Walstad Method of setting up an aquarium tank using soil & plants.

HOW TO set up a Planted Aquarium with DIRT. Dirt in a 75. Soil in the planted Aquarium - YouTube
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I have since set up two additional tanks according to the methods outlined below, with similar success stories, except that one still has some visible algae (buy nothing worse than before the addition of the N and P). Several people from the U.C. Davis area, and others from the internet who saw an older version of these instructions posted on the *.aquaria newsgroups have claimed the same successes that I found (including patchy algae successes), so I am confident that the method works reliably and is easy enough for relative beginners (which TAG readers are certainly not, so bear with the obvious items that follow which are included for the sake of completeness). The instructions are meant to be used as a practical guide to setting up planted aquaria as cheaply as possible with almost guaranteed success, and do not include mention of more advanced or expensive techniques which might be used with great success by some advanced aquarists (e.g. heating cables). More detailed information on soil/plant relations and nutrition may appear in a later issue of TAG.
PLANTED AQUARIUM WITHOUT SOIL
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This is not the whole story either, as biologicalmicrobes further act on chemical nutrients to render them more and lessuseable to vascular plants. This interplay between solubility andinsolubility, aerobic and anaerobic processes defines the allowed lifeof a system. The chemical, physical and biological conditions presentedby the use of soil in aquarium substrates. Aquarium plant soil
Photo provided by FlickrPlanted aquarium using garden soil / dirt - YouTube
Photo provided by FlickrAquarium Plant Soil? - The Planted Tank Forum
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I prefer to pot most of my plants. The method is very simple and does not take a lot of time or effort. First you need some sort of pot. This could be the plastic pots that your garden plants come in, yoghurt containers, the bottom cut off a plastic pop bottle or small clay pots that you can buy at most nurseries. If it is a plastic container, make sure that it is not toxic to your plants or fish. Next get a bucket and add some water to it. Into the bucket add some potting soil. I prefer to use Hillview Potting Soil as I have found that it is pure soil with nothing added. The reason for mixing the soil and water together first is that if you do not saturate the soil and drop the pot into the aquarium, you take the chance of the air in the soil exploding to the surface and making a real mess of the aquarium. Believe me when I say that it can be very frustrating if you rush the job and end up with a big mess. It has happened to me too many time to count. Once the soil is moist (not like soup, more like Play Doh), fill your potting container 2/3rds full of soil. Take your finger and push it into the soil to create a small planting hole. Take your plant and carefully insert the root system into the hole. Carefully fill the hole from the sides, then add aquarium gravel to top up the container. Gently pull the plant upward until the crown of the root is just visible at the gravel surface. I usually have a bucket of aquarium water close by so that I can now submerse the potted plant for a few minutes prior to adding it to the aquarium. This will allow any trapped air to escape and possibly prevent the grief that I was talking about earlier. Now you can place the potted plant into the aquarium and enjoy. The potting soil will give the plant that extra goodness and it shouldn't be too long before the plant begins to thrive and propagate.If your option is to save money with substrate, you can always go with sand as it is a natural substrate and can also blend in well with other substrates or potting soil, but it may cause filtration problems. One aspect some people do not know is that you can add up to four levels of planted aquarium substrate if you want.Aquarium soil substrate differs from typical gravel aquarium substrate because it contains nutrients to promote aquatic plant growth. Aquarists who want a lush green landscape in their tanks need a substrate that can support plant life. However, many problems can occur when using regular garden soil and fertilizers, such as algae overgrowth. Mixing a soil that is rich with clay and low in algae-promoting fertilizers will keep your tank clean while promoting the growth of your plants.When I joined the about four years ago, I attended my first official meeting at the home of Sean Murphy. Sean is a Fisheries Biologist by trade and has been employing mineralized soil in his planted aquariums for nearly two decades now. He developed a “recipe” for the soil substrate during his collegiate studies of wetlands soils. It is his recipe that I have recently begun using with great success.