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re: filterless tanks

Darren squinted at his screen and before his first cup of coffee wrote:

>>> On the 'debate' over which filter is better the obvious choice is clear
> :) plants are.  Want proof?  When I pulled the filter of off my tank they
> started growing like weeks! :)  I now enjoy the calm peacefull setting 
> with no noise, no added electricity (just for the lights) good continuous
> growth.  And oh, I do believe the fish likes it much better, they seem to
> be less stressed than before (none before and definately none now)<<

> I have no doubt you had success pulling your filter, but that isn't exactly
> conclusive proof that it will work for everyone.

*Nothing* works for everyone.  But the caution is obligatory.

> I can, in fact, guarantee
> that it would have pretty horrendous results for some folks, especially
> those just starting out and getting the feel of keeping plants going at 
> full throttle.

"full throttle" growth isn't required.

> A filter adds a safety zone.  If the plants stall or even begin performing
> at sub-optimal levels, they will no longer be able to handle whatever animal
> load with which they were at perfect balance with previously (ech!  I
> shouldn't try creating sentences prior to my first cup of coffee.)

This same thing can be said about man made filters in any tank where the
feeding load pushes the limits of the filter capacity. The difference of
course is that you can *see* whether your plants are healthy and growing,
and you can't see if your culture of nitrifying+nitratifying bacteria is
healthy.  Also, the plant population can adapt to changing feeding loads,
and I don't know that the bacteria can.  Oh yeah, and plants don't get

> Also, most people out there keep pretty heavy animal loads, and it is the
> balance between animal load, feeding levels, and plant activity that allows  
> filterless systems to work.

Sufficient filter capacity to match the feeding load is necessary in any
aquarium, whether the filter is a machine or plants.

> Anyone yanking their filter had better take a
> very critical view of how many fish they have (none of this "well, I'll only
> count the angels as one inch 'cause they're so narrow" stuff!) Personally,
> I KNOW I stock slightly on the heavy side, and I like raising young fish to
> be big, hefty Bubba fish which breed regularly, and this requires heavy
> feeding.  I'm keeping my filters.

Please do, it sounds like they are apporopriate to your tank.  But why
should the big beautiful planted show tank in the living room or dining
room have to put out constant annoying hums and gurgles?  Why should we
need to frequently clean and change filthy filter media?  Why should we
sacrifice limited near-tank storage space to house equipment we don't
need?  Why should we have to use frequent and carefully adjusted
fertilization to replace the nutrients that we filter out of our tanks?

I now have only one filtered tank and I only keep it in that state to
remind myself of where I came from in this hobby.

There are some tanks that should be artificially filtered, but honestly I
think filters are widely overused in planted tanks.

Roger Miller