PLANTS versus FILTERS - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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PLANTS versus FILTERS

Some of you may know from recent postings I tell folks considering filtration, extra filtration isn't absolutely necessary item to have with a planted tank. *Here's why I think that is true. Here's an article written by Diana Walstad explaining in detail how plants act as filters.
http://www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/...ookWebsite.pdf

Ecology of the Planted Aquarium Third Edition by Diana Walstad

*In my observations of natural planted aquatic ecosystems, I've yet to see any form of extra filtration, no sumps, hob's, canister either. We should all be observant of what nature does.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:27 PM
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In natural ecosystems, though, there are a lot of factors at work that we avoid in our tanks. For example, high nutrient levels lead to algae blooms. We treat our algae blooms. Fish can migrate within a water system to cleaner water if flow slows in a natural system--in our tanks they are confined to a small (for them) box. Flowing water goes through natural filtration--densely grassed marshes and wetlands, for example--that still water in our tanks cannot mimic. Many streams are spring-fed, meaning the water comes to surface from underground aquifers that naturally filter the water to some extent--and lakes are stream-fed, often. There are many 'natural' filtration systems that take place in nature. Sure, some species may be adapted to truly still water, but I would think those are in a minority. Nature has many methods of filtration.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:28 PM
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Thanks for the post. Informative read.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:38 PM
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No doubt plants are great in multiple ways, but remember there are still tons of beneficial bacteria all throughout natural waters. Just think, they practically grow on everything, everywhere! And some places have little to no vegetation (even terrestrial plants) and there are still thriving fish species, so the biological filtration must be coming from somewhere (besides water flowing from other areas and disregarding the often large bodies of water volume)
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 04:16 PM
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Extra filtration is a safety measure. It's like a condom, you don't need one to have a good time, but...............

Feel free to edit.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 07:52 PM
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Basic of Hydrology -

A body of water with no outflow = a salt lake.

Most bodies of water have a steady of percentage of turnover. When you see a pond or stream it usually represents a very small amount exposed water with most of it in the surrounding soil. Like an iceberg in the ocean.

My grandfather before he passed had a 1 acre pond dug into the water table in the "bottom" field of the ranch (about 1/2 mile from a river). He wanted to put rainbow trout in the pond for his private fishing. Trout require clean cold water with lots of water movement to be happy and spawn. He had the pond tested to see the flow. The test was done by seeing how long it too for potassium permaganate to move out of the pond. To his surprise and joy it took less than 30 minutes for 100% of the water to move through. He stocked it with 800 trout that spawn every year for the past 20 years. Still can pull our 20"+ trout from the little pond.

We can definitely all learn a lesson from nature. Constant water changes and filtration through the substrate is more the norm than stagnant little pools of water.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyPlants View Post
In natural ecosystems, though, there are a lot of factors at work that we avoid in our tanks. For example, high nutrient levels lead to algae blooms. We treat our algae blooms. Fish can migrate within a water system to cleaner water if flow slows in a natural system--in our tanks they are confined to a small (for them) box. Flowing water goes through natural filtration--densely grassed marshes and wetlands, for example--that still water in our tanks cannot mimic. Many streams are spring-fed, meaning the water comes to surface from underground aquifers that naturally filter the water to some extent--and lakes are stream-fed, often. There are many 'natural' filtration systems that take place in nature. Sure, some species may be adapted to truly still water, but I would think those are in a minority. Nature has many methods of filtration.
Like I said in my opening post there are times when someone would want to use a filter, but with no effort those situations are avoidable. If one has the knowledge then one would know extra filtration is not an absolute must have.

Last edited by Steve001; 10-15-2015 at 09:53 PM. Reason: left out a word.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
Extra filtration is a safety measure. It's
Not if you don't overstock with fauna for one example. Read page 5 of the first link if you have not.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
No doubt plants are great in multiple ways, but remember there are still tons of beneficial bacteria all throughout natural waters. Just think, they practically grow on everything, everywhere! And some places have little to no vegetation (even terrestrial plants) and there are still thriving fish species, so the biological filtration must be coming from somewhere (besides water flowing from other areas and disregarding the often large bodies of water volume)
Read page 5 within the article if you have not and tell me if that makes you reconsider extra filtration is essential to a planted tank?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 10:32 PM
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"In my observations of natural planted aquatic ecosystems, I've yet to see any form of extra filtration, no sumps, hob's, canister either. We should all be observant of what nature does."
I love this one and I'll show you why. Not as frequently lately, but still occasionally I'll
get initial attention by using this statement to start off my reply to an algae thread. In all my years of collecting "in-the-field" I have yet to meet that algae cleaning crew who does the streams and ponds which I collect from.
I welcome the diversity in this hobby, both in direction and results. As both the filtration and algae categories show ample choices of.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
Extra filtration is a safety measure. It's like a condom, you don't need one to have a good time, but...............
If you have an overstock of partners, most definitely. If just one. maybe not. Same goes for an overstock versus understock tank


