Are we really advancing the hobby?

Soilwork

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Hi All,

So thats my topic of discussion. Are we really advancing the hobby? Or rather, has the hobby really moved forwards over the last 80 years or so? Has it moved backwards?

Below is some text taken from an old aquarium book that outlines the ‘four principles’

the first thing this book tackles is what I believe is the most important parameter any hobbyist should consider, and that is Oxygen. Do we have enough? Do we really give this parameter as much respect as it truly deserves? How does today’s most popularly proposed equipment of choice compare to the humble air driven equipment that was the equipment if choice back in the day?

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Today, when we talk about aquarium balance we immediately think about light, co2 and nutrients. This is the key balance that makes it to the forefront of most of todays aquarists advice. Do we think too much about plants in isolation when in reality, plants are only a part of the jigsaw that makes for a healthy ecosystem. Should we not instead promote microbes, oxygen and plants when we talk about a healthy aquarium and a healthy ecosystem?

Today, I think that there is an overly incessant need to control something that was originally brought to the home to study up close. To create and not control. I can’t help but feel that our controlling nature makes this hobby so much more difficult than what it really ought be once we have mastered the ‘four principles’ and strived to achieve overall microbial/plant balance.

One thing that springs to mind is our fear of algae. Rather than embrace algae as an almost inevitable part of our journey towards true balance, we do everything in our power to eradicate it. This only serves to disturb the process. Chemicals even more so. One might even argue that algae was very rare a number of decades or so ago disease too.

below are a couple more snippets taken from an old book about water changes and plants

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This is how I run my tanks, nutrient lean, full of plants, full of oxygen and with the understanding that water should not need changing. Microbes undisturbed.

Obviously, with the surge in popularity of aquascaping, goals have changed and new methods of looking after plants have emerged. Equipment, chemicals, substrates. My question is, do we really hold more knowledge than that of our ancestors and have we really advanced the hobby from an ecological point if view? Tanks are pretty for sure, but are we missing the point of aquaria? Looking through the mass of confused posts and troubled aquaria one would tend to think we are and that we haven’t really gotten that far in all this time.

How many people don’t know these forums exist or simply don’t seek them out because well, they just do what they have always done and never really had any problems?

What do you think?

CJ
 

tam

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I think you are lumping too many different things together under 'hobby'. For some people a balanced ecosystem is not the goal, the goal is a beautiful aquascaped aquarium - plants aren't selected or arranged for how they help create an environment for fish to live in they are selected to look aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes the two goals overlap but they are very different approaches to having a tank with plants in. If it was all about balanced eco-systems for fish no one would be pumping CO2 in.
 

akwarium

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I think there is much to learn, from nature, from old literature and new research. I also think there is a lot of ignorance wen it comes to water chemistry and the feeding of our fish. Water chemistry should be good for the specific species of fish that are kept in there, but most are satisfied wen it is regarded to be safe for most fish. Many aquascapers invest a lot in hardware, plants and fertilizers, soils etc. and then buy the most budget friendly fish food.

In the old days I think people paid more attention to the well being of their fish, reproduction and preservation. On the downside there where not as many technical possibility's to improve water quality or nutrition. Today we have those possibility's. So yes there is room for improvement. Which should involve a return to the fundamentals of fish keeping in stead of only focusing on creating a living piece of art.

However, I am disgusted by the stupidity of those people that choose to believe that nature will solve all problems as long as we do not intervene. You have to be a naive idiot that basses his knowledge on Disney's Lion King or Bambi to believe that to be true. A few liters of water between 5 sheets of glass will never be "a self sustaining ecosystem". Whatever that may be, because in nature ecosystems are always changing. It is nothing more then a romantic notion, that seems to be trendy...

