Walstad Method - 1 Gallon Container

Walstad Method - 1 Gallon Container

Hello Fellow Fishlorians!

This is my second article. The quality should be better than the first.

You will need a container. Any safe container will work. I used a 1 gallon pickle jar for the Walstad jar I did(no longer have it).
You could use any old fishbowls you have lying around. Tupperware containers will work as well. Most people would want a container made of plastic, acrylic, or glass so they can see their livestock.

This is very important as it supplies for the plants A.K.A. the heart and soul of this method. I used some lilypad mud capped with gravel. This leached lots of nutrients into the water where the plants can use them. It also stays down where the plants can take it into their roots as well. Any planting substrate will work.

These are the most important things for your small container of water.
They will:
1. filter the water
2. oxygenate the water
3. provide food for the livestock
4. provide hiding spaces for the livestock. You would want plants that are column feeders. Any floating plant will work. Duckweed is the most commonly found and stays smaller. These are basically sponges for nutrients. They will grow quickly though so you will need to scoop them out weekly.

Another column feeder is anacharis. This plant is really good for all of the 4 things listed above. It is a good filter, oxygenator, biofilm producer, and grows many leaves for hiding. This plant is extremely beneficial to Walstad method containers.

Other plants that would work(but I don’t have experience with) are hygrophila, hornwort, pothos, and rotala.


This is also important as it helps keep the plants alive. The plants are important for the 4 listed reasons in the last section. Any small lamp would work. Many people use IKEA lights or desk lamps. You need to look for lights that provide 2-3 WPG(watts per gallon).
In a 1 gallon jar, I would need a light that provided 2-3 watts of light.

This is probably something you have waited for if you have read this article to this point. Since this article covers smaller containers for water, the livestock needs to be smaller as well. There aren’t rpmant suitable species for these smaller containers, but I have found 3 to work out really well. I will put them in a list and their pros and cons.

1. Neocaridina shrimp
Pros: Colorful, lots of variety, small, feed off of biofilm
Cons: Breed rapidly and will overpopulate, expensive, sensitive

2. Nerite Snails
Pros: Variety, colorful, will not reproduce, plentiful
Cons: Expensive, lay eggs everywhere

3. “Pest” Snails(Bladder, pond, and ramshorn snails)
Pros: Indestructable, small, cheap, will eat anything
Cons: Will have many babies, not colorful, may eat plants

Of course, any combo would work. Other species that could work include other smaller shrimp and snail species. I do not have much experience with them though.

So now, you will have a nice Walstad jar. You will need maintainence though. I would recommend 50% weekly. Especially vacuum the gravel well. Since the container will be small, I recommend using an airline hose to do it.

Also, use that time to trim the plants or remove some. Too many plants will lead to decreased oxygenation. Try to keep the plants at a healthy level without overdoing it.


Walstad containers do not have any water movement at all which can lead to many issues.
Adding an airstone will help with aeration in the night when plants take up oxygen instead of make it.

It will also help with water circulation.

Don’t feed. The plants will naturally produce biofilm form the livestock to feed one.

Test parameters regularly. Since the container is small, fluctuations may be common.

Stock lightly. The bioload needs to balance with the plants for this method to be successful.

Enjoy your Walstad container!

All credit of the Walstad method goes to Diana Walstad. She wrote the book, “Ecology of the Planted Aquarium” where the Walstad method was first introduced.

If you think anything should be added or removed from this article, please leave a review.

Thank you for reading!


75g Discus Tank
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Great information but, the thing I always get hung up on is how do I use this method if I want a community tank and I don't want to over stock.
Sounds really cool. Always wanted to know how to properly do this. I may make one at some point! Thanks!!
  • Gypsy13
  • 5.00 star(s)
Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. Very informative. I would’ve like you to list the other species you aren’t familiar with. Leaves a blank spot in my imagination. All in all though, I can’t find any real fault. I liked. Thank you.
Great review that covers the basics of walstead! My only complaints are...
A) spelling issues
B) touch on how it would work with a bigger tank and nano fish like endlers
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