Fish welfare vs CO2 levels.

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by Mowze, 14 Mar 2010.

  1. Mowze

    Mowze Member

    Hardscape looks awesome and that pogo and rotala is growing incredibly well! I cant wait to see it with the HC grown out, keep plugging away at it that stuff can be a nightmare but once it gets established its hard as nails! I always used to have trouble growing the stuff but once you get the hang of it its an easy plant to grow and looks amazing!

    One issue I have is the whole getting the CO2 just below the "point where fish start gasping" I’m not naming names but reading through this forum it seems a lot of high profile users just use fish as accessories to an aquascape sometimes it get to the point where welfare seems to be sacrificed. Adding fish or inverts even if its just a small cleanup crew when the conditions you are creating are borderline dangerous could result in loss or welfare, prolonged stress or outright death. Also in some other cases people are returning fish to a store to swap for others because "they don’t suit the aquascape" is in my eyes both are a serious breach in animal welfare and is pretty much the same as buying a puppy to match a handbag keeping it zipped up in the handbag and then abandoning it when you get a new handbag... We are after all fishkeepers at the end of the day and we have a duty of care to these animals. If those fish have been gasping on and off over the last few days or weeks no doubt they are under some level stress even if they show normal behaviour at other times I understand you are trying to up the CO2 ppm to reduce the algae and encourage growth and the ottos are also in there to reduce the algae but you are playing with fire, choose either one or the other for the sake of welfare (I’m not saying get rid of the CO2 altogether just reduce it a little.) Also I see you introduced the fish whilst there was still a level of NO2, this should be avoided as even a small level of NO2 can be very toxic and stressful to fish and may cause long term damage. If a level is indicated this usually means that the cycle has not completed and introducing fish could have resulted in a spike with NO2 levels increasing to an even higher and more harmful level.

    Really sorry for being so negative towards you I don’t want to spark an argument in your thread if anyone has an issue with what I am saying please take it to another thread rather than spoil this one.
  2. andyh

    andyh Member

    Re: Paul's 200L, "Punishment of Luxury"

    Mowze, do you not think you comments would have been much better suited elsewhere. Paul has worked very hard to look after his fish and maintain CO2 levels which are not a threat to his fish. I think if you want to make comments like above and as you even you stated you should of created your own thread and opened up the discussion for debate.

    I personally think your comments regarding "high profile users" on this forum is a little harsh as with all aspects in this hobby its all a delicate balance, be it ph, CO2, Salinity, phosphate, gh kh or even temperature its all a balance. A lot of the top guys on UKAPS have been successful fish keepers for many yrs and have many setups.
    As for your comments about returning to shop and swapping surely this is a good thing. If i create a new scape which doesn't suit the fish isn't unfair to keep them in a unsuitable environment? (by the way i don't change my scapes every month) :D

    I think you should start a new thread i am sure it will get some healthy debate. ;)

    Paul, keep up the good work!
  3. Nelson

    Nelson Member

    Re: Paul's 200L, "Punishment of Luxury"

    you've already spoilt it.why don't you delete what you've written and start your own thread with it.
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Leamington Spa, UK.
    I have split the above posts out from the Journals section as I believe this is a topic to be discussed away from someone's specific journal. This is an interesting and possibly heated topic, so play nice everyone or this will end up in the bin!

    Mowze, your post has a slight smell of trollish behaviour and veiled incinuations towards certain "high profile" people are not welcome. If you have specific accusations, discuss them in private with that person and a mod, not in a thinly veiled attack which seems desgined to stir up an argument.

    Again, keep it clean folks.


  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Yes, I agree, I'm on Mowze's side, and I wish those "fish gasper" users would clean up their act, because it's a national disgrace :!: You people know who you are, so I'm not naming names either. :twisted:

    It's unfortunate that the most important requirement of plants is in a form which is a toxic ingredient to either livestock or hobbyists. Witness our only CO2 alternative, Excel/Easycarbo and the controversy regarding health concerns associated with the use of these products. It's not good to have a tank where the fish are constantly gasping, and if this occurs then it usually means that there is a basic weakness in the application. Usually, if the fish are gasping on can trace the weakness to any combination of the following:
    1. Too much light, which drives such a high CO2 and nutrient uptake rate demand in photosynthesis, that it cannot be satisfied by reasonable injection rates. Many people simply assume that they need high light and go way overboard. This is usually the beginning of all the problems. If money is the root of all evil then excessive lighting is the root of all CO2 related problems.
    2. Poor flow, which fails to transport CO2 fast enough to satisfy the photosystem requirement.
    3. Poor distribution, which is cause by inattentiveness to the overall geometry of filter return outlet(s). Stagnation, dead spots and otherwise chaotic flow patterns often results in poor distribution, sometimes even if the flow rate is generally high.