Successful long term aquariums are based on the principle of controlled nature, natural processes closely monitored and corrected wen necessary. So get off that lazy ass and do a proper water change.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Below is some text taken from an old aquarium book that outlines the ‘four principles’
They look about right. I think that the fundamentals of fish keeping remain the same. Most good ideas will <"come around again">.
This is how I run my tanks, nutrient lean, full of plants, full of oxygen and with the understanding that water should not need changing. Microbes undisturbed.
I'm in agreement, other than the water changing. I'm old enough to remember when <"aged water" >was considered to have all sorts of magical properties and I'm sure that changing water really helps with tank management and doesn't adversely effect the microbial assemblage.

cheers Darrel
 

becks

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its like everything, what we know about today can be contradicated by what we know tomorrow.
 

Soilwork

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I think you are lumping too many different things together under 'hobby'. For some people a balanced ecosystem is not the goal, the goal is a beautiful aquascaped aquarium - plants aren't selected or arranged for how they help create an environment for fish to live in they are selected to look aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes the two goals overlap but they are very different approaches to having a tank with plants in. If it was all about balanced eco-systems for fish no one would be pumping CO2 in.
I purposefully took the time to mention goals. My point was are the practices required to fulfil the goal of art really good for the ecosystem as a whole?
 

Soilwork

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[QUOTE="akwarium, post: 575005, member: 4490]

However, I am disgusted by the stupidity of those people that choose to believe that nature will solve all problems as long as we do not intervene. You have to be a naive idiot that basses his knowledge on Disney's Lion King or Bambi to believe that to be true. A few liters of water between 5 sheets of glass will never be "a self sustaining ecosystem". Whatever that may be, because in nature ecosystems are always changing. It is nothing more then a romantic notion, that seems to be trendy...

Successful long term aquariums are based on the principle of controlled nature, natural processes closely monitored and corrected wen necessary. So get off that lazy ass and do a proper water change.[/QUOTE]

The trend is to change water, not to stop doing them. I don’t like my tap water and my fish have been much better off without the large, unpredictable fluctuations in dissolved solids.

Occasionally I will use rainwater to top up. Local water report now shows a a parameter marked ‘pesticides’. That is what I find disgusting.
 

tam

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I purposefully took the time to mention goals. My point was are the practices required to fulfil the goal of art really good for the ecosystem as a whole?
Nope they aren't, but if you aren't trying to make an ecosystem then who cares. You're writing like there is only one point in having aquaria. It's quite the opposite, it's not that we aren't advancing, it's that we are diversifying - there are many reasons people choose to have containers of water in their home and those diverse aims are the reason there so many different practices being developed, and part of that expansion is trial and error. Yes, people could succeed by repeating the same formula over and over, but where would be the fun (or learning) in that!
 
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Many aquascapers invest a lot in hardware, plants and fertilizers, soils etc. and then buy the most budget friendly fish food.
Thats really stupid. Buying decent fish food is not that expensive, even compared to other house kept animals. You can even have life foods for free during summer times, pick some nettle it grows everywhere cut of pieces of your veggies before you spice them.
Buy large frozen blister packs and decent fish foods.. I never give the same foods twice in a row..
If you like aquascaping because you love nature you have to think about the life stock too.
 

Soilwork

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Hi all,They look about right. I think that the fundamentals of fish keeping remain the same. Most good ideas will <"come around again">. I'm in agreement, other than the water changing. I'm old enough to remember when <"aged water" >was considered to have all sorts of magical properties and I'm sure that changing water really helps with tank management and doesn't adversely effect the microbial assemblage.

cheers Darrel
That’s a fair summary Darrel. But is not changing the water inherently bad? If that was the case I would be losing fish, they would be losing colour, slowing in activity, something would be ‘off’. So although aged aquarium water may not be an elixir of health, I would also argue that it certainly isn’t a cesspool of filth either.

Regards

CJ
 

Zeus.

