First Walstad Method

Burgzyyy

Hi, so I currently have another tank, 200L one, but I didn’t do much in terms of setting it up as we essentially rehomed a friends entire fish tank lol.

I decided that I wanted my own tank in my bedroom and just went with a small 22L one. I discovered the Walstad method and decided that was the avenue I wanted to go down.

I have between 0.5-1.5 inch of soil, then capped it with about 1-2inch of sand. I kept the soil in a bucket for about 2 days with some water, sieved it all out and removed those little balls(?) and the wood pieces.

I’ve planted the tank with an amazon sword, some moss, some dwarf grass and a ‘reni’ to add some colour. In total I’ve done about two 20-40% water changes so far. Just yesterday I added 4 neon tetras and two Amano shrimp. They seem to be getting on ok, exploring the tank and eating. I’ve got a filter in the tank, but I removed the base of it as I only want it for the water flow.

Food: I’m currently feeding the tetras flakes but I have some catfish algae pellets from my other tank which I thought would be suitable for the shrimp, both grabbed a pellet yesterday and didn’t let go for about an hour so I assume that’s a yes(?).

This is the first time I’ve actually set up a tank on my own entirely, so if anyone has any tips or might have spotted anything I’ve done wrong please advise. Picture attached.

Thanks!!
 

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jdhef

I've never kept a Walstad tank, but I did want to say...Welcome to FishLore!
 
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jpm995

Never heard of a Walstad tank. What processes ammonia if there's no filter?

Ok I did some reading but it goes against most of what I thought I knew about aerobic and anerobic bacteria. I always thought you needed oxygen for aerobic bacteria to process waste. Apparently it works as i've seen some beautiful pics of this setup. Do they support the same abount of fish as a filtered tank would?
 
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Vinh

Walstad tank? You might need a lot of light ,a lot of plants ,easy grow stem plants, the only few hardy fish to survival, water fall or drip to create oxygen from power head which suck up waste to tray on back top of the tank which has lots garden plants ,gravel or bio media base ,the heater if your tank locate in cool climate under 70*f and a lot of pure water to refill the water tank evaporate once in a while.
 
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Burgzyyy

Ok I did some reading but it goes against most of what I thought I knew about aerobic and anerobic bacteria. I always thought you needed oxygen for aerobic bacteria to process waste. Apparently it works as i've seen some beautiful pics of this setup. Do they support the same abount of fish as a filtered tank would?
I would guess as long as you’ve got the plants to support them, don’t see why not. It’s only a small tank anyway so stocking will not be heavy.

Also the plants create the oxygen!

Walstad tank? You might need a lot of light ,a lot of plants ,easy grow stem plants, the only few hardy fish to survival, water fall or drip to create oxygen from power head which suck up waste to tray on back top of the tank which has lots garden plants ,gravel or bio media base ,the heater if your tank locate in cool climate under 70*f and a lot of pure water to refill the water tank evaporate once in a while.
HI bud I’m not sure if these are criticisms of my current set up or just general pointers for Walstad method?

Are you saying I need these things personally or just in general haha, as I think my current set up should sustain the tank

Cheers for the replies!

I do have a specific question though, I have noticed that the tetras tend to spend a lot of time hiding behind the big rock under the filter.
Could there be a reason for this?

Something to look out for maybe?

I’m not sure if they just like it there because they feel more hidden. They are all eating fine and seem to be healthy but there’s always a slight worry
 
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Vinh

HI bud I’m not sure if these are criticisms of my current set up or just general pointers for Walstad method?

Are you saying I need these things personally or just in general haha, as I think my current set up should sustain the tank

Cheers for the replies!
For your tank as you have its option to make it better..with more fish inside than 1 fish or 2.
 
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Burgzyyy

For your tank as you have its option to make it better..with more fish inside than 1 fish or 2.
Don’t you think the plants I have are fast growing enough? I don’t really think I’ve got much more space for any plants tbh
 
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Vinh

I think my current set up should sustain the tank
I don’t really think I’ve got much more space for any plants tbh
Then what can you do more when you have it balance and happy with the way it is..?
The point is if it is a balance environment then it is Walstad tank.If you like the different set up then do different.Think about your tank in 6 months or year , when the plants getting bigger with no more room to keep up , the fish waste collecting more through the food you add in every day and it stay in tank water.

