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Stocking levels and Macros

Thanks for all the prompt answers to my naive question. I hope you donít 
mind if I reply to them all in one mail.
Both Alysoun McLaughlin and Paul Hudson say that excess PO4 is likely to be 
a problem in heavily stocked tanks, however, Paul and Cavan suggest that 
with sufficient light and CO2 the nutrients supplied by fish foods may not 
be enough to keep up with the demands of the plants.
One of the reasons that I posted my question was that, having read the mails 
about dosing with macros, I decided to check the levels in my own aquariums 
and found that in those with high light and C02, NO3 and PO4 were 
undetectable with my kits.
Tom Barr suggests that algae hell will result from Urea and NH4 and points 
out that he suggests adding N in the form of NO3. Iím sorry if Iím being 
dumb again but I always thought that NH4 was the preferred N source for 
aquatic plants?
Paul, Cavan and Roger Miller all point out that heavy stocking levels result 
in the accumulation of other substances such as detritus, organics and 
allelochemicals that place a greater strain on the filter system and/or 
require extra water changes. This is a fair enough point, but as I am lucky 
enough to have pretty good water (KH 4-5, GH 8-10) on tap, this is not too 
much of a problem for me.
Roger and Paul also suggest that the balance of nutrient levels is likely to 
be unstable resulting in both algae blooms and nutrient deficiencies. I have 
to say that this has probably been my experience as I do get occasional 
blooms of different types of algae and periods when growth of the plants 
stagnates. However, I confess that I havenít been measuring my plant 
nutrient levels very regularly recently. If I get an algae problem then I 
just give the filters a good clean and increase water changes for a while 
and if the plants stop growing well then I just add a bit more K, Iron and 
trace (doesnít always work). If I follow the suggestions on this list 
though, and try and maintain the levels of Macros within Ďacceptable 
levelsí, then surely this means measuring frequently in which case I could 
probably head off these problems anyway?
Finally, Roger asks whether lightly stocked aquariums arenít more attractive 
anyway, with improved well-being of the fish and breeding even in the 
community tank. I quite agree! I havenít bought any fish since I moved away 
from the city (and tempting supplies of exciting new species) a couple of 
years ago. My Ďproblemí has arisen because the dwarf cichlids, anabanatoids 
and tetras in my once lightly stocked tanks have been breeding regularly and 
a good number of the fry avoid predation amongst all the plants! I guess 
Iíll have to pass some of the fish on, or persuade my family that there 
really is room for a couple more tanks!

Nice to make your 'aquaintances',


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