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Yes :eek: without a shadow of dought the hobby is advancing OFC. The simple fact you made this thread and others with the same hobby are reading it all over the world.
The fact dated books are no longer needed to do the hobby, you can read others experience pm experts in the field. We have never had it so good.
More energy efficient lights pumps filters and massive choice, not being at the whim of what the LFS salesman may recommend :rolleyes:
Choice of plants, fish, substrates, fert routes, CO2 I even have a PLC that controls the lights ferts the whole system.
Is it all eco friendly, better for the livestock is another completely different question OFC
Is it better to buy algae pellets or to crop nettles blanch them in boiling water burning fossil fuels to feed our creatures kept in our man made prisons!
Mother Nature is responsible for the extermination of all species of life that have ever live, those that still thrive though Darwinism have the ability to thrive in different enviromental parameters, that doesn't mean changing the water isn't better for them, it's more a case that lifeforms have to ability to still thrive in less than ideal conditions.
Some old book quoting four parameters for your tank is IMO of historical value only! Most of what it says is comman sense for for an educated person and is subjective to interpertation
We could look at an old medical book and say great we was thriving and the world was a better eco friendly place! Do we ignore the advances in medicine just because we as humans have become less eco friendly and aware of it !!!!!
I could 'rant' some more but I think you may get my perspective;)
 

akwarium

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[QUOTE="akwarium, post: 575005, member: 4490]

However, I am disgusted by the stupidity of those people that choose to believe that nature will solve all problems as long as we do not intervene. You have to be a naive idiot that basses his knowledge on Disney's Lion King or Bambi to believe that to be true. A few liters of water between 5 sheets of glass will never be "a self sustaining ecosystem". Whatever that may be, because in nature ecosystems are always changing. It is nothing more then a romantic notion, that seems to be trendy...

Successful long term aquariums are based on the principle of controlled nature, natural processes closely monitored and corrected wen necessary. So get off that lazy ass and do a proper water change.
The trend is to change water, not to stop doing them. I don’t like my tap water and my fish have been much better off without the large, unpredictable fluctuations in dissolved solids.

Occasionally I will use rainwater to top up. Local water report now shows a a parameter marked ‘pesticides’. That is what I find disgusting.[/QUOTE]

I don't like tap water in general for aquariums, but there are alternatives. RO units and DI filters are easily available and quite affordable, so we are not restricted to tap water or rain water anymore
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
But is not changing the water inherently bad? If that was the case I would be losing fish, they would be losing colour, slowing in activity, something would be ‘off’. So although aged aquarium water may not be an elixir of health, I would also argue that it certainly isn’t a cesspool of filth either.
That is really the million dollar question, a lot of it is going to depend on the rest of the environment.

Because we can't quantify exactly what makes an aquarium "successful", and what factors stop this happening, we are reliant on best guess based upon the scientific advice that is available, the views of successful aquarium keepers and our own personal experience.

It really is a shades of grey world, there isn't the presence (or absence) of a single factor that makes a tank successful and resilient.

Personally I'm <"pretty sure that water changes help with tank management">, and they are important, but I can't quantify exactly why. It may be to dilute dissolved organic compounds, it might be to be reduce levels of elements that plants don't need, or only need in very small amounts (chlorides, sulphates, sodium etc), it might be to replenish other elements that plants and fish require in small amounts etc.

With rooted & floating plants, dissolved oxygen levels and a substrate its easier to quantify that they are important, because you can find ample scientific evidence to back up your best guess.

cheers Darrel
 

Zeus.

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Most bodies of water where life thrives have a supply of water bringing nutrients in needed for their excistance. If the rains didn't fall in the mountains the silica wouldn't get washed into the oceans and the great diatoms algae blooms wouldn't happen and the O2 which we take for granted in our atmosphere would be at 20%, bit scarcy when you think the algae we find a bit of a nuisance supplies the O2 we need to survive.
Darrel was pointing out in thread about the essential nutrients which plants need, I noted one that I wasn't supplying, but when I checked my local water supplies water report the element was already in the water, quick run though the maths and the levels needed for plant growth and the element was in the correct order of magnitude for the plants. If I didn't do WC esp in high tech tank with high growth the plants would be deficient in that element
Hence the reason most folk using RO /rain water normally cut the mix with tap water.
 

