Re: Chasing the impossible dream?

>From: Calvin Chin <cfc at pacific_net.sg>
>A dream of mine and many other aquarists is to keep the beautiful Discus
>a planted aquarium. However, it's always striking a balance between
>the fish regularly for it to be beautiful and having lots of algae
>and having nice plants with no algae problems and starved skinny fish.
>I find that the Discus fish need to be fed quite large proportions of food
>to enable it to grow large quickly and this represents a strain on the
>aquarium. The only solution it seems is to change water very regularly.
>other ways are there to combat algae besides this? I've tried keeping SAEs
>but they too love the Discus food and ignore the algae now. I find that
>using this bacteria culture called Aqua-10 does help to some extent too.
>I sure would like your views of how you handle the algae if you do keep
>Discus in your planted tanks.
>Calvin Chin

I don't own Discus, but I've kept angels and fed them Discus Formula (good
way to get them in breeding condition, btw).  This was a very good way to
have lots of algae problems in my heavily planted tank, despite frequent,
large water changes.  

I don't believe it's impossible, though.  I think that with the combination
of a few useful tools and some smarts here and there, you ought to be able
to acheive what you want, but it'll probably be expensive to set up.

Some of this is your basic low-tech plant tank philosophy, but with a twist
that is aimed at helping you keep third trophic level fish in a low
maintenance tank.

First, I think that the larger the tank, the better.  A lot of people agree
with me on that, but I'm a bit on the extreme side.  I'd love to build a
48"x48"x24"h 240g tank.  

That's not so bad, but I'm also a believer in very low stocking levels if
you don't want to have to mess with your tank.  My 55g tank now has a
single fish in it.  I'm waiting for it to kick off and to give time for any
residual parisites to die off before adding any more fish (does anyone know
if snails can carry fish parasites?).  

The third thing that I'm becoming more and more of a believer in is
bio-diversity.  When my last platy dies off, I'm going to toss a packet or
two of black worms in my tank and see if they get established.  I'm also
seriously considering stopping my home-made plumbing system (it worked
perfectly, but I'm not sure it's necessary for what I want now) and adding
some daphnia, too.  I currently have a culture of daphnia growing in a tank
with slightly green water, and lots of green algae.  I don't know if the
daphnia are eating the green algae or not, but I often see one grab a piece
of algae between its shell halves and ride its way along the algae strand
for a ways.

Another good algae eater that also makes good live food is ghost shrimp.
These can be raised in green water in much the same way as daphnia,
although they do take longer to raise.  Like daphnia, water pumping
equipment in the tank can be very hard on free-swimming ghost shrimp fry.

I'm hoping to use this type of bio-substructure as a food diversity
supplement for a ram colony in either a 120g or the wished for 240g tank.
I don't see why it couldn't be useful for food recycling in a large enough
discus tank either, although it might be useful to add additional
diversity, including several species of daphnia.  I'd probably expect to
have to add additional food to the tank periodically, and also to change
the water and trim the plants occasionally as well.

This may be entirely useless, but it may provide you with some possible
thoughts as to what you might try to acheive if you have the space.

Have fun,

David W. Webb           Enterprise Computing
Texas Instruments Inc.  Dallas, TX USA
(972) 575-3443 (voice)  MSGID:       DAWB
(972) 575-4853 (fax)    Internet:    dwebb at ti_com
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