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Self contained enviroment?

This is a discussion on Self contained enviroment? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I read through this and wasn't going to post because I think 1077 and Tyyrlym had it covered, and Angel079 added good advice. But ...

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Self contained enviroment?
Old 08-29-2009, 04:17 PM   #11
 
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I read through this and wasn't going to post because I think 1077 and Tyyrlym had it covered, and Angel079 added good advice. But a couple of things popped out which haven't been followed up.

First, distilled water is death to anything. No fish or plant can live in distilled water because it is too pure--as you said, it adds nothing. RO water is the same, which is why it is always mixed with tap water. Water to sustain aquatic life must have mineral and/or nutrients disolved in it. Fish and plants require minerals which they obtain from the water (plants and fish) and through food they eat (fish). So forget distilled water.

The "set amount of minerals" would only last as long as the water was devoid of biological life. Once plants and fish are added, the minerals will be used and run out.

Re: cycling, plants will cycle any aquarium immediately. If you've read Diana Walstad's work you will have come across this; she cycles all her tanks (as I have for years) by planting them on day one and adding fish the same day. I also seed the tank with bacteria (from existing established tanks or biological supplements, have used both equally successfully) which may be overkill, but then I am talking about 115g tanks with 130 fish in it on day one, so I prefer to be safe. You will, as you said, need to introduce both fish and plants at the same time. I've explained how plants filter aquariums in another thread, here's the link to save my repeating it here: http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...ishless-27878/

Some of your other issues are better explained in Ms. Walstad's book and articles and I can't better what she writes.

Lastly, a general comment on these setups. While not actually sealed, for more than 100 years aquarists have maintained tanks with no filtration other than the plants, and no water changes except topping up. They didn't have our knowledge of bacteria and biological things, so they didn't really know why it worked, like we do now. However, the balance is key, as others have mentioned. Very few fish lived in those tanks, and they were thick with plants. Aside from adding needed nutrients for both fish and plants, water changes remove toxic substances like urine and decomposed (liquid) waste. In time these would all be broken down, but in nature this occurs on a vast scale by comparison to any closed aquarium, and it incorporates "water changes" through evaporation and rain. And one or two fish is it, which is not responsible as most of the fish of suitable size should (no, need) to be maintained in groups to be healthy. Constant stress on a lone fish will rapidly cause deterioration.

Byron.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:16 PM   #12
 
well i mentioned before i will not sue distilled water initially only to top off the tank, the initial amount of minerals i hope will be used by plants and fish, and then be expelled as waste or rotting leaves and such to be redissolved into the water to restart the cycle. I am working under this idea since adding tap water will continue to add minerals and other stuff into the tank and without water changes those minerals will just keep adding up. I do not know if this is right, if not switching to tap water is an easy task.

Well the last thing is i do not plan to feed the plants or the fish, I am hoping to create a "closed" environment where the shrimp or fish will consume the plants and expel waste to be reabsorbed by plants and have a stable balance. I have not read Ms. Walstad's books, I have only read the wiki article on her style aquariums. I am unsure if she feeds her fish or if they only eat the vegetation in her tanks.

Also lastly, this may be impossible but im hoping to reach a balance between plant grow and fish/shrimp consumption. Therefore reaching a point where the plants will not grow so much to the point of needing to go in with a scissor and teh fish will have enough to eat without killing off all the plants. Is this possible?

This project may sound odd and probably ridiculus, but Its more of an experiment and I really want the success rate to be as high as possible. I will work on obtaining a copy of her book and look up more articles.
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:05 AM   #13
 
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well i mentioned before i will not sue distilled water initially only to top off the tank, the initial amount of minerals i hope will be used by plants and fish, and then be expelled as waste or rotting leaves and such to be redissolved into the water to restart the cycle. I am working under this idea since adding tap water will continue to add minerals and other stuff into the tank and without water changes those minerals will just keep adding up. I do not know if this is right, if not switching to tap water is an easy task.

Well the last thing is i do not plan to feed the plants or the fish, I am hoping to create a "closed" environment where the shrimp or fish will consume the plants and expel waste to be reabsorbed by plants and have a stable balance. I have not read Ms. Walstad's books, I have only read the wiki article on her style aquariums. I am unsure if she feeds her fish or if they only eat the vegetation in her tanks.

Also lastly, this may be impossible but im hoping to reach a balance between plant grow and fish/shrimp consumption. Therefore reaching a point where the plants will not grow so much to the point of needing to go in with a scissor and teh fish will have enough to eat without killing off all the plants. Is this possible?

