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Old 06-17-2013, 06:13 AM   #1
Chalcosoma
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An Ecosystem Tank


Hi All

I'm new here, living in Bahrain. Would like to ask if anyone has experimented with having a planted aquarium that functions like an ecosystem with a food chain.

By this I mean fish waste being broken down by bacteria, the nutrients used by plants and/or algae, those being fed upon by small shrimp, worms, or crustaceans...and the fish eating those. It's done in some aquaculture systems on a large scale.

Or is this just crazy?

Looking forward to hearing any comments!
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Old 06-17-2013, 06:18 AM   #2
PunknDestroy
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I believe it would be possible. This is something people try to replicate in reef tanks. Problem is, fish tanks are a finite space which means a limited amount of hiding spots for the lower heterotrophs. You would have to play a part in replenishing the lower links of the food chain, or have a very small amount of fish to predate on the smaller organisms to allow to the sufficiently maintain their numbers.
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:07 AM   #3
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Yes, this is the challenge. With different predator free zones, it should be possible to replicate some simple ecosystem functions. Theoretically though, this should work with larger numbers of fish too as long as there is some kind of occassional input of nutrients and plenty of light. it would just be a question of stepping up the rate of production from algae, up the food chain, and back around again without destroying the water quality.

I did keep a colony of cherry shrimp once in a planted community tank, and fish did supplement their diet with them. They had plenty of hiding spaces between the stones.

Any one else?
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chalcosoma View Post
Yes, this is the challenge. With different predator free zones, it should be possible to replicate some simple ecosystem functions. Theoretically though, this should work with larger numbers of fish too as long as there is some kind of occassional input of nutrients and plenty of light. it would just be a question of stepping up the rate of production from algae, up the food chain, and back around again without destroying the water quality.

I did keep a colony of cherry shrimp once in a planted community tank, and fish did supplement their diet with them. They had plenty of hiding spaces between the stones.

Any one else?
I would imagine this would be the hardest part in a small tank, especially since a refuge is essential for predator-prey cycles in nature too.

As to create the refuge zones, you might toy with size-dependent holes/filters to separate different zones.

Finally, if you want to skip on a filter, I'd highly recommend a small powerhead to keep water flowing.
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:51 PM   #5
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you would need a pretty big tank for it work properly. But it's certainly possible.
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:53 PM   #6
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Xiaoxiy

I have thought about it many times, and the screen option sounds like a good one - screens or holes too small for the predators to get in, separating a "safe zone" where the prey species can breed. It could even keep adults of the prey species inside, so only smaller prey can exit.

I agree it would have to be quite a large tank to do this effectively. In a system like this, anything like a canister filter would be undesirable, because you don't want to remove organic waste and detritus, you want to use it as food for the algae...to feed more prey.

This idea is shaping up, I am going to try a few experiments with different approaches and see what works.
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:30 PM   #7
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You could always buy or build a HOB refugium.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:18 PM   #8
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+1 on the refugium
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:18 AM   #9
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Rather than HOB refugium, I may do a HOB overflow to another tank. I am thinking that the "prey" tank may need a fairly large space to have a constant supply.
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