New planted tank

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10 Dec 2011 23:50 - 10 Dec 2011 23:51 #1 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
So I am fascinated with the whole Walstad method of keepng a planted tank, in general a simple self regulating tank with minimal input, and I have stumbled across this, its low tech but cant say I had heard of this method of using real soil etc, seems easy and simple to do, anyone ever tried this?

ssapa.webs.com/

Interesting read and quite a basic understanding of the concept, if you want a picture is here of a tank he has done using the method, quite astounding the results as I had expected it from only high tech tanks

www.ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=18527

Anyone their own experiences or opinions on approaching a planted tank?:)
Last edit: 10 Dec 2011 23:51 by Christor (Chris Morrow).

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13 Dec 2011 17:30 #2 by BillG (Bill Gray)
Hi Christopher,

I am in the process of setting up a 180 using a soil based substrate myself. Will let you know how it goes.

Cheers,

Bill.

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13 Dec 2011 18:23 #3 by grgeorge (George Rahmani)

BillG wrote: Hi Christopher,

I am in the process of setting up a 180 using a soil based substrate myself. Will let you know how it goes.

Cheers,

Bill.


I just set up a 120 using organic compost capped with gravel. Planted quite heavily starting out and dosing with profito and easycarbo with about 1wpg. I just set it up about 10 days ago. I'll let you know how it goes too. So far its going pretty well I think...

George

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13 Dec 2011 18:59 #4 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Good to hear other trying it, awful lot cheaper option to be honest and the results are great, obviously it may not be as fast or easily controlled as that of the high tech methods, but for a nice tank and cheap, its hard to beat!

Just curious to how deep your soil and gravel was? just talking with that troi guy he reckons any deeper han 40mm soil and it becomes anaerobic, seen any signs? also curious as to did yous use a soil diider ya?

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13 Dec 2011 19:40 #5 by m4r10 (m4r10)
Replied by m4r10 (m4r10) on topic Re: New planted tank
I'm in the process of setting up a Walstad tank myself. I have the soil in the tank with water to soak. Now I'm looking to get some red clay soil as it is advised, but having problems in getting it. I'm thinking of crushing a pot but don't know if it will have the same effect. George, can you advise what did you use for the red clay soil and also what kind of gravel? I found some medium sand (1.5-2 mm grain) at the LFS, but at €25-30 a bag it seems pretty steep and was eyeing the Argos sand but I think is too fine and might "choke" the soil by not letting it breathe. I don't want to use the pebbles either as I like my bottom feeders.
George, can you throw a few pics of your set-up for reference?

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13 Dec 2011 20:06 #6 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
What are you using the red clay for? as a mixer or what? yeh you will need slightly bigger sand I would say, but by no means am I an expert, just going on readings, check the UKaps site mate may help tbh, youd be suprised they are pretty useful must say!

definitely keep me updated aswell on your progress mate, hoping to start this sooner than later myself! again Mr4 ave you used a divider?

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13 Dec 2011 21:01 #7 by m4r10 (m4r10)
Replied by m4r10 (m4r10) on topic Re: New planted tank
The red clay is for iron, to give the plants more red color. I think I'll put some brocken pieces of potting pots and if I don't find some coarse gravel, I'll just plonk the Argos sand in the tank and try to poke it from time to time to avoid air pockets. I don't intend to use any divider as I see it pointless, when the root plants get a hold of the divider, it will come out when you want to take plants out of the tank.

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13 Dec 2011 21:59 #8 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Try craft shops maybe, I have a notion it would be used for pottery etc no? could be worth a go ive no idea on how much or little to use though

Thats true, but your soil will mix and rise surely when ever you lift plants out anyway making a mess? roots can be cut or tugged and replanted simple enough no?

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13 Dec 2011 22:12 #9 by m4r10 (m4r10)
Replied by m4r10 (m4r10) on topic Re: New planted tank
You're right, it can get messy both ways, but without a divider, just cut the plant as low as you can and leave the roots or even better, dig them into the substrate to rot away and become fertilizers for the new plants. You can't go wrong with the divider if you want to use it, but I see no advantage in doing so. All about this method is set it and forget about the tank, you wouldn't want to go messing the substrate and replanting plants too often.

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13 Dec 2011 22:18 #10 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Yeah thats true, sort of got sidetracked that I will be goin slightly more aquascaping than a pure walstad method now, still keeping very low tech. Id love to see more journals on here like dave is doing etc, if anything its interesting even if pictures are lacking a bit, ill do my best to keep on top of it and post

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13 Dec 2011 22:42 #11 by m4r10 (m4r10)
Replied by m4r10 (m4r10) on topic Re: New planted tank
Don't know if you can tell from this pic, but the soil is soaking away as we speak! Hope to find the right sand/gravel ASAP.



