the beaslbob build - Page 11 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #101 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 09:45 AM
i may never get a truely self-sustaining aquarium going, but as a favorite quote i have come across

"you cannot understand a system until you try to change it"
-Kurt Lewin

worst case scenario i'll understand in exacting detail where the problems with it are, what can be overcome & how, ... and what (currently - by current knowledge & findings) cannot be overcome, ... doesn't mean it won't be overcome, just currently it's a stumbling block preventing success

yes, i pursue this, and many may have noticed some strange questions posed by me, many of these questions are not answers, i personally think it's because they go beyond the realm of knowledge in the aquarium community, these are areas i am also drawing blanks on (and so ask), ... maybe i eventually find answers, maybe not, ... but i still persist in my pursuit, ... again, worst case scenario i learn more.
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post #102 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 10:12 AM
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I think clean means less nitrates and less organic wastes in most contexts. I wouldn't want to live in my poop either.
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post #103 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 10:18 AM
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I think "clean" has different meanings based on the situation. For a newbie struggling with water quality, I often say clean meaning 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. It's a very superficial way to look at it but IMO that's best for that situation - they don't need to know about TDSs or other things because it's irrelevant to their problem. Their understanding of what "clean" means will evolve in accordance with their growth in the hobby, and eventually they can join a discussion such as this because they understand that clean means more than clear, and more than just ammonia and nitrite free.

Of course the degree to which the water "needs" to be clean is debatable.... I often see people make proud claims about their fish's ability to survive what many would consider extreme conditions..... as if that credit doesn't belong entirely to the fish.
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125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #104 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 10:46 AM
organic wastes typically have a carbon bond still attached, and given a chance will settle out of solution (not soluble in water)

nitrates can be reduced to near zero's with healthy sufficient plants

... so in this case "clean" can be obtained with no water changes, lots of plants and still water.

bacterial activity can work on detritus to break down the organic compounds into (often) water soluble nutrients that plants can take in.

as was mentioned by Mikaila31, this does, and i'll agree with my own tank, this does lead to a steady increase in dissolved solids, (that are not organic - no carbon bond as the bacteria has taken the carbon for it's own use)

it's a rather simple cycle, ... plants & algae (as seen most simply in algae scrubbers in reef tanks) ...
the algae scrubber grows algae, algae takes dissolved nutrients and uses it for it's own growth.
if there are insufficient nutrients it breaks down, and these bits of algae are all filled with organic nutrients (carbon bonded).
this gets swept down the scrubber to be moved into the system again (those with a skimmer, the skimmer action will group these organics and be skimmed off, with the remaining water moving what little excess organics back into the display tank where they can settle in areas a lack of water flow will allow.
bacteria will then get to work on these areas (an abundance of organics has accumulated) and what nutrients they can use, they will use, what nutrients they expel out, are often soluble and once more move into the algae scrubber, ...

the skimmer can't touch these inorganic nutrients and it causes some very frustrated reef enthusiasts to some extreme measures to remove nutrients from their tanks for the safety and health of their corals.


but ... organic waste vs. "clean".

no, living in our own poop would not be good, ... bacterial activity in the detritus can remove the carbon till there is none left (theory) and what remains is a pile of insoluble nutrients, ... and a ton of nutrients that were moved into the water column

it's that 'ton of nutrients in the water column' that causes the most concern and the TDS to increase to to some rather unfavorable levels

the organic nutrients fall out of solution given enough time and little to no water movement to allow it to settle.

"clean" water leaves way to much to the imagination that often conflicts with the reality of what is going on.
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post #105 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 10:52 AM
jaysee, i agree with the fishes tolerance to extreme conditions, ... so many know that specific water parameters for a fishes health are secondary to stable water parameters.

wildly fluctuating parameters will do more to stress a fish out than leaving well enough alone (or in extreme cases, the not good enough, but stable)

but correct parameters vs extreme parameters are the difference between happy fish vs. stressed (but surviving) fish
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post #106 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 10:56 AM
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Plenty of organic compounds are water soluble.
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post #107 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 11:06 AM
Originally Posted by Austin View Post
Plenty of organic compounds are water soluble.
could be, i must admit, i'm going through what i learned from a reef forum that delved into what algae does and does not do for removing nutrients from the water column. and as it went into a natural cycle of nutrients going through the system in a sustainable way, ... water to algae, algae breakdown, bacteria, back to water.

sure nothing is as simple as 'the simple explanation', but for what i was after, it was a great place to start and did explain so much that is done/can be done to help get reef tanks to mesotrophic and lower nutrient levels, ... although oligotrophic sounds more of a dream instead of a reality as even with an algae scrubber, a bare bottom tank and whatever else, your looking at the high-end of oligotrohpic levels, ... not good for the sensitive corals.

yes, i know this isn't freshwater related, ... but was a good place for me to start to understand what is going on with nutrients in the water column and at all other areas in the system.
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post #108 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 01:34 PM
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I really love the chemistry behind keeping freshwater fishtanks. Thanks guys for such an in-depth treatment of the subject. My interest is mainly academic, and i might just be missing the point but... why get into all this masters level chemistry when stable, healthy conditons can be maintained by regular water changes. I mean, what's so bad about water changes?

I love the idea of an all natural tank with no chemicals or filtration, but in a closed, unnatural system such as an aquarium, it seems pretty obvious that you'll have to remove and replace water regularly to avoid unnatural and unhealthy conditions.

I dont ask this to insult or contradict anyone. I really appreciate the thought and caring that goes into a discussion like this.

Best wishes to all.
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post #109 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 01:57 PM
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Is there any documented benefit to the fish and the plants from keeping them in this manner? Any assumed benefit? Is it just "because I can"? Why is something that I've honestly been struggling to understand and probably a question that I should have asked a while ago.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #110 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 02:03 PM
Rsskylight, ... because i can :)

like yourself, for academic interest :)

to understand more :)

to a belief that 'good enough' isn't always good enough, ... maybe better can be done, maybe there are things we do that cause issues, or things we do that are just because, or what can be done to solve other issues, ... so many questions :)

worst case scenario, i know in lots of detail why things are done (and will share :) - sometimes prematurely :(

but to understand what can be changed, and what can't, to not give up on the idea that some things can be overcome that we are doing because "it's how it's always been done"

sure, a goal, that asks i look into all kinds of things, to explore all kinds of areas, some revising (like reinventing the wheel) others into areas that are taken for granted, ... and a few "well about about X" and see if this is the boost that's needed to go beyond what has been done before

the results so far are not as aesthetically pleasing as some tanks, but the idea of a tank that can maintain perfect health, ... that's something that goes into it's own area of beauty. ... to get there i tend to do all this insane level stuff ... some gets me no where, some has no current answers, some actually moves me forward
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