Posted: 2008.02.26(Tue)12:23 Post subject: A little try to explain myself...
....because whatever I am saying, most of the time in this forum it goes like: "can't be" or "come on, you can't do it like this". I have done fishkeeping like this for almost 12 years now, every other fishkeeper I know does it the same. It can't be wrong.... Maybe different philosophies.... But it's sometimes frustrating to keep hearing it "can't be".
I tried to write down everything that came to my mind regarding the (how I will now call it) "Central European school of fish keeping". This shouldn't be a "yay for Europe, boo for US" posting, so please try to read it without prejudices... I also tried to WRITE without prejudices.
-) Filtration: once or twice the whole tank volume in an hour. Has always worked quite good like this. Here I keep reading about 10 times (!) the tank volume in an hour and I keep wondering how this much filtration should ever work. I once read the slower the water is going over the filter substrate, the better bacteria can use the water. If you send the water through at a high speed.... do you still have any biological filtration left?
-) Cleanliness: Pretty much linked to Filtration: I keep reading here about "crystal clear water". At home we are saying, that crystal clear is not so healthy anyway. I don't want to say our tanks are dirty... but if there is some kind of dirt swimming around we are not going to make a fuss about it. It's nature.
-) Gravel vacuuming: Never heard of it, before I came here. We simply don't do it, leaving all the waste products in there adds nutrients to the substrate which benefits the plants. I have seen tanks going 10, 20 or more years without vacuuming. Can't present you one of my own tanks concerning this, because I am simply not that old yet. But I also had one tank up for maybe 5 years once without vacuuming. And believe it or not... there is still no significant amount of poo or dirt lying around. Trumpet snails do the job of bringing the stuff to the lower layers. There are hardly no European tanks without trumpet snails. Maybe THIS is the reason why loaches are not sooooo super common around here... Tanks without trumpet snails might get problems.
-) Air stones: Besides a treatment tank, where do I ever need it? I see it in almost every tank of yours... In 12 years I never had a need for an air stone....
-) Water parameters: I see you guys are obsessed with nitrites and nitrates... In a going tank I will never have nitrites. And if I have them for some reason, my fish will show me anyway that something is wrong. Nitrates are kept low with weekly water changes, therefore I don't need to test them. In Europe we stress much more on pH, KH and GH, which hardly seem to be present on this board. And you can tell me whatever you want, you can NOT adjust any fish species to any water parameters! It might work for the most hardy fish like Bettas, some live bearers and the most common Corydoras species. It won't work for tetras, Rasboras or the like. You can not change evolution in a couple of generations. If a fish is adjusted to soft water, it will also be for the next few thousands of years. I keep reading here that Cardinal tetras suck. They don't suck, they are just very specific fish concerning the water parameters. Get a pH of 5, KH of 0-1... and the Cardinals won't "suck" anymore.
There are no tests for ammonia in Austria. I personally don't see a need in them anyway.
-) Driftwood boiling: Yet another thing I have never heard before I came here. I have never boiled driftwood... Why do you guys want to get the tannins out anyway? I am always very pleased when I find a piece of wood that stains the water nicely.
-) Tank size: As already said: In Austria it is not allowed to keep fish in tanks under the size of 50 liters. Most European countries have laws that are quite similiar (also 50 liter in Germany, 40 liter in Finland...). And although I know there are a couple of fish that can be kept under this size (mostly killifish, certainly NOT Bettas if you ask me...) I stick to this quite useful rule and wouldn't use a smaller tank for anything else than raising fry or invertebrates. Reading constantly about 5 (or even smaller!) gallon Betta "tanks" gives me the creeps to be honest...
-) Stocking: I keep stressing about that I am an understocker.... Well, actually according to our way of thinking I stock quite normal. It might be, that tanks are much more expensive in the US, then I do understand a little overstocking. But when I sometimes read what some people have in their tanks... In the german forum I write most would be taken apart for it.
I have some rule for myself that I am not taking more than one species in a 50 liter tank and not more than 5 in a tank up to 300 liters. I wouldn't up this number very much in bigger thanks either I guess... My one Betta in 40 liter is more than enough. I would never get the idea of adding any other species to this! In 240 liter I have 3 species right now.
