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The Diana Walstad method and sunshine

Discussion in 'Non-CO2 Methods' started by PK1, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    In her book, D. Walstad advocates putting the "natural" tank next to a window with sun shining in it a few hours a day. I want to setup a small high-tech tank (CO2, EI),and the best place for my tank is in a sun room with windows on three walls and yes, lots of sunshine.

    Generally, the posts that I have read in the high-tech tank section propose to keep the tank away from the sun.

    One of the obvious downsides would be heating up the tank water. That aside, will sun shine only work with natural tanks?? If so why?
     
  2. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    The sun puts out a lot more light than even high tech setups. So you need to be able to control how much your tank gets. Too much light and you're going to get algae. Also with the higher water temps it will speed up the metabolism of the algae.

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2
     
  3. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    That being the case, then why would this work with a low-tech setup as described in D. Walstad's book?
     
  4. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well you're talking about putting your tank in a sun room vs. moving the tank to see sun for 1-3hrs/day. If you have shades/blinds/screens/etc. you can accomplish this but from your description it sounded like the tank would be exposed to sun for 10-12hrs per day. The sun is probably going to be around 2000 compared to the normal 100-125 for high tech.

    Walstad also recommends fast growing plants so they out compete the algae for nutrients.

    http://theaquariumwiki.com/Walstad_method

    You can use this...
    http://clearskycalculator.com/quantumsensor.htm
     
    #4 UDGags, Mar 16, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2013
  5. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    I suppose I could have been more clear, I did say sun room after all... While there will be some sun in the room for 5-6 hours, the angles are such that the rays would hit the tank only 2-3 hours at the most. Either way, the room is very bright as the floor/wall surfaces are light in color and reflect the light quite well. I would personally rather not put the tank there, but it is difficult to find another place for it given the set up of my house. Sounds like the difficulties I may encounter may not be worth it so I'll look for alternate arrangements.

    This specific situation aside, and for my education, I would assume that any tank (high-tech or otherwise) that is well planted with fast growing species can do OK with 1-3 hours of sun or is the general recommendation to stay away from this? I only ask because the general consensus in the high-tech section of the forum (at least the threads I have read) seems to be stay away from any amount of direct sun.
     
  6. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yeah, when I read sun room I envisioned a room of glass where the sun was in it all the time. From the sounds of it you can probably make it work.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Shade cloth is avail at most garden centers, 90% is about what you want for non CO2 stuff for outdoors or in the window.
     
  8. niru

    niru Lifetime Charter Member
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    I too have a hi tech tank in my wintergarden... Loads of indirect and some direct sun. Its possible as Tom says.. Make sure tank has good CO2 before light hits in mornings.

    cheers

    Sent from my GT-N7000 using Tapatalk 2
     
  9. papwalker

    papwalker Junior Poster

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    I have a 30g Amazon blackwater tank next to a window.

    The tank has a 3D background which limits light to that which enters from the top.
    I have Venetian blinds that can perfectly regulate the light if required.

    It has no added CO2 and very little visible alga.
    It is my best, most stable and healthy tank. The flora per cc is incredible.

    The dappling and light beams look beautiful and I don't fork out for 'guru' lighting and power bills.

    My first efforts in the early eighties was a bit green with algae but but I've learned a few tricks since then.

    I would like to put all my tanks near sunny windows.

    [attachment=1438:name]

    sun.jpg
     
  10. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Papwalker,

    Thanks, I'd love to learn about the tricks that you have mentioned, can you elaborate a little? Also, if you have a picture of the entire tank, by all means, please post it. I'd like to see what plans you are keeping in it.
     
  11. papwalker

    papwalker Junior Poster

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    Boy, tricks over the years. Where to start.
    I guess the first thing is how the sunlight gets into the tank. You don't want full sun getting into the back of the tank. In nature, there is no 'back or side of tank'. A part from midday, light enters obliquely. This light can never shine directly on lower parts of the column. Thus, if you don't regulate light with Venetians, use several strips of shade cloth. More layers (getting darker) as you go down so that less light reaches the lower column through the glass.
    In my current tank I use a three D background.

    People seem to think only certain fish and shrimp eat algae. Not so. There are many other critters from microscopic to almost visible that enjoy this little dish. The issue is that people go to the lfs and buy fish, crustacea, plants etc, but where to buy the other hundreds of organisms? I scoop the top layer of a 20 year old open rain water storage system now and again and dump that into my tank. I can see mosquito larvae and some smaller critters in there but there are millions of others I can't see.

    Why is it that algae grow on 'sick' or old leaves but not on healthy? And why mainly on the edges. I think that healthy aquatic plants have a mechanism to keep algae off the production areas. Healthy plants don't just out-compete algae, IMO, they kill it.

    I once cleared BBA by simply adding a little potassium to the tank. The plants picked up and the algae went away. Although this was an artificially lit tank.

    Then there is the UV component of sunlight. What effect does this have on the upper layers of the column? Glass inhibits shorter UV wavelengths so I open the window and remove the lids. (I have to be careful here as I have 'jumpers' in the tank.) We assume that only certain small areas of the spectra are good for tanks, I don't think so, but unless you have small portable fusion reactor you're stuck with artificial light.

    Balance is key. If you don't have the hundreds of flora species the balance is harder to maintain long term so people end up fiddling around with phosphate levels, lighting, CO2, nutrients etc. Very frustrating.

    I only have a few plant species in this tank. Ambulia, Wisteria, Echinodorus etc. Nothing special. The first two grow very very rapidly and help me export excess nutrients out. I need bushy areas for some fish to spawn or hide. Other than that it's a blackwater tank with more dead wood and leaves than plants.

    [attachment=1439:name]
    [attachment=1440:name]
    [attachment=1441:name]

    br1 (3).jpg

    br1 (2).jpg

    br1 (1).jpg
     
    #11 papwalker, Mar 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2013
  12. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks! Nice pics.
     
  13. papwalker

    papwalker Junior Poster

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    Thanks but probably not as nice as your plan:D
    Hope it works out.
     
  14. tanksalot

    tanksalot Junior Poster

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    I had one in my sunroom for years. Finally gave up. Very high light=very high fert./CO2 demand=very high growth rates. Thus if you forget for a few days with fert's, or run out of CO2, you get a mess. And it'll require lots of pruning. Small mistakes, forgivable in an artificially-lit system (you can turn off the lights for a few days, change the water and things aren't all that bad) get amplified in a sunroom aquarium.

    If you're really dedicated and consistent, it can be done, but it's a major commitment. I have a video on Youtube (http://youtu.be/HL8g1tayTzY) of the aquarium in its' prime.

    Tanksalot
     
  15. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Was the tank actually exposed to direct sun light? I was going use material to ensure the tank wouldn't see direct sun, but the room itself is still very bright.
     
  16. tanksalot

    tanksalot Junior Poster

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    It would see some sun, but that depended on the season and height of the sun above the horizon. When my neighbor trimmed a big maple, it got noticeably worse, due to a more open western exposure.
     
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