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Inefficient Planted Tanks?

This is a discussion on Inefficient Planted Tanks? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I don't know how the data was collected, and I think there may be a number of unknowns or other factors not figured in ...

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Inefficient Planted Tanks?
Old 03-20-2010, 03:47 PM   #11
 
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I don't know how the data was collected, and I think there may be a number of unknowns or other factors not figured in to the results. The conclusions are certainly inaccurate.

How does one measure "waste" and the amount coming into any aquarium? The same fish will have slightly different impacts on the aquarium due to many other factors from aquarium to aquarium, factors such as water parameters, light, number of plants, type of plants, fish food and feeding frequency, etc.

The amount of nitrate entering a system somewhat depends upon the extent of biological filtration (the nitrogen cycle), and that is largely dependent upon the filtration employed. If one allows the plants to do the filtration, nitrate will be near zero if all else is balanced. Adding biological filtration may increase the nitrates, since the emphasis on nitrification bacteria is detrimental to the plants which is why it is discouraged in planted aquaria. So in two otherwise identical aquaria, one with no filter will have zero nitrate while one with three filters will have maybe 10ppm nitrate.

Were the water parameters taken into account? In some areas nitrate is present in tap water; but aside from this, the source of nitrate in any aquarium is from the bacteria: nitrosomonas converting ammonia/ammonium to nitrite, nitrospira converting nitrite to nitrate. Nitrifying bacteria significantly slow down in acidic water, at pH 6.4 some say; below pH 6 it is said to cease to exist. Temperature also has an effect on the number of nitrifying bacteria.

Plants do not use nitrate as much as they use ammonium which in acidic water is changed from ammonia, and in basic water is changed or used directly by the plants. Which is why one does not want to encourage nitrification bacteria, it (slightly) competes with plants, though plants are much faster at grabbing the ammonia/ammonium than the bacteria. Only if the tank has more fish than the plants can possibly balance, will nitrate be significant. Plus, nitrate is not an accurate measure of health, since there are many other factors that can cause fish problems.

There is absolutely no question that in a well-planted balanced aquarium, the fish will be healthier than they will in an aquarium with no plants, all else being equal.
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Old 03-20-2010, 06:21 PM   #12
 
Well stated Byron.....
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:11 AM   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I don't know how the data was collected, and I think there may be a number of unknowns or other factors not figured in to the results. The conclusions are certainly inaccurate.

How does one measure "waste" and the amount coming into any aquarium? The same fish will have slightly different impacts on the aquarium due to many other factors from aquarium to aquarium, factors such as water parameters, light, number of plants, type of plants, fish food and feeding frequency, etc.

The amount of nitrate entering a system somewhat depends upon the extent of biological filtration (the nitrogen cycle), and that is largely dependent upon the filtration employed. If one allows the plants to do the filtration, nitrate will be near zero if all else is balanced. Adding biological filtration may increase the nitrates, since the emphasis on nitrification bacteria is detrimental to the plants which is why it is discouraged in planted aquaria. So in two otherwise identical aquaria, one with no filter will have zero nitrate while one with three filters will have maybe 10ppm nitrate.

Were the water parameters taken into account? In some areas nitrate is present in tap water; but aside from this, the source of nitrate in any aquarium is from the bacteria: nitrosomonas converting ammonia/ammonium to nitrite, nitrospira converting nitrite to nitrate. Nitrifying bacteria significantly slow down in acidic water, at pH 6.4 some say; below pH 6 it is said to cease to exist. Temperature also has an effect on the number of nitrifying bacteria.

Plants do not use nitrate as much as they use ammonium which in acidic water is changed from ammonia, and in basic water is changed or used directly by the plants. Which is why one does not want to encourage nitrification bacteria, it (slightly) competes with plants, though plants are much faster at grabbing the ammonia/ammonium than the bacteria. Only if the tank has more fish than the plants can possibly balance, will nitrate be significant. Plus, nitrate is not an accurate measure of health, since there are many other factors that can cause fish problems.

There is absolutely no question that in a well-planted balanced aquarium, the fish will be healthier than they will in an aquarium with no plants, all else being equal.

I agree with all but the last paragraph. It Would /could,lead some to believe that they are doing their fishes a dis-service by not keeping them in planted aquaria.
Would only agree if fishes being kept were native to areas with vegetation, (weeds) present.
Have raised many fishes in unplanted aquariums up to and including Discus. And other than the benefits that plant's provide with respect to helping maintain water quality ,,fishes seldom realized the difference between artificial plants and live plants. IMHO.
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Old 03-22-2010, 02:07 PM   #14
 
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Quote:
I agree with all but the last paragraph. It Would /could,lead some to believe that they are doing their fishes a dis-service by not keeping them in planted aquaria.
Would only agree if fishes being kept were native to areas with vegetation, (weeds) present.
Have raised many fishes in unplanted aquariums up to and including Discus. And other than the benefits that plant's provide with respect to helping maintain water quality ,,fishes seldom realized the difference between artificial plants and live plants. IMHO.
It is not a matter of the fish liking the live plants over artificial, it is the biological processes that occur with live plants that makes the difference. To better explain the context: healthy plants in an aquarium where the fish load is balanced with all other factors perform something that is not possible in an aquarium without plants. We can attempt to duplicate this through types of filters, adding "stuff" to the water, performing more frequent water changes; I don't know if this approach can equal the benefit of the plants, perhaps it does. But my thinking is if the plants will do it for free just by being there, then we would be wise to make use of that rather than relying on the other methods.

