Thoughts On Filterless Planted 3gal (walstad Method)

  • #1
I'm currently trying to set up a heavily planted 3 gallon. I am on a budget so I'm trying to reuse some old equipment and keep costs to a minimum. So far my plan is to use normal black gravel that is a size smaller than your average colored pet store gravel but isn't sand. I’ve got a piece of driftwood to do a simple hardscape with. I’d like to get java ferns, dwarf sag and anubias nana petite and then some red cherry shrimp. Ive got a powerful LED daylight light and will probably put the tank near some sunlight. Ive looked at Diane Walstads book on her ideas on a tank and she says a heavily planted tank that's mildly stocked will work. My questions are should I put a heater in(indoor temp is generally 65-70) and would a small filter be good for water movement? Are there any other ideas on plant choice or lighting?

  • #2
Question....where is your soil? the Walstad method requires a soil bed capped by something. maybe you already knew that but I'm just making sure. A small filter to encourage mild gas exchange would be helpful. I also just made a nano tank. Mild lighting that doesn't add too much heat to the system is great. I'd encourage to go with the minI version of the java.

  • #3
Yeah, got to have some dirt.
  • #4
Walstad also uses and recommends filtration in her setups...
  • #5
I set up my 2.5 gallon bowl last year. I added about 1 1/2 inch of pool sand. Added a fairly large piece of Quartz Rock, a small seashell and 2 - 4" tall Cranes carves out of some kind of bone . I planted Dwarf sag, a few stems of Bacopa and 2 or 3 tiny jungle vals in it. No filtration, no heater and no light. It is sitting in front of a north facing window. Only living creatures living in there are assassin snails. They keep the sand stirred since they spend most of their time moving through it.

The quartz rock now has some very nice looking algae growing on it and the plants are doing really well and have filled in nicely. I do a 75% water change in it about once a month. I put a few pest snail in there occasionally to feed the assassins.

At first I did get a bit of surface film and would use my turkey baster to aerate the water but no longer get the film so no longer have to do that. I add a small dose of Thrive once a week to feed the plants. I also put root tabs under the Dwarf Sag. With the bowl being so small one root tab was enough for all the plants. The tiny jungle vals were growing to the top so last week I removed the tallest ones.

I say go ahead and set yours up. It may take a few months for it to settle in and start looking good but in time it should turn into the perfect little eco system. If you have shrimp in yours you may need to do smaller water changes and have to do them more often. Good Luck
  • #6
I have done Walstad tanks in the past. You can get away with no filtration if you only keep shrimp and guppies or a betta and vacuum/ waterchange pretty frequently, but in my personal experience you need some kimd of water movement..either an airstone or small powerhead.
Without a little water movement the surface will get a sheen of biofilm,and floating plants/ water column feeders don't do as well. It doesn't have to be much flow...but the difference between no flow at all and and just a capped airline with a few pinholes in it was noticeable.
Good luck, post some photos when its all filled in!

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