How do you create a sustainable ecosystem? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-01-2016, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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How do you create a sustainable ecosystem?

Even since I have started keeping fish, I have been interested in the idea of creating a self sustained ecosystem inside of my aquarium.

I know I can't get by without water changes (best I can do is automated), but I am hoping to stop feeding. My question is:

How do you create a sustainable ecosystem inside of your aquarium?

I haven't decided what size tank I want to try this on because I'm waiting to do more research. Has anyone out there created a successful one?

Here is the idea of what I am thinking. Create a tank where I have sustainable food for my fish to eat. That could mean shrimp, brine shrimp, etc.

This would be a fully planted tank, lights, filter, heater. Low tech.

My Tap Water:
0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrite, 5-10ppm Nitrate depending on day, 4-8 dGH depending on time of year (right now it's 4.2 dGH), and KH of about 3.8. I have pretty soft water.

Thanks in advanced!

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-01-2016, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Termato View Post
Even since I have started keeping fish, I have been interested in the idea of creating a self sustained ecosystem inside of my aquarium.

I know I can't get by without water changes (best I can do is automated), but I am hoping to stop feeding. My question is:

How do you create a sustainable ecosystem inside of your aquarium?

I haven't decided what size tank I want to try this on because I'm waiting to do more research. Has anyone out there created a successful one?

Here is the idea of what I am thinking. Create a tank where I have sustainable food for my fish to eat. That could mean shrimp, brine shrimp, etc.

This would be a fully planted tank, lights, filter, heater. Low tech.

My Tap Water:
0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrite, 5-10ppm Nitrate depending on day, 4-8 dGH depending on time of year (right now it's 4.2 dGH), and KH of about 3.8. I have pretty soft water.

Thanks in advanced!
Feature Article: Micro-Ecosystems ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog



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A hermetically sealed Ecosphere that is still viable after almost five years.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-01-2016, 09:09 PM
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https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...-aquarium.html

Basically you need to add energy in some form (light, ferts/leaf litter) and stock really lightly.

The main drawback of this kind of tank is that fully supporting a single fish requires a huge volume of water. If you stock at the same density there is in nature you will be lucky to support half a dozen small fish in a hundred gallons.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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This is great stuff everyone! What Tom did there is exactly what I want to do. Maybe a little bit bigger but that's the essential idea. Thank you!

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 10:19 PM
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How would you keep up with fish being unless you got species that easy their young? Or never breed in captivity.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Termato View Post
Even since I have started keeping fish, I have been interested in the idea of creating a self sustained ecosystem inside of my aquarium.

I know I can't get by without water changes (best I can do is automated), but I am hoping to stop feeding. My question is:

How do you create a sustainable ecosystem inside of your aquarium?

I haven't decided what size tank I want to try this on because I'm waiting to do more research. Has anyone out there created a successful one?

Here is the idea of what I am thinking. Create a tank where I have sustainable food for my fish to eat. That could mean shrimp, brine shrimp, etc.

This would be a fully planted tank, lights, filter, heater. Low tech.

My Tap Water:
0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrite, 5-10ppm Nitrate depending on day, 4-8 dGH depending on time of year (right now it's 4.2 dGH), and KH of about 3.8. I have pretty soft water.

Thanks in advanced!
I personally don't change the water unless the numbers tell me I have to, plants and a good system keep the levels in check. Feeding however I enjoy doing so I've never attempted to automate this. I really love seeing some of my crazier fish come up to my hands for food, some even swim between my fingers, a connection I'd never want to lose.

With that said shrimp and snails are a great way to sustain fish assuming you get them well established and give them lots of cover.

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 691175002 View Post
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...-aquarium.html

Basically you need to add energy in some form (light, ferts/leaf litter) and stock really lightly.

The main drawback of this kind of tank is that fully supporting a single fish requires a huge volume of water. If you stock at the same density there is in nature you will be lucky to support half a dozen small fish in a hundred gallons.
This is entirely dependent on what your system uses to filter. You could easily have a high bioload without water changes in a 100g tank. A filter many have forgotten or put aside due to anecdotes that literally hold no weight which caused fear is sand filters. Incredibly efficient once set up. Another big factor is plant load, plants can easily offset the impact of a large bio load.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-03-2016, 04:04 AM
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Go to Google Scholar and search for 'mesocosm' and 'closed ecosystem'
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-07-2016, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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So this is going to be my first trial. It's ~2.5 Gallons bowl that I made a few weeks ago. The bottom of it cracked off and I saw a weird opportunity. I've been watching video from the DYI King on YouTube because I haven't been able to properly seal weird edges on aquariums. I took the bottom and used aquarium safe cementer with silicone and create a seal with a filter INSIDE of the bowl! I had to really stuff it with filter padding so it would slow down the flow (it was pushing water out of the bowl. Anyways, here is the final product:

A fully planted, freshwater 2.5G with 4 Red Cherry Shrimp

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-07-2016, 09:25 PM
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No soil in the substrate? It'll be tough for the plants with no nutrients and bacterial action.


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 12:11 AM
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No soil in the substrate? It'll be tough for the plants with no nutrients and bacterial action.
Where there is poop there are nutrients

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Where there is poop there are nutrients

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Yup yup! and just to be safe, for now, I'm dosing it with Flourish Comp. That is, until the plants root in and the shrimp grow out a little more. I know the plants will still eat a lot more nutrients but that's why this is a good experiment. We'll see how many shrimp to plants ratio works until I find a good balance.

Any suggestions on how many shrimp to keep in there? I was thinking 8-10 max and then if they breed, they breed. Thoughts?

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Last edited by Termato; 02-08-2016 at 02:00 AM. Reason: correction
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 12:48 AM
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That's a good number to start with, and excel isn't really a fert and you don't really need it with such a small tank with I assume no dedicated light. Simplicity is best with such a small tank

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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That's a good number to start with, and excel isn't really a fert and you don't really need it with such a small tank with I assume no dedicated light. Simplicity is best with such a small tank

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Woops! I meant Flourish Comprehensive. I've been putting in maybe 2-3 drops of it. Barely anything. It's just getting sun light right now by the window.

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 02:51 AM
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Oh, I thought this will be self sustaining. I didn't know you were going to ferts.

I doubt shrimp poop alone will sustain all of those plants. Soil action will provide extra CO2 as well, not just nutrients.


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