    I'm much less attracted to this argument. A quick of check the yellow pages reveals that this industry is often referred to as the "Ornamental Fish" industry, so returning fish that do not suit an aquascape is a legitimate action. Perhaps the reason I feel this way is that I eat fish, shrimp and snails all the time, but I don't eat puppies. So it's much easier for me to treat fish as playthings. Have you ever tasted Discus? And those native peoples don't have Tesco nearby so I doubt they would be squeamish at the thought of eating a few tetras or chiclids. They are a legitimate source of protein n their native land. Pan fried, with some pepper, onions and wild herbs they are actually quite delicious. In fact I'll take pan fried Discus over greasy breaded Codfish any day - much healthier. Now, you don't have a problem eating Codfish, or Plaice or Jumbo Shrimp do you? Think about how these animals are treated prior to reaching your plate. Do most people even think about it? Why is that OK but returning some tetras to the pet shop immoral? As we work our way up or down the animal kingdom how does our empathy at the animal's suffering change, and what is it a function of, their level of intelligence perhaps?

    Different people have a different take on animal husbandry so one really needs to think about how we as a world view the plants and animals in our environment. I'll agree that collectively we should probably have more respect for plants, animals and the environment, which will help us to manage our ecology (and our survival) more intelligently and with a better sense of purpose, but we need a sense of balance as well. My tanks are run with high levels of CO2, but I pay attention to all the other elements associated with plant husbandry (such as the items listed above) to ensure that the fish don't suffer. In my high CO2 tanks fish breed with regularity so this is an indication that technique can be adjusted to have high growth rates, minimized algal blooms, and great fish health. But it takes time to learn how to accomplish that and I have no doubt that Paul will figure it out because he's a thinking hobbyist and he's all about learning. A few hiccups along the way are inevitable so there's no point being browbeaten over this. He'll sort it out eventually. :thumbup:

  6. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

    newark notts.
    unfortunately Clive, that's many of us I'm afraid. me included. Yourself if I remember rightly? the past?

    even amano has owned up to fish deaths due to high co2 levels.

    of course non of us do it deliberately, but when the advice of so many of us, is to increase co2 levels when we encounter algae problems, is there any wonder were killing our fish?

    balance is the key, and many folk just done get that!

  7. Dave Spencer

    Dave Spencer Member

    N. Wales
    Do you have any specific examples, Mowze?

    Personally, as part of a hobby that has fish scooped out of tropical rivers around the world, only to be put in to glass cages in our living rooms for our own personal pleasure, taking the moral high ground is to stand on ground with very shaky foundations.

  8. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    You also have to consider that different species also have different tolerance levels, I would rather take my fish back to the store than submit them to high levels of CO2 if I noticed them were getting affected by it.

    For example I took my Bosemani Rainbows to the LFS this weekend after I had them for 5 years, they are not very CO2 tolerant and I have been increasing my CO2 lately so rather than them get affected I took them back, also because I want to fill the tank with shrimp and the Bosemani makes a meal of the shrimp.

    Does that make me an irresponsible fish keeper?
  9. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Bexley, Kent
    Fish welfare has popped up before. Some people like to buy fish for a certain scape only to return them some weeks later. Others like to treat them as pets and keep them until they die. As long as the fish are well looked after and transported with care then there shouldn't imho be that much stress involved. Personally I like to keep fish for life as it gives me comfort in knowing that I'm doing my best for them. I've still got many tetras that I've had for nearly 6 years now and they are still going strong.

    Having high CO2 levels is something a lot of us are guilty of. From memory I don't think I've ever killed a fish from high CO2 levels but I have certainly stressed them on the odd occasion. I'm now becoming a firm believer that running high levels of CO2 isn't the best approach to running successful planted tanks. A lot of the advice that I and others give is to increase CO2 to solve algae and growth problems but now think this has to be changed. Running high light and dosing EI is just too demanding on CO2 levels and makes it exceptionally difficult for beginners to run successful tanks. A much better approach is to get people to lower lighting, dosing and CO2, but with all the masses of conflicting information it is going to be difficult. I now run lower light tanks with lean dosing and lower CO2 and without a doubt the fish are a lot happier.

