for water movement, because I found mosquito larvae in the new Walstad tank and I am not ready to add fish and not willing to do water changes. 

 

Plant growth is phenomenal!

I cut several plants back and replanted the cuttings.

I didn't have a way to take good pictures as I was cutting/ replanting due to the power outage.

I ordered air tube suction cups so I can clean up the view in the tank, and I am debating buying a light for the tank so the tannins can stay.... or adding purigen in a bag so ambient light is enough. 

Water sprite, duckweed and azolla are fine. Three types of stem plants getting light reflected off the mirror are fine.

 

The carolina bacopa and the water lettuce are struggling though. I know typically the Walstad method says let the plants sort it out, but this tank is doing double duty of growing out plants for my future 4' build. So I may need to supplement the lighting... at least until I finish the bigger build. 😅

 

20210809_211153~2-01.jpeg

Edited by Torrey
Streetwise said image is not viewable, asked for a file change.... but it is a jpeg? So I ss, cropped, and I am sharing the image
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  • 3 weeks later...

It's been a while since I updated. 

Turns out Mexican azolla needs a lot more light than the ambient light the tank was getting, so I had a massive plant die off which cascaded like dominoes, lol.

 

I decided that rather than lose all the plants, or break down the tank and move it.... I would buy my first, true aquarium light...

 

So I am now the proud operator of a FluvalLight and I learned how to program it😅

Lots and lots of melt happened, and now we are back to exponential growth. 

 

Like so much rapid growth the nitrates dropped. So, I added some young female guppies that don't have gravid spots yet (fairly confident they are all female and will remove any that prove otherwise) to prevent an overpopulation explosion.... and keep some females for me to be more selective with in the future.

 

Here's the tank tonight, you can see the massive melt back on the right side, and you can see the phenomenal growth on the left now that I bought the light.

Have a great week everyone!

20210829_220341.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Time for updates!

[Edit: Guppies are not guppies, they are all] Endlers are eating the snail eggs and the small amount of BBA that started growing. This is 5 plant trims in, and tank is keeping me pretty happy. 

MTS have pretty much mixed the sand cap into the dirt, so my sand cap wasn't thick enough. 

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As you can see, dirt has overtaken the white path that meandered to the back of the tank.

Still plenty of tannins in the water, and I added a bit of saran wrap across the middle of the tank to protect the light from air bubbles... which promoted faster growth of my floating plants. 

Floaters are corralled in a circle of airline tubing, and when they overflow their corral they get moved to the turtle.

I have trimmed back 3x as many plants as are still in the tank, and started planting the rest of my tanks.

 

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Remember the slowest growth was on the left side?

Yeah, these have been trimmed back twice now!

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The most impressive part?

Despite the tannins, despite my having to settle for the 15" light instead of the 20" AquaSky I wanted, I have RED LEAVES on my plants!

 

Fresh, new red leaves, and they aren't even directly under the lights, and are only about 4" high there, so 8" from the light.

I am overjoyed.

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Edited by Torrey
Guppy females turned out to be endlers, not guppies, and one was already pregnant😬
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I believe that it was either @Odd Duck or @Guppysnail who had yellow snails?

I have discovered some reddish gold snails, and they are all going in the Walstad tank. I'm hoping they will eventually breed true, because they are gorgeous. Pictures don't do them justice.

 

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A reddish gold up top, and gold below.

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A gorgeous red one😳

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I remove any dark snails I find in the Walstad tank, and every tank maintenance day I look for pretty snails in the other tanks to switch to the Walstad.

Once I have gotten rid of the darker snails, I will probably move the guppies out, and find a less addicted to caviar fish to put in there.😅

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On 9/10/2021 at 11:31 PM, Torrey said:

I believe that it was either @Odd Duck or @Guppysnail who had yellow snails?

I have discovered some reddish gold snails, and they are all going in the Walstad tank. I'm hoping they will eventually breed true, because they are gorgeous. Pictures don't do them justice.

 

20210910_182007.jpg.00c4a5aa06dcccd78b0dfb0cab14af66.jpg

A reddish gold up top, and gold below.

20210910_182225.jpg.016af3db458dada74945e2641743ed86.jpg

A gorgeous red one😳

20210910_182416.jpg.41abfe933e131e230585f31280347222.jpg

I remove any dark snails I find in the Walstad tank, and every tank maintenance day I look for pretty snails in the other tanks to switch to the Walstad.

Once I have gotten rid of the darker snails, I will probably move the guppies out, and find a less addicted to caviar fish to put in there.😅

I have honey gold bladders 😁 but yours are gorgeous! 

E16D6D32-7E79-4FCC-B647-FFD5465E1120.png

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On 9/11/2021 at 12:30 AM, Jennifer V said:

@Torrey what a cool tank! Looks like you have ramshorn snails, and beauties at that! 