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13 Dec 2011 23:25 #12 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Nice tank mate, its looking good, like your other tank there!

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14 Dec 2011 12:45 - 14 Dec 2011 12:46 #13 by NosIreland (Andrius Kozeniauskas)
I'm not a fan of substrate layers but you could top it with Akadama it's redish in color. The last time I paid 15E for 15l bag. For iron you could sprinkle Laterite(never used it myself).
The more expensive option is Seachem Fluorite which can be used as top layer and has plenty of Iron. Have it in one of my nano tanks and really like it.

I'm interested to see how this tank turns up.
Last edit: 14 Dec 2011 12:46 by NosIreland (Andrius Kozeniauskas).

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16 Dec 2011 14:56 #14 by grgeorge (George Rahmani)
[quote="m4r10" post=112494George, can you advise what did you use for the red clay soil and also what kind of gravel?
George, can you throw a few pics of your set-up for reference?[/quote]

I actually didn't put in any red clay. Just literally a 3/4 inch layer of organic compost (no added fertiliser) and then capped it with about 1.5-2 inches of gravel. I don't plan to put any red plants in it so I figure I'll be ok without adding any clay.

The plants seem to be doing quite well. I moved some hydrophilia polysperma into another tank and when I took it out I realised how well it had rooted!! The gravel is about 1.5-2mm roughly but I don't have any bottom feeders yet. I'm hoping to get a gang of corys at some stage but I am a little weary about damaging their barbels.

Unfortunately I don't have a camera at the moment but as soon as I do I'll be throwing up some pics.

George

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16 Dec 2011 20:48 #15 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Interesting George, after a bit of research I too am going for the organic approach for the bottom layer, but Ill be using the aquatic pond soil available by westlands, john innes no3 or the organic miracle gro stuff is highly recommend, i know Diana walstad recommends the John Innes and she should know

Im just going the aquatic for its properties and composition more so, may mix a little cat litter in with it for structure and CEC capabilities, just curious but anyone else here ever use just Cat litter? seems most effective though when dosing with ferts

George I got recommended this sand for use, its swimming pool filter sand, seen it used so safe and told it doesnt cause the substrate to become impacted, www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HIGH-QUALITY-SILICA-B...ef4e6#ht_1592wt_1185 , understand its UK but could maybe find something similar in the south? save you the extra bob for shipping, then again I get hit too but likely not as bad.

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17 Dec 2011 01:06 #16 by grgeorge (George Rahmani)
I've heard that cat litter can be really hit or miss because it all depends on which one you find. You could get lucky and end up with a great bag. Its just because there isn't much in the way of regulations. But people often add a layer of laterite to their tank and cat litter is quite similar to it apparently. I've never used it myself though.

Ah pool filter sand, I've heard great things. I didn't go down the sand route because I didn't want to create anaerobic pockets. That sand seems pretty perfect though. Maybe I'll try it if I decide to start this one up again from scratch in the future....or for my next tank ;)

Let us know how it goes

George

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17 Dec 2011 14:50 #17 by ger310 (Ger .)
Replied by ger310 (Ger .) on topic Re: New planted tank
just thought this is a good read with a Q&A with Ms.Walstad.......the site is very informative aswell

www.aquabotanic.com/?p=175

Ger

What do you call a three legged Donkey?

A Wonkey....duh ha :)

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17 Dec 2011 21:28 #18 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Thanks a lot for that Ger!

Aye George I did too but the sand hasnt caused any problems for anyone ive talekd too, also the popular brand that seems to be used is tescos range, read an awful lot of people on UKaps using it, but yeah id be weary of it, the pool filter sand however looks good and its not bad for 25kg, can always be used on other tanks :p

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18 Dec 2011 18:01 - 18 Dec 2011 18:01 #19 by joey (joe watson)
you'd want to be making sure the soil is organic, nothing added and irradiated as chances are soils will carry alot of nasties that, THB, i personally wouldn't risk in my tank

as for low maintainance, i have a big tank with a fair few plants that is doing OK, i add nothing to it and barely change the water now at this stage and only have marginal green spot algae on the glass

if ye are worried about having anaerobic conditions in the soil you's should get malaysian trumpet snails. i haven't been back on this forum for ages but one lad was looking for some, and i will offer to anyone else for free (they are beginnig to be a pest in my sump) as many MTS as they can carry home

hope this helps

Location: Portlaoise, Midlands
Last edit: 18 Dec 2011 18:01 by joey (joe watson).

