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re: Stunted fish

>Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 14:20:24 -0700 (PDT)
>From: esarchy at wsunix_wsu.edu
>Ross wrote about stunting plant and animal (fish) growth with the
>purpose of keeping them small enough to fit in a small tank. I am not sure
>about the affects of purposely stunting plant growth. However, I thought
>that the old wive's tale about "Fish only grow as big as their tanks" had
>been debunked years ago. To keep a fish in a tank that is too small is
>nothing but cruelty. The fish's body will attempt to continue growing no
>matter what size the tank is. The result is severe bone deformation and a
>host of other health problems. This topic is discussed in any fish health

I would have to disagree with the foundation of this statement.  I have a
5.5g micro plant tank in my office with platies.  These platies' parents
were normal-sized platies, but these platies are tiny.  I firmly believe
that they have adapted to their environment by remaining small.  They breed
normally although the broods are much smaller.  The reason they've remained
small is because the tank is so completely full of plants that if they were
to grow much more, they'd have difficulty navigating.  I consider this to
be a natural response to tight swimming spaces, not cruelty.

>Buy fish that compliment your tank. Do not try to dwarf larger
>species by starving them or placing them in tanks so polluted that they
>can not grow. Do not try to play mother nature by "forcing" a species to
>adapt or die to your water conditions. Do a little research before hand
>and your fish (and plants) will reward you.

While I would agree that trying to dwarf fish experimentally could be very
cruel, letting a fish with adequate room to grow stay small is not.  In a
heavily planted tank, many fish will stay smaller than in open waters.  I
believe that's part of the reason why discus breeders like to keep their
show fish in large, unfurnished, grow-out tanks.

David W. Webb           Texas Instruments
(972) 575-3443 (voice)  http://www.dallas.net/~dwebb
(214) 581-2380 (pager)  2145812380 at alphapage_airtouch.com