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MOA 03-18-2010 10:55 PM

Inefficient Planted Tanks?

I have been collecting data from aquarists for a week or two now with regard to the basic specifications of their aquariums. The principal result that I uncovered was a seeming contradiction to conventional wisdom with regard to planted aquariums:

Read it, please, and then post what you think. Thanks for your contributions.


redchigh 03-19-2010 01:13 AM


How many people did you actually poll?
I'd say the evidence isn't really conclusive until you can say at least a few hundred.

Also, how did you correlate it for tank size, or does that factor into your equation?

Hmm. Maybe inexperianced people are more likely to have non planted tanks- the same people who use less-than-accurate strips to test their water.

It's interesting... but I'd wait for more data for it to be conclusive.

MOA 03-19-2010 02:19 AM

Good Policy,

This data is certainly incomplete and I would like to get more data. No less, I stopped receiving new data and kinda got tired of beggining for it. This being so, I wrote this article to hopefully spark some interest: Are planted tanks more efficient? How should efficiency be measured? Is the output model enough (test kits), or should both input and output be considered (as my data attempts to do?

This article does not represent fact, just data. I would also like to hear more on what people think about the discussion in general and particularly how they think the question of efficiency should be operationalized.

BTW, tanks size was part of the required data and all biomass was assessed on a per capita basis to make the comparisons statistically fair. (I would prefer much more data, though.)


Angel079 03-19-2010 08:43 AM

A another MOA study - You know I enjoy your articles every time :-D

How many people/ tanks in total where part of this study?

I'd really have to say I don't think you can calculate / capture it just that easily and say "planted tanks don't help" which is pretty much the bottom line I get from this article.

My tanks that you can see here in the log are heavy to very well planted and the stock (if you'd wanna express in %) is always kept maybe around 80-85% so not way under nor way overstocked but in most tanks there's so many plants that unless its feeding time you won't hardly see a fish in my tank. Just like here recently 'testing' with my 55g I don't have no's there even if I don't do w/c for 10days I still don't get a no reading, I have no signs such as algae development due to the bio matter and not doing w/c. I think having the same size tank, same stock and no plants going this route it would be safe to say you'd have a issue arsing there and aren't as safe as my tank.

IMO if the tank is a BALANCED planted tank from the start you'd see less of the result you seen; eg if I interview 10 people from this forum 5 of which already have a unbalanced tank maybe 3 more that have plastic plants and then add to the math tanks like Byron's & mine - You'll get one set of conclusion from this. Where as if you interviewed 8 people that have tanks like Byron & myself and then let's say 2 plant newbie's again you get a entirely different result on the effectiveness as well.

Also I'd be curious to see what filtration the people in that study had as we all know some filters will help you better maintaining a good water then others.

Oldfishlady 03-19-2010 10:38 AM

I don't think you understand how active growing plants function, here is a link you may find interesting.....

redchigh 03-19-2010 11:08 AM

I think he knows how they function, and personally, I think he's as suprised as we are by the data.

He just wanted to share the data with us.
(Thanks for the link though, I'm trying to bookmark as many walstead sites as possible since I have a soil setup I'm trying to mature.)

MOA 03-19-2010 12:44 PM

Good Points All Round,


I admit that the result is surprising and that everything we know about plant biology does not support the result. This being the case, I am just as curious as anyone else as to why this happened. I would like to continue my research, but I wanted to bounce the results around first. :)


Good link, but nothing new. I've been keeping fish for about a decade and almost all of my tanks were planted to one degree or another. I always liked the results I got with planted systems, but I am beginning to wonder how much of the results I got was actually from the plants. It seems, at this point, that the stocking habits and perhaps the pressence of residual flow zones had more of an impact than the plants. Granted, my data is severely limited.

Overall, I am curious as to where you guys and gals think I should go with this. Obviously, more data is needed, but the question is "what data is pertinent?". In the data collection that produced these results, the primary data was planted/non-planted, nitrate levels, bioload (using an IFU approximation), and cleaning schedule/habits. Based on some of your responses, it seems that you would like to include filtration data. What else do you think is relevant?


Oldfishlady 03-19-2010 06:07 PM

You should post this on some of the planted tank forums and see what they say, APC (Aquatic plant central) that Diana Walstad a biologist and moderator on that site could give you some insight on this subject.....would be interesting to see what a scientist had to say too like on TFH (Tropical Fish Hobbyist) forum the "mad scientist" he has done some studies that are pretty informative.....I think I seen one of your post their but you have not responded in a while to him or EMc from the naturalplanted site......and Tom Barr on the barrreport...lots of respect for that guy and he is writing for FAMA now...even Robert Hudson and he is writing for TFH now, can't remember what site he moderates off hand but I can look it up for you if you would like and get input from those folks....

Redknee 03-19-2010 06:52 PM

It's late and my brain might be a bit rusted.
But from what i understand at this unhoy hour is that serious planted tanks lose the title against non planted.
When you want to do a comparison you can't base it on what guys and girls say.
Maybe those who have planted tanks have no clue about what they are doing and so the data becomes useless.
If you want to conduct a relevant test do this:
7 tanks, same size, same tapwater, same substrate, same fish, same filtration, sand, ALL exactly the same BUT 1 is non planted, 1 is very sparsley planted, ..., ..., ..., ..., 1 is super heavily planted.
Keep them for 6 months and run tests each day.
After 6 months you can say that the data you got is worth giving a thought.
Otherwise you are just gathering data that has 0 relevance.
My 2c.

redchigh 03-19-2010 10:53 PM

I agree, but maybe you can rally up some fellow aquarists to help you.

As in, people agree to all do water changes the same amount.

One more thing- most people who have plants also have snails, whether they like it or not.
Maybe snails are affecting the data?
(30 hidden MTS in the substrate probably poop a lot.)

Also, I forgot... did you take into account ferts? That would add nitrogren, and thus, add some nitrate if they used even a molecule too much.

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