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Old 02-16-2011, 10:11 AM   #1 
FuulieQ
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Unhappy New Tank Stress?

I just transfered Robert into a new Walstad-style 10 gallon tank. According to my sources, you can just add the water immediately and it will be instantly cycled. I used a filter from a tank that had been running for 5 months or so, so I thought everything would go smoothly. However, Robert is acting strangely. He's constantly "glass surfing" on one side of his tank. He seems very stressed, although his colors and fins are totally fine. No lesions, no discoloration, water temp is normal... but he won't eat. He takes maybe one pellet a day if I manage to coax him, then spits the others out. I used to give him four pellets a day which he would eat enthusiastically, but he just won't eat that much anymore and I'm worried about him.

He does have new tankmates, four african dwarf frogs. He seems afraid of them. I thought he would get used to them after a while, but it's been a week and his stress behavior has only decreased a little bit.

I've given him frozen bloodworms, which he has never eaten and refuses to even try. I've even offered live blackworms, which he will watch curiously but won't touch. This is freaking me out to the point where I'm seriously considering re-homing the dwarf puffer I got to fill his empty planted five gallon so that I can put him back in there and make him more comfortable.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:40 AM   #2 
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How long as the walstad been running and what kind of water changes have you been making, how many and what kind of plants..
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:53 PM   #3 
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and how was the walstad set up originally; where'd the dirt come from, did you use rock sub or superstrate (on top) and the thickness of the soil layer?

specific answers pls.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:30 PM   #4 
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Running for about a week, water change is due today. Followed these directions; http://theaquariumwiki.com/Walstad_method

Used the soil they recommended, "MiracleGrow Organic Potting Soil". Used aquarium gravel on top. As per the directions, there is 1" of soil and 1" of gravel.

For plants, I have two tiger lilies, two bunches of purple cabomba, one dwarf lily and one hygrophila angustifolia. I just put in another dwarf lily bulb, one onion plant bulb and three or four aponogeton bulbs, none are currently sprouted but the first dwarf lily was already sprouted when purchased.

They said I could add animals immediately, so I did.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:40 PM   #5 
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erm
I have no Idea who paid them thousands of dollars to advertise "miracle grow organic potting soil" because its full of "natural" added nitrate and stabilized ammonia as well as lots of other chemicals.

Two options honestly, either get the boys out or ride it out.

If you go to http://www.scotts.com/smg/catalog/pr...154&tabs=usage you will see a listing of "0.10 0.05 0.05" means it contains fertilizers. There are many ways to trip such bottoms into terrible motion.

#1. You cannot "add fish immediately" to a Walstad.
#3. Walstad aren't "easy" tanks to maintain.

I left out #2 due to the category of brilliance of the article.

Lemme tell you about my planted boy's tank.
Its got one inch of sorted potting soil, I took out the cat poop, the fertilizer beads that "aren't" in it, the pieces of wood, asphalt, cigarette butts, metal bits and anything I didn't instantly recognize as dirt. I packed that down into existing water drawn off from a tank until it was a thick mud. I then put 2mm crushed black stone with biology in it on top about 3/4 of an inch thick and then added two layers of 5mm painted stone to keep it all intact and let it sit in the sun for a day. Sounds great, eh?

Added water and planted plants. Two inch bottom yes. None of the plants died. After a week I added one Betta named Emo. He loved it. After three weeks of 30% water changes twice a day I managed to get the nitrite to zero out but I think that was my 200b doing a bang-up job in a ten gallon tank with only one fish...

From time to time I still have to pierce the bottom to remove bubbles or they gather up and spew mud into the water. Seems the "peat" was shredded pine bark as I keep getting oil when I break the soil for the bubbles.

So, my advice is the following: then dig in.
Remove the boys to new treated QT or hospital tank.
Check for under gravel bubbles, if a couple gentle knocks on the table beside the tank make bubbles then you need to clear them.
Check your bio-filter daily for flow and snot, if there's no snot something's wrong.
Increase aeration by $10.00 air pump and $5.00 stone and hose from walmart, just hang it in behind the filter's output.
Feed precisely enough to keep the boys alive, no special treats and nothing alive at all. By the time you get it most frozen stuff is 50% ammonia and nitrite within a minute of hitting the tank.
Get a small bottle of hagan cycle if you're rich, or some api Stress Zyme or if your LFS is great a bottle of Freshwater TLC. (shake the tlc like you're trying to kill it if you use it, but it is awesome) Dope the tank with the bacteria a little bit at a time.
Continue the de-bubbling, aeration and doping until the water quality goes great and all you ever see is nitrate...

OR

Second option, break the tank down and rebuild using two inches of fine gravel, then planting, then put another two layers of coarser gravel on top.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________
I've got a fresh water botanist who works at an aquarium store on my phone and he gets two bucks a call at his discretion from me to help me through the dirt bottom tank. Walstad or pumped Walstad isn't beginner territory. If you want to play around with it you can do it on the side fishless and do your water changes for the Walstad using main tank water as fresh for it but the only reason this friend offered to help was because I promised that if he told me to get the fish out, they'd be out.