@Guppysnail where do you get those beautiful golden bladder snails? 

They came with plants. 🤣 @Torrey I don’t keep ramshorns but if I could find that beautiful red I would!

Edited by Guppysnail
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On 9/10/2021 at 10:31 PM, Torrey said:

I believe that it was either @Odd Duck or @Guppysnail who had yellow snails?

I have discovered some reddish gold snails, and they are all going in the Walstad tank. I'm hoping they will eventually breed true, because they are gorgeous. Pictures don't do them justice.

 

20210910_182007.jpg.00c4a5aa06dcccd78b0dfb0cab14af66.jpg

A reddish gold up top, and gold below.

20210910_182225.jpg.016af3db458dada74945e2641743ed86.jpg

A gorgeous red one😳

20210910_182416.jpg.41abfe933e131e230585f31280347222.jpg

I remove any dark snails I find in the Walstad tank, and every tank maintenance day I look for pretty snails in the other tanks to switch to the Walstad.

Once I have gotten rid of the darker snails, I will probably move the guppies out, and find a less addicted to caviar fish to put in there.😅

I was only lusting after @Guppysnail’s beautiful gold bladder snails.  I have some sort of dark gold ones but nothing like those bright gold ones.

Edited by Odd Duck
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On 9/10/2021 at 10:57 PM, Torrey said:

@Guppysnail I just realized mine are a different shape 😳

 

I have no idea what kind of snail I have!

I have small, dark bladder snails. And a few bladder snails are golden. 

But until I compared pictures, I didn't realize what a unique shape these reddish gold ones are.

 

I wonder what I have🤔

You have ramshorn snails.  The red ones are fairly sought after and the gold shell, red foot that has a coppery color also get called “red” and are also sought after.  I know they come with a gold shell AND gold foot, but I’ve never actually seen one or even seen a picture before.  I’d love to get my hands on some gold shell, gold foot ramshorns snails, too, along with those gorgeous honey gold that @Guppysnail has.  I’m always on the lookout for unusual snails.

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@Guppysnail & @Odd Duck if they breed as prolifically as the pond snails, and breed true, I will let everyone know. 

 

I cleaned out my fry tank yesterday, and found 2 more live ones (moved them to the Walstad) and the shells of over a dozen. Apparently, the assassin snail also prefers these golden ramshorns🤦‍♂️

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16317634990068196080138011457934.jpg.d6584fb2fb0107ec654f71098e87cf29.jpg

I'll try to get a better picture later, but wanted to give an update. 

The tannins and the decomposition of the plants that died off only brought the pH down a miniscule amount. Water test show 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates😳.

Between the black worms and the Malaysian snails, the sand cap over the dirt no longer exists... neither does the white path or the beach area, lol.

It appears that out of the 5 stem plants that I planted, trimmed, and replanted on the right, the original rooted section completely melted back... but the replanted trimmings are finally taking off.

I have added some female guppies from the turtle pond (pretty sure they are all female, and were separated young enough to hopefully not overpopulate the tank, lol).

I added 5 originally, and after 2 weeks added more. The Malaysian trumpet snails were not impressed with my scaping abilities and have completely rescaped the tank😅 Apparently they are a little better than I am, as every plant they have moved (generally via excavation shifting the ground / causing slides / mini avalanches) is flourishing. 

The plants I painstakingly replanted with a vision, has either been moved or rotted / melted back.🙄 Since I still have more than 3x as many plants as I bought (replanting what I trim is so rewarding!) I still feel the tank is a win.

Looks like I need to increase the bioload, as nitrates still are not able to get above 20 ppm (last weekend they were at 20 ppm, this weekend zero. Kit is still in date, yes I shook till my arm wanted to fall off, and 3 of my tanks have different nitrate levels so the API test is detecting nitrates) and literally fell back to 0 ppm this week. 

 

So, Nerm input time:

What do you think would look good in a 10 gallon tank that fluctuates from 65° at the coolest, to 75.5° F at the warmest?

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Slightly better images now that the rest of the lights are off.

Obviously, tomorrow is another trim day, lol. Luckily, trimming plants is very soothing for me... I'll try to post more pictures tomorrow evening. 16317668950225886027841963190497.jpg.b7d34f72356efd14b924c3aca1bf6df7.jpg

 

The milfoil (pretty sure it's milfoil) is growing very rapidly. It's planted in the very back of the tank and has grown up, across the top, and looks like a green halo for the tank.

 

I'm finally starting to get some algae on the front glass. So a little cleaning tomorrow after all of my appointments, too.16317669379479068417613932878939.jpg.02e399fa69f119a3b5ab76247554f139.jpg

[I need to learn how to take better aquarium pictures, lol]

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