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Filterless Plant Tanks

>I just read the article titled "Plants and the natural aquarium" by Doug
Valverde in the July 1997 issue of FAMA.  Doug appears to be advocating
filterless plant tanks on the grounds that since "plants prefer
ammonia/ammonium and can use nitrates, but not as efficiently", there is
little need for filters containing nitrifying bacteria in planted tanks.
He does state that he uses a rich substrate, CO2, "mineral suplements", VHO
lighting etc. so his tanks are not low-tech.  He also says that he does
regular water changes, and uses a power head to circulate water within the
>I would be interested in hearing any opinions.

While I do use filters on most of my tanks, I use them mostly as cheap CO2
reactors, a way of creating water current in the tank, and mechanical
filtration.  I agree with Doug completely that bactrerial filtration
(plants are "biological" filtration too!) is not necessary in many good
growth, low fish load planted aquariums.  My tanks too often (most of the
time) run nitrogen deficient for me to think that the bacterial filter in
the tank is doing much of anything.

Like Doug, I have run tanks without filtration of any sort for extended
periods of time and ahve had no problems whastsoever with these set-ups.  I
supplied the photos for an article in FAMA by David Lass on the same
subject several years ago.  He regularly runs a number of tanks without

HOWEVER, IMO, if you're not sure your fish load is low enough, you are
better off having a bacterial filter on the tank even if it is only as a
redundant system.