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Discussion Starter #1
I have an african cichlid tank with a few bristlenose pleco's and was wondering about the dynamic of fish poop in the water. These fish create tons of waste, and it is always visible on driftwood or under rocks. It does breakdown, but there is a lot.
Is waste a benefit to the plants? Does it act as fertilizer, or is just a liabilty that needs to be filtered.
 

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Fish poop is good fertilizer when it breaks down. But, it also generates ammonia as it breaks down, so too much can spike the ammonia and encourage algae spores to start growing. But, if you have a very heavily planted tank, with lots of fast growing plants, plenty of CO2, micros, and light, you can just consider it as part of the fertilizer regime.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I know the waste would cause amonia, but not sure how much. I am running 330 and 170 hang on back filter so I know I am turning through the water.
So would the high waste be a contributing factor to my algae? I am doing mostly java fern and anubias, and crypts and have had a noticeable increase in green spot that I attributed to the increased lighting. I may have a slight break out of hair algae as well-I am not sure on that one yet, but am watching closely.
 

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Remember, the waste doesn't actually leave your system til you change the filter media. It's still in there, breaking down on the sponges.
 

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I would imagine you don't have lots of plants, no CO2, hard and alkaline water since its an African Cichlid tank. So I wouldn't count on plants to do the job, just make sure you've got lots of matured filtration to handle the ammonia generated by the waste, and do enough water changes to keep NO3 at a reasonable level, I would aim for less 30 ppm.
 

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The ammonia would be the first nutrient taken up by the plants. So if, If, you have enough plants you'll be fine there. The question is the amount of Nitrates and possibly phosphates. The idea of a cycle free tank is one chock full of plants taking up all the ammonia. But like macbrush said, you prolly don't have a tank full of plants going gangbusters considering you must have a high pH (no CO2) with african cichlids.

That said, I would keep your vac on the ready unless you have a tank full of Vals and such.
 

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If the fish waste is building up, then it's too much. Buildup would obviously mean that the supply is exceeding the demand.

Personally, I prefer to let my fertilizer routine determine the nutrient levels in my tank. The fish waste may be beneficial to a certain degree but if you're dosing your ferts like you should then the fish waste just becomes excess nutrient levels.

It's a wild card, a variable, and it deals with ammonia. I don't like ammonia wild cards.

But perhaps I'm overly cautious.
 

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IMHO if the fish poop is accumulating... I would scoop it out with your next water change from on top of the subsrate surface and the driftwood etc...

*just the top
 

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I just randomly sucked out a bunch when I was doing a water change. It can really hide in between the plants. Also, I like to run the hose over the driftwood and moss to suck up debris. Detritus loves to settle in moss.
 

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macbrush said:
I would imagine you don't have lots of plants, no CO2, hard and alkaline water since its an African Cichlid tank. So I wouldn't count on plants to do the job, just make sure you've got lots of matured filtration to handle the ammonia generated by the waste, and do enough water changes to keep NO3 at a reasonable level, I would aim for less 30 ppm.

30 ppm? I'd say 10. Even less for a sparingly planted tank.
 
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