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Re: relevence of natural (open) ecosystems to tanks (closed)
Roger Miller wrote:
<< Compare that to our planted aquariums. Diana Walstad's ecologically
principled aquariums have clear water with relatively calm currents and a
very limited biodiversity. They offer but two environments (soil and
water) and a setting that is very unnaturally stable. Water changes once
every 6 months? A natural stand of plants would see different water every
This is a point many newbies, and even people like myself who should know
better often overlook. With all the hype about "Nature Aquariums", and the
pictures and ads for various "natural" products in aquaria mags, it's easy to
be mislead if we allow it. Like it or not our systems are about as unnatural
as they come. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.
For example: this total control of the water exchange can be used to our
considerable benefit if we can but determine and tag certain variables and
trace these to predictable outcomes. This is very much a work in progress,
often right here on the APD.
This lack of water exchange may also, at some point, explain the
preponderance of certain "undesirable" algae in some systems or the
occurrence of what would appear to be some type of alleopathic phenomena in
Mr. Miller further observes:
<< A more high tech tank may be run with more water changes and might (with a
darkened sump and filter) offer more physical diversity, but biodiversity
would still be low and all conditions would be closely controlled. Don't
even think of murky water, sinking detritus or suspended sediments!
Maybe adding fertilizers is a reasonable simulation of a deer or tapir
peeing in the water. Maybe not.
There's really very little similarity between our aquariums and natural
systems, and almost nothing from ecology that can be projected into our
aquariums. Observations from nature may give valuable clues about the
physiology of some plants. Otherwise, information from the natural setting
where a particular plant thrives is of little value because we almost
never offer plants conditions that are anything like their natural
environment. The natural environment in which our aquatic plants grow is no
relevant to most of our planted aquariums than the natural environment of
wild squash is relevant to how you should grow zucchini in your garden. >>
Many of the common aquatic plant cultivars circulating in the trade, the ones
we so often have in our own tanks, have been under commercial cultivation and
perhaps more importantly, involved in selective breeding programs for so long
that, like most Angels, Discus and Platies, any observations about the
environmental preferences or requirements of their ancestors is liable to be
of historical interest only.
There again, we do have some exciting new plant species which make an
appearance every so often. Unfortunately - ironically even -- information on
these can be frustratingly difficult to ferret out, especially if English is
your only language.
West Palm Beach, FL