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Complete Dumpster Fire?


FlyingFishKeeper
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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!

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That's a lot of plants in a 5.5 gallon tank. That's a lot of plants in a 55 gallon tank. You've got some very quick growing plants in Hornwort and some very slow growing plants in the Anubias. Dwarf aquarium lilies aren't all that dwarf. They're dwarf compared to a pond waterlily, but pretty big in a 5.5 gallon tank. You're making a tank that will require pretty much nonstop maintenance to keep the faster growing plants from choking out the slower growing plants. Can it be done? Yeah. It could work. I'd be more inclined to focus on fewer plants with the same rate of growth. All Anubias in a 5.5 gallon tank wouldn't be a bad idea. Your betta may need a weedwhacker to move around if you slip up on the maintenance for even just a few days with that many plants in that small of a tank. I'm weeding out duckweed, red root floaters, water sprite, and even java fern on a weekly basis and some of my tanks still resemble a jungle more than an aquarium. Your tank could look great when it's planted with those plants, but once established, yikes! Keeping up with it could be a real challenge for you.

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Between the Miracle grow and the Stratum, it seems like an awful lot of nutrients to control for a 5 gallon tank. I used cheap topsoil and an inert cap (Black Diamond Blasting Media) in my 5 gallon walstad and still had a bit of an issue controlling excess nutrients for a while. Every inch of the bottom is planted. I will admit, I have never used Fluval Stratum, so this is purely opinion, but isn't it a light substrate? Would it be dense enough to keep your soil in place?  Maybe someone else has used the same combination with success and can give some insight. 

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I am about 4 weeks into running a trial with 3 similar aquariums. All the aquariums have Finnex Stingray lights and similar fish and plants. One has Eco-Complete (Eco) as the substrate, one has soil from my asparagus bed capped with Black Diamond Blasting sand (Dirt), and one has Caribsea Peace River gravel with root tabs (Nerm). Dirt is very similar to what you describe above.

This is the planting arrangement in all 3 aquariums:

Plant-layout-simple.png.79379c9f51c5010a

All three have behaved very similarly, with the EcoComplete cycling first:

image.png.7cad482bc8e2ed075aabc0030c2f7fc2.png
 
 Closely followed by Nerm:
 
image.png.039290adff90cda4cd98ad9d962ed731.png
 
 
With Dirt finishing a couple of days later:
 
image.png.b0e55f2dbe39a10efcd58bda41016fed.png
 
 
 
The tank with the most fertilizer, Nerm is currently has the greenest water, but also has the best plant growth. The water in Nerm is clearing just like the other two aquariums, just a little more slowly.
 
image.png.df8ab47b6a74475f39264e27f3a6c8b9.png
 
I haven't done any water changes so far and do not anticipate needing to do any in the near future. All the fish and plants are happy in all three aquariums.
 
All of this is a long way saying, the Walstad style tank you are contemplating is very similar to my tank Dirt. Dirt has behaved  very similarly to Eco and Nerm. In fact, it is kinda of the middle child of the group. I don't think what you are attempting will be a dumpster fire, but just like all aquariums, I guarantee you will have to make adjustments as the aquarium matures.
 
 
 
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Thank you everyone! I was concerned about the hornwort growing too fast and chocking out the slower growing plants. If I remove the aquarium lily, and hornwort. Then add and remove some floaters over the stem plants in the background to regulate the amount of light and nutrients going to the faster growing plants could this work?

Edited by FlyingFishKeeper
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2 minutes ago, FlyingFishKeeper said:

 I was concerned about the hornwort growing too fast and chocking out the slower growing plants.

It might be a little hard to see in the photos, but there is hornwort in all 3 aquariums. It is not choking out the other plants.

It is bound to grow and when it is time I will remove part of it. I really like hornwort (but that is just a personal preference).

In my aquariums hornwort is exclusively a floating plant.

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