My 2.5 gal tank - rectangular style with lid - is placed between 2 windows - but I have a small (daylight type) flourescent light that I use to keep the plants happy. I turn the light on when I am feeding the fish in the morning, and shut it off around 8pm.
You've seen the pictures of it - with the pictures of Galahad that I posted on Sunday.
Planted tanks are wonderful for helping to cycle the tanks really quickly. The plants add the necessary 'bio' matter that kickstarts the nitrogen cycle. I try to use the Walstead method on all my planted tanks, but my larger tanks are very 'high' light so they don't work well. My smaller tank is just about perfect although, in the past week, I've been having a bit of an algae bloom in it - but I think it's because I'd moved the tank closer to the window and into the natural light. I'm giving this tank a 2 day 'lights off' to address the algae issues, accordingly.
The water in the tank is becoming too cold now to keep bettas happy, and I don't have a decent size heater for it - so it will be fishless for the winter season.
How the walstead method works - you put an organic soil beneath the gravel. in a larger tank it's a 1" to 1" ratio - but in a bowl or small tank like my 2.5 gallon - it's more a 1/2" soil to 1" gravel.
You put in as many plants as you can get in the soil - and the choice of plants will depend on your lighting type. low light plants can take anything under 2 watts per gallon, set the lighting for 10 to 12 hours of light to give the plants enough 'grow time' to match the summer season.
For soil types - ONLY USE ORGANIC! - I can't stress this enough - the non organic types tend to add chemicals, nitro products that can be harmful to the fish.
If you're ordering plants - I had really horrendous results with dwarf grass and baby tears in my big tanks. The moneywort and elodia, seem to do especially well with the low light tanks, as does watersprite (floater).
My crypts didn't like the small tank - I am thinking that the bulb I'm using makes the tank more 'medium - high' light ... although, I don't know what the wattage is on that bulb.
For the planted tank, you will notice that if the tank does not have decent circulation, the water will develop a nasty smell. I scoop out about 70 percent of the water every week to address the scent issues. Otherwise, with this type of planted tank you should not need to do much syphoning unless you have dying plants to remove.
The fish waste becomes fertilizer for the live plants. However, you have to be really careful to not overfeed your fish. If you do, the water will become cloudy - I have this problem with my cory/oto/Richard's tank... The effort to fix an overfed tank is much more rigorous... extensive water changes, filter cleanings and the works...
Hmm, i have a 10 gal tank, i would have to start he whole cycle over i assume if i want to add plants, cuz i would have to take all the water/gravel/decor out to add the soil. Thank you for the lengthy post though, i will deff use that method for my 29 sorority after winter. *bookmarked*
no problem... the walstead method doesn't usually have much decor... the bottom of the tank is supposed to become 'jungle-like' - the website that will give you a lot to think of - and where I am still learning quite a bit from - (I'm a newbie by a long-shot!) - is:
Definitely great place to do your research - and, when you're setting up the tank, if you have questions - you can get some great feedback there. Even Diana Walstead participates! :)
The pictures of the 'el natural' tanks that folks post there are a real sight to behold...
When you're setting up your 29 g - or if you decide to re-start the 10g - definitely keep me posted.
best advice I can give - is be careful how you pour in the water. The soil can really easily be disturbed and will float... meaning you will have to be empty the tank and start again... really frustrating... but, once you know how to get the water in - the set up is pretty easy and painless.