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Re: [APD] Re: ecosystem in aquarium

Trying for a "balanced" aquarium is grail for some folks. 

And some of the basic ecological notions of the
relationship between plants, animals, bacteria are well
described. Check out Diana Walstad's book, _Ecology of the
Planted Aquarium_, available at fine AGA websites and other
bookstores. Diana reportedly goes for months without water
changes, merely topping off what evaporates inbetween rare
water changes. 

On Erik Olson's thekrib.com, there's lots of fun reading
from way back in the 90s (oh, I can hardly reach back that
far) about balanced aquaria. See, for example,


I think there is even a tale of Erik's somewhere on theKrib
about a planted tank that almost crossed over to being a
"balanced" tank. But I can't find it right now. 

I remember some of the classrooms at my elementary school
(this a bit earlier than the 90s, or 80s or 70s for that
mater) trying to setup and maintain "balanced" aquaria with
nothing but gravel, water, light, fish & fish food.

There's an argument to be made that a dirt underlayment is
more natural than some others of the many techniques for
setting up a planted aquarium. And certainly less work.
Following on a recent sequence in TAG (The Aquatic
Gardener) of APD threads discussing the pros and cons of
dirt tanks, Ms. Walstad has a reply of sorts in the
upcoming TAG -- which is also a nice follow-up for her
presentation at the Convention last November.

Stagnant water can be troublesome to deal with, so I think
most attempts at a balanced tank have at least a pump --
some might say that's more natural, some could argue less.
but the animal-bacteria-plant balancing act is about the
same either way -- well, certainly if you allow algae to be
part of the balance.

Some of us would never settle for the plant-to-fish ratio
of a "balanced" tank. And at the other end of the spectrum
are others, wouldn't dare put a fish in their beautiful
aquatic garden.

Certainly no lack of variety among aquatic gardeners.  :-)

One view is that any setup is basically a balanced system
(after all, any system seeks equilibrium, whatever that
means -- I'm not sure by I know it's the law ;-)   ). It's
just a question of what balance you want and how often you
and what kinds of inputs you introduce to tip, retip, or
reset the balance. Artifical lighting is one type of input,
electric pumps are another, water changes yet another,
flake food, etc. ONe could argue that even for  a
"balanced" aquarium, the ecology reaches all the way to the
electrical wall socket, the water tap, and in it's way, the
food the aquarist eats and burns working on her or his
aquaria. Of course, if one carries this too far, reason
begs for parsimony -- but parsimony is a matter of taste.

Diana's well-described method certainly minimizes the
inputs once the dirt is covered and the plants, fish and
water are put in the aquarium. Except for swords, which at
least sometimes seem to need additional nutrients than wat
the dirt and fish food can provide.

Scott H.
--- Ramon <rams at onvol_net> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
>                         As everyone knows, one of the
> roles of plants for
> the well being of an aquarium is to absorb those
> 'harmful' substances from
> the water column, namely ammonia (NH3), Nitrite (NO2) and
> even Nitrate
> (though the least preferred source of Nitrogen). This has
> led to discussions
> whether it possible to run a planted aquarium without
> filtration since the
> plants are substituting the roles of the nitrobacter and
> nitrosotomas
> bacteria in a biological filter. In fact, in aquariums
> which are heavily
> planted and with a minimal stocking of fish, such
> colonies of bacteria are
> minimal. However, this is just an ideal view and very few
> aquarists suggest
> not using biological filtration at all.
>                         However such a claim may be
> extended to the partial
> water changes in an aquarium. Hobbyists encounter the
> problem of maintaining
> water parameters at an optimum level suggested by the
> experts. I.e. General
> hardness 2- 5 dh and KH 3 - 5
> Tap water may contain very high GH and it is really
> frustrating to lower
> such values using appropriate resins especially where
> relatively large
> aquaria are concerned. So, assuming that the aquarium is
> decently planted
> with the minimal stock of fish (just algae eaters and
> corys for example)
> that it is also needed to fertilise with NPK; does it
> make sense to change
> one third of the tank volume fortnightly? Remember that
> there will not be
> excessive ammonia, nitrites and nitrates due to fish
> excretions? Can anyone
> limit himself to just add the evaporated water with
> reverse osmosis or
> distilled water and say make a partial water change
> occasionally?  Some
> people talk about 'aged' water. Do they mean water which
> has accumulated
> substances not used by plants and not absorbed by
> filtration?
>             Regards,
>                                     R. Vella
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> Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
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Christel Kasselmann, 
author of the best current authoritative text on aquatic plants 
will be a featured speaker at 
The Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies 30th Annual Convention.
March 18-20, 2005 at the Marriott Hotel, Farmington, CT
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