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 Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale

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NPTAloha

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Posts : 24
Join date : 2011-10-28

PostSubject: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:20 am

Step by step on how I set up one of my Natural Planted Tanks.

Step 1: .5"-1" of gravel on the bottom of the tank. Cover with screen door screen cut to fit. This will assure that water flows to the underside of the soil layer (combats anaerobic soil problems). Oh man this picture is huge.
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Step 2: .5" of black flourite substrate
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Step 3: Spread flourite to within 2" of the edge of the tank on all sides.
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Step 4: 2" of Miracle Gro ORGANIC soil. You don't want regular miracle gro or any other fertilized soils because the added N and Ammonia will give you Algae Soup!
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Step 5: Ring gravel around the border of the tank. Again, this is to help assure that water flow will reach the underside of the soil layer.
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Step 6: Light sprinkling of Laterite. This adds iron reserves to the soil (I don't like spending money on expensive fertilzers (I make my own, but that's another thread). Laterite is EXTREMELY inexpensive. I think I bought my box of laterite for $7 and it should last me 20-30 tank setups.
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Step 7: Dirt/Flourite mix over the laterite. This is so the iron won't seep into the water. Instead, the laterite should dissolve into the dirt layer.
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Step 8. Cover with 1" of gravel and Booyah! Fill with water.
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This is the most complicated dirted tank setup I've ever done. Usually I just put a small layer of gravel down, a thick layer of dirt down, and a 1" layer of gravel on top. This is if you want to go overboard. This is the tank that I show in my tank profile thread (plant growth progression pictures).

Tank Specs:
72 gallon bowfront
Penguin waterfall filter - Upgraded to FX5 because of noise. FX5 is overkill, but SO quiet!
48" T8 bulbs X2. (less than 1W/Gallon) Planning to upgrade. 6 hours on, 4 off, 6 on, 8 off.
No CO2 (tried DIY for awhile but it's a beeyatch)

Fish Load:
22 Neon and Cardinal Tetras
8 Black Tetras
2 Chinese Algae Eater
1 Bristle Nose Pleco
8 Nerite Snails
2 Thai Flying Foxes

Plant Load:
Countless Stem plants- Cabomba, Ludwigia, Hygro, Bacopa etc.
Vallisnaria Gigantea/Sprialis
Crypts - Wendtii, Green Gecko, Bronze, Parva etc
Ocelot Swords
Dwarf and regular Saggitaria
Wisteria
Java Moss and Ferns
Floating Frogbit






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Syklyd
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Title : I am the Walrus.

Posts : 213
Join date : 2011-06-26
Age : 40
Location : Eugene, OR

PostSubject: Re: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:21 pm

Nice tutorial!

I've been thinking about going back and redoing my planted tanks with better soil bases. If I do, I may have to give this a try.
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Sprwoman



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Join date : 2011-08-02

PostSubject: Re: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:38 am

Whats the overall substrate depth? And do you have problems with the soil layer when replanting? I did a soil set up once that I was unhappy with eventually, but without the lower gravle layer and topped with sand. Either my sand layer wasnt thick enough or heavy enough, not sure which. But as my overall substrate depth was about 2 inches, the plants could have used more height, and the tahiti moon sand was a bit pricey (and imo light). I eventually opted to tear it down. Was a serious bi$h rinsing that out. And Yes my plants loved it. I like your ideas, and maybe if I ever do another dirt tank I'll try it this way (and in a larger tank than last time).
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NPTAloha

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PostSubject: Re: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:25 am

Overall depth was betweent 3 and 4 inches. If I were to set up a tank with this method again I would have used larger gravel underneath and smaller gravel (but not sand) on top. Plants multiply much faster in finer substrate.

In my shrimp 10 gallon I only have gravel over dirt and I can't divide my crypts fast enough. Crypt Green Gecko is my craziest grower. This is how I'm going to set up my next large tank - no gravel underlayer, just a gravel ring around the soil bottom and a gravel top.

The tank I set up last month was a 90 gallon at a friend's house outside of Creswell. He has super basic well water so the day after we planted his water was BRIGHT yellow. Our theory is that the basic water sucked a ton of tannins out of the wood bits in the soil. I don't know how well his tank will fare because his pH soars to 9.5 every time he does a water change.

The soil is a major hassle if you're the gravel vacuuming type. Once you pull up a plant it takes awhile for the bits of dirt to settle back down into the gravel (I suspect it wouldn't happen at all if I had finer gravel). I don't mind this though, because I think natural looking substrates look nicer than perfectly clean sand or uniformly colored gravel.

You risk anaerobic soil if you use too fine a sand or too large a gravel.

I took most of my setup advice straight from Dustinsfishtanks on Youtube and Diana Walstad's book.
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NPTAloha

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PostSubject: Re: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:33 am

Why did you lose interest in the soil method? Most people I know who have tried the method either get tired of trimming plants or want a top substrate level that looks pristine.

One other problem I deal with in every new tank is a month long break out of hair algae. I think it's hair algae at least. It's long and stringy, and it's not beard algae (the black short hairy stuff). Shrimp and snails eat it, and it's easy to siphon out during water changes, but it's ugly while it lasts. Diana Walstad says algae in a dirted tank might be because there aren't enough plants to out compete the algae. After reading her book I've planted new tanks with more plants, but still had the temporary hair algae outbreak (maybe the plants don't out compete the algae till they're heavily rooted?).

I still feel like kind of a newb when it comes to water chemistry and the details of plant nutrition, but so far I've had great success with this method. I'm definitely the project hobbyist type instead of the "I love to look at my tank but hate to work on it" type. Now that my tanks are past the initial first month, my new hobbies are attempting to breed shrimp, and trying to sell plants on Aquabid.
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Sprwoman



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Join date : 2011-08-02

PostSubject: Re: Walstad Method, Natural Planted Tank, Dirted Tank, El Naturale   Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:23 am

Sorry it took a while to remember why I did tear that tank down. It developed a pinhole leak (a few drops a day) about 1/3 from the top. I put up with the leak for a while but the stand was very old wood and I kept getting flack for my tanks. So I had to eventually. Yes I suffer from MTS (multiple tank syndrome). And I swear I remember some hair alge too. lol
Anerobic was a worry of mine, but honestly atm I dont remmeber what any signs would be. Like I said I think the sand was a problem. It's been a few years and my memories a bit foggy. I do remember it off gassing (no odor and it didnt seem to bother tanklife) and the dirt seemed to creep up into the sand layer where I replanted things. But there again I think the sand should have been deeper and or heavyer or maybe sands the problem. Also your recomended dirt mix is diffrent. Its been too long to remember exactly how much of what I used, but I remeber vermicule (which may have contributed to the gas). Partly because it looked unsightly against the tahiti moon sand.
I'm not really into triming, overly pristine tanks, the thought of looseing 4 inches of tank to substrate, or things being completely prefect. I used to like to mess with my tanks when I had time, but not to really have to (if that makes any sence). I did used to joke that water changes were my religion though.
So do you recomend the bottome layer of gravle? Wow and 9.5 is seriously harsh.
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