I do have a specific question though, I have noticed that the tetras tend to spend a lot of time hiding behind the big rock under the filter.
Could there be a reason for this?
That is how neon tetra is.They swim fast ,like live food and shy
 
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Burgzyyy

Then what can you do more when you have it balance and happy with the way it is..?
The point is if it is a balance environment then it is Walstad tank.If you like the different set up then do different.Think about your tank in 6 months or year , when the plants getting bigger with no more room to keep up , the fish waste collecting more through the food you add in every day and it stay in tank water.
I thought the fish waste and excess food was broken down and used to feed the plants.

I’m just looking for some clarification as to whether my current set up is good, and if it will work well. I’m new to this

It’s only been in full operation for about 24 hours so as of right now, I’m not sure how things are going
 
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Vinh

I thought the fish waste and excess food was broken down and used to feed the plants.
Yes! It is true.Right now : The waste is none stop,the plant grow none stop but it will degrade with no more room and no fert and old age.The only source to keep it grow is what has in tank through the waste, food and tap water ( if you use tap water dichloride.)Every thing seem fine ,balance .Then they will slow to keep up with waste from plants and live stock which keep add in none stop..In the long term ,you need to have more room to use the waste than add it on or find some other way to reduce the waste if extra.The tray water fall and garden plants on the very back top off the tank is long term need to reduce the waste.The more plant is long term to use the waste.It would be nice if that amazone sword is in very corner and more tall plants on the back, low plants in middle, moss on the rock and front..
 
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Burgzyyy

Yes! It is true.Right now : The waste is none stop,the plant grow none stop but it will degrade with no more room and no fert and old age.The only source to keep it grow is what has in tank through the waste, food and tap water ( if you use tap water dichloride.)Every thing seem fine ,balance .Then they will slow to keep up with waste from plants and live stock which keep add in none stop..In the long term ,you need to have more room to use the waste than add it on or find some other way to reduce the waste if extra.The tray water fall and garden plants on the very back top off the tank is long term need to reduce the waste.The more plant is long term to use the waste.It would be nice if that amazone sword is in very corner and more tall plants on the back, low plants in middle, moss on the rock and front..
Thanks yeah, tbh I didn’t realise how tall the amazon would be and I struggled to dig it into the substrate, I figured if I moved it too close to the corner then the leaves would be crushed against the glass and die. Should I trim some of the leaves already? May do a 20% water change soon and replant it but don’t want to stunt it’s growth...
 
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Nobote

I thought the fish waste and excess food was broken down and used to feed the plants.

I’m just looking for some clarification as to whether my current set up is good, and if it will work well. I’m new to this

It’s only been in full operation for about 24 hours so as of right now, I’m not sure how things are going

I would put some hornwort or duckweed or red root floaters in as a nitrate sponge. I did a lot of modified Walstad aquariums like you are...dirted but with a powerhead source to keep some water flow.
The only issue I see is the dirt visible through the glass at the edge of your aqaurium...I make a ring of sand around the edge and dirt in the middle so light doesn't get to the dirt and cause an algae bloom. If you do get algae on the edge now...just tape a piece of flexible plastic band or something to block light.
Speaking of light make sure you have enough, and its the right spectrum. Light will pretty much make or break your plant growth.
You will most likely wind up doing a little extra siphoning and water changes.

Good luck,and be patient...it is definitely slower and harder to get growth than a hI tech method...bit it is rewarding and fun. Some of the best looking aquariums I had were done using modified Walstad method.
 
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Vinh

Thanks yeah, tbh I didn’t realise how tall the amazon would be and I struggled to dig it into the substrate, I figured if I moved it too close to the corner then the leaves would be crushed against the glass and die. Should I trim some of the leaves already? May do a 20% water change soon and replant it but don’t want to stunt it’s growth...
If you move it to the corner, it have enought light reflex and fert then it won't die.It will adjust by itself ,you do not need to trim that may reduce the spend of the nitrate .That sword is root plant,it need root fert and that fert some how increase more nitrate at the end due the leach.If you do water change then it is not a Walstad system..but if you like then it is not hurt...
Edit: what I mean is Walstad system is no fert,no water change,no maintenance. Only feed live stock and set it up to the point so that it run by itself balance the whole thing without killing your live stock.
 
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Burgzyyy

I would put some hornwort or duckweed or red root floaters in as a nitrate sponge. I did a lot of modified Walstad aquariums like you are...dirted but with a powerhead source to keep some water flow.
Thanks I will take a look at some of these, I just think duckweed looks so ugly, and won’t the Powerhead continuously push it around?
The only issue I see is the dirt visible through the glass at the edge of your aqaurium...I make a ring of sand around the edge and dirt in the middle so light doesn't get to the dirt and cause an algae bloom. If you do get algae on the edge now...just tape a piece of flexible plastic band or something to block light.
Haha that’s funny Cus my girlfriend thought it was dirt too. I actually do have a sand ring all around the tank other than the back, I assume that dark patch it just a ‘shadow’ from the LED above the tank where the sand is not being illuminated.