Just one example: plants have the ability to take up heavy metals like iron, copper, nickel, magnesium, zinc. By "take up" I do not mean assimilating these as nutrients, which they also do separately. I mean actually absorb and detoxify, in much the same way (in terms of results at any rate, not perhaps as the method) that Prime and other water conditioners detoxify heavy metals. Thus, in the aquarium, should there be an excess of copper from the water pipes, or iron from something in the tank, plants will take this up and detoxify it so there is no harm to the fish. That is not going to occur without the plants, since no filter than I am aware of can do this. We can add more chemicals to do it, but I prefer letting plants do it. Fish in this situation will therefore be healthier. That was my context, which was not clear with just one sentence.
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:51 PM   #15
MOA
 
Hello All,

After considering what was said here and on other forums regarding some of my operationalization problems, I have updated this study and tried to nail down exactly what I mean by efficiency (and I grant that my definition is not the definition):

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...nitions-39583/

Hopefully, this version will be a bit more useful and show what I am doing in greater detail.


MOA
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:58 AM   #16
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
It is not a matter of the fish liking the live plants over artificial, it is the biological processes that occur with live plants that makes the difference. To better explain the context: healthy plants in an aquarium where the fish load is balanced with all other factors perform something that is not possible in an aquarium without plants. We can attempt to duplicate this through types of filters, adding "stuff" to the water, performing more frequent water changes; I don't know if this approach can equal the benefit of the plants, perhaps it does. But my thinking is if the plants will do it for free just by being there, then we would be wise to make use of that rather than relying on the other methods.

Just one example: plants have the ability to take up heavy metals like iron, copper, nickel, magnesium, zinc. By "take up" I do not mean assimilating these as nutrients, which they also do separately. I mean actually absorb and detoxify, in much the same way (in terms of results at any rate, not perhaps as the method) that Prime and other water conditioners detoxify heavy metals. Thus, in the aquarium, should there be an excess of copper from the water pipes, or iron from something in the tank, plants will take this up and detoxify it so there is no harm to the fish. That is not going to occur without the plants, since no filter than I am aware of can do this. We can add more chemicals to do it, but I prefer letting plants do it. Fish in this situation will therefore be healthier. That was my context, which was not clear with just one sentence.

I understand completely the benefits that plant's can provide with respect to helping keep the aquarium cleaner naturally.
I guess I take some umbrage, with those who would suggest that a proper enviornment cannot be produced without the use of live plants ,or that the fish in a planted tank will be healthier than those fish in my unplanted aquarium all things being equal.(no metals or toxins in source water).
It is not in my mind,unlike those people on some of the planted tank forums that sometimes insist either directly,or inadvertantly,that in order to have a thriving planted aquarium,,one must invest in High tech system with (EI) dosing, drop checkers,diffusers,and all of the other bells and whistles although the results are often impressive.
I have seen enough public aquariums absent of plants, and as mentioned,,raised juvenile fishes to adult size myself,, to believe that fishes cannot thrive and remain healthy in unplanted aquariums just as I have seen beautiful examples of planted aquaria without the use of the High tech CO2 and for this,,, I am pleased. Always pleased to realize more than one way to achieve my desired results.
I have nothing but praise ,combined with a bit of envy for those who create planted enviornments for their fishes so long as the welfare of the fish comes first. I just think we should tread lightly lest we become like those who might, as noted,,, suggest that there is but one true way . I am not suggesting that anyone has to this point,, just stating my observations on the climate as I perceive it
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:49 AM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
I understand completely the benefits that plant's can provide with respect to helping keep the aquarium cleaner naturally.
I guess I take some umbrage, with those who would suggest that a proper enviornment cannot be produced without the use of live plants ,or that the fish in a planted tank will be healthier than those fish in my unplanted aquarium all things being equal.(no metals or toxins in source water).
It is not in my mind,unlike those people on some of the planted tank forums that sometimes insist either directly,or inadvertantly,that in order to have a thriving planted aquarium,,one must invest in High tech system with (EI) dosing, drop checkers,diffusers,and all of the other bells and whistles although the results are often impressive.
I have seen enough public aquariums absent of plants, and as mentioned,,raised juvenile fishes to adult size myself,, to believe that fishes cannot thrive and remain healthy in unplanted aquariums just as I have seen beautiful examples of planted aquaria without the use of the High tech CO2 and for this,,, I am pleased. Always pleased to realize more than one way to achieve my desired results.
I have nothing but praise ,combined with a bit of envy for those who create planted enviornments for their fishes so long as the welfare of the fish comes first. I just think we should tread lightly lest we become like those who might, as noted,,, suggest that there is but one true way . I am not suggesting that anyone has to this point,, just stating my observations on the climate as I perceive it
I agree with you. And neither I nor most of us can say that this or that person's fish are healthier. I would just reiterate that my comment was that all else being equal, plants would improve the fish's health. Planted tank enthusiasts maintain no partial water changes for months. Try that in a non-planted tank and see what happens.

Apropos this discussion, I just finished reading an article in this month's (April 2010) issue of TFH on plant filtration in the Goliad Fish Farms hatchery in Texas. Can't go into all the details; but with approximately 70,000 gallons of water containing 300,000 fish (cichlids, oscars, irridescent sharks, platys, mollies, goldfish, are named) the only filtration system are live plants. These are not plants in the fish tanks/tubs, but the water circulates through the hatchery and then through the "filtration" system which is where the live plants do their thing. In spite of the greenhouse being in direct sun, the water is crystal clear, no algae, no green water. Some 300 3-4 inch goldfin molly fish are raised in each 50g vat, which is pretty heavy stocking, and 20 pounds of high-protein foods are added each day. Ammonia is always zero. They use mangrove trees and hornwort as the main plants. Interesting article.

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