And then about schooling fish: It's 10 individuals or more we keep saying. Some people here have 4 neons, 5 harlequins, 6 rummynose.... does this really make a "school?
There is also one thing I don't like on either side of the Atlantic: The fact that Corydoras are sold as pairs, as trios, whatever... In my opinion they have a much bigger need for companions than tetras do and nobody at the lfs seem to pay attention to that. Further, I have never understood why in this case lfs don't want to make some extra money and don't sell 10 at a time.
-) Snails and algae: We hardly ever have problems with them. If we do... we certainly don't buy fish to get rid of them. There are easier and cheaper ways to do so. If I want a loach, then I want a loach and not a snail-eater. Same with Otocinclus....
-) Plants: "What is a planted tank?", that is the first thing I asked myself when reading on english fish keeping pages for the first time. I thought: "OK, maybe it's one of those fancy japanese style tanks." No... it was ANY kind of tank with plants in it. Now... In Europe there is nothing else than planted tanks. Even our Malawi tanks are quite well planted. The first thing every beginner takes home with his tank are... plants. I was a 12 year old kid myself when I started. I took plants home with me, knew nothing about them... and they didn't die. After all the only things you need is water and light (and I am not talking about special plants here of course...). I keep reading here, that plants are so expensive and so hard to maintain. What is so expensive? The Water? The Light? It comes with the aquarium anyway. And what is so hard? Sticking them in the substrate? I don't get it, sorry....
They are not any different than the normal pot plants everybody has. The only difference: Pot plants need to be watered, that is not the case with water plants so they don't require anything at all. Hooray!
I think it's bad enough we have all this plastic stuff from the filter and heater in the aquarium already, I would never like to stick anything else artificial in there. Also I don't think I have ever seen plastic plants in a pet shop in Europe.
I know there are some very few tanks that require being plantless, like for freshwater stingrays, the huge south american cichlids... But in Europe it is considered as the most hardest thing to successfully keep up a tank without plants... How come you guys are worried about the other way round?
The one thing where I felt the most stupid was this Cory topic, where Slimy concluded that "US Cories must behave different than European Cories". I am sorry to say so... but when a Cory darts up to the surface over here in 99% of the cases there is something wrong with the water. I really wonder about this topic myself....
Now I am afraid it DID end up in whining how bad you all keep your fish... This is definitely not what I wanted to intend with this. It was just a try to help you understand me and with my questions also understand you. Tanks obviously DO look a lot different in our two continents, and it would be nice to find out why... And also it would be nice if maybe we could learn specific things from each other.
So I just hope in the future it is OK if people ask something and I give answers or tips according to how I learned it and how I had success in fish-keeping? If it's not appreciated, please just say so.
And now I'll do a nice water change for Jukka-Pekka! _________________ I believe this heart of mine when it tells my eyes that this is beauty.
I believe this heart of mine when it tells my mind that this is reason.
Last edited by Theresa1 on 2008.02.26(Tue)13:32; edited 1 time in total
I don't think it's necessarily a European/US difference in fishkeeping thought. I'm in Europe and I don't particularly follow your style, but I always look forward to seeing your views when replying to people's problems. What can be better than getting as much information from successful long-time fishkeepers as possible? It's good to investigate every angle if problems arise. And on forums like this we mainly get information based on people's experiences with fishkeeping, and that can vary a lot. In the end everyone should go to more than one source to get info. Even when reading scientific papers you can come across conflicting points of view. And if someone is concerned that you give wrong information - well, surely no one uses any one single person's advice without investigating further. It would be like going according to what the guy at the lfs says.
I think you and I come from opposite polar ends of the fishkeeping spectrum. But I'm very acceptive that what you do works very well for you, and obviously what I do works for me
-) Filtration: I think this is where we differ the most. You drastically understock and have live plants....I overstock and drastically over-filter. Youd think the current on my tanks was like a washing machine...and If I had yours Id be paranoid that they were going to suffocate or die in their own filth. a lot of it comes from...I have adapted myself to keeping high bioload systems, and you have adapted to low bioload systems...it balances out in the end.
-) Cleanliness: Another thing I preach heavily. I don't mind algae anywhere from the front glass as long as its not to bad. Hell my brackish tank has a lot of algae. But detris and such will not pile up on my watch because I don't have plants in any but my smallest tanks because the fish would destroy them. If my water isnt so clear it looks black...I'm jerking out the python or ordering another filter. It has no ill affects...my fish are all fat and healthy.
