10 Week Self Sustaining Tank, Suggestions?- Lysander’s Tank

Lysander

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I’m building a self sustaining tank for my biology class. I’ve just bought a 10 gallon tank to set up. My goal it to implement the Walstad method to create a completely hands off no tech fish tank.

I know I want to add shrimp, but I’d like there to be more going on than just shrimp. Suggestions? Would adding daphnia be helpful? It only needs to be self sustaining for 10 weeks, after that I can do what I want.

I’ll be setting up and planing it within a week or so and will be updating then.
 

LMO

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The problem with having it for 10 weeks is it will take a while to cycle - I think my walstad tanks took 8-12 weeks - and you don't want to add livestock especially shrimp until then. Have you got an established tank you can take some gravel/substrate from to try to speed up the process? As well as shrimp, snails are very good as they will eat detritus, breaking it down so its easier for the bacteria to process. Will you be using lighting for the plants?
 

Fisker

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I've kept two Walstad tanks - one of them was a 4 gallon pickle jar, and one was a standard 10 gallon. I used Miracle Gro with a cap of gravel in both, and I ended up using regular CFL daylight bulbs over both tanks as well. Here's what I learned.

You have to stock your animals to match your plants. You can't get a bunch of slow growing plants and add a bunch of fish - you'll get an ammonia spike, and the plants won't be able to keep up. You also can't get a bunch of fast-growing plants and add like 2 shrimp. The plants will likely starve. You need to plan out your animal stocking first, and then get your plant selection sorted and established. I did a bunch of hardy, fast growing stem plants in the back of my tank, with the slower-growing species in the front. I stocked with endler guppies (a trio in the 10 gallon) and they bred to 15-20 fairly quickly, with ammonia consistently testing under 0.25 PPM. Had I not had the fast growing plants, those fish would have been doomed.

You also need to choose fish that can handle the temperatures that the tank is going to be at, plus the temperature swings. My house is consistently between 68-74, and my Walstad tank was the same. Endler guppies do fine at those temps, but a lot of fish won't - I'd pick fish that are known to be not only hardy, but also fish that are known to enjoy slightly cooler temps.

I'd get a good crew of ramshorn snails, too. A lot of people freak out over pest snails, but really... they're good clean up crews. Ramshorns look the nicest, IME, and do a pretty good job. You might also get a few malaysian trumpets to help with your sandbed.

Keep your hands out of the tank. Walstad tanks are about balance. If you're constantly in the tank moving plants around or doing large water changes, that balance may never be found.
 

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