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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #1385

On Mon, 5 Nov 2001, Roy Wadey wrote:
> My question (actually I have many, but this is the main one for now) is why 
> maintain low stocking levels and light feeding while at the same time adding 
> NO3 and PO4 fertilizers? Why not enjoy more fish in the aquarium and add 
> these Macros in the form of food?


I advise low to moderate fish load for several reasons.  The main one is
simply for the well-being of the fish.  Fish are healthier, more
attractive and live longer when the stocking levels are moderate or low.  
You will also see a lot of breeding behavior and often even see successful
breeding in a community tank with a low or moderate stocking level.

I have never kept a planted tank with a high stocking level, so I can only
relate second-hand experience for that case.  I think it would be
relatively difficult to get a stable tank with a big fish population.  
The main problem is that a heavily stocked tank has a high sustained
throughput of nutrients.  Variations in feeding rate, filter effect or
plant growth rate can produce large swings in nutrient concentrations over
a short time.  High swings can lead to algae blooms while low ones can
lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Feeding alone is unlikely to produce balanced nutrient supplies, so some
supplimentation is necessary anyway.  I know with a low or moderate fish
load that the tank is pretty forgiving to small slips in fertilizing.  In
a high-load tank I expect it would be relatively difficult to hit the
right balance and the consequences of a slip-up are likely to be worse.

Of course, having said that, there will probably be three or four people
who come forward to say that their heavily-stocked tank is perfectly
stable and was never a problem to get on an even keel.

Tanks with low or moderate fish loads are easier to care for than tanks
with higher stocking levels.  For instance, with low or moderate fish
populations in a planted tank you may not even need a filter.  Even with a
filter, filter cleaning is less frequent for a lightly stocked tank than
in a heavily stocked tank.

If you have more than one tank, moderate stocking levels give you
considerable flexibility.  If you need to (or just want to) take down one
tank you can move fish from that tank to one or more other tanks
temporarily without seriously stressing the fish.  You can't do that if
your tanks are all heavily stocked.

Whether or not a heavily stocked tank is more attractive than a lightly
stocked tank is a matter of taste.  I depend mostly on the plants, rocks
and wood to make a tank attractive.  I think a moderate fish population
provides a better balance with the scenery than does a large fish

Roger Miller