That said... the pulped bark has decayed, the fertilizers are gone, the bottom shrank by half an inch and I have a Green Wendtii that is nine inches tall. Once you know what you're doing with real dirt bottom tanks they can be astounding, but please get some practice in before you risk pickled fish. It may not be that your tank has an issue but I insist doing dirt bottom unnecessarily is both dangerous and not worth it if you simply want a planted tank for your fish. Its been almost a year since I started the tank and I've only gotten positive results over standard gravel style in the last two months.

Last edited by Thunderloon; 02-16-2011 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:07 PM   #6 
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I have that soil in one of my many Walstad and it doing just fine...when you first start one up you need to make daily water changes until the soils start its submersed life, however, with that said...I see a couple of problems with your set-up.....

Your gravel is to deep and you don't have enough stem plants or floating plants to help keep the water safe...it is important with start up of soil based tanks to have at least 75-80% of the floor in stem plants and 10-20% floating plants....once you get active growth and the soil matures you can start pulling some of the stem so the other plants can fill in......

Do you have any trumpet snail or are you poking the soil until the stems start actively growing to help pull oxygen to the soil to prevent anaerobic spots

Lights...what kind of lights...watts and kelvin and photoperiod

Right now I would start by making some 50% water only changes and get some floating plants like water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed...even naja or hornwort will help

How are the plants growing

Can you post a pic?
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:02 PM   #7 
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Woah, woah, woooooaaahhh. :/

Okay, I don't know what to think about all of that up there... do you have sources? Because I'm not going to dig up the whole thing and stress my fish even MORE unless there's evidence that I HAVE to.

I've never seen trumpet snails sold in my area and had no idea that I had to do that. Ugh, this is seriously the last thing I needed, I already spent 150$ on this tank and my parents have pulled all financial support on it, I've got almost no money left to work with and I just had an argument with my Dad so now he'll be difficult...

An inch of gravel is too much? But even with only that much gravel the frogs have been digging in it and chewing up the soil, I'm afraid that they'll swallow it...

The plants have all grown since I put them in. They get as much light as I can give them because the bulb isn't as strong as I'd like, but it's really inexact. Today they will have had around six hours of light so far. At first the water lilies dropped all their leaves except the floaters, but now the one I can see has two new pads going up and maybe four leaves sprouting. The cabomba has also grown but it's a bit leggy because I don't think I have enough light.

The florescent bulb came with the hood and I have no idea what kind or how strong it is. I've been thinking of replacing it with something stronger, but since I have no money I thought I'd wait until I could make some selling things...

I checked the ammonia levels this morning and it came out to 0. Do the liquid tests expire? The one I have I bought last year.

Last edited by FuulieQ; 02-17-2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:03 PM   #8 
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I'll see if I can get a pic. Right now the water has lots of tannins in it from the driftwood, so it'll be yellow... should I pull all the critters out? I have a spare five gallon, but I don't have a spare filter.

Oh, and Thunderloon, here's another site that says you can add fish immediately; http://thegab.org/Plants/setting-up-...nted-tank.html

All the instructions are basically the same there as well...

Last edited by FuulieQ; 02-17-2011 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:50 PM   #9 
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I setup my soil based tanks and add livestock the same day without any problems.....I do have to make a few weekly water changes until the soil is water logged and I have active growth in the plants...

If you don't have trumpet snail-just get a stick, chopstick, wooden spoon
or some thing to poke the soil bed to help pull oxygen into it...once the stem plants start actively growing they will also do that for you and you can stop....you usually only have to poke about 2-3 weeks at most

It cost me about $20.00 to set up a soil based 55gal and this includes lights...the tank was free...lol.....

I buy the GE brand 20-40w 6500k daylight bulbs for about $5.00 each for my soil based tanks, I also change them out every 6mo. because I am on a 12h photoperiod...even when they still work the lose intensity with time and the plants can't use the spectrum for energy/photosynthesis

Since I have never kept frogs...I don't know anything about them but if you fear they will get injured with the soil I would leave the gravel bed as is....and they dig? I bet that makes a mess....lol....

If the livestock are having problems and a water changes doesn't help I would remove them for their safety
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Old 02-18-2011, 01:00 PM   #10 
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I did the 50% waterchange yesterday and then fed Robert, he ate a good amount, but this morning he's refusing pellets again... his color still looks good with no visible changes...

Oh, you lucky duck! Everything's so expensive around here when it comes to fish stuff!

I'm not really sure that the frogs will eat the soil, I've watched them chew and spit it out before, but I worry obsessively, soooo... :P And yeah, they don't dig per say but they do poke around in the gravel quite a bit.

I'm headed to the local store to see what other plants they have and if they've got trumpet snails to do some poking for me.

Do those bulbs fit into sockets designed for florescent bulbs?
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