Speaking of light make sure you have enough, and its the right spectrum. Light will pretty much make or break your plant growth.
Light was one of the things I couldn’t fully get my head round. It has a single LED strip, called LED 5, assuming that means 5W should it be enough in regard to equivalent lighting? I currently have the light running from 9-12 and then a 2 hour break, and then it runs until 10PM.

Thanks for your help!!
 
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Nobote

Duckweed isn't for everyone, but it is definitely a nitrate hog.
Get a Fluval nano eco COB at least...but yeah you need a lot more light- what you have now isn't going to cut it.
Having a midday break for the light is often helpful, you may want to lengthen it...or abandon it. It may take some adjustment to figure out what works best for your plants. Good luck.
 
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Vinh

Some how duckweed will cover on the top of water surface and block more light to the rest of plants.It is good source to spend the nitrate ,you can puss them to the corner which use very less light plants by drinking straws at the end of water flow.I use sunlight next to window so lots of light..some how I have to block in few area to balance light hour.
 

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Burgzyyy

Duckweed isn't for everyone, but it is definitely a nitrate hog.
Get a Fluval nano eco COB at least...but yeah you need a lot more light- what you have now isn't going to cut it.
Having a midday break for the light is often helpful, you may want to lengthen it...or abandon it. It may take some adjustment to figure out what works best for your plants. Good luck.
Would another LED strip in the spare column not suffice? Save me having another external device fitted and keep that neat look that I think I’ve currently got going.

Some how duckweed will cover on the top of water surface and block more light to the rest of plants.It is good source to spend the nitrate ,you can puss them to the corner which use very less light plants by drinking straws at the end of water flow.I use sunlight next to window so lots of light..some how I have to block in few area to balance light hour.
The straws are a good idea thanks! I may put some floating plants in the corner near the filter out of the way and then they hopefully won’t block the light to any other plants.
 
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EbiAqua

In my opinion you need more stem plants in the tank. More fast growing plants will help mitigate ammonia issues and keep algae at bay.
 
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Nobote

If you haven't already...watch Foo the Flowerhorn videos on youtube.



Honestly don't play around w the lights. Buy something plenty strong. I have underlighted and you just wind up chasing your tail and throwing good money after bad,
 
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Burgzyyy

If you haven't already...watch Foo the Flowerhorn videos on youtube.



Honestly don't play around w the lights. Buy something plenty strong. I have underlighted and you just wind up chasing your tail and throwing good money after bad,
His videos are the best! I love the music

I actually already have a USB powered LED strip downstairs so wouldn’t technically be spending anything, worth a try? The whole point of the project was that it’s kinda meant to be low cost so excuse me if I sound like I’m trying to avoid spending, Cus I am!
 
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Vinh

Not thing wrong with that.More light to add will be better but it will take space .Instead of good strong spectrum LED med plant lights .You might need about whole tank wrap up with strip led light with no use for plant...Plant light use 4 color : more on red and blue but less on white and green and it should has strong PAR for deep tank.You might need that what ever strip light or house light or even garage light meet that require for plant to grow.Or use sun light like my tank.Cost not thing..
 
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jpm995

His videos are the best! I love the music

I actually already have a USB powered LED strip downstairs so wouldn’t technically be spending anything, worth a try? The whole point of the project was that it’s kinda meant to be low cost so excuse me if I sound like I’m trying to avoid spending, Cus I am!
I would give your idea a try. Theres many unkowns in what your doing wish I could give you some advice but i've never attempted a tank like this. Good luck.
 
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Burgzyyy

So thought I’d give an update on the tank so far.

Amazon sword seems to be almost at the end of the melting stage, I’m cutting away the initial leaves that are slowly dying and new ones are growing kinda ok. I haven’t hooked up the second LED strip yet, as I’ve had some issues with placement of plugs etc. But hopefully soon. The grass has started to push through the sand in a couple of places, not crazy amounts but enough to know that it is at least growing.

I do have what seems to be a cotton like substance on the moss (?) if anyone knows what that is and could help me out with fixing it. It doesn’t seem to be causing any issues, but it does gather up on the bottom quite a lot. Not sure if it’s just the moss melting or something?

