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180 Gallon Tank - Fish feeding question

This is a discussion on 180 Gallon Tank - Fish feeding question within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Byron, you said, "We often tend to think of filtration as "the more the better" but nothing could be farther from the truth. Filtration ...

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180 Gallon Tank - Fish feeding question
Old 11-29-2010, 09:38 PM   #11
 
Byron, you said, "We often tend to think of filtration as "the more the better" but nothing could be farther from the truth. Filtration is a matter of fish and tank size; the type of fish and the number of them in relation to the water volume should indicate how much filtration is necessary."
Would you elaborate?
For instance in a large planted tank, would you be able to safely increase the number of fish by increasing the amount of mech and bio filtration and water changes?
thanks




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Old 11-30-2010, 10:55 AM   #12
 
I'm also curious why too much filtration is an issue? Seems like the bio would just grow to meet the food supply nothing more, mech would simply be less dirty per day, and chem would be the only question... But you could just not put as much carbon in.

Perhaps power heads & undergravel would be an issue... As they spit out a lot of water movement. But my g6 for example doesnt throw high speed water out just more volume.

Which brings me to why the water mover is in there, the g6 pumps a lot of water... But seemingly at lower water speeds & large tubes. The mover, circulates the upper third of water & the plants & decor seem to keep the rest slow moving. I think it's right, if not a little lacking.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:18 PM   #13
 
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Responding to the questions/issues from the last two posts.

Filtration has three components: cleaning the water, clearing the water, and moving the water. Some of all three occur naturally in a biologically balanced system. Adding equipment to increase one or more of these components depends entirely upon the relationship between the fish, plants and tank volume. But at that point, one must remember the limited effectiveness and still strive to create a balanced biological system.

Taking the simplest and completely natural method first, a planted tank. If the fish load is balanced with the plant load for the water volume, the tank will filter itself. Diana Walstad and many other authorities on planted aquaria set up tanks with no added equipment filtration and they perform minimal or no water changes [Diana writes of one every six months]. Fish stocking must be moderate, and most importantly the fish must be "compatible." Compatibility is multi-faceted, referring not only to behaviours, but equally to identical water parameters (for all fish and plants in the system) and the same environmental needs (plants, wood, rock, substrate, water flow rate, light intensity--all these things are highly important). If all of this is in sync, the tank's biology will be balanced and the fish will be extremely healthy.

There is more at issue than the waste produced by the fish, though that is significant. Fish also produce pheromones, and these have to be handled. In the afore-mentioned balanced planted tank, the plants take care of all this. But most of us want more fish in our tanks than what the natural system in such a confined space can handle. The more fish there are, or the larger the fish size, the more water volume is needed to maintain the balance. [This also applies if the "compatibility" issue is askew; introducing fish with different needs in terms of water parameters or environmental aspects means introducing more weight on the biological equilibrium and this requires far more space in terms of both physical space and water volume, although there is a limit to this too.] But even this comes up lacking fairly quickly. At this point we introduce filter equipment. From here on, unless stated otherwise, by using the words "filter" or "filtration" I am referring to added equipment filters/filtration, not natural.

Keeping the water clear--what we term mechanical filtration--is the only real job of filtration in a planted tank. With this comes some water movement, sufficient to allow the removal of particulate matter from the water column by the filter, but not beyond the needs of the plants and fish [for sake of brevity, I won't go further into this]. Some mechanical filtration is therefore advisable in planted aquaria.

Keeping the water clean is handled by the plants, but in our "over-loaded" tanks this is inadequate. The level of nitrifying bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrospira) in a well-planted tank is quite low, much less than in the same tank with few or no plants. Plants assimilate a lot of ammonium as their preferred source of nitrogen, and this comes from the ammonia produced by the fish and bacteria. And most of the bacteria exists not in the filter but elsewhere; it colonizes all surfaces covered by water, from every grain of substrate, every plant leaf, every bit of wood, rock, etc., the tank walls--everywhere. Encouraging excess biological filtration can be detrimental to plant growth because it robs them of essential nutrients. Therefore, in a well-planted aquarium, the filtration we add should be the least needed to perform the task. And that task is one of gently moving the water to bring nutrients to the plants and remove debris from the leaves and trap it in the filter media.

