We are constantly bombarded by concepts that tell us watch ph monitor all possible aspects of our aquariums oh no nitrates are high. Itís so confusing there always something new that could be trouble. A picture is painted that our beloved fish feels pain and suffer. OH no how do I protect my finned friends from psychological stress and the concerns go on including emotional stress as well as external and internal stress. In order to combat these causes of stress, we work to stabilize the ph control dissolved solids and watch water hardness not to mention ammonia. We are told to recreate natural environments in our tanks with plants if we want our finned friends happy. I forgot my fish are from a woodland forest river.
I see him swimming over there in the river close to the shore. Yes my fish are happy here in this forested blackwater river in South America free and happy chasing a bubble and playing. In the river environment that my friend is adapted to is stress free and water chemistry doesnít change. This is a pastoral view that belongs in a Disney movie.
In a state of nature life is hard, stressful and always the potential of change is at hand. Living in nature is dangerous. My finned friend could be looking for a snack or if by poor choice be the lunch for some other fish. Maybe stress is a good thing for my friend being stressed could give him the advantage to escape being the lunch menu.
Stress is after all a selected process by adaption to help the fish survive and reproduce. I wonder if it is psychological stress a baby fish feels when his parents consider him to be supper, not a pleasant thought. Again the fryís stress might offer the possibly of survival.
As for water chemistry being static in nature is not a reasonable assumption. Lets think about ph. In this blackwater river the ph is dynamic and follows and established cycle that changes with river temperature, dissolved oxygen and the amount of carbon dioxide. This cycle occurs due to dissolved oxygen increases ph and carbon dioxide lowers ph. So in the morning the ph is low and because of respiration both animals and plants has increased the carbon dioxide concentration but as plants begin photosynthesis and produce more dissolved oxygen the ph rises and as the sun heats the water the ph is again increases until the apex is reached in the late afternoon when the ph is the highest. As the sun sets plant stop producing oxygen and begin to produce carbon dioxide which lowers the ph and when the sun sets the temperature drops further reducing the ph. In the cold morning the ph is at its lowest point and the cycle begins again. Fortunately in nature the fish donít seem affected by the ph swings and my way of thinking ph swings might give the fish an adaptive strategy.
Since there is a natural dynamic cyclic shift in ph, why am I told to always monitor it and be ready to stabilize the ph?? Because stress is a natural process that has been selected by adaptation why is it bad thing? I believe that stress in nature is a good thing and aids in survival of the species.
If we are dedicated to reproducing a natural environment in our aquarium that our fish are adapted too from generations evolving, then we should think about the value of stress and dynamic ph in our aquariums.
A word about open and closed systems, though a river is an open system and the aquarium is a closed system should not mean that thousands of years of evolution and adaption should be discarded by those with closed minds or predetermined goals, who do not comprehend evolutionary process.