[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Diane Walstead style tank

I set up an All Glass Mini Bow tank in my office according to Walstead's 
instructions last July and it has been the most delightful tank!  It has 6 
White Clouds in it and I planned on an oto but never added one because it's 
never had a trace of algae so far.  (I've only been doing this a year and a 
half and have set up one other tank with gravel and laterite and two with 
Flourite - 3 watts per gallon in each tank - they've all gone through algae 
stages and need algae eaters to help keep things looking nice.)

The Mini Bow, in case you haven't seen one, has its own hood with a 14 watt 
light built in, so it has 2 watts per gallon of light.  I taped the bottom 
to keep the soil from being exposed to light right from the start.  There 
is no natural light where the tank is, only it's own flourescent and office 
flourescent during office hours.  I do use a DIY yeast reactor for the 
tank, and the way I do it is bring a reactor that is slowing down on a 
10-gallon in to the office and hook that up.  I'm not trying to inspire 
rampant growth with it but to keep the ph out of cichlid ranges.

Choosing soil was also a problem for me.  Native soil was out of the 
question in my mind.  In my part of Colorado the "soil" is a hard clay that 
grows something like one clump of native grass per square foot (or one huge 
cactus per 4 square feet).  Kill off the native grass and you'll never see 
anything but dryland noxious weeds again.  Any soil that's better in the 
area I would suspect has been improved with all sorts of 
additives.  Anyway, I spent considerable time going to local stores and 
reading the labels on potting soil sacks.  If they didn't list contents, I 
rejected them.  If they listed earthworm castings and/or manure, I rejected 
them.  If they listed perlite, etc., I rejected them.  I finally chose a 
stuff called Green Thumb All-Purpose Potting Soil from LaPorte, Indiana, 
that lists soil, peat and humus.  I sifted it through a collander to get 
rid of any lumps and bits of stick, etc., that I suppose are from the peat 
but didn't presoak.  I think it does have some perlite or something in its 
since there are some grayish bits that float sometimes but it's not a 
terrible amount and it's a minor annoyance.

The gravel is from a local fish store that uses it in their tanks and is 
called something like Tech Minerals or maybe Tek Minerals and has 
individual bits from whitish through the brown ranges to an occasional bit 
of black.

I set the tank up at home and filled it and let it sit at least a week 
before draining it and taking it to work where I planted it and set it up 
again with the DIY yeast reactor and planted it.  It sat with plants only 
for at least two weeks before I added the White Clouds.  The tank has a 
small piece of driftwood, and I started with hygrophila polysperma, 
limnophila sessiliflora (thanks again, Chuck Gadd), java ferns, crypt 
wendtii and crypt parva, dwarf sag, hydrocotyle, and anacharis for the 
floating plant Ms. Walstad recommends.  The anacharis never flourished and 
now the tank has duckweed in it that I keep to just a small patch.

The hygro was never meant for long-term and sure enough it stalled in the 
beginning but then grew like mad and started looking ratty from too many 
top butchings.  One drawback to this tank is that replanting and moving 
brings soil to the surface and can make a horrible mess.  To remove the 
hygro, I siphoned tank water into a temporary container and moved the fish 
there, then pulled the hygro, then siphoned soil like crazy and let the 
filter run with some floss until the water was clear enough I didn't think 
it would kill the fish and put them back.  That's the only time I had to do 
that and I wouldn't be so worried about a fast grower like hygro to keep 
algae from starting in a tank like this again and wouldn't start with hygro 
in it.  The limno takes the top butchings fairly well for a long time and 
is easier to uproot and replant when it needs it and it looks lovely in 
this tank, so I keep it.  Everything else except the hydrocotyle is going 
great.  The hydrocotyle has had consistently pale and small leaves, but it 
looks so nice growing over the driftwood I keep leaving it hoping it gets 
inspired.  The crypts are all bigger than I expected them to get, which is 
a bit of a disappointment with the parva, since it's supposed to be a 
foreground plant and I expected an inch or 2 and it's more like 4.

The only negative I can see about a tank like this is if you're a chronic 
plant mover arounder (and I am with the other tanks), it stops you because 
of the way the dirt comes up when you uproot.  I'm not as worried about it 
as I was in the beginning because when I pulled all the hygro and really 
made that tank a murky mess it still didn't start an algae outbreak, but I 
do wonder if there's just something about this little tank that makes it 
stay so nice and I wouldn't be so lucky with another set up the same way.