ironing out details
one of the reasons for water changes is an accumulation of fish hormones in the water.
(once people get past the nitrogen cycle nitrate issue)
appearntly (and i'm going to side with this) this is easiest noticed for those breading fish with heavy requirements for "clean water" (and no more clarification on this is given), ... i am told those who are familiar with breeding discus show improved growth and colors with "massive daily water changes"
k, for me that's good enough to say there's something really serious going on there, or at least significant to pay attention to, things that cannot be ignored
on another thread (thank you Mikaila31) the concern for anyone who claims 'self-sustaining' is any indicator of increased TDS (total dissolved solids) is a tank that will never be self-sustaining as these will continue to climb till one problem or another shows up.
from the question i asked about hormones in the water, recent studies (December 16, 2009) - if you call that recent, find that plants can do significant work in reducing hormone levels in water (testing done in a hydroponics test - rather similar to our aquariums if you think about it)
so, in theory, sufficient plants may be able to compensate for hormones given off by our fish in our closed eco-systems (aquariums)
other things i have done in my current tank was to let the plants grow to very heavily overgrown. a rather literal floating body of plant mass had grown 3-6" below the surface that supported the plants growing emerged (flowers on Bocapa are rather beautiful, if small, and hygrophilia Difformis assumes a more typical leaf shape). otherwise the mass of plants was insufficient to support the weight of the emerged stems.
i noticed during this time i could not get pH above 6.5 (at the time, inexperienced compared to now - i still may be inexperienced by many standards) ... one day i did a massive pruning (the plants had been growing for about a year without a pruning at all) ... this was a disaster with a very drastic consequence.
the pH shifted to ... i dono, something very high
ammonium that was readily available for the plants was no longer being consumed
a low pH that may have hindered the bacteria for the nitrogen cycle to get started left my tank without means to process ammonia.
ammonium turned into ammonia and i lost half my fish by the time i realized what was going on while adding daily pH stabilizers and ammonia neutralizers to bring things into balance while the nitrogen cycle built itself up again. ... a truly disastrous event :(
now i have started a different direction for plant growth, ... i have previously (after the massive plant pruning) started pruning to keep things with about 4" of growth (when trimming) and letting the plants grow till about touching the surface ... i learned from before, don't trim it all at once, so i trimmed in sections over the course of a couple weeks
now i'm trimming only half the tank, leaving the other half to grow wild.
now my tank has a heavily planted side, and a not so heavily planted side, ... a light side and dark side (for StarWars fans), a dense side and a very open side.
i am hoping to see this old tank erach a point where TDS starts to go backwards (lower)
i have no idea what the numbers are at now, ... but it's time to find out.
for now i've got a start of what i can look at to see at least if this part of "self-sustaining" is possible.
can things reach a point to ensure TDS isn't going to climb through the roof till the fish end up with calcified armor and shields in the tank, ... hmmm, roman infantry fish :)
--- there is worse than surprisingly little details on what to consider when setting up "self-sustaining" aquariums, ... there really is, there is no place to start, and those that do either fail (and say little, or give up and say little, or get ridiculed and nothing is said, ... but what is going on, what are some of the places to start, ...
or at least what are some of the things to start considering.
so far, ... well can't measure hormone levels, ... but can measure TDS, and if that's lowering (after i test it) then i've got a chance.
weekly tests for a month? (because daily is subject to daily fluctuations)
well maybe hormones may not be directly testable, ... but i'm sure there are going to be some insanely sensitive fish out there that may help show a sign of how things are in the water we cannot test for
when it comes to hormones in the tank, ... even for the samples of sensitive discus breeders, ... massive daily water changes to see improved growth, color, health, ... that's hard to test when trying the idea of a self-sustaining tank, ... i'm either changing water, or i'm not, ... and checking to see how fish are doing gets hard to do without a sensitive species of fish and a control tank, ... using a species that will have the greatest easily recognized visual on how it's doing.
and i thought finding a tiny primarily herbivore was difficult, ... now for a test i'm looking for a tiny sensitive fish with recognized visual clues about it's health & stress ? ... :/
damn, ... unless someone has some ideas, (and i may only be able to keep it in mind now), i wouldn't know where to start looking for that test, i'd have to keep it in mind as something to consider for years down the road
wow my posts can be big and messy at times :(