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  1. #1

    Join Date
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    Default Welcome to Nut's dark & dirty botanically enhanced, Walstad, GBR coed condo


    5 Not allowed!
    I have been debating on whether I was going to start a journal for this build. What exactly is a Journal? To me a journal is a person writing down thoughts, expectations, experiences and questions they may have.

    The unique thing about a journal on forum like this is, it is an interactive journal.The trouble with being interactive is any member can post a reply whether pertinent to the journal or not, which from what I have read in journals that have been around for awhile, leads to the journal losing it's original purpose. It goes from "the build" to a, this is what's happening in my life now. Which to me is great to read, it builds friendships and camaraderie with in the site. that is one thing that kept/ keeps me coming back here. Personally I think post like that are best left for the chatter box section.

    Being an interactive journal gives peeps the opportunity to post their thoughts and suggestions. If you can contribute in any way shape to what question might be asked or have a question that relates to the question being discussed, by all means ask it. a simple press of the button is good enough, if you liked what was said and don't have anything to add.

    I am starting this journal to gather information for this build and for future builds. I would like to be able to somewhat categorize the progression of the journal. I am hoping if someone who is thinking about possibly trying the same style tank, does a search and stumbles on to this site and this journal and reads through this thread, they get insight from questions asked and questions answered, and not lose interest because of a lot of not relevant post.

    quoting is a big part of something like this. I just ask, if it's a large quote, you delete none essential parts of the original reply for less clutter.

    if your where able to get through all that and plan on following thumps up is cool.

    my prelim thoughts and hopes soon to come.
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Default


    3 Not allowed!
    Like the title says dark & dirty. I have fallen in love with the botanical, tinted style aquarium. And have been doing reading on the Walstad style aquarium and plan on combining them. A low tech no filter with minimal water changes aquarium not only intrigues me it down right excites me.

    From what I have read on both methods, they both have similar qualities but also offer up some challenges in combining them. Hopefully with your help we can work through those challenges and come up with viable options.

    The tank is a 20g high that we picked up a couple weeks ago at petsmart. My 75g will just have to wait a little longer. Well a lot longer. We also picked up a 55g with stand and filter from one of my wife's coworkers.

    I plan on setting the tank up with two distinct territories and house two pairs of German Blue Rams. As far as other fish, right now I am not planning on any but if I decide to put some others in they would have to be top tank inhabitants. That's it for now.
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    I purchased my very 1st kindle book today. It was slow at work so I read about 1/3 of it. I have heard a lot of people talk about Diana Walstad's book and I plan on making that my next kindle purchase. Has anybody read this book?
    It's very easy to read, al.ost like he dumbed it down just for me.
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    So I am thinking, there is a lot of similarities; at least at start up with a Walstad and a "dirted" tank. They probably use about the same materials for substrate.

    What are some of your experiences with certain types of "soil % cap" ( brand name if possible) and how you "conditioned" it?
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  5. #5

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    Default


    2 Not allowed!
    I only have one experience so far with a dirted tank (the one below, in my signature). @angelcraze2 has much more experience with using dirted substrates, so hopefully she can chime in here, as well. I'm also a member of a FB group specifically for dirted tanks and I can pull you in there, if you want.

    For my tank, I used EcoScraps Organic Garden Soil (the regular, non moisture-retaining kind).

    C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_Ecoscraps_Organic_Gardn_Soil_1_.jpg

    A favorite choice among the dirted folks is Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Mix. I searched high and low here at multiple stores and no one carried it, which is why I went with the EcoScraps. From my discussions with the folks on the FB page, it doesn't really matter which brand you go with, as long as it's organic (no added fertilizers) and stay away from anything that says moisture-retaining.

    The potting mixes tend to be a fluffier and softer type of dirt, whereas soils have a lot more debris and chunks in them. I used one of my son's sandbox sifter toys to remove the large crap in my soil as it had lots of bark and bits of wood. Took a while to sift enough for my project as the "hills" in my scape required a lot of substrate material to be used, but it came out nice and fine and soft, much like a regular potting mix.

    I chose to cap it with Seachem Flourite as it is made of clay. I also mixed in the Flourite evenly with the soil for the first inch of substrate that I laid down, that way I had the clay down on the bottom as well as the top.

    If I could go back and do it over, I would still have used the Flourite mix down below, but I would have capped the dirt with sand. My soil gave off a butt-load of tannins during the first month. So much that the glass got coated in a layer of gunk that had to be wiped off at each water change. I did weekly 100% water changes, right down to the substrate, and it took about six or seven complete drains and refills before the dirt stopped murking up the water. And I want to point out, this was different than the tannins I've gotten from using driftwood and leaves. That stuff would stain the water like a tea, but would be clear tea. This stuff made the water...thick? I dunno how else to describe it. It was murky. Not muddy, not stained...almost like the milky bacterial bloom you get in a cycling tank, but tannin-colored, if that makes sense. Even with 3,200lumens of daylight bulbs directly over the tank, it would be impossible to see all the way through the tank after just two days. It was bad in the beginning... I also loaded my canister up with a big pouch of Purigen, which helped a lot to clean up the residual stuff later down the road.

    I attribute my problem with the choice to use Fluorite as a cap as opposed to sand. The Flourite pieces are just too large and irregularly-shaped to create much of a cap to trap all that stuff from the dirt. Sand is much finer and more uniformly-shaped, so an inch or two would work very well compared to the Flourite.