Soilwork

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Most bodies of water where life thrives have a supply of water bringing nutrients in needed for their excistance. If the rains didn't fall in the mountains the silica wouldn't get washed into the oceans and the great diatoms algae blooms wouldn't happen and the O2 which we take for granted in our atmosphere would be at 20%, bit scarcy when you think the algae we find a bit of a nuisance supplies the O2 we need to survive.
Darrel was pointing out in thread about the essential nutrients which plants need, I noted one that I wasn't supplying, but when I checked my local water supplies water report the element was already in the water, quick run though the maths and the levels needed for plant growth and the element was in the correct order of magnitude for the plants. If I didn't do WC esp in high tech tank with high growth the plants would be deficient in that element
Hence the reason most folk using RO /rain water normally cut the mix with tap water.
I do hear this rhetoric an awful lot. But if you analyse the data presented by Tropica on south american biotopes (see below) you will see that the conductivity (where life thrives) is so low that there can’t possibly be much of anything present. Where the the supply is constant or not doesn’t disguise the fact that the levels are actually so low they are often undetectable.

This is why I believe that the amount of nutrients that plants actually require is far far less than we think. You can see how much balansae I pulled out today with a TDS of 230ppm. I don’t see any deficiencies here and they don’t show any sign of slowing down.

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Conort2

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I do hear this rhetoric an awful lot. But if you analyse the data presented by Tropica on south american biotopes (see below) you will see that the conductivity (where life thrives) is so low that there can’t possibly be much of anything present. Where the the supply is constant or not doesn’t disguise the fact that the levels are actually so low they are often undetectable.

This is why I believe that the amount of nutrients that plants actually require is far far less than we think. You can see how much balansae I pulled out today with a TDS of 230ppm. I don’t see any deficiencies here and they don’t show any sign of slowing down.

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View attachment 128457
You have to remember these biotopes will look nothing like our tanks which have numerous plant species all flourishing. They’ll be one or two species probably all tattered and covered in algae. There are very few biotopes in the world which look like our planted aquariums. I can think of bonito in Brazil and crystal springs in Florida but there aren’t too many and even then they will not have the variation seen in our aquarium.

personally I always change water, 50percent each week normally. Regardless whether the aquarium is high tech or not. I never used to change water as I wasn’t even aware you had to back in the day! Most fish bar a select few would survive but not live an extremely long life, few years at most. Now I have nano species living over four years and showing no signs of slowing down and still spawning.

I think the positives out weigh the negatives in regards to water changes, I have never had a fish be stressed due to large water changes but have certainly seen fish stressed in tanks where water isn’t changed and cleanliness is not maintained. However I think it is important to be consistent, if you were for example do a large water change now this would significantly change the parameters in your aquarium. Where as I do this weekly the parameters will remain consistent.

cheers

conor
 

Soilwork

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Thanks for the input so far everyone.

Something that I guess was always inevitable but not my intention is that we seem to be getting too focused on plants which in my opinion as stated ‘are only part of the jigsaw’ and also on water changes (always a contentious area). I was hoping to broaden in to other areas such as equipment like filters and air pumps, how we view microbes, and and the chemicals we use it todays hobby etc.
 

Zeus.

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This is why I believe that the amount of nutrients that plants actually require is far far less than we think. You can see how much balansae I pulled out today with a TDS of 230ppm. I don’t see any deficiencies here and they don’t show any sign of slowing down.
Balansae is a pretty non demanding plant and the water is relatively soft which makes growing plants easier. Darrel doesnt do a WC until is TDS is over 300 (if remember correct!)

Dont get me wrong if it works for great. If I dont put Fe EDDHA in my 500l I soon see Fe deficiency even in my anubius
 
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