Then we come to plant-less tanks. Here the tasks performed by the plants must be performed by the filtration we introduce into the system. However, adding more filters only works to a point. It is a fallacy that using several filters means you can maintain more or larger fish than the aquarium will naturally support. And it is not just the issue of nitrification, but removing the pheromones I mentioned previously. Massive and frequent water changes will do this better than any filter system. As an obvious example, housing a 10-inch cichlid in a 20g tank is not going to be more successful regardless of how many filters are used. Assuming that we can extend the capability of the biological system by using more and larger filters is not a correct assumption. All the filters can do is move the water more or faster; they can't remove the "crud" any more, once we go beyond the biological limit of fish to water volume. And chemists have pointed out that faster water movement actually deters nitrification because the water flows past the bacteria too quickly. So we come back to that balance.

I don't know if I have fully answered your questions; follow-up if not.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-30-2010 at 01:22 PM..
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:41 PM   #14
 
Thumbs up Filtration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Responding to the questions/issues from the last two posts.

Filtration has three components: cleaning the water, clearing the water, and moving the water. Some of all three occur naturally in a biologically balanced system. Adding equipment to increase one or more of these components depends entirely upon the relationship between the fish, plants and tank volume. But at that point, one must remember the limited effectiveness and still strive to create a balanced biological system.

Taking the simplest and completely natural method first, a planted tank. If the fish load is balanced with the plant load for the water volume, the tank will filter itself. Diana Walstad and many other authorities on planted aquaria set up tanks with no added equipment filtration and they perform minimal or no water changes [Diana writes of one every six months]. Fish stocking must be moderate, and most importantly the fish must be "compatible." Compatibility is multi-faceted, referring not only to behaviours, but equally to identical water parameters (for all fish and plants in the system) and the same environmental needs (plants, wood, rock, substrate, water flow rate, light intensity--all these things are highly important). If all of this is in sync, the tank's biology will be balanced and the fish will be extremely healthy.

There is more at issue than the waste produced by the fish, though that is significant. Fish also produce pheromones, and these have to be handled. In the afore-mentioned balanced planted tank, the plants take care of all this. But most of us want more fish in our tanks than what the natural system in such a confined space can handle. The more fish there are, or the larger the fish size, the more water volume is needed to maintain the balance. [This also applies if the "compatibility" issue is askew; introducing fish with different needs in terms of water parameters or environmental aspects means introducing more weight on the biological equilibrium and this requires far more space in terms of both physical space and water volume, although there is a limit to this too.] But even this comes up lacking fairly quickly. At this point we introduce filter equipment. From here on, unless stated otherwise, by using the words "filter" or "filtration" I am referring to added equipment filters/filtration, not natural.

Keeping the water clear--what we term mechanical filtration--is the only real job of filtration in a planted tank. With this comes some water movement, sufficient to allow the removal of particulate matter from the water column by the filter, but not beyond the needs of the plants and fish [for sake of brevity, I won't go further into this]. Some mechanical filtration is therefore advisable in planted aquaria.

Keeping the water clean is handled by the plants, but in our "over-loaded" tanks this is inadequate. The level of nitrifying bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrospira) in a well-planted tank is quite low, much less than in the same tank with few or no plants. Plants assimilate a lot of ammonium as their preferred source of nitrogen, and this comes from the ammonia produced by the fish and bacteria. And most of the bacteria exists not in the filter but elsewhere; it colonizes all surfaces covered by water, from every grain of substrate, every plant leaf, every bit of wood, rock, etc., the tank walls--everywhere. Encouraging excess biological filtration can be detrimental to plant growth because it robs them of essential nutrients. Therefore, in a well-planted aquarium, the filtration we add should be the least needed to perform the task. And that task is one of gently moving the water to bring nutrients to the plants and remove debris from the leaves and trap it in the filter media.

