Maybe a dumb question? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-08-2011, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
GwenInNM's Avatar
Maybe a dumb question?

I just saw a 5 gal on Craigslist for cheap, but it does not have a filter, only an airpump and light. It's only $7. It's a hex type with a top, and the light is in the top. So here's a question, that may be dumb but I don't know the answer to. Can you keep any fish (beside a betta) in a tank without any filter? If you do, does that just mean you have to do WC weekly, which I do already in my tanks with filters. I'm thinking about getting it, if I could somehow use it successfully, and find fish I like to put in it. Any suggestions welcome.



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post #2 of 8 Old 06-08-2011, 09:26 PM
I guess it would be possible but without a filter it would need a water change probably every other day. Fish would be getting oxygen from the air pump but there's nothing actually filtering the water. Also not many fish are suitable for a 5g other than a beta or maybe a dwarf species. Why not get a beta though? I have one in a 5g and absolutely love the little guy. He's got such a personality that I've never seen in a fish before. Also it might work as a shrimp tank. Some cherry shrimp would do nicely in there.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-08-2011, 10:32 PM
airpump can be used on a cheap sponge filter.

Secondly, no filter means water change every other day, not once a week. 5g tanks can handle shrimp, snails, betta, as you mentioned, fish fry, and a dwarf puffer. There are other options as well, but not many.

If you want to go truely filterless, you will need to find a balance between plants and bioload. Most likely you will end up with tons of plants and 1 fish, or a couple of shrimp.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-09-2011, 10:49 AM
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Finding balance with plants is not as hard as it seems. With an enriched substrate (like soil), and proper lighting, I can see a wide variety of fish being happy with weekly water changes.

All of my tanks are unfiltered except for something to move water... I have a 10 gallon tank with tetras and cories that is doing well... Of course, I do have a LOT of plants in it.

I do water changes every week or two on that one. Read my soil guide in my signature, and I can help you set it up if you want a fun and cheap experiment.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #5 of 8 Old 06-09-2011, 11:12 AM
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Yes, live plants can replace filters. But you need sufficient plants to balance the fish load.

I had a 10g tank experiment a few months back. Sand substrate, no filter, no light (in front of a west-facing window). Just a heater. Thick with plants. And fish included a group (9) of Boraras brigittae, a group of Corydoras pygmaeus (7), a Dwarf Puffer (accidental, came in with the corys) and a multitude of Malaysian livebearing snails--until the Puffer got going on them. Ran this tank for several months, one 40% water change every week. Fish were fine.

Attached are 2 photos of the tank when it was as described above. Both taken same day, one with the window light behind and one with an overhead light and a darkened window just to see the interior better.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg 10g Aug 19-10 (1).jpg (66.0 KB, 29 views)
File Type: jpg 10g Aug 19-10 (2).jpg (79.2 KB, 29 views)

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-09-2011, 11:19 AM
Unless heavily planted, I think there are only some rare exceptions where you'd want to operate a tank w/o some kind of filtration.
I currently have about a dozen fry in the 5g with just an air stone.
Water changes every day or two gets old fast.
$7 for a 5g tank, light and pump is a great deal - What stops you from (also) getting an inexpensive filter?
A sponge filter...or even something like an Aqua-Tech 5-15 at wally mart is pretty inexpensive.

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 06-09-2011 at 11:26 AM.
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-09-2011, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
GwenInNM's Avatar
I love hearing these ideas, and I would like to do something with lots of plants. $7 is cheap, but I did go and look at it, and it was pretty scratched up, and I'd rather get something that I'll find pretty. My husband isn't so jazzed about me even getting more fish, and I'm trying to do this only if I can do it very cheap, so there is no hurry. Byron, the tank you had/have looks very cool with all the plants.

I'd really like one of those fuval edges (I think that's how it's spelled), but those are expensive


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post #8 of 8 Old 06-09-2011, 09:29 PM
Fluval edge is a beautiful tank. I have one myself, but not good for planted aquaria and fish that require high maintenance. Its also really pricey, most the value is in the aesthetics. plugging ymself, but there is a review for the tank in the product review section...
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