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Opinions on the Father Fish method

Thomas Guin

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He has developed a deep dirt and sand capped substrate method similar to the Walstad method. He adds numerous ingredients to his diet that is supposed to last 20 years or more. It's basically an full on ecosystem that requires virtually no water changes and the plants and microorganisms feed the tank. He uses no fertilizers or chemicals. He's created a self sustaining ecosystem. It's very interesting to see his aquariums. I found him in YouTube. 

Dirt, not diet .

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I've seen several of his videos also.  He starts by using quite a few additives in the bottom layer of mud.  If I remember right he said that's to get a jump-start on using the Walstad method, so the plants get the nutrients they need right away, where it can take up to a year using the Walstad method.

I have one tank where I tried something similar, though I didn't use all the additives.  I started with 1" of dry cow manure, then 1" of potting soil, and then 2" of sand.  This was in a standard 20 gallon tank.  It's been set up for several months, and seems to be doing well.

Yesterday I set up a new 10 gallon tank.  I didn't want 4" of substrate in a tank that small, so I did roughly 3/4" of dry cow manure and then about 1-1/2" of pool filter sand.  I planted eight or so Cryptocoryne usteriana (my latest favorite plant) in it.  We'll see how it goes.

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I closely follow Father Fish, but he puts like 10 things in the substrate. Each additive has its own benefit, and the result is that the minerals/nutrients do not get depleted over time, which is what he found to be the issue w/ Walstad method.  However, I will not try the method by buying all the stuff because it's CRAZY expensive to buy that many bags of things, esp. if just starting 1 tank or just "trying it out" (and then what would I do with all the leftover product?).  But I would consider buying the soil additive kit he has on his website instead, which is only like 10 bucks.


(site undergoing maintenance right now-should be back up soon)

On 10/31/2022 at 9:43 AM, Thomas Guin said:

I have a 55 I'm trying out with just soil and sand, just a test run, if it shows some promise I'll probably bite the bullet and try his method full on. I have plants not doing too well, so I figured why not.

Over in the planted tank forum I read that soil users had a dramatic pH drop within 24-48 hours (ie: 7.5 to 6.6). Let us know how you fare.

Edited by Chick-In-Of-TheSea
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