How To Maximize Oxygenation in Your Planted Walstad Method Tank

Make the best use of aquarium plants and light to maximize the oxygenation of your Walstad Method Tank and keep your fish thriving.

Walstad Method Aquariums: The More Plants, The Merrier The Fish

Let’s talk about why plants are important to Walstad Method tanks in the first place.

The aquatic plants not only suck nitrates from fish waste and forgotten food from the water column to use as natural fertilizer for their own growth, but they also depend on the fish for a certain amount of carbon dioxide to aid their own “breathing”. In exchange, the aquatic plants release oxygen into your planted tank so that your fish, shrimp, snails, and other aquarium creatures can get the oxygen they need to stay alive.

The Planted Aquarium Wall

Take your aquarium to a new dimension while adding a whole new surface’s worth of oxygenating plants.

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Plants that will work well with a planted tank wall:

  • Aquatic Moss
  • Micro Sword
  • Monte Carlo
  • Blxya

Planted walls work especially well in Walstad Method tanks that are tall instead of being wide because there is more surface area lengthwise than “floor” area in the tank. This gives you the opportunity to add a lot more aquatic plants to your planted tank without sacrificing the tall tank aesthetic.

Moving Your Grow Lights Or Aquarium Lights to a New Angle

Are your floating plants blocking some of the light from your aquarium light setup? Then try adding other lights that sit beside your planted aquarium and shine light horizontally through the water column instead of shining from overhead.

Of course, this will only be helpful if there is no background tint or planted wall in your Walstad Method tank preventing the light from getting to the plants. It is something to consider and experiment with if you prefer to have more lights/less plants or if you’re keeping fish in a nano tank and really don’t have the space to add a lot of plants, as the fish do still need some open space to swim through.

Add Aquarium Plants That Grow Tall(er)

Fish will swim around and through all of those aquarium plants. Take up more real estate in the water column by adding some tall growing plants. The taller a plant can grow, the more greenery you add to the tank, which means the more photosynthesis can be done by those plants, thereby adding more oxygen to the water column for your fish.

Some excellent choices for tall aquatic plants to add to your planted tank include:

  • Vallisneria
  • Java Fern
  • Madagascar Lace Plant

Add Aquatic Plants That Grow In AND Above the Above Your Planted Tank’s Water Surface

Think about the oxygenating power of a plant that has its roots in the substrate of your Walstad Method tank, but also grows into the air above your planted tank. These plants will not only pull nitrates and nutrients from the water, but will have free access to the carbon dioxide in the air, meaning they will be able to grow much more quickly than plants that only grow beneath the aquarium’s water surface and depend on the CO2 in the water column.

These plants may develop lily pads or send up shoots that dance above the water’s surface.

Plants that grow both in and above the aquarium’s water surface include:

  • Lotus Plants
  • Water Lilies

Add Floating Plants to Your Walstad Method Tank That Float in the Water Instead of On the Water’s Surface

Do your fish really need all that open space between the plants rooted in your substrate and the water’s surface? Not when you can give them another place to hide and lay eggs that also provides more oxygen to the water column.

Floating plants that will stay beneath the water’s surface include:

  • Guppy Grass
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