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Planted aquaria talk by Diana Walstad

Last night our aquarium society had a talk by Diana Walstad, author of the
book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium," on the benefits of plants. It was a
fascinating talk, with explanations of many of the chemical reactions that
go on in a tank. I was interested to learn that almost all aquatic plants
prefer ammonia/ammonium as their nitrogen source, and will suck all the
ammonia out of the tank before starting to use nitrates. Also she explained
how a properly balanced tank does not need, and is fact better off, without
any biological filtration (meaning a filter that circulates the water over a
bed of bacteria). The biological filtration bacteria remove ammonia that the
plants could use, and the chemical reaction that the bacterial perform
consumes O2 and acidifies the tank, two things that are generally
undesirable. She has a heavily planted tank with a reasonable fish
population with no biological filtration (she uses an external cannister
filter with no media to circulate the water), she does a 25% water change
every 6 months (you read that right!) and the fish are not only healthy but
breeding! There were many other interesting details, and I think I will take
a serious look at her book.

Peter G. Aitken