-) Gravel vacuuming: I just couldnt imagine the foulness of my bruisers tank a month without a good gravel vac...I do some tanks(the higher bioload ones) a good gravel siphoning weekly of atleast 75% the substrate, I admit I'm usually to lazy to move the decor except every few months But then...I don't have live plants to eat up the detris.
-) Water parameters: I'm not worried about pH, or hardness. I've spawned and reared discus in some pretty high pH and the higher end of the hardness scale that the eggs would hatch in. But I do run a lot of peat in my filters that contain amazonian fishes because my tap water is so hard. But I don't check it. To me its much more important to keep fish in a stable tank than to alter its pH and hardness with chemicals...peat is a more gradual natural way of doing so. I also use mass quantities of unboiled driftwood. id like to see somebody try to boil my 50lb piece in the 150 Your plants also have a lot to do with your nitrites and nitrates being kept in check without fuss.
-) Stocking: I think its varies place to place. Look at some asian tanks that are stocked with things like arowana and rays....these tanks are busting at the seams with fish. But are successfully ran fro decades despite them being thick with fish. Strange things work for diffrent people on stocking, my tanks to me are perfectly stocked....to you they would be much like these asian tanks absolutly busting at the seams with fish. As for cories...my cories have always periodically ran up the tank glass and breached a few times per day but they spend about 90% of their time on the floor or on an ornament. I think when its excessive like the fish being up in the watercolumn more than its on the floor then you should look into parms.
To me all information is valuable, yours is definatly included in there. I think that sometimes a greater understanding of a persons individual setup needs to be taken into account when making suggestions. I know that most people wouldnt want to slap a big cannister on their 10G...where Id definatly think about it...thus I won't usually suggest it. And most peoples high bioload, non planted tank won't work with a filter rated for a tank half its size generally. Fish keeping is such an individualized hobby...what works for one may or may not work for others...all we can do is offer personal experience and hope to enlighten others in some way.
I'm not one for textbook style postings, anyone can go read a book and get a lot of the responses floating around. doesn't make them wrong, I know that I generally would prefer to have 3-4 peoples PERSONAL EXPRIENCE than to have a very textbook style reply. Now a lot of people keep fish right out of the dos and don't book, and thats alright to...it works for them. Everything has its place, and we all find our niche of what works for us. Please don't feel stupid for posting your ways of fishkeeping, I'm personally very intrested in your school of thought as it is so diffrent from mine. I accept it but can't fully understand how your filtration works for you since it is just so completely diffrent from mine.
Posted: 2008.02.26(Tue)14:02 Post subject: Re: A little try to explain myself...
Thank you for sharing your fish keeping philosophies/practices with us! I think it is important to understand where we are all coming from rather than just saying, "you're wrong." I try to be of the mindset that there are a lot of different "rights."
I can't really say much about this topic because I really don't understand it fully myself. I would think the reason why underfiltration works so well for you is because you have so many plants. Perhaps the reason the plants grow so well has something to do with the underfiltration. I guess the main thing I personally would have to do would be to have enough patience to allow the tank to get into this balance.
I, too, prefer a "dirty" looking tank. I never strive for crystal clear water because I think the things that are invisible (nitrites, ammonia, nitrates, etc.) are more important to worry about.
-) Gravel vacuuming:
Maybe other people have the same problem as I do. I have a "snails are icky" mindset that I'm trying to change. My 55g is becoming populated with random snails and I've stopped trying to do something about it. I was watching a rather large specimen turning over the sand last night and thinking about what you had previously posted regarding snails and sand...
Additionally, the amount of plants in the tank reduce the need for gravel vacuuming. If there are roots throughout substrate, obviously we don't want to go about disturbing them. Also, those plants will use the detritus in the substrate as their food, so it makes sense that vacuuming wouldn't be necessary.
-) Air stones:
For me it wasn't necessarily a need for air stones, it was that I just thought they looked cool. The only tanks I have airstones in now are my cichlid tanks (main tank and fry tank). Mbuna enjoy the extra water movement the air stones create and also like to "play" in the bubbles. In my fry tank, my heater wasn't heating properly due to the lack of water movement, and once I threw an airstone in there it started heating the whole tank, rather than just the water immediatly surounding the heater.