Bad news is I recently added a heater as I felt sometimes room temp wasn’t keeping up very well. In doing so I stress the fish, they got ich and two of them died before I could get to pets at home and get the medicine.

The other two seem to be recovering, (fingers crossed) and the spots are slowly leaving them.
 
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Burgzyyy


74254987-FAF3-41F8-9BC7-FFE5768734D0.jpeg
Should have added the picture update to the last post lol.

Can anyone help me identify the dust like substance that’s on the moss in this photo?

BEB52AA2-FD5B-4943-913F-759BE0BE41AF.jpeg

Thanks!!
 
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Burgzyyy

No ideas? Anyone? It’s still there. If I seem to blow it around with the pipette it looks more brown? But that could be the light I suppose. It only seems to be on the moss!

Thanks!
 
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mrsP

The waste is none stop,the plant grow none stop but it will degrade with no more room and no fert and old age.
With all respect, you do need to trim plants like usual, and also do water changes, most likely not as often as usual but they are sometimes needed. Walstad method does not mean -no maintenence tank- but just different type setup.

And those Foo the flowerhorn videos are really good ones, also relaxing.


74254987-FAF3-41F8-9BC7-FFE5768734D0.jpeg
Should have added the picture update to the last post lol.

Can anyone help me identify the dust like substance that’s on the moss in this photo?

BEB52AA2-FD5B-4943-913F-759BE0BE41AF.jpeg

Thanks!!
As you most likely noticed in videos, there is LOT more plants there. I would add stem plants, lots of them, because them growing remove waste and they keep water oxygenised. You do need to trim them often when they start to grow well, but that's how Walstad tank works.
 
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Burgzyyy

As you most likely noticed in videos, there is LOT more plants there. I would add stem plants, lots of them, because them growing remove waste and they keep water oxygenised. You do need to trim them often when they start to grow well, but that's how Walstad tank works.
Thanks for the reply, yep I have been trimming the Amazon sword, all of its old leaves are gone and it’s actually probably bigger than original now haha. (Picture attached).

No idea what the white stuff is? I’ve actually just got home today and noticed another weird substance growing on some of the plants, still white but looks a bit different to the original one I reported. Looks more like a cobweb.
 

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mrsP

Looks like algae to me. Problem that is corrected with quick growing plants, as they use nutrients and outcompete algae.
 
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Burgzyyy

Looks like algae to me. Problem that is corrected with quick growing plants, as they use nutrients and outcompete algae.
I was thinking of getting some limnophila sessiliflora (?) For the back of the tank to the left of the Amazon sword? That’s fast growing isn’t it?
 
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mrsP

My Limnophila sessiliflora (nooot sure about spelling) grows really well with good lighting, and looks pretty. I have no experience about Amazon sword, but first one should balance out a bit slower one.
 
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Burgzyyy

My Limnophila sessiliflora (nooot sure about spelling) grows really well with good lighting, and looks pretty. I have no experience about Amazon sword, but first one should balance out a bit slower one.
Yeah I’m gonna get some, thanks!
 
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Burgzyyy

That other algae started to clear up just before I added some hornwort, and hasn’t come back yet (fingers crossed) however I’ve also been dealing with this for quite a while and it keeps coming back.

As it’s so close to the substrate it’s quite hard to clean off continuously and I don’t really have the time to be doing this 2/3 times a week.

Any tips are much appreciated thanks!!
 

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The_fishy

That other algae started to clear up just before I added some hornwort, and hasn’t come back yet (fingers crossed) however I’ve also been dealing with this for quite a while and it keeps coming back.

As it’s so close to the substrate it’s quite hard to clean off continuously and I don’t really have the time to be doing this 2/3 times a week.

Any tips are much appreciated thanks!!

I usually use a toothbrush to get that stuff. Just make sure it’s a brand new toothbrush if you decide to use one.
 
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Burgzyyy

I usually use a toothbrush to get that stuff. Just make sure it’s a brand new toothbrush if you decide to use one.
Does that not disturb the substrate? Also any idea how to stop it coming back?
 
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The_fishy

Does that not disturb the substrate? Also any idea how to stop it coming back?

It shouldn’t, the toothbrush allows you to be a bit more gentle. If anything, you may just disturb a little bit of the substrate surface. Rubbing it with a finger is also an option.

I’ve found that that stuff starts to appear when nitrates are rising, but it’s not the kind of thing to take over a tank. Just diatoms, I believe.
 
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