    Important tips that I learned a little too late to be much help for me:
    Wet your dirt before you cap it. Water doesn't penetrate dirt/soil like it does our usual substrates. It will just sit on top, leading to issues later down the road when it settles. So lay your dirt down, then mix in some water with it. Get your hands dirty and work the water into the dirt nice and good before you toss your cap over it. This way you wont have all that air trapped in the dirt when you flood the tank.
    Second tip, add lots of floaters to the tank in the beginning. There will be so many nutrients floating around in the water column that having a ton of floaters, at least for the first month or two, will help clean up the water. In my case I didn't heed the warning at first and ended up with ugly dark algae all over my pretty hydrocotyle (the clover in the back), even with frequent water changes and a ton of pressurized CO2. I didn't want floaters because I was afraid it would impact the amount of light reaching my carpet plants. I finally added some dwarf water lettuce from another tank and it made a huge impact on the algae, even though I keep it thin enough to not really make any difference in the amount of light in the tank.

    Shoot me a PM on FB if you want me to pull you into that dirted group.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Ken! Hope you and yours have a fun and festive day!
    Last edited by BluewaterBoof; 11-23-2017 at 03:44 PM.



  6. #6

    Join Date
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    Default


    2 Not allowed!
    Hey Ken, nice project :) I'm really liking the botanical and dark water look myself. I have dirt in almost all my tanks, some completely dirted, one with deep dirt beds. But they are certainly not Walstad tanks. I use the dirt more because I find it keeps the tank more stable for the long run. My deep dirted 90g tank is 4 years old. Is way beyond the plant explosion that happens for the first 6 months (at least) of having a dirted tank. The plants still grow nicely though, and parameters stone solid.

    Quote Originally Posted by BluewaterBoof
    And I want to point out, this was different than the tannins I've gotten from using driftwood and leaves. That stuff would stain the water like a tea, but would be clear tea. This stuff made the water...thick? I dunno how else to describe it. It was murky. Not muddy, not stained...almost like the milky bacterial bloom you get in a cycling tank, but tannin-colored, if that makes sense.
    Your tank was cycling! The ammonia released from the dirt does the job. That's why it's not advisable to add fish right away. In fact, I think Diana suggests 3-6 months? I think that's excessive, but like I've said, I've never done a full Walstad tank.

    If I was to redo some tanks, I'd add a sand cap like BluewaterBoof suggested. I used gravel in all my tanks (sand as a cap beneath the gravel in my 90g). I still don't really have a problem with gravel, but sand looks more natural I find, and the "mess" stays on top. With the gravel, the mess falls in between the stones getting trapped way down, but then I figure it's refertilizing my dirt at the same time. I find it more difficult to plant in sand as well, not as much of an anchor, but that could just be me haha. The type of soil I use is Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil. I didn't think to sift it until André mentioned it in his journal, but sticks and things look great in a botonical-style tank anyway. I'm not sure if Diana suggests water changes at the beginning, but you will get serious brown (not quite amber) tannins like André mentioned too, but they should be clear once the tank cycles.
    I'm anxious to watch how your journal goes.
    GiVe Me sHrEd TiLL i'M dEaD
    -Kat

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Has anyone, mineralized the soil before adding it? I have read it speeds up the breakdown of the organic matter and alleviates a lot of the algae bloom at the beginning.
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    I do not see algae blooms with dirted tanks myself, only a plant growth boom that uses up the nutrients in the dirt quickly and some even say it exhausts. I'm not sure if I did it properly, I did not let it sun-dry but I moistened the dirt and let it dry a few times in one of the tanks. As a matter of fact, don't know if it's coincidence, but that tank is currently doing the best for plant growth. I started 3 dirted tanks roughly at the same time about three years ago.
    GiVe Me sHrEd TiLL i'M dEaD
    -Kat

  9. #9

    Join Date
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    Congrat on your fishless cycle - Boundava   Congrats on cycling your tank! - Silbar   Thanks! - Boundava   Happy Holidays! - Boundava   Happy Christmas! - Slaphppy7   
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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by angelcraze2 View Post
    I do not see algae blooms with dirted tanks myself, only a plant growth boom that uses up the nutrients in the dirt quickly and some even say it exhausts. I'm not sure if I did it properly, I did not let it sun-dry but I moistened the dirt and let it dry a few times in one of the tanks. As a matter of fact, don't know if it's coincidence, but that tank is currently doing the best for plant growth. I started 3 dirted tanks roughly at the same time about three years ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by angelcraze2 View Post
    I do not see algae blooms with dirted tanks myself, only a plant growth boom that uses up the nutrients in the dirt quickly and some even say it exhausts. I'm not sure if I did it properly, I did not let it sun-dry but I moistened the dirt and let it dry a few times in one of the tanks.
    I don't think there is a right way or wrong way to mineralize the dirt, just as long as it drys out. Warm direct sunlight would just be faster.

    You must be doing it right. From what I have read one of the draw backs of using miracle grow, is it's high organic composition, which can lead to algae blooms. Mineralizing helps speed up the organic breakdown,
    If it's too loud you're too old
    If it's too fast then it must be thrash

  10. #10

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    5 Not allowed!
    Just remember you can't force all the plants you want to grow. If some plants die, move on to a different plant and just stock with plants that thrive in the environment.

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