Some special tricks for setting up a NATURAL planted tank. :)

AeonMapa

New member
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
232
Reaction score
7
Points
0
Location
Manila
Country
Philippines
Display Name
Aeon
So I just set up my walstad tank today, and although the method advertises having a fully planted tank with fish in just one day, I found that making some advanced preparations helped hugely! Here are some tricks I used while preparing for my tank.

1. Grow an outdoor plant bin.
About two months ago, I knew I was going to do a planted tank, I just wasn't sure when. I decided to get a head start on my plant growth by doing an outdoor plant bin. I basically dumped soil into a storage bin, then filled it with water. After the soil settled I threw in some aquarium plants. I left this bin outside in direct sunlight, and eventually housed some fish and shrimp in it. After a month, the plants beat back the algae and beam growing vigorously. When the time came to plant my set-up, I had nearly twice the amount of plants, and they were much stronger and more leafy than when I bought them. This worked for crypts, Java fern, cabomba, sprites, crystalwort and a few more species.

2. Cycle your soil.
A lot of walstad planted tanks have problems with overabundance of soil nutrients, as well as messy soil that floats and messes the water. I decided to soak my soil for a few days first to rid it of some extra nutrients and separate the floating bits. The soaking however was very messy, and the floaters were bogged down by the dirt. I then had the idea of putting an air pump deep in the soil to circulate it. This worked wonders as the suspension caused by the pump allowed the buoyant parts of the soil to separate. It occurred to me as well that I could start a nitrogen cycle in the soil as well. I threw in a few old filter sponges to facilitate the spread of Bacteria. After 5 days like this, the soil was so soaked that when I turned the air pump off, water would settle to nearly clear in a few minutes. Perfect for aquarium use! I'm pretty sure the soil is crawling with nitrifying bacteria a well so a faster cycle!

3. Use amphibious surface plants.
Early in a natural planted tank, your plants will be fighting with algae for nutrients. Walstad suggests using emergent aquarium plants to fight this as the don't need to compete with the algae, and get CO2 from above water. ( I have a huge mat of pond weed I use as a "mop") Going by this principle, I added several aquarium plants with leaves above the water, but also some terrestrial plants! Bamboo shoots and certain vines can thrive with just water for their roots. I'd been growing these plants in jars of water for years, so it only made sense to put them in an aquarium as well. They are not planted, they just have their roots dipped in the water so I can take them out when the tank is stable. Though I might plant one Bamboo shoot for aesthetics!

4. Selective algae growth.
Knowing I'd be battling algae, I decided to enlist some algae to aid me as well! I took the rocks I'd be hardscaping with and put them in a dish of water in the sun, with a pinch of soil. Soon, green algae grew on the rocks. Not only can this be aesthetically pleasing, but being already well established, this algae will probably take in nutrients before new colonies can bloom elsewhere. Two birds with one stone!

So these are a few tricks I used while preparing for my "el natural". I'm not sure if these are written elsewhere, but I decided to do these things based on logic and knowledge of tank ecology. I hope that they become a help to the rest!

If anyone has more tricks and tips I'd love to hear them! Or if I'm doing something horribly wrong, please let me know. Will post updates on how my tank is doing!
 

Adogowo

New member
Joined
Jan 26, 2013
Messages
35
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
Littleton, Colorado, USA
Country
United States
Great ideas. I have an annoying algae in the fish tank at my wife's work that I will try out the algae rock idea on.
 

AeonMapa

New member
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
232
Reaction score
7
Points
0
Location
Manila
Country
Philippines
Display Name
Aeon
I'm not sure the algae rock will work too well in that situation, since the algae in the tank is probably very well established. Unless you scrape it all off regularly and only leave it on the rock or driftwood. Try putting in a lot of surface plants with their roots in the water! Pothos, oregano, lucky bamboo, alugbati (indian spinach, vine spinach, Malabar spinach), and other fast growing plants will help remove excess nutrients and minerals.
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • faebugz:
    To raise GH, add calcium carbonate (or tums). What has you doing this?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Slash-GNR:
    Thank you! My tap water is naturally low in GH and KH, and I need to raise it... but I don't want to raise the pH, which is perfect, with coral.
    +1
    Unlike
  • EaglesFan78:
    anyone have firebelly newts forsale message me !!!!!
    +1
    Unlike
  • ShawnJPN:
    Lol
    +1
    Unlike
  • Unlike
  • Isoldelopez:
    Hey all I’m looking for some help.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Isoldelopez:
    How do I create a thread?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Binditheaxolotl:
    LYes? It might be easier if u posted a thread
    +1
    Unlike
  • Isoldelopez:
    Yes, how can I do this? Is it by creating a room? Thank you for your help
    +1
    Unlike
  • Mark.H:
    Hey guys, I suppose this is a foolish question, but will my long-toed salamanders over-eat resulting in obesity?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Kwags:
    what are thoughts on using crushed coral or tufa rocks for resining the ph level in my tank? I have the seachem ph alert and it’s reading 5.4
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    meowzilla has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Delaney:
    Hi, I really need some advice about cloudy water in my axlotl tank!
    +2
    Unlike
  • AnimeDan:
    Hi Delaney. Can you be more specific? There are lots of reasons for cloudy water, such as substrate getting kicked up, water hardness, etc. if you don’t have hard water and it doesn’t settle then I’d do a water change and see if that helps.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Caramello:
    Hey guys... Hope you all keeping well... I have 4 fire belly newts and one looks very bloated... I have seperate him and moved him to his own enclosure so he can get better hopefully but I don't have a filter in this specific enclosure. Please can you guys advise if I need to get him one or whether I can leave it? I have read a lot of articles that say they prefer still water and I can change his water frequently keeping it clean. Please advise 😊
    +1
    Unlike
    Caramello: Hey guys... Hope you all keeping well... I have 4 fire belly newts and one looks very bloated... +1
    Top