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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V2 #589

> From: Dan Q <dqallwet at avana_net>
> Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 07:05:44 -0500
> Subject: Re: CO2 and water stability
> Somewhere there is an unwritten book of things you should and
> shouldn't do to have a successful aquarium. I quite often enjoy not
> following these rules. Partly, I do it because I think somebody needs
> to, partly because it's usually cheaper or more practical, and partly
> because I enjoy swimming against the current.

Finding success in simpler and easier ways to an end is certainly one 
one way to contribute to the hobby.  Personally I suspect that many of 
the established ways of doing things got established because the hobby 
industry could profit from selling them, not because they were the best 
or least expensive ways to do things.


>   I would like to air out these thoughts so that you scientist guys can
> fill in all the why part of my methods. I will be upfront, I wan't to
> get rid of John and I want to warn anyone whom may ever defend my
> beliefs, may end with John.


>   Besides the kitty litter substrate, I don't inject CO2. Nothing wrong
> with adding it, but I would have to buy sugar in 50 lb. bags to get all
> my tanks hooked up to this. I also don't like the thought of keeping up
> with them, looking at there disgusting contents, or putting up with my
> wife whos limits I have already taken to the limit with my aquariums.
>   I believe it was Andrew who did a great job of explaining that even in
> strong light extra CO2 is not needed.(Thank You!) The plants I have that
> are in direct sunlight and I have known this for years. Now I think John
> knows.

I have both low-tech sunlit tanks and fertilized, CO2-injected tanks. 
Both types of tanks grow plants very well and are pleasing to look at. 
That's about where the comparison ends.  The tanks require very different
care and they support very different plant and animal communities.  The
difference is so large that it nearly amounts to two different hobbies. 
In the sunlit tanks competition for CO2 is an important regulator. 
Addition of CO2 would almost certainly damage or destroy the tanks'
established communities! 

>   The other debates concern water stability. In this case I may also be 
> in disagreement with Andrew as well as John.
>   I naturally get substantial pH swings in my low-tech methods. 6.2 in
> the morning to 6.8 in late aft., give or take a little on both ends. I
> like to see these swings because I consider it a quick sign thay I am
> getting good CO2 production. I seldom lose a fish and I can't detect any
> stress in the fish. In fact livebearers breed like crazy. I noticed
> Andrew posted that he tinkered with his KH to make the pH more stable.

Day-night variations in pH are common in natural waters supporting plant
and algae communities.  A variation from 6.2 to 6.8 would be comparatively
small.  I've seen variations over two pH units in rather well-buffered 
lakes and streams.  My own sunlit tanks vary from less than 8 to over 9 
between morning and late afternoon. 

>    I also don't use heaters. Nothing against them, but just don't think
> water temperature stability is a big deal, unless you are into
> propagating specific fish or plants.  I still get good growth on
> tropical plants like swords (but will admit it might be faster with more
> heat, but I'm in no hurry) and on my fish farm we kept all kinds of fish
> with out heaters and it gets quite cold in Fl.  I have one tank with a
> very hot halogen bulb that gives me about a 6-8 deg. temp. flux 
> over 12 hrs. The point is, both plants and fish can take a great deal of
> change if done slow enough. 

Fish - particularly riverine species - are well adapted to changes.  
Imagine the changes in water conditions that occur when cool heavy rain 
falls into a previously sunlight 90 degree pool, or when storm runoff 
flushes through a stream fed mostly by limestone springs.

Many of our aquatic plants are native to the same inherently variable 
environments.  They are adapted to change.  Admittedly, radical changes 
can be detrimental to established communities, but in other cases radical 
changes are essential to the long-term survival of communities.

We avoid these changes in aquaria because they can stress fish.  Stress
kills fish and a fish that is already under stress from (e.g.) poor water
quality, unatural settings, aggressive tank mates or nutritional
deficiencies can be terminally weaked by changes that otherwise would be
normal, if not essential.  The problem is worse if you're talking about
some inbred fancy strain that had its natural resilience bred out of it
generations ago.  If your fish are well maintained and otherwise healthy,
then normal diurnal changes in pH and temperature should not cause the
fish (or plants) much trouble. 

 > As always,  
> Dan Quackenbush

Incidentally, I liked your articles in FAMA.

Roger Miller