-) Water parameters:
Regarding testing: I honestly don't do as much of this as I once did. Reason being, my tests continually turn out fine (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, below 20 nitrates). For me, though, it's like a security blanket. If my fish get sick, I want to first rule out that something isn't out of whack with those levels. As far as pH, and hardness levels... well, simply put I don't really understand them. I test for them, and probably would be concerned if they changed a lot, but other than that I don't worry too much.
Regarding adaptability of fish: I agree with you to a certain point; however, I do think fish are more adaptable than: "this fish must be kept at a pH of 7.0." If I went by the exact numbers, I wouldn't be able to keep hardly any fish at all! Perhaps its wrong of me to keep fish at pH levels that are outside of their ideals... Because I've only been keeping fish correctly for just under a year, I really can't offer any sort of results as to how my fish are doing outside of their ideal conditions.
-) Driftwood boiling:
This has to do with the crystal clear water thing. I'm with you in that I think the water looks great when tannin-stained.
-) Tank size:
I think a minimum tank size is a great idea. All of those "betta caskets" (as Jun calls them ) should be outlawed. I don't agree with you 100%, though. I think it depends on the fish. My betta, Apollo, got really upset when he was downgraded to a 5g space (divided 10g). I ended up giving him back the whole 10g. Another betta I kept, on the other hand, seemed extraordinarily frustrated at the amount of territory a 10g tank offered but he calmed right down when I put him in a 5g.
The frustration for me with stocking stems from the availability and price of the fish. Most of the time, if I want a certain species (or any significant number of them) I have to order online. At the LFS, if they even have the fish I'm looking for, the prices are quite often out of my reach (or at least more than what I'm willing to pay). Around here, a $6.99 price on a corydora (albino, aeneus, panda) is average. If a LFS told someone they had to buy a minimum of 10, I'm pretty certain they'd be walking out of the door with zero fish.
I think it's a good idea to limit the amount of species per tank. I can't say that I've done it, because I, like many others, started out in this hobby all wrong: with either too many fish in a too small of a tank, fish that would outgrow my tank, and/or fish that weren't compatible. Once I realized my mistake, I had to either return the fish to the evils of the LFS (with a good chance that some other poor unsuspecting fish-haver would buy them) or buy more tanks. There was a limit (believe it or not ) to how many tanks I could buy, so I ended up with too many different species with perhaps not the ideal amount of each in each of my tanks. At least they aren't going to be stunted, or eaten by some other fish, or die due to overstocking.. Additionally, I see nothing wrong with keeping two species in a 10g. I have a betta and black neon tetras in one of my 10g, and I had a betta and habrosus cories in the other. My bettas always seemed more content when they had other species to interact with.
-) Snails and algae:
I think the algae problem thing is also connected to the plants. Your plants are outcompeting the algae for nutrients, so that's why you don't have an algae problem. Personally, I like the look of a little algae in my tank. My mom, on the other hand, comments on how "terrible" my mbuna tank looks every time she comes because the back and sides of the tank and the rocks are all covered in algae. She's one of those people who like to see crystal clear water and immaculate tanks. I just think it makes it look more natural.
I don't know why I kill plants. I can't really give a reason but I know that I've killed them. Plenty of them. And those I haven't killed don't really grow all that well. Maybe I'm just trying with the wrong kinds of plants. As far as starting up a tank full of plants, well, that does get terribly expensive. The plants themselves are expensive, the lights are expensive... Availability is also a factor. Most of my LFS carry a couple of different kinds of plants, price them with outrageous prices, and can't even tell me what they are! Planted tanks also confuse me. High light plants and low light plants, macros, micros, CO2... makes my head spin. Yet, I'm going to keep learning and keep trying because I want that heavily planted, well balanced, dirty looking aquarium.