  10. Aeropars

    Aeropars Member


    Have you got any documentation of your current regeim? I'm thinking exactly the same as you and i'm now running lower light but I'd be interested to see others dosing strategies.

    The fish welfare part of this thread is a difficult one. I fully agree that the planted tank hobby has become more about the plants and less about the fish. I'd much rather have a stunning fish enhanced by a stunning planting arrangement than a stunning tank with simple fish.
  11. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    I'd agree that once we've made the decision to keep fish (or even shrimps and snails) their welfare should be the issue of paramount importance. Based upon on the balance of the scientific evidence available this would be one reason for having a very long "cycling" process for a new tank, not adding CO2, having very light stocking, not keeping fish that have the potential to grow large and trying to keep the water as similar to that experienced by the fish in it's native habitat as is possible (usually by choosing to keep species that are suited to your water supply, regular water changes and lots of biological filtration). Personally I wouldn't keep fish without plants (I'll include the algae in this), both as a "thing of beauty", but most importantly as part of the biofiltration. You can always use a refugium or emersed plants, even for the most herbivorous of fish, or those who's native habitat doesn't include higher plants (Cave Tetra, Malawi mbuna, many "blackwater" cichlids).

    None of this is meant to suggest that you can't keep happy healthy fish in other ways - EI, high CO2, high ferts etc., but I am convinced that this approach gives you stability, and by this I mean if things go "wrong", they do so fairly slowly, and this minimises the risks to your livestock.

    cheers Darrel
  12. roadmaster

    roadmaster Member

    United States
    Here in the U.S.,not many fish stores will accept fish from average hobbyist's tanks for they are not prepared to give up tank space for quarantine of these specimens, nor are they inclined to place them with stock offered for sale out of fear of pathogens unknown being introduced to their tanks.
    Personally, I would rather seek out a fellow hobbyist before I gave fish that I cared for to local fish stores where they may or may not be subjected to polluted tanks ,or those ignorant of proper care of fishes which may or may not be the uninformed hobbyist ,or the fish store employees.
    I would rather euthanize the fish than not be certain that their care would be adequate. Don't believe anyone could offer the same level of care that I attempt to provide and could not bear to see the fish suffer in squalid (sp) conditions while awaiting their fate. Just my two cents.
  13. Member

    Kendal, Cumbria
    Wow! I turn my back for a moment and a highly contentious issue surfaces on my Journal and then gets transferred off without me even spotting it!

    You're too kind, Mowze - to start with, at least... :lol:

    Your comment about the HC suggests you haven't read the journal that closely, as I've just pulled nearly all of my HC out and replaced it with Glosso. By the same token, your critical comments about my approach to fishkeeping are, I believe, off-target too, and I'll explain why.

    First, if you look at my posts on UKAPS, you can see that some of my earliest enquiries were not about plants, but about fish welfare. This has always been THE top priority for me. I started a UKAPS thread on the Mamiraua Project, and have said before I'd readily pay significantly more for fish - I believe higher prices would facilitate higher industry standards and encourage new owners to treat their fish with the utmost respect.

    On the fish gasping issue: please don't forget that I've kept a total of sixteen fish in my lifetime - and they're all apparently happy and healthy in my current tank! I bet you can't match that 100% record. I have worked very hard indeed to minimise fish-gasping (it's happened to me no more than three times). Contrary to what you suggest, my fish haven't been gasping on and off for weeks, days or even hours - as soon as I've spotted this problem, I've tried my very best to resolve it. As I learn, I'm able to better manage CO2 - my fish now show no signs of distress whatever, at any stage in the daily CO2 injection cycle.

    I have never killed a fish through neglect or poor husbandry. I've never had a fish in my care contract a disease. Cast your mind back to your early days as a fishkeeper - can you honestly say you never, ever got it wrong? I know I may one day kill or distress a fish, but I'll do my damnedest to ensure that it never happens through neglect or a cavalier attitude to its welfare.

    Despite your claim, I've never introduced a fish into a tank with a discernible level of NO2.

    I've never failed to drip acclimatise a fish.

    I've never failed to use dechlor.

    I've never overstocked a tank.

    I've never introduced an unsuitable mix of fish species into the same tank together.

    I've never kept shoaling fish in inappropriately low numbers.

    I've never housed a fish in too small a tank.

    And I've never taken a fish back to a shop because it didn't match my handbag. 8)

    In fact, I reckon you'd be hard-pressed to find a less appropriate UKAPS target for criticism on fish welfare issues than me!