After all ...

Isabella

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You know what? After all, I will make this 75 gal. tank "a la" Walstad. What do I have to lose? If it won't work out, I'll know for the future it won't work in a 125G tank. I will use garden or potting soil as an underlayer (approx 1 - 1 1/2") with probably regular fine gravel on top, or maybe some gravel designed specifically for plants. The plants will be low to medium light. I won't need Co2 injections because soil contains all the Co2 that plants need. The soil will run out of Co2 after a while (could be even after a couple of years) but by the time it does, enough of mulm from fish food will have accumulated in the soil to provide adequate Co2. With soil and fish food/wastes you don't really need any fertilizers. That's how Diana Walstad keeps her tanks and it all works great for her. I hope it will work for me too, though she said she can't guarantee success for everyone. However, if you have at least neutral water (and preferably above neutral) with good buffering capacity, and if you use garden soil that is not acidic, the setup SHOULD definitely work.

The tank will probably have various vallisnerias and swords in the background, anubias and java ferns in the middle ground, and some grass-like plants to cover the foreground. I may add other plants for variety as well. There will be 2 pieces of driftwood perhaps with java moss growing on them. Perhaps a few rocks too. Lighting will be 1.5 - 1.7 WPG and filtration will be gentle so that no Co2 that plants need escapes from the water. A fully planted tank with appropriate soil and lighting will "clean itself" since plants are great water purifiers. Diana Walstad doesn't do frequent water changes and she doesn't vacuum the gravel (though she doesn't let food accumulate and rot on the gravel) and yet she has NO ammonium, nitrite, or nitrate. As for the toxic metals, the plants remove them. I think it's worth a try.

Does anyone know a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine, but not the various metals, from the water? (Plants need the metals for consumption.) Also, is it OK to use soil underlayer in combination with some nutrient-rich gravel for plants? Or would such a mixture be dangerous?
 

Butterfly

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Isabella the only thing I can think of is to make sure the potting soil doesn't have any fertilizer additives. Terrestrial plant fertilizer can be dangerous for your fish.
Carol
 
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Isabella

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I absoultely agree Carol. I would never take soil from my backyard or garden, unless it tested free of chemicals and anything else that could be dangerous for fish. I should buy safe soil instead, I think. What do you think about this one?
 

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The soil might cloud the water and yes you may never have to gravel vacuum just do water changes since the plants will take care of them though the gravel might sink into the soil and they might swith places.
 

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Sounds good although it doesn't have any nutrients in it. I think Diana Walstad mentioned using Miracle Gro in hers.
Carol
 
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Isabella

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I want to use soil but I am confused about which soil to use. I wish Diana provided various commercial soil names safe for aquaria and that she'd herself use. I am not much of a gardener and know nothing about soils. Which soils are generally safe? What should this soil be exactly? All I know is that Diana said the soil should not be acidic, it should be full of nutrients, and that the water you use should also not be acidic. I don't want to get the wrong kind of soil and then having to reset the whole tank setup.

Also, do you think Carol it would be safe to top the soil layer with Seachem's Fluorite gravel or with Eco-Complete? Or should I use just plain gravel?
 

Butterfly

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I personally would use plain gravel. My eco-complete is rather light weight and stirs up easily. I think flourite can be used as a bottom layer or as a stand alone layer, don't know about on top of soil.
I believe the brand name mentioned in the article I sent you was miracle gro, comes in a green and black bag and very cheap at Wal-mart . Does she say in her book what she does to prevent anerobic pockets of gas? I know some people use snails but was wondering if that would stir the soil into the water column.
carol
 
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Isabella

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Since the tank is heavily planted, the roots are supposed to eliminate the dangerous gas pockets. She mentioned that snails are beneficial but I don't remember exactly in what context (will have to refer to the book).

The reason she advises soil is that without it, even with gravels like Eco-Complete and Seachem, you'll have to add fertilizers. Soil has everything the plants need which is why special gravels are not required. I asked about using soil in combination with special gravels because I want to make the substrate even richer. It seems her main cornerstone of such a tank is nutrient-rich soil, which is a must in this setup.

If soil won't work for me, I'll have to throw it out and use Seachem or Eco-Complete gravel with regular fertilizing, since it is a heavily planted tank.
 

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I believe I may have an item that would leave the heavy metals in the water for you. It doesn't seem to mention removing anything but Ammonia, Chlorine, and Chloramine anyway.

Hope this helps.

Rose
 

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The only problem with that is since it removes ammonia the tank will never cycle. So if you ever stop using it you will get an ammonia spike and probably dead fish. Just my two cents.
 
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Isabella

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Thank you Rose. But is it safe for cycling purposes? Also, plants do consume ammonia themselves.
 

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To tell you the truth I myself have never used the stuff. I got it with a tank set-up and since it was a sample and I already use StressCoat for cycling. This last 2 tanks I simply gave up and bought Bio-Spira and said "THERE". Then I am going to use Amquel+ or StressCoat depending on the tap water readings. We have such a weird tap water situation that I cannot really use my experience for someone else. I just read the label and it didn't say anything about taking out the heavy metals and I didn't think about you using it for cycling so - duh, brain hiccup there - sorry.

Rose
:-[
 

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I use wardleys dechlor. Removes chlorine and chloramines, it's cheap and you can get it at walmarts
I was in a pond store today and they had pond soil, bet it would work for you
Carol
 
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Isabella

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Once again, thank you all for the input

Sounds like a good dechlorinator for a planted tank Carol. I use Hagen's AquaPlus (the only one they sell at my crappy LFS) that removes chlorine, chloramine, and toxic heavy metals. It is generally a very good dechlorinator if you don't plan to have a heavily planted tank, such as my 30 gallon. But for a heavily planted, the one that does not remove metals would be better because plants need these metals as nutrients - especially in a low tech tank with little or no fertilizers.

Thank you for the information Carol, I'll try to get Wardley's dechlorinator online. (Though I can't find it on major aquatic online stores such as Big Al's, Petsmart, Petco, Petland Discounts, or Marine Depot.)
 

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WalMarts is the only place I found. It's considered a "cheap' do nothing dechlor but I like it because thats ALL it does is dechlor
Carol
 
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Isabella

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EXACTLY Carol. Other sophisticated dechlorinators are great, sure, but they aren't always so for heavily planted tanks where metals are needed as nutrients for plants. This Wardley's dechlor that you use ... what is it's name? I mean, the product line, like Wardley's "............." dechlorinator. (Like my Hagen's AquaPlus dechlorinator.)
 
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