self-sustaining curiosities - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #11 of 50 Old 03-17-2014, 10:00 AM Thread Starter

for self-sustaining

all my research is going into a food-cycle trying to cator to florida flagfish.

while currently i'm stuck on looking into substrate nutrient ideas as i am noticing nutrient deficiencies in the plants ... i'm sure once i'm comfortable with thinking i have this solved i'll be back to looking into the next stage of the food-chain

... lots of algae, ... both green micro & phytoplankton. which as i learn about nutrients and what i stumble across in my search, ... i used to consider that additives in the substrate to increase CEC & AEC would be good, i'm not so sure anymore, for several reasons (one being before these minerals are saturated i am getting hints that (terrestrially) they may cause the appearance of a deficiency.)

with an increased desire for phytoplankton i may want more nutrients in the water column then i previously thought.

with algae and soft plants to satisfy the flagfishes vegitable diet, next comes it's meaty/protien requirements

phytoplankton to raise zooplankton
worms in the substrate
and possibly (i really haven't looked into this yet - so it's a curiosity i don't want to forget) critters that live at the surface of the water
-all to get as much living food at all levels for the fish

then is plants (back to plants) that while preferred to be edible & desirable for the fish, are to block line-of-sight enough to give all the live food a fighting chance at survival


the hard parts is in nature animals have a huge area they can roam to get access to enough food that they don't decimate any one place in particular

as the whole system is based on nutrients, & nutrient availability, ... this is an area i cannot fold a large area into a small space (like i can do with so much else in the tank)

bacterial activity must be sufficient that total quantities of nutrients bacteria is processing and releasing into the substrate & water column must keep up with the demands of a highly compressed eco-system. and i may not be able to get nutrients to settle into sufficient areas in a continuous supply to have the bacteria re-release them in a form that is able to start the whole food system at a level to keep the tank running smoothly.

there is only so much depth to the substrate that can be used before deeper anoxic layers develop, even with increased activity due to worms & (select) snails. there is only so much that can be done for a water filter to increase surface intake area before it plugs up and restricts input through the water filter. there is only going to be so many places suspended particles can settle before there's no more suspended particles to settle elsewhere and then bacteria cannot grow in those more remote areas.

plenty can be done to make use of nutrients in the water column for availability in one area or another of the food-chain, but first those nutrients have to be available. ...

and as i am seeing in my own tank, ... sufficient nutrients in the start to make up for what is being processed and what is not preprocessed or difficult to be moved into available elsewhere.
Flear is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #12 of 50 Old 03-17-2014, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
to deal with adding water
if water is not evaporating, no water needed to be added, ... great idea, but i'm not going to chance that yet, i'll stick with a lid to reduce water evaporation, but i'm not confident enough to consider a sealed system yet, maybe never

as for trimming plants, ... solved with plants that are desirable by the critters in the tank. as i am finding stem plants while they grow very fast (good) they don't have a size limit, they just keep growing out of control :(

i have found 1 stem plant my flagfish love (Limnophila Sessiliflora) ... flagfish sure can eat a lot.

as for what is impossible to figure out, ... i fully believe "impossible" is a word that means "we don't currently know" otherwise nothing is impossible.

yes, my lack of maintenance on my current (and only) tank is my inspiration for what problems i could be facing, ... it's not what i would consider for sharing "hey this is a self-sustaining tank" as it's 90% problems in that route, ... first being not enough food for the inhabitants, so i'm adding food, ... i'm trimming plants, i'm removing excess floating plants, ... things go in, things come out, ... it's only the last week or two i have considered things being a zero-net sum, ... what i am removing from plants "should" be equal to what i am putting into the tank (food - i like floating pellets :)

i consider and stop considering reminderalizing those plants that were removed to add again, ... but last i did that ammonia levels were beyond acceptable, ... and the bucket i was using, ... i need a second and where i am currently space is limited.

but such is called learning, ... and not discarding, but things to remember and figure out how to deal with later.


as a backup plan to a self-sustaining tank is a system of tanks, one feeding into another, but as i mentioned last i did this ... i was hoping to see things come to some level of balance, instead what i saw looked like farther degrading nutrient deficiencies in the plants, ...

it's always frustrating when finding more blanks than answers when trying to solve things :(

the most obvious deficiency looks like iron, ...

searches on iron led to sources of chelating chemicals that would be naturally occuring in plants, ... (for their own uptake) ... 99% of these searches resulted in fertlizers utilizing manufactured chelators for hydroponics. sure i get get slight hints of 'plants may release chelating chemicals from their roots, ... although this sounds like they do so sparingly to help mobilize nutrients in the soil (terrestrial) for their own use, ... not in excess that could count at a level to help make additional nutrients available for more than their own personal use.

information on nutrient availability based on pH is ... the surface info is easy, ... but what happens to those nutrients as the pH is in an area that restricts or eliminates a nutrient from being available is ... this info requires extensive and time-consuming searches for the slight chance of finding how each individual nutrient is affected, ... and then information found is about half of what is needed (or what i am considering needed)


there is much information i could use to help me out, ... what i am finding is that it seems less than half of what is going on has been persued at all in any understanding, and of that there is significantly less available to find, and only a small amount of that is easy to find., ... information on what is needed for all the behind the scenes activity going on in an ecosystem is like a vast desert in the search for an oasis and you have no map to help you out ... and it's night-time, on a cloudy moonless night, without wind or sound to help you out if you're getting close or not, ... and when you find one, it might have something your after, it might not.

from my tank i don't quite neglect, but pretty close, ... i have learned more about what could be going on without any ability to test than over a year of in-depth searching has brought me
Flear is offline  
post #13 of 50 Old 03-17-2014, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
all i gained from bob is using pure peat moss for a substrate base is an idea.

might try something else, but can't beat simplicity.

but using a single organic source like that (the decomposed nutrients of only one kind of plant) leaves a nutrient ratio that is great for growing only one type of plant.

which reminds me, this mornings search was (once again) organic hydroponic fertilizers
Flear is offline  
post #14 of 50 Old 03-17-2014, 10:41 PM
pennyls9332's Avatar
clean pure water in nature is called rain. and yes plants do help process out the toxins but not entirely.

the way nature keeps its water clean is by using the hydrologic cycle AKA the water cycle and by the water going thru the ground and running off into dry land is how it stays clean ground water and rain is something that is not able to happen naturally in a tank. the ground soaks up so much more from the water then what people realize.
Mikaila31 and rsskylight04 like this.