I can't speak for the rest of the US, but I know around here fishkeeping is horribly, tremendously rare. In fact, the only fishkeepers I have ever met from this general area are all members of this forum (myself, betsyann07, Jun, and Aurora88). Unfortunately, this is generally a fish-having society and therefore the LFS will cater to the majority. _________________ Dumpster Tank Nano Fish Mbuna
hmmmm...interesting topic...I have been keeping fish very successfully for years now - if a species is supposed to live 5 years, often live 7 with me
And how often do I check my ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/pH etc? Never. Oh no gasp my fish will suffer and die immediately right? No. My current setup (overstocked 37 gallon) has been up 2 years now with the only deaths resulting from a malfunctioning heater that raised tank water overnight to about 94-96F (lost some neons, cardinal tetras and zebra danios but all tougher species had no issues).
I haven't had issues with diseases like ich since first starting out - new fish keepers do need the test kits or massive tank failures may result! For more experienced folks who do regular water changes and know their fish - look at them daily - if there are any issues they will tell you!
And I am one of the cruel people who keeps a betta in (gasp) a 1 gallon tank with no filter or heater - just a light. Mr. Angry is always extremely active, only stops moving when the lights go out and it is nap time, and loves flaring at his reflection. I have had him almost 2 years now. I just do water changes every week. Some people can keep a single betta in a 10 gallon and have it suffer greatly due to neglect. It is not just the size of tank that is the issue people - but how it is maintained!
I'm not sure it's a US/Europe thing either, as I'm in the UK, and tanks are rarely planted (planted tanks are only just coming in to fashion) but I generally think that different people have different experiences, and that's what we post according to...
For example, every betta I've kept has been in community tanks, and has been peaceful with all tank mates, so I could say "bettas are always good tank mates for other fish". We even had one in a 120L tank with a dwarf gourami with no problems. However, I know very well that other people have had different experiences, so even though it worked for me, I don't recommend to others that they should keep a gourami with a betta.
That's not to say you shouldn't recommend doing things your way, as you do have some different and refreshing advice It's just one example of how different people can have different experiences in fishkeeping.
I'm too tired to post on the different aspects of your thread, but maybe I will do some other time
I think a lot of the differences come from other differences. You keep low light planted tanks. Some people prefer keep planted tanks with high light, in which case you do need co2 injection and a lot more fertilizers and a lot more upkeep. It's not the same thing. They are not trying to duplicate your system. It's a completely different setup with different goals.
A lot of other people keep unplanted tanks, in which case you DO have to clean the gravel and you do have to worry about nitrate buildup and overloading on filtration. What you do works for you and for your setup.
Basically, I think in a lot of cases you are comparing apples and oranges.
We all know low light planted tanks work and are low maintanence. You can find thousands of posts of people that have them on planted tank or plant geek. It's just that not everyone is interested in those setups. Just like not everyone is interested in low bioload or in having plants in their tank.
Once you step out of those parameters, just like a lot of people do out of curiosity, interest or fun, it's a totally different experience and you do have to worry about different things.
If you applied the approaches you listed above to a 3 wpg tank I assure you you would end up with mushy plant-soup in a matter of weeks. Or end up with fish-soup if you took the filtration approach and applied it to MCHR's tanks with large fish with heavy bioloads. _________________ A Quarter Fathom Journal
But first of all: It's nice nobodyis jumping at me, I was kind of expecting much worse reactions.
@broadbean: Your tanks actually look a lot like the ones I am used to, so I guess the "philosophy" might not be the same but quite similiar.
@MCHRKiller: Actually your big tanks fall into the category of "requires being plantless". I know that it is almost impossible to keep any plant than very hardy Vallisneria alive in brackish water. And I also know how impossible it is with the large catfish you have. I am not referring to special tanks like that. Also it is clear that they require higher filtration, as they also house bigger poopers. (sorry )
I just don't understand how anybody would want a tank with - say - Cories and Tetras and doesn't put a single plant in there. huh?
And I am not saying anyone should alter water parameters! If you have soft tap water, get catfish, tetras, barbs and labyrinth fish. If you have hard tap water, get live bearers, rainbow fish, east african cichlids and gobies. That's quite easy I guess....
Also IF you change water parameters you shouldn't do it with chemicals anyway. Use reverse osmosis or peat as you said.
And don't worry, I don't understand how YOUR filtration works either.
@Nikelodeon: I am an impatient person myself. Thanks god my tanks don't take a long time to be balanced. Benefits my impatience.
Thanks for also liking "dirty looking" tanks, at least somebody knows what I mean by that.
