Sagat, I love my Walstad book...I think I have read it about 20 times along with notes written in the margins when I talk with her to clear something up that I don't understand...Its pretty deep scientific based book-but well written IMO.
I cover my soil layer with just enough water to cover so when I add my dry sand-it kinda soaks it up-Then I fill the tank half way with water-then siphon most of that off so I can plant-Note-that I do this different depending on the size of tank too-Not really a right or wrong way per se-these are just general directions. Once planted and scape-I fill-siphon-fill...etc...sometimes I may need to do this 3 or 4 times and sometimes only once-Your goal is clear water for good light penetration to the plants. I don't stress over a bit of soil on top of the sand or soil that floats in the water column-I will get that later if needed.
If you need to use dechlorinator in your water-you don't have to use it if you need to make some back to back water changes when you first set it up-since you don't have livestock in the tank yet-plants will be fine. Just remember to add the proper amount on your finial fill.
It can take weeks-months for the soil to start its life underwater-It should be water logged in a day or so. It is not uncommon and even expected to see the soil "Burp" on occasion-this is normal and nothing to worry about as long as it doesn't smell like rotten eggs.
Filters-they are fine-be sure and place the HOB before you scape and if you plan to use a lid-make sure everything fits right-I learned the hard way...lol...had to tear one down and I had to cut the intake tube on one because it was too long. Be sure and place a hard scape item under the overflow so you don't get too much kick up on the sand-especially in the smaller tanks-plants will work too. Its a good idea to do a dry placement of everything before you start IMO/E. I do it once I add my soil-before I wet it-If I am using a wide base item-like a big rock or driftwood-I sometimes will place it before I add dirt or when I add half the dirt so it sits better in the tank and less chance of the soil going anaerobic under it-especially if I am going to use more than 3 inches total dirt/sand.
Nothing wrong with using filter-I don't in a lot of my tanks-but this is a personal choice-HOB, canisters and sponge filter all will be fine. Sometimes I will start with one and remove it later.
Sorry about your shrimp acadialover, however, you might be surprised and find them later. I keep my shrimp in the same temp that I keep my Bettas...about 76F more or less...
JAGalletta-that soil should be fine-I don't see any additives-be sure and either sift or pick though the soil to remove any large piece of organic matter
Thanks for the post. OFL . I am reading all the stuff on line about the Walstad method.
Well, I don't think they are hiding anymore.... boo hoo. I am worried about some plant matter that is on the bottom. If I have no shrimp ? I have two common snails in the tank.
I've also noted that originally my temp may have been too high..... close to 80. Seems my small bronze wendetti (sp ) leaves sort of melted a little
. Everything else looks good except both of those plants.
Your temp should have been fine-its within range and its not uncommon for crypts to melt when moved or going from emersed-submersed leaf change-just be sure the crown is slightly above the substrate line-better to plant rosette too shallow than too deep.
OFL, you mention it can take up to 3 months for the tank to establish. What kinds of things should we expect to see in that three months?
So far, I've seen this in the first 3 weeks:
Leaf die-off as leaves ill-adapted for current tank conditions die off
New growth, as the plant develops new leaves
Occassional floaters, as ill-planted or jostled stems get dislodged. (I seem to find myself replanting stems every few days for the first week)
Die-off of ill-adapted leaves... ESPECIALLY crypts
Slow growth, overall
Potentially needing to split off child plants, for rosettes placed in optimal locations
Fast root growth
Java moss and ferns growing root systems.
Other things I've observed, but aren't sure are normal:
Tannins, tannins, tannins... After 3 weeks of not changing the water, I finally gave in and did a 5% water change. I'd read that excessive tannins could affect light getting to the plants, so hopefully the new water will help.
Leaves simultaneously turning transparent and yellow