Fish tanks are like potato chips, you can't have just one!!!

my work in progress
pennyls9332 is offline  
post #15 of 50 Old 03-17-2014, 11:18 PM
rsskylight04's Avatar
In nature the water cycle acts as water changes in freshwater systems. Evaporation ( mainly from the oceans) results in nearly pure distilled water. Clouds drift over land and dump the pure fresh water into lakes, rivers, groundwater aquafers. The overflow returns to the ocean.
Old water runs out, nearly pure water flows in... sounds JUST like waterchanges. Lakes that do not drain and only lose water to evaporation are usualy not inhabitable by fish. The Salton Sea in California is an example. Tanks that are never partialy drained and refilled by water changes are not inhabitable by fish either.
Hallyx, pennyls9332 and jpepe1 like this.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
rsskylight04 is offline  
post #16 of 50 Old 03-18-2014, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
yes, i have heard trees can have hundreds of gallons of water evaporate through their leaves per day. that water has to come from somewhere, ... and often there's a lot of trees around lakes, rivers, & streams.
Flear is offline  
post #17 of 50 Old 03-18-2014, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
rainwater isn't pure.
water cannot condense in the air without a particle of dust to condense onto.

as for rainwater falling into a river or lake, ... falling directly into a lake will give you the freshwater input you described (and this does happen

into a river is going to be ... what ... ??? ... 99% runoff that has crossed over land and disolved all manner of minerals and organics.

from the river inhabited by ... anything... these critters are going to add their waste to the water,

this water that has dissolved minerals, solids, and waste products by other critters, ... moves downstream, into & out-of lakes, waste products being added to it as it flows downstream.

each new area it flows into starts as waste water, ... becoming dirtier as it flows downriver.

now where is the fresh rainwater ?

i'm not saying this to argue the point of 'no water changes is possible', ... but to argue the point of 'there is no such thing as pure water entering all but the most initial water ways that form the river.'

in favor of water changes, ... even at the lowest end of the river before it hits the ocean, i'm sure it's better for the fish than what is in our tanks at the time of a water change.


what is constantly missed in this scenario of nature being pro-water change ...

there is almost no place in the initial beginning of any river or stream that doesn't include initial dissolved solids, minerals & other organic matter.

there is always stuff in the water before it becomes a part of any river.

the greater the distance the water has to flow, the more stuff it carries with it (either suspended or dissolved)

any tank considering 'no water changes' follows something different, ... water can be added (to replace evaporated water) that has less suspended and dissolved content then rain water.

any lake that has no water-out constantly has an increase in minerals, salts, organics, and whatever other matter is being carried with all water that enters.


you are comparing two drastically different scenarios; one in nature, one in an unmaintained artificial system.

you can try to use the same rules that govern one and relate it to the other to say 'if we ignore water inputs being drastically different and focus on end products that are likewise drastically different, then what you are doing is dangerous.'

you need better research to backup your hypothesis.
i've got a colander that gives stronger arguments, (even holds water better).
Flear is offline  
post #18 of 50 Old 03-18-2014, 09:29 AM
for iron I use a ferris gluconate table dissolved in an 12-20oz soda bottle. then I would dose a capful each week. The idea was to dose a very low amount in the mixed reef (marine) systems to not adversly affect corals but to still provide some iron for the macro algaes.

While I did that I also dropped a capful into my fw tanks. Can't say if it made all that much difference but it didn't seem to hurt anything either.

my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

beaslbob is offline  
post #19 of 50 Old 03-18-2014, 11:53 AM
Originally Posted by Flear View Post
you need better research to backup your hypothesis.
i've got a colander that gives stronger arguments, (even holds water better).
If you're going to come on an aquarium forum and post about what could be viewed as a controversial subject, then you should expect detractors. Being insulting won't win you any credibility or friends.
Mikaila31, Hallyx, Chesh and 3 others like this.
BWG is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to BWG For This Useful Post:
jpepe1 (03-18-2014), rsskylight04 (03-18-2014)
post #20 of 50 Old 03-18-2014, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
BWG, true, ... fair point :)

it's controversial at best, just bad practice from there.

it does get tiring to hear the same argument about why it's bad when what it is being compared to rates the best of the natural world and the worst of the aquarium and to hear "see this is why it can't be done"

comparing apples and oranges, and someone brought in a pineapple.


i'm fine hearing what's wrong with it actually, gives me new directions to consider, ... but to point out unrealistic correlations in nature vs. an unmaintained unhealthy aquarium as the considered 'valid' argument ... and that's the only argument against it, ...

but i shouldn't have to be the one to fill in the details on other peoples arguments about what is going on to support the differences between nature and trying to support a tank without water changes.
Flear is offline  

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
self sustaining Flear Advanced Freshwater Discussion 1 01-22-2014 07:35 AM
Self Sustaining Aquarium senyk Invertebrates 7 07-15-2013 07:43 PM
self sustaining tank? Crocer Freshwater and Tropical Fish 4 06-05-2011 01:35 AM
Self sustaining ecosystem. james7139 Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 18 12-09-2010 12:15 PM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome