Stocking levels in planted tanks....
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:45 PM   #1
ginnie5
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are they the same as unplanted tanks? I seem to remember reading somewhere that if the tank is heavily planted it really doesn't hurt to overstock. I think mine is pretty close to being full but I would like to add a few more small fish. Right now here are the current occupants. 75g tank
2 angels 4" each
10 glolights
7 lemon tetras
5 ottos
1 clown pleco
5 cories
3 cherry barbs
1- 3 spot gourami
2 kribs

I think that the barbs are going to another tank and I'd also like to replace the kribs with apistos as soon as I can find some (and have the extra $$ for them). I could also move the cories if I get apistos and they decide to breed. I have a 10g and a 20l that are running right now. Also have an empty 38 and 2 empty 10s. Just have to talk dh into letting me set them up :? So does this seem overstocked?
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Old 01-16-2004, 04:59 PM   #2
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I don't think you're overstocked yet. Planted tanks do have the ability to absorb excess nutrients better than non-planted, but the organic phosphate is hard to keep tabs on since test kits don't see it. It can make a tank unpredictable. I still think you're fine. I've got a bigger fish load in my 55g.
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Old 01-16-2004, 05:28 PM   #3
Nordic
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Yeah, maybe throw in a few gourami's of the dwarf varieties for colour, they should all get along just fine
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Old 01-17-2004, 07:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ginnie5
are they the same as unplanted tanks? I seem to remember reading somewhere that if the tank is heavily planted it really doesn't hurt to overstock.
Consider the following discussion (may require setting up account--if it does, let me know and I'll paste the text here), and don't assume more plants = more fish.
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Old 01-17-2004, 04:30 PM   #5
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That's in interesting thought. Although all my tanks are severely understocked, I assumed that a planted tank could bear a higher bioload than a bare tank.

I am wondering about the biofilm... you think that having a few SAE's, Otos, Bristlenoses, flying foxes, shrimps, snails etc would efficiently reduce that buildup, of course along with regular water changes and filter cleanings?
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Old 01-17-2004, 04:48 PM   #6
Nordic
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OK time for my 2c.

Firstly, we know what most of the dangerous elements to fish are in terms of water, i.e. general parameters like hardness and pH.

Now with us planted freaks, i would say the amount of water we change, the close grip and periodic measurents on things like NO3 and amonia, does leave us with the ability to keep more and happier fish than a non-planted tank in my opinion.

As for the biofilm, and tula please know that I respect you very much, but part of the solution is in the problem, i.e. it takes a while for biofilm to accummulate to harmfull levels (not arguing the concept), but plants grow new leaves and loose old ones frequently, which should by itself combat the surfaces we are not allready cleaning manualy like with algae scraper magnets etc... leaving only the substrate.

Just some more thoughts, no more, or less qualified than any of the others I read.
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25 Gal. 54watt, DIY CO2 5 Angelfish, 1 male dwarf gourami + 2 females ,2 female betas, 3 albino corys, 2 pepper corys, 2 CAEs
15 gal. Dwarf gourami fry tank
10 Gal 3 variatus platies, 4 black sailfin mollies- 5 Gal guppy birth tank with dividers
5 Gal guppy frytank
1 Gal guppy frytank
40 Gal Pond with 10 female guppies, 1 male tons of fry.

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Old 01-17-2004, 06:14 PM   #7
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I'd say that plants help and hurt the ability of one to overstock a tank. By providing more cover, the general stress of the crowded tank is relieved, so plants help. The draw on oxygen after lights out can be a problem, so too many plants might not be good. With that, the extra oxygen when lights are on is very good and should allow for a few more fish. Having a lot of fish means that you may have elevated nitrate levels, therefore dosing will have to take that into account, supplimenting the other nutrients to match.

Now, the real danger of the overstocked tank is when someting goes wrong, a power failure, equimpment malfunction, illness in the tank.

Crowded tanks are going to be more prone to disease, but planted tanks less so... but is the crowded planted tank more prone to disease than the uncrowded planted tank? I'd guess yes.

In a power failure, the uncrowded planted tank is definately better off than the crowded planted tank. Without CO2 reactors or lights or circulation, the plants can not be expected to be making oxygen, but consuming it in competition with the fish. Other equipment failures, filter, heater would be about the same in crowded planted tanks as uncrowded planted tanks, I'd guess.

Overall, the planted tank may allow you to keep the fish, but it does not exempt you from tragedy, for if the plants go down due to some sort of problem, the whole tank may go bad rapidly (like heater failure, and plant meltdown, ammonia spike)

I've had crowded planted tanks, and had tons of filtration but I really worried about power failures. I rest a lot easier now that that tank is down and those fish are in a large uncrowded planted tank.
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Old 01-17-2004, 09:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic
As for the biofilm, and tula please know that I respect you very much, but part of the solution is in the problem, i.e. it takes a while for biofilm to accummulate to harmfull levels (not arguing the concept), but plants grow new leaves and loose old ones frequently, which should by itself combat the surfaces we are not allready cleaning manualy like with algae scraper magnets etc...
Geez, you all must think I have a hair trigger or something! Anyways, allow me to elaborate a little further. Aside from the cycling period, once the biofilm is established you can consider its mass to be fairly constant for a given mass of fish in the tank. I understand your concept about new leaves and old leaves, but I have a different picture of the dynamics involved. Now, if this is a newly planted tank, your concerns about a growing biofilm would be less: As the plants grow, they provide more and more surface area on which the mass of the biofilm settles, thus thinning the film out on average.

However, for those with established tanks, the surface area remains relatively constant because the plant mass remains relatively constant by the process you describe: the loss of old leaves is balanced by the growth of new ones. However, no plant can grow fast enough to outrace the ability of bacteria to colonize it, so for all intents and purposes you can consider all surfaces to be uniformly coated with bacteria the moment these surfaces are created. In other words, for a given amount of fish, the biofilm will be of the same thickness because there's no net increase in surface area.

Likewise, we have to keep in mind that fish grow and, thus, so does the biofilm. If the creation of new surfaces (growth of new leaves) outpaces the loss of old surfaces (death of old leaves), then there's less concern that the biofilm would increase in thickness. On the other hand, if plant mass remains relatively constant as they do in most established tanks, then you can safely assume that the biofilm is increasing in thickness in response to the demands of an increase in fish mass. The same effect can be had by adding more fish (full-grown or otherwise) to your tank: The biofilm must increase to compensate for the increased fish load.

Bottom line is, the decreasing ability of the tank to remain stable and healthy as a result of increasing your fish population is a spectrum, and at some point a 'critical mass' will be reached at which the tank is inherently unstable and becomes much more prone to the disasters that anonapersona described so well. This point itself depends on a number of variables: How much the fish are fed, how efficient their digestive tracts are, how much and how often the aquarist can change the water, how fast the plants are growing (affecting the ability to handle nitrogen, but not DOCs and other compounds), etc.

The key is understanding that that last factor--the plants' health, essentially--is intimately tied to the amount of fish people keep in their aquariums at the stocking levels that most people are accustomed to, and this is the point I'm trying to make: Most people assume that because their plants are growing so fast and so well that it means they can accomodate more fish safely, and on a certain level--to a certain degree--that's true. But realize that the more fish you stock, the more you negate the plants' ability to accomodate more fish, and the closer you approach that critical mass that I spoke of earlier.
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