Is there such a thing as an "organic aquarium"? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:09 PM
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A huge portion of the hobby does not use fertilizers beyond what their fish create and some sort of mineralized top soil.
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post #17 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 06:10 PM
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Everything depends on how much light you choose to use. if you use more than "low" light, you will constantly battle algae unless you also dose fertilizers and use CO2. If you use "low" light, plant growth is slow enough that the "natural" nutrients, fish poop and substrate breakdown, can provide all of the nutrients the plants need to support that growth. One of the methods to follow for that is Diana Walstad's book. But, there are others too.

If you choose to define "organic" as being just like nature, I don't think you can keep an aquarium - nature doesn't include small glass boxes with lots of pretty fish.

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post #18 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 06:16 PM
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You can't get more organic than a dirt tank. Let your water sit for a week before doing a water change. No need for dechlor. Wow, this sounds like the '60s.

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post #19 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 08:20 PM
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Here you go, DogFish's vegan aquarium:

Aquaponics for Vegans/Anubias Farm

and his 10 gallon dog poop tank:

Toxic Ten ~ The End

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post #20 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 09:42 PM
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Has anyone ever tried adding Mycorrhiza tea to a planted tank?
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post #21 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 10:58 PM
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you could always mineralize your own top soil, doesn't get much mor organic than that!
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post #22 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 04:12 AM
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"Sounds like something you were fed on Foxnews. You probably shop at Wal-mart too."

Im not a foxnews fan but WTF is wrong with shopping at Walmart?? You sound like a pretentious Prius driving hippy. Go away.
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post #23 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by scapegoat View Post
a joke on Indychus for saying that people who don't use fertilizers have plastic plants
An actually a good joke, because this thread needs it before it gets closed.

Organic can mean many things, the CO2 enrichment thing, even if from an organic source, is the sugar organic? The Yeast? You can take this a good distance and degrees of separation, which is arbitrary.

I think "sustainable" is perhaps a better way to approach planted lower energy tanks. Minimal inputs, relatively moderate output.

Shrimp make good livestock if you want to use a Farm model.
Mosses/liverworts etc make excellent crops which can be sold.
Artificial light?
Well, you can get away from that if you want also, but it's tougher.
Here's one the BEST things about such tanks: the non cO2 approach is awesome for the shrimp, but also, the COLDER water requires no heater, which is another artificial addition and the most costly electrical device on any planted tank. Shrimp also break down food and waste/plant litter much better than fish might. And they eat algae effectively. Another issue, is the food you feed the fish/shrimp organic as well? If not, then the tank is not organic.

You could run the heater/filter/light off a solar panel also. But not at night.

Tom Barr
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post #24 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Indychus View Post
I understand perfectly well how organics work. I also understand that the process and associated costs of certifying products as "organic" ensures that the small producers who actually have natural products can't legally call their product organic and be competitive with large industry. And, believe it or not, I also posses the ability to notice that around a third of the products in my local market are now labeled as organic without Fox news (which I have never watched; I don't own a television) telling me so. I doubt that major brands like Tyson and Heritage Farms suddenly changed their practices and cleaned up their act, yet their organic products are right next to their normal stuff, just relabeled and more expensive.

I made my own opinion (as you suggested), and expressed it. I'm sorry if you disagree, and I apologize for debating the semantics of the issue on a site dedicated to aquariums. Good luck in your endeavors, I hope someone will come along who can answer your question to your liking.
I don't think you understand the internets correctly. You shouldn't be using clear logical (and seemingly accurate) statements to further your point. You have also missed an golden opportunity to use CAPSLOCK. In the future, please keep in mind that childish insults and crude mockery make the internets go 'round.
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post #25 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
You could run the heater/filter/light off a solar panel also. But not at night.
well, you could if you werent worried about being truly organic. most solar installations store the energy in a battery instead of using it directly to power things.

I wonder if it would be cost effective to set up a panel w/ batteries to power my 125... I've got a window right there and outside that is my patio roof, which gets full sun.
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post #26 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post

I think "sustainable" is perhaps a better way to approach planted lower energy tanks. Minimal inputs, relatively moderate output.
Much better way of thinking, actual meaning behind the words! "Organic" has strayed so far beyond it's meaning today. Unless you can find a tree that grows solar panels as fruit, or a volcano that spits up 20 gallon tanks nothing about the hardware of an aquarium is going to be organic. lights? filter? all that stuff is man made or man-modified.

the current grocery store version of organic is "grown without pesticides or drugs/hormones/antibiotics". Your plants almost have to meet that requirement (or they would poison the tank), shrimp should too, fish may have been treated at some point with something.
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post #27 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-02-2013, 07:57 PM
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I think you need to look at each individual component that goes into the aquarium and see how close to the ideal YOU are willing to go, and at what cost. Then you will have an aquarium that is as close to 'organic' or 'sustainable' as you can get it.