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
Like I said in my opening post there are times when someone would want to use a filter, but with no effort those situations are avoidable. If one has the knowledge then one would know extra filtration is not an absolute must have.
I wouldn't call having to do very regular water changes or select species exceedingly carefully based on bioload 'no work.' I have an aquatic vase that only has snails in, for example. Three tiny snails in an aquatic vase. They poop so much that I had to either a) do a water change every single day or b) install a small filter. I made what I am calling a 'pillter' which is a sponge-esque filter made out of a small pill bottle. End result, much happier snails who spend a lot less time at the surface of the water or above the surface of the water.

I maintain that while it's not an ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE, the decision to go without filtration is a) not a decision for an absolute beginner like myself and b) not a 'no effort' idea.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
Not if you don't overstock with fauna for one example. Read page 5 of the first link if you have not.

Bump:

Read page 5 within the article if you have not and tell me if that makes you reconsider extra filtration is essential to a planted tank?
Except she also says this on page 5:

Quote:
When I removed the biofilters altogether and just used internal pumps to circulate the water, the fish did fine. I concluded that biological filtration was totally unnecessary
Notice she still has internal pumps. For a lot of people, including myself, filters serve multiple purposes: filtration, increasing tank volume, generating currents, and surface agitation for O2 exchange. I don't run internal pumps as my filter seems to do an adequate job of creating enough movement and surface agitation. So doing away with one would mean adding the other. I also like the abilty to add various filtration extras like Purigen for crystal clear water or carbon should I need to remove a medication. So I'm just sticking with my filter.

[edit] Oh, yeah... my filter is also my CO2 diffuser. Which also makes me think of people that attach inline equipment like heaters to keep them out of the main tank. Filters haves many uses beyond basic filtration. Most of which the plants can't do.
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Last edited by Vidikron; 10-16-2015 at 12:44 AM. Reason: Adding info
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Mariostg View Post
If you have an overstock of partners, most definitely. If just one. maybe not. Same goes for an overstock versus understock tank
Heh, good point.

Feel free to edit.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Vidikron View Post
Except she also says this on page 5:



Notice she still has internal pumps. For a lot of people, including myself, filters serve multiple purposes: filtration, increasing tank volume, generating currents, and surface agitation for O2 exchange. I don't run internal pumps as my filter seems to do an adequate job of creating enough movement and surface agitation. So doing away with one would mean adding the other. I also like the abilty to add various filtration extras like Purigen for crystal clear water or carbon should I need to remove a medication. So I'm just sticking with my filter.

[edit] Oh, yeah... my filter is also my CO2 diffuser. Which also makes me think of people that attach inline equipment like heaters to keep them out of the main tank. Filters haves many uses beyond basic filtration. Most of which the plants can't do.
I never said a thing about water movement not being important, it is important. The point is not what extraneous purposes a filter can be used for, but plants vs. biological filtration. You missed a few important points in that artcle. My filterless experience of a few decades is in agreement with hers. I think I once used an hob.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
I never said a thing about water movement not being important, it is important. The point is not what extraneous purposes a filter can be used for, but plants vs. biological filtration. You missed a few important points in that artcle. My filterless experience of a few decades is in agreement with hers. I think I once used an hob.
And I didn't say you said that. But I was just pointing out that filters often serve multiple purposes. So while it may indeed be true that plants are adequate filters they still can't serve those other functions filters provide and, thus, a lot of people are going to keep them even if they are heavily planted. In my case I'd have to buy and add internal pumps, get a different diffuser, and give up on things like Purigen. So at that point I have to ask, "What's the point?". I'm just trading trading one piece of equipment for a different one (or multiple) and losing the Purigen (which I happen to like quite a bit). The question of extra filters vs plants becomes immaterial when I still want those other functions.

Last edited by Vidikron; 10-16-2015 at 01:14 AM. Reason: Adding more info
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