And when I say I don't have problems with algae, then I don't mean I don't have any. Every healthy tank has algae. But they stay in small spots and don't bother me. Yes, I even have that evil black algae (name?) in all of my tanks, but it just doesn't spread.
Are you getting adapted to snails yet? And they are not icky, they are actually very cute!
Air stones in Mbuna tanks are quite common in Europe as well I think (I'm personally just not a cichlid keeper *g*), but that is just because they breathe and produce a lot but don't allow so super many plants....
About the water parameters: It's quite simple... pH, GH and KH don't change in a running tank anymore. And for every fish there is a certain number where they feel comfortable, some like it soft and acidic, some like it hard and.... (what's the adjective for pH over 7?)
And fish that have their right amount of pH at 7,0 hardly exist.
I guess the availability of fish and plants must really be annoying over there. As Europe is such a densly populated continent the fish keepers are also living close to each other. At least in Austria a lot of private exchange goes on! People breed their own fish, don't bring them to the lfs but rather sell them directly to the new owner. Same with plants... Actually in Austria it is quite common to give plants away for free to fellow fish-keepers. That might also be the reason why our tanks are really over and over full with plants.
Of course there is nothing wrong with two species in a small sized aquarium if they are small enough and fit to each other. I had croaking dwarf gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) and Corydoras hastatus together in a 50 liter.... worked fine.
I would really be interested in why you kill plants. What I do: I put them in.... and then leave them alone. Maybe you just worry TOO much. I'm not using CO2 myself. And what is macros... micros?
@mandle: Well you know about my disapproving of (@Jun) betta caskets... I know they all have different characters and I might be fast on judging as Jukka is my first Betta. But when I see him running around in his 40 liters up and down, back and front, left and right... I think even the calmest Betta doesn't deserve a home that is less than a tenth of that size.... And I wonder why it is always this one species that is kept in too small tanks? Why doesn't it happen to others?
I didn't say either, that you should check your water parameters all the time. I don't either. But you should know them and choose your fish according to them.
@Callain: Maybe it's not a US/Europe thing but a english speaking world/rest of the world thing?
I know pictures of tanks around here from the 70s. I think plantless tanks have never been in use here. So I wonder why it started off like that in your countries?
And hey, I never tried a Betta in a community tank, but I DO know tanks where it works. But as we said: character fish, you cannot find a solution that fits EVERY Betta. _________________ I believe this heart of mine when it tells my eyes that this is beauty.
I believe this heart of mine when it tells my mind that this is reason.
Just like not everyone is interested in low bioload or in having plants in their tank.
I am mainly interested in healthy fish. And if they require plants, then they get them. What I personally want is not the main aim.
And because high light plants are too expensive (which I agree, don't like them myself so much either), it's better to go without at all? Come on, you have fully planted tanks yourself, how can this opinion come from YOU? _________________ I believe this heart of mine when it tells my eyes that this is beauty.
I believe this heart of mine when it tells my mind that this is reason.
[/quote]And when I say I don't have problems with algae, then I don't mean I don't have any. Every healthy tank has algae. But they stay in small spots and don't bother me. [quote]
That's kind of what I was thinking... I think there are a lot of people out there who are like, "All algae is evil and must be eliminated!!!" which is the same reason why many people feel the need to take their fish out of the tank, scrub everything clean (including the filter ) and then dump it all back in. Perhaps some people's "algae problem" would just be considered a neat looking addition to people like you or I.
Are you getting adapted to snails yet? And they are not icky, they are actually very cute!
I actually did say a snail was cute the other day. I was like, "look at his little tentacles! (I don't even know if they're actually called tentacles ).
(what's the adjective for pH over 7?)
basic or alkaline, I think?
I would really be interested in why you kill plants.
I think it's because I wasn't getting the right kinds of plants (I think I was getting high light plants or non-aquatic plants). I think (cross your fingers) that I've been doing better lately. I think my tanks just don't look the way I want them because I want tons and tons of plants, and tons and tons of plants aren't available to me and/or I can't afford them. I just need to study up on plant species better, I think.
And what is macros... micros?
I have no idea. I saw it in a post in the Planted Tanks forum and was like WTF? I seem to always exit the Planted Tanks forum scratching my head in confusion! _________________ Dumpster Tank Nano Fish Mbuna
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