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...
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.
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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.