Then we come to plant-less tanks. Here the tasks performed by the plants must be performed by the filtration we introduce into the system. However, adding more filters only works to a point. It is a fallacy that using several filters means you can maintain more or larger fish than the aquarium will naturally support. And it is not just the issue of nitrification, but removing the pheromones I mentioned previously. Massive and frequent water changes will do this better than any filter system. As an obvious example, housing a 10-inch cichlid in a 20g tank is not going to be more successful regardless of how many filters are used. Assuming that we can extend the capability of the biological system by using more and larger filters is not a correct assumption. All the filters can do is move the water more or faster; they can't remove the "crud" any more, once we go beyond the biological limit of fish to water volume. And chemists have pointed out that faster water movement actually deters nitrification because the water flows past the bacteria too quickly. So we come back to that balance.

I don't know if I have fully answered your questions; follow-up if not.

Byron.

For me I believe that for any tank over 120g with large fish or fish that eat a lot (e.g. Malawi-Lake cichlids, a sump system is best. These provide great filtration, great biologic and mechanical filtration, and great flow of water.Otherwise I would use a large cannister filter (e.g. Eheim, or Fluval) with a Marineland outside filter with rotating biowheel as a backup. With Cichlids plants are often difficult to maintain as they become part of the "mixed" diet of the lovely fish, esp the Mbunas.
Garth
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:21 PM   #15
 
Byron, your detailed and patient discussion of balanced systems is greatly appreciated. My questions are theoretical probes driven by my own need to have the whole thing make sense to me. It's in my nature to move where ever possible to Occam's Razor, that is to keep it simple if possible. The ammonium/nitrite/nitrate cycle is fairly straight forward. Addding in pheromones to me signifies the need for water changes or maybe more plants since pheromones are organic amino acids and possible plant food.

Here's my hypotherical situation:
A planted tank with fish is very close to being in balance aka Walstad. If you add a pair of platies without adding plants, you should be able to balance this with a bit more mech and bio filtration, more bacteria grow to match the increased "food supply." For the sake of argument, you do a 1/4 water change weekly.

Let's say however, that when you added your pair of platies, you also arranged to run all the water in your tank thru a huge bed of floss (or dozens of sponges, etc). As the platies had babies, more ammonium >> nitrite >> nitrate was produced. As this happened, more and more of the floss would be colonized by bacteria.
  1. Would the plants continue to get what they need out of the tank as a priority? I would assume the growing culture of bacteria would take care of what they plants didn't need.
  2. Would the bacteria get to the point that they would be removing significant amounts of oxygen out of the water?
  3. Does the bacterial colony produce CO2? If so would that not also add to the CO2 from the additional fish and encourage more plant growth?
  4. Last question: Do you enjoy this reparte or find it to be a nusance? Thanks very much!
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:32 PM   #16
 
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Quote:
Here's my hypotherical situation:
A planted tank with fish is very close to being in balance aka Walstad. If you add a pair of platies without adding plants, you should be able to balance this with a bit more mech and bio filtration, more bacteria grow to match the increased "food supply." For the sake of argument, you do a 1/4 water change weekly.

Let's say however, that when you added your pair of platies, you also arranged to run all the water in your tank thru a huge bed of floss (or dozens of sponges, etc). As the platies had babies, more ammonium >> nitrite >> nitrate was produced. As this happened, more and more of the floss would be colonized by bacteria.


Would the plants continue to get what they need out of the tank as a priority? I would assume the growing culture of bacteria would take care of what they plants didn't need.
Yes, as I understand it. I have read that plants are basically quicker at grabbing the ammonia, which is why nitrosomonas bacteria are fewer in planted tanks than in identical tanks with no plants.

