I'm curious, can someone answer this?
Okay, I'm wanting to see what others think of this. I have a friend that has a 10 gal tank, and she has a red tail shark, a pleco and some neon tetra type fish in it. Here's what is shocking - she does nothing with the tank - and I mean that. She says that about once a year she'll change the water. I've come back with, "but our your fish happy?", which they don't put much stock in worrying about.
I also work with a teacher that has a 10 gal with lots of guppies and mollies in it. He says he changes the water 4 times a year. How is this possible?
How do these fish survive? I'm doing a WC if my nitrates get near 20 and I have plants. I do WC at least once a week, and my tank is bigger. Can't even imagine how people can do so little work on a 10 gal and have the fish live for so many years (the case for both these people). Any ideas? Nitrates must be through the roof - not that they test for that stuff.
Many fish are actually quite resistant to high levels of nitrates but that doesn't mean its good for them, it will gradually take its toll on the fish as long term health issues. And there might be other issues at work that reduces the amount of nitrates gradually.
And some of it is partly luck to I guess, I know people who do the same thing, and their water is yellow and their fish live, its just random luck they continue on.
I know in an 'el naturale' tank, WC's every few months is common... Of course, these are with live plants,an enriched substrate (usually) , and liberal feeding (for nutrients)... Not to say the fish are in perfect conditions, but it does work under those situations since the plants take in the nitrates...
When I was young, I did everything wrong.. Gouramis, Dwarf Frogs, and plecos in a ten gallon, with "water changes" once a year. Of course, "water changes" back then was placing the fish in buckets and using tap water and a scrub brush to clean everything. We viewed it normal when fish didn't survive the "cleaning", but it usually went without a hitch. Now I know better. :-)
There's a slight possibility that with lots of detritus, the bacteria in the sludge can break down nitrates into nitrogen... (It works in soil)
You never know, but I bet the fish aren't "happy".
I agree. It is sometimes difficult for us to "understand" fish issues because we cannot relate to a fish in water in a closed system, it is quite unique among "pets." So it may often be useful to consider a parallel among pets we understand better, or at least can more easily relate to.
Would this person keep a horse in a spare bedroom? They might; the horse would remain alive (so to speak) if it were fed. And if the room was cleaned out once or twice a year, the horse might be lucky enough to avoid some terrible diseases. But the ability of that poor horse to "live" or rather exist under such conditions should not be taken as proof that all horses can or should be so treated. Their lack of regard for their fish is no less severe, but they are certainly less able to understand the ramifications for the fish, whereas they might have some grasp of the horse's situation.
Or keeping a dog in a witre cage in which it can stand and turn around, nothing more. The dog will exist for years. But what a terrible life.
In my old 20g, the water would get changed once a year, twice at the most and it wasnt even planted. The fish lived their normal expect life spans and i never tested the water. It was like that for around at least 4 or 5 years. One of my black skirts from that tank is still alive today and that was a few years ago its like 6 or 7 years old now. None of my fish during that time got sick, and they were always active. Not really sure what was happening there, but i remember vacuuming the gravel and the water and gunk sucked up was black, literally opaque black coming out of my gravel. Thats when i started to read up more on fish and planted the tank, etc.
Sometimes I think it just works, although like byron says, just because it works for someone does not mean it will work for others. I do a soil tank and I still change my water once a month at least now.
Existing isn't thriving.
We will never answer how someone can do everything right and have fish expire while some others can seemingly do everything wrong and fish survive. I guess there's some sort of mystery....
But I wonder if it's possible that due to the neglect, pockets of anaerobic bacteria also exist in the substrate...enough to process and keep the nitrates down? Still, not something a good hobbyist would do.
Sadly, they lumber on in somewhat ignorance since 'their way' is working for them.
I saw a youtube video of a jamoke that cleans his tank while draining it nearly empty, with fish in there. Then he dumped in a bunch of chemicals and filled it back up with a hose. When viewers commented that he was doing it wrong and risking his fish he blew up, called them trolls, and claimed he'd been doing it this way successfully for years!
I might be tempted to congratulate this friend for being able to do what few other's can, and even fewer would attempt.
Unless the pleco is one of the few species that remain relatively small (five inches),, I would expect a healthy specimen to out grow a ten gallon tank in short order, and the waste produced by this fish alone, would create toxic conditions in a ten gallon tank absent of regular water changes.
Red tailed shark would also out grow such a small tank and needs much more swimming room than ten gallons could provide.
Your friend ain't doin these fishes any favors.
Place a kitten in a jar, and it won't outgrow the jar either. Think about it. ;)
Fish grow all their lives, unlike us. The internal organs develop somewhat on their own, as the external skeleton also develops (grows). Maintaining a fish in too small a space does affect its growth, but it is not a benign process that results in a "perfect miniature" version. When the fish is in too confined an area, it cannot develop properly internally, and we refer to this as stunting.
Such fish are frequently abnormally small, and prone to many health problems they otherwise would not have. A naturally occurring growth hormonal influence likely occurs, such as the fish would encounter in the wild with a food shortage, and the release of stress hormones which also affect growth and health of other fish.
We obviously have no idea what these poor fish may be "thinking" or "feeling," but it would be foolish for anyone to assume that just because it is a fish rather than a mammal it does not experience some sort of intellectual response to adverse situations. We have sufficient evidence in other areas to counter such thinking.
This is along the same lines as keeping a couple of goldfish in one of those "goldfish" bowls which some of us did when we were young. Sometimes they managed to "live" long, others didn't. Providing the correct environment would undoubtedly give the longer-living fish a better life, and allow the other to live closer to its natural lifespan.
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