Tank- the actual glass box is not going to be organic. But you could recycle glass, or get a used tank rather than buying a new one.

Filter, running off electricity. Including the concepts of filtration and water circulation. I am not sure if you are going to get very far trying to minimize this. You can use a power head instead of a filter, and then you have to do the removals yourself (water changes). Or you might look into 'organic' filter media. I add peat moss to some filters, and oyster shell grit to others. I guess this might be 'natural' or 'organic' water chemistry as compared to 'dumping chemicals' into the tank... but REALLY what is the difference in buying calcium carbonate powder (from ground shells) to increase the hardness vs buying oyster shell grit (sold for caged birds)?

Substrate- here is one place you can be all over the map and make your own call. You can go dig up some of your garden soil and add some material from your own compost pile, and I suppose that is the most 'organic' you can get. You can add materials known in horticulture as plant nutrient sources (bone meal, blood meal, greensand and so on). Google terms like organic gardening for more info.

Fertilizer: specifically 'Fish Emulsion'. Just toss in a dead fish or shrimp every now and then and let the microorganisms work on it.
Other fertilizer sources: Lets go back to the circle of life and you can choose your own starting place and call that organic: Animals poop, and die, and these things are broken down by microorganisms to become plant nutrients. If an animal poops on the land and the rain washes the chemicals into the lake, that is fertilizer for the aquatic plants. When you feed your fish their waste becomes plant fertilizers. Even if the fish do not eat some of the food and it falls to the bottom of the tank microorganisms digest it and then it becomes plant food.

Raise your own fish food (bugs, worms, vegetables, algae...) using organic methods, then you can call that part of the system 'organic'. Here is one path: When you do a water change put the used water in a tank (10 gallon) in the sun. Let green water algae grow. Get a daphnia culture started. Scoop out enough daphnia each week to keep them from over populating, yet enough that they keep on breeding. You will have to have several set ups going, hopefully growing different things (research growing your own fish food) so your fish have a good diet. Organic worms, mosquito larvae and many other things can be raised to feed your fish.

Light. Put your tank in a window, skylight, sun room or green house.

Power for other things: Solar panels, batteries... are getting cheaper and longer lasting, so it is feasible. The initial set up will cost about 3-5 years worth of power from your electric company, and maintenance is not free, but is pretty cheap. Replacing worn out components will really be the biggest cost, so get the best ones, the longest lasting ones. It depends on your cost of electricity, but the break even point of the pay back amortized over a 25 year life of a solar system can be as early as 6-8 years if you are paying a high rate for electricity. Looked at from an 'organic' point of view:
Mining the materials and building the panels, batteries and so on to make a solar power system has gotten a lot more efficient. Better technology requires a lot less of the basic materials, and the components last longer. Lets translate all that goes into a system, and compare it to the power that you get out of a system. It costs X amount of power equivalent to build a system, and over its life it will generate Y amount of power. If X>Y then you are putting more into it than you will ever get out of it. If X=Y then that is the break even point. It costs just as much to build as the system would generate. If X<Y then it is good. The system will generate more power than it cost to build.
About 30 years ago the 'environmental' pay back was... never. You would not get back the environmental cost of building the system.
Now the 'environmental' payback is just a few years.
So, solar is the way to go!

'Organic' has come to have so many meanings that I think it is up to you to really understant what you mean when you say it, and how you can apply your concepts to whatever you are doing from growing your own vegetables to aquarium keeping and beyond.
Look into other catch phrases and see where that gets you, too.
'Carbon footprint'
...are the two other terms that come to mind.
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post #28 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-02-2013, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
I think you need to look at each individual component that goes into the aquarium and see how close to the ideal YOU are willing to go, and at what cost.
+1,000 to this and the rest.

Consider also worst-case scenarios. If your fish become diseased, with say Callamanus worms, are you willing to break with the 100% organic ideal and use the only effective treatment, a chemical anthelmintic? Or let the fish perish?
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post #29 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-02-2013, 09:02 PM
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i dont know if this counts, but i have several tanks that have only algae in them for plants. they are being used to breed fish and grow fry. the algae takes the place of any plants, and as a bonus, it harbors lots and lots of infusoria. i havent fed my 20 or so tanks with any foods that i have not grown myself in the last several months either...

it really wouldnt be too difficult to have a completely "organic" aquarium. i HIGHLY doubt i will ever have to use medications on any of my established tanks, since i raise all their own food. not only do i KNOW for a fact that there is no diseases coming from their live foods, i even know exactly what my fish are being fed, since i culture their foods. the only artificial thing i use is lighting and airstones. i dont even treat their water since i never do water changes, i just let it set out for a few days and only pour some in for top-offs.

on one of my planted tanks though, i do use fertilizers, CO2, etc.

so i didnt go completely organic...
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