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Discussion Starter #1
so im getting ready to change to sand hopefully this weekend or next, ive been looking into doing a "dirty tank" from what I understand of the walstead method is you don't need to ever add any ferts or root tabs or anything of that sort and that soil actually produces Co2 from all of the TDS it contains. but during the first month or two you can see spikes but these will stop occurring once the soil "matures" correct?
 

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This is just the method I use not necessarily a Walstad method exactly. I use Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix about 1/2" and cap it with about 2" of sand give or take. You need to plant heavily from the get go. Let the tank run for 2 weeks without fish. Durning this time you may or may not see spikes in ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. If they will shift they will most of the time do it during the that time. Its very important to plant heavily. After the time period or any shift are back to normal you can add fish but I would stock slowly.
You won't have to add any root tabs but will or should still add liquid fertilizer. Some say you don't. I personally do. For the first couple of months you need to keep an eye on your parameters as they could still shift some say up to 6 months. I haven't had that but just keep it in mind.
 

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so im getting ready to change to sand hopefully this weekend or next, ive been looking into doing a "dirty tank" from what I understand of the walstead method is you don't need to ever add any ferts or root tabs or anything of that sort and that soil actually produces Co2 from all of the TDS it contains. but during the first month or two you can see spikes but these will stop occurring once the soil "matures" correct?

could be for all I know.

IMHO the co2 comes from the fish and surrounding air.

In my tanks the nutrients comes from the fish.

With Walstat I think they use potting soil which also containes nutrients over and above the fish load.


my .02
 

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I'm following the same method as boredomb does, although I went heavier on the MGOCPM and less on the cap. This is my second time doing it and I did initially have ammonia, but added a seeded filter and tons of floaters cleared that up. Even so I'm only adding my fish back today after about a month and a half. I didn't have any shifts in parameters after the initial ones, I was just finishing the plantings.

One thing that no one mentioned is that once you scape a soil tank than that is basically it. You don't want to be rescaping it. So if you like to fiddle with where you have the plants placed avoid soil.
 

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I'm following the same method as boredomb does, although I went heavier on the MGOCPM and less on the cap. This is my second time doing it and I did initially have ammonia, but added a seeded filter and tons of floaters cleared that up. Even so I'm only adding my fish back today after about a month and a half. I didn't have any shifts in parameters after the initial ones, I was just finishing the plantings.

One thing that no one mentioned is that once you scape a soil tank than that is basically it. You don't want to be rescaping it. So if you like to fiddle with where you have the plants placed avoid soil.
I have done thicker and less of cap before.
BWG is right about placing the plants and forget about moving them. Sometimes you can get away with moving stems but that's about it.
 

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If you love moving your plants around, I dont recommend this method XD
but otherwise it grows plants most fabulously~
Walstald's book is also worth getting :)
 

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so its rocky at best with a start and you want to hold until adding fish for a month or two? is walstead method much better then root tabs flourish and higher light? what would be the benefit of me switching to a walstead from what I have now?
I have added fish after the first 10 days and been okay but that was with a heavily planted tank and with a seeded filter. It can be a rocky start but the plants do grow pretty well. You do get Co2 from the breakdown of organic in the soil. Also I have been told the soil will last for years (3) before its exhausted. Really and truely its personal preference.
 

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I can't or won't answer that as its your fish and I would hate to be the one who told ya it was "safe" to do it in all in one day. I have never done it all in one day. Its always been 10 days or later before I added fish and even then its never been more then 5 or so fish and then I would stock slowly from there. In the tank I have now I have 10 fish in a 10 gallon soil tank after several months.
Also be aware there are risk in doing a soil tank such as anaerobic bacteria producing hydrogen sulfide more so then in gravel or just sand tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I cant help but pick up on that the soil can and will produce ammonia and rites correct? along with much more hydrogen sulfide. in ur tank you gave it 10 days before adding fish correct? and once you added fish it was 5 at a time then slowly back to 10 from there. did you happen to use a established filter to assist with the spikes?

I just don't have the means to keep my fish out of the tank for more then a day but I am very interested into this whole soil thing its atelast worth a shot.
 

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In the current setup I gave it 10 days before adding before adding 4 fish. Yes it was with a seeded filter. I think a month or so I added 9 a total of 11 (I had some deaths but not due to my water or the tank being a soil tank). I never once saw a spike but keep in mind I have know others who have. I may (call it luck or whatever.) have been lucky. You can see spikes in ammonia and or nitrites/nitrates. Generally after the initial spike is going you generally won't see another but I suppose you could.
 

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From your journal I wouldn't really consider your tank heavily planted, especially not in regards to all the super fast growing stem plants you would have to use to add fish back in the same day.

I would avoid doing this if you only have a single day. You have a seeded filter, but that's not the whole story. A lot of bacteria occurs in the substrate as well and you will be removing all of that. Just changing substrate can cause mini cycles and on top of that you'd be adding a possible source of ammonia. I just don't think it would be safe.
 

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I did seem the pictures and the plants look healthy. In my mind at least it's medium planted, maybe I just have a warped sense of what is heavily planted. I've never had a sword plant and have no clue how fast they grow. Usually when you see about Walstad tanks it's the faster growing stems like watersprite, or some Hygrophilas, Rotalas, Luwigia repens, Hornwort, etc.

I would just stick with the root tabs and Comprehensive given the time restraint. It's working for you, so why change it? Eventually the CO2 is going to stop being produced if the fact that after 9 months to a year the bubbling stops is any indication.

What do you mean by struggling with nitrogen? As in too many nitrates? Soil won't help that.
 

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not enough, there are some little brown spots on a few of the leafs while the whole leaf stays green n def right?
I'm not so sure about this. I have swords in several tanks, and in the ones with better lighting, they're doing great - my nitrate levels are typically very low - 7.5ppm at the most, but most of my tanks run in the range of 2.5- 5 if not 0. . . *shrugs* Your lighting is higher than ANY of my tanks, though, so it could be. . .but is it possible that there is another reason why your swords are having these issues?

I want to experiment with a dirty tank, too - but I'm REALLY leery about doing so with any fish involved. I'd suggest you find another way. . . it's just too dangerous! I'm planning to set up a 10g, and just let it run for a while doing loads of water tests, until I'm sure it's safe for my babies. . .

Definitely second Ao's recco on the book. Even if you don't follow her method, it's a good book to read.
 
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