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20 Dec 2011 23:40 - 20 Dec 2011 23:41 #20 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Yeah I may well look into the MTS alright, seem a handy clean up crew and dont go for the plants, definitely cant say that for other snails!

just a little picture of ym tank and its hardscaping, though this may change, off a BB so dont expect anything decent

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Last edit: 20 Dec 2011 23:41 by Christor (Chris Morrow).

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21 Dec 2011 11:28 #21 by BillG (Bill Gray)
Hi Christopher,

I will not get to set up my tank until the New Year at this stage :( but I plan to use a combination of things for the soil. The John Ines no3 and miracle grow you refer to are considered the best and both have a similar composition. They are made up with approximately 70% peat content, so can have a dramatic effect on the ph in your tank. They are also sterilised, so no worries about introducing nasties into the tank.
Another big advantage of the soil based substrate is that the bacteria breaking down the organic content actually release Co2 into the water. The levels of Co2 tend to be more stable than injecting Co2 into the tank and actually negate the need for Co2 injection if there are sufficient levels of organic content in the soil.
I plan to use a mix of JBL proflora, John Ines no3 and top with JBL Manado. In the foreground of the tank, I plan to have white silica sand with no planting. If required for ph buffering, I will cover the whole lot of the manado with a layer of argonite.
With that in mind, I plan to set the tank up with no stock for 8 to 10 weeks with just plants and hardscaping. Will do a fishless cycle, can give more details on this if required, and monitor the ph for the duration. If the ph stabilises at too low a level, I will add some argonite to buffer the ph to a more neutral level and once stable between 6.5 and 7.5, will add the fish :)
Big advantage to the fishless cycle is that the nutrients added to promote the development of the bacteria in the filter will greatly benefit the plants and help get them off to a flying start :)

Joey would be interested in taking some of the MTS off your hands. Can you let me know where you are based? Will try to arrange something with you over the next few weeks if possible.

Cheers,

Bill.

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21 Dec 2011 20:02 #22 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Hey Bill, like your idea f mixing there, I will stick with the John Innes on its own but still not decided on a cap yet..I filter sand is costing me round the same as a 10l bag of that manado stuff, cant say I know much of it, have you experience or why are you choosing it? always thought them over priced gravels...

Yeh Ph will be something new, I will say mine will drop drastically with the soil and plants, most seem to be 7 or slightly acidic, havent done a test yet for GH/KH yet at home, my belfast water was pretty hard so will be interesting to see any difference! yeh and the argonite.coral sand can easily be hidden if you want too, handy little buffer

are you going low or high tech? or a happy medium? well ferts and co2 I am classing as high, so using either or both?

also out of pure curiosity what plants are you thinking?

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21 Dec 2011 21:52 #23 by BillG (Bill Gray)
Hi Christopher,

The easy question first :) on plants, I am still collecting them, but here is the list I am working on.
Cryptocoryne Mi Oya, Echinodorus bleheri, Echinodorus uruguayensis, Echinodorus rose,Echinodorus quadricostatus, Microsorum pteropus,Microsorum pteropus 'Narrow',Anubias barteri var nana, Anubias barteri var angustifolia, Taxiphyllum barbieri, Cryptocoryne petchii, Cryptocoryne willisii and some mosses too.
Should work out about €150 for the plants. The Anubias and mosses will be planted on rockwork and wood.
Also toying with the foreground at present, can’t decide between hairgrass or cuba to act as a backdrop to the white silica sand.
Local water supply is 8.2 to 8.4 :ohmy: so I have been using rainwater in my tanks for some time now. Have been maintaining a ph of 7.4 in my tanks for over 6 months so I am happy with that. Need to see how things go with the new set-up and see if I need to add any serious buffering capacity.
The choice of Manado for capping the soil is simple really; it is a very porous material and soaks up nutrients. It acts as a nutrient reservoir for the plants and supplements the nutrients depleted from the soil. The soil material will act in the same way if there is sufficient clay material in it. The manado being porous also provides a huge surface area for bacteria. These bacteria work to breakdown the fish waste and the substrate absorbs the nutrients not used immediately by the plants. All the normal requirements to clean your substrate go against the use of manado too, it is not necessary to vacuum the surface due to the way it works. So the only area of my planned set-up that will require vacuuming will be the silica sand in the foreground.
I have been looking into Bonsai soils too, there are some excellent ones available and act in the same way as the manado but have the added benefit of being mineral rich too. Some of them are expensive though, but are worth the trouble as the mineral content is so good. The only I am leaning towards at present is Akadama. It is a red volcanic clay and its fired to remove all organic matter, so its purely a mineral resource for plants. It has a high Iron content too so any red plants will get all the iron required to maintain leaf colour. Best price I can find on the Akadama is €18 for 14 litres, so still cheaper than a lot of so called aquarium substrates.
On going Hi-tech or not, I have lighting levels of 2W per gallon and with nutrients supplied by the soil mix and the Co2 from the breakdown of the organic material, I hope not to require the addition of either Co2 or ferts.
I have a few Co2 tanks, converted extinguishers and a good supply for Co2 re-fills so if required, i will fit one in the cabinet. I will try my best to maintain a photo diary of the progress on the set-up and will post as a blog if time permits.