Quote:
Would the bacteria get to the point that they would be removing significant amounts of oxygen out of the water?
Not likely. But this would apply in any aquarium. If the ammonia is so great that the bacteria increase to the point where they rob the fish of oxygen, there is something very wrong with the biological load. There is the gaseous exchange at the surface introducing oxygen, plus plants producing copious amounts during photosynthesis. Plant roots produce oxygen for the bacteria in the substrate.

Quote:
Does the bacterial colony produce CO2? If so would that not also add to the CO2 from the additional fish and encourage more plant growth?
Yes. There is (I am told by biologists) more CO2 occurring from bacteria than fish in any aquarium (unless it is way overloaded or something). As I wrote elsewhere only today, I have had tanks of plants with no fish and obviously CO2 came from something to keep the plants growing since I was not adding it. However, plants use a lot of carbon, and in most "natural" tanks the CO2 is frequently close to being exhausted by mid-day [mid-day here meaning half way through the light period, whenever that may be]. Which is why the "siesta" method works against difficult algae: it is not the light being off for a couple hours, it is the CO2 replenishment during those 2 hours so that when the light is back on the CO2 is stronger and plants photosynthesize faster which decreases the opportunity for algae. However, to keep it natural, rather than adding CO2 the aquarist would be better to limit the light. I have algae increases during the summer, which I am certain is due to the increased strength of daylight that enters the room even through blinds.

Quote:
Last question: Do you enjoy this reparte or find it to be a nusance? Thanks very much!
We are all here to exchange ideas and learn, I have learned a great deal in my time here, and I hope I offer some help to others. Such discussions are bound to be useful not only to those taking part but those reading. This only becomes a nuisance if it is intended solely to initiate arguments with no other purpose--and I most assuredly do not get that impression here.

Byron.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:17 PM   #17
 
This is all great theory, but I still had no hard way to tell how much food to feed my fish nor really any way to know if I have enough / too much filtration & water movement.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:42 PM   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinScott View Post
This is all great theory, but I still had no hard way to tell how much food to feed my fish nor really any way to know if I have enough / too much filtration & water movement.
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Well, you did ask the question, so I provided my reasoning. As for theory, one of the challenges of this hobby is that each aquarist must take the theory/information and apply it to his or her aquarium. One of the problems you are facing is the mix of non-compatible fish, and that has to be resolved in order to sort out filtration for the other fish.

I did answer your question on feeding, as did someone earlier. My neighbour, who knows nothing about fish, one day asked me how did I know how much to feed them? I thought and then realized I couldn't answer that. I just know; we all learn this. The main thing is to feed less rather than more, only once a day, and even not feeding once or twice a week.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:08 PM   #19
 
Don't take me wrong I'm grateful for your help and knowledge. And i am interested in the theory. I guess I just cant figure out how to apply to real life.

I guess I mean:

Other than dead fish.. How can I tell I'm not feeding them enough?

Other than fishie heart attacks, how can I tell if there is too much flow?

Other than green water how can I tell if I have enough bio filtration? & how can I tell if I have too much?

And how can I tell if I have poop or food stuck in my mech filter?
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:34 PM   #20
 
Byron,
You my new friend are a wisdom factory! Thanks very much. There are nuggets galore in your posts. I'm copying them and compiling my own rapidly growing folder of fish facts and aquatic science.
One thing I'm trying to do is find ways to build my own stuff on the cheap. The nutrients for instance. Would a piece of a multi vitamin tablet dissolved in the water make available most of the micro nutrients needed?
Regarding CO2 injection for a planted tank, would it make sense to allow a small pocket of CO2, say 50 cc or so, collect under an object that is underwater (say an overturned cocconut shell) so the water - CO2 interface gives more time for the water to dissolve the gas?
So many questions, so much ignorance, eh?
Thanks very much
Paul
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