This project may sound odd and probably ridiculus, but Its more of an experiment and I really want the success rate to be as high as possible. I will work on obtaining a copy of her book and look up more articles.
If there are fish in the tank you will have to feed them prepared fish food; unless they are complete vegetarians (not a joke, I mean plant eating fish) they would starve to death as there would be insufficient natural live food occurring--depending upon the number and type of fish and any organisms on the plants. Shrimp alone may be different, I've no experience so won't comment further on them.

The plants I suspect will not have sufficient food either. All plants require light and macro- and micro-nutrients, the latter of which may be available from fish in the tank without adding any elements--and provided the light balances the available nutrients.

If your tap water is very hard, yes, calcium deposits would occur as the water evaporates. But plants need all those other minerals to photosynthesize, and they have to come from somewhere. Short-term things wuld probably look OK, but long term I doubt it, unless there is a source for what's bioplogically required.

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Old 08-30-2009, 08:52 PM   #14
 
well i was hoping there is a way to get a nutrient cycle where the plants wouldn't really thrive but grow enough to survive and feed the animals in the tank. As for nutrients i was thinking of dosing them at the beginning to ensure that the palnts are grown to a point where they are established and then stop. This would slow their growth because of the lack of nutrients and i would cut back the amount of time the tank is lit to help the balance. Are there any vegetarian fish or shrimp that would work?
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:14 AM   #15
 
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well i was hoping there is a way to get a nutrient cycle where the plants wouldn't really thrive but grow enough to survive and feed the animals in the tank. As for nutrients i was thinking of dosing them at the beginning to ensure that the palnts are grown to a point where they are established and then stop. This would slow their growth because of the lack of nutrients and i would cut back the amount of time the tank is lit to help the balance. Are there any vegetarian fish or shrimp that would work?
Solely on the plants, in my view this can't work. Plants live by growing; a plant that is not growing is not living, there is no static state because all plants live by producing new leaves and flowers (those that flower). And to grow, a plant converts sugars into energy via photosynthesis. In order to photosynthesis, a plant must have adequate light (duration and intensity) and available nutrients (being carbon dioxide, macronutrients and micronutrients). If any of these are missing or too few, the plant cannot photosynthesize so it will die. Even if they were sufficient to feed fish/shrimp, they wouldn't be ding so once they were dead.

This happens in any normal aquarium. When aquarists post requests for help because their plants are dying, the answer is always because one of these necessary factors is too limited or absent to sustain photosynthesis. All of this mirrors nature. No ecosystem is completely static or self-contained. Some may be moreso than others, but there is a complex relationship between water, oxygen, nutrients, gases, minerals, etc.

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Old 08-31-2009, 10:52 AM   #16
 
Then how do those orb things work? The plant in the orb is supposed to grow enough o sustain the shrimp and the waste produced is supposed to be enough to sustain the plant. Neither thrive but both survive.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:10 AM   #17
 
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Then how do those orb things work? The plant in the orb is supposed to grow enough o sustain the shrimp and the waste produced is supposed to be enough to sustain the plant. Neither thrive but both survive.
I don't know what the plant is; different plants have different needs, although the photosynthesis is still how they live. But there are frequently exceptions in nature, complex as she is. There was a time when everyone thought all life on earth depended upon the sun; then they discovered the volcanic vents running across the ocean floor dividing the continental plates, and discovered bizzare (to us) life forms that feed on the volcanic gas as "nutrients" and have no connection whatsoever to the sun. Life is mysteriously wonderful and amazing.

I don't know what the shrimp produces in the way of nutrients. Nor do I know what it may be eating, but i assume algae which some do (people have amanno shrimp in their tanks to handle algae). And I'm not a research biologist. I try to learn and understand how my fish and plants remain alive and healthy, but beyond that...

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 08-31-2009 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:31 PM   #18
 
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The shrimp eats its own shell after it molts. They work because you've got two hardy creatures in there, the shrimp and the plant, that have minimal needs and can put up with a lot of abuse. In the end it will eventually crap out.

You can make a minimal human interference tank but its not going to be self sustaining, not ever. The processes that allow fish and plants to survive require far more room than five gallons of water. The conditions can never be replicated at home. So you can make a tank that is heavily planted and requires no filter (for nitrogeneous substances) but that's about it.
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:42 PM   #19
 
Well i guess this project is impossible then?
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:12 PM   #20
 
Well on a different note this has been tried with living test subjects in a large greenhouse setting. I find it pretty interesting but to prove a point mentioned earlier, eventually the experiment had to have outside input in order for it to survive. Look it up its called Biosphere 2.
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