Cheers,
Bill.

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21 Dec 2011 22:58 #24 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Ah very intereesting, I like the style of plants you are using in terms of their broad stalk like leaves etc, the Echinodorus will look very nice!

In terms of your setup it is the same as mine 2WPG and hoping that I get enough nutrients from my soil also to benefit the plants, I had seen akadema but sort of dismissed it, but where can I ask are you finding those prices for akadema? as in sterling thats pretty cheap too!

I currently am playing with ideas at present, the redmoor i got looks brilliant as roots, I really like it and definitely keeping it, so isnt suitable for anubias however mosses will be a must, superglue seems to be the best method of sticking moss on thin branches :)

to be honest, currently im looking for my "cap" and still toying with ideas, once I get it I will be getting stuck in, also at £150, where are you buying from or is it a big tank? there are a few sites that have got the go ahead from others I know and are remarkably cheap, I can link you to a few to try

please give me your opinions on this hardscaping,
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can add suckers to hem to keep them afloat, but this way I get more ground space than the previous picture, and it adds a cool effect I think, critical analysis appreciated!

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21 Dec 2011 23:36 #25 by BillG (Bill Gray)
The hardscaping looks good :) would love to see pics of the planting progress.

I am sourcing the plants from Germany and Czech Republic, the advantages of having colleagues over there and friends in the freight business, means i can get them shipped free. The tank I am setting up is only 180L but big enough for now.
On the Akadama, €18 for the 14l bag is standard price from a garden centre not far from Dublin, here is the link - www.johnstowngardencentre.ie/default.aspx
They will deliver to the North too. Delivery is free to all 32 counties on any order over €75 so if you need stuff for the garden too, could be worth ordering from them.

Any plans to use Co2 yourself? any ideas on the planting scheme you are going with?

Cheers,

Bill.

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21 Dec 2011 23:57 #26 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
That works out cheaper even at 5.99, if that applies to the north too! ebay etc shipping is huge, thank you very much for that Bill!. Ahhh the benefits of knowing people ;) heh, well if its good and handy then why not get from there surely, myself im not too sure where to get as yet!

No plans on using Co2 or ferts as this will not get my full time or commitment unfortunately, I study and will be doing placement, so really this will be left to its devices therefore dont want it acclimatising to anything I can sustain.

As for planting I plan on vallis and ferns as a wall for the back, mosses from the roots you see, and then tennellus hoping throughout with anubias nana and possibly some frogbit as cover, avoiding the total jungle look but at the same time not leaving any holes

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24 Dec 2011 15:12 #27 by joey (joe watson)
i live in portlaoise, i do not work so am free 99% of the time (too cold for angling!) send me a PM if/when you want to come down the snails are not going anywhere! i would, however, suggest that some assasin snails could be introduced if you do not have loaches and if the MTS become too prolific. they wont kill all of them off, just keep the numbers in check

Location: Portlaoise, Midlands

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25 Dec 2011 23:35 #28 by BillG (Bill Gray)
Hi Joey,

I may well take you up on the offer over the next few weeks. Thanks for the advice on keeping their numbers in check :) I have 4 Pakistani Loach which I plan to have in the tank, from what I understand, they are partial to snails so hopefully will do the job. IF not, I will pick up a few Assassin snails too.

Cheers,

Bill.

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26 Dec 2011 20:55 #29 by joey (joe watson)
if they are pakistani as in yo-yo loaches then yeah they will dig around for snails i have 7 with my clown loaches

Location: Portlaoise, Midlands

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27 Dec 2011 11:16 #30 by Christor (Chris Morrow)
Just checking, but anyone ever use cat litter? seems to be getting very popular indeed! I am seriously contemplating it for price and if it doesnt work then it wont cost an arm and a leg to try, but from topics in UKaps it seems to be the business, tescos lightweight dust free is basically clay, same principles and properties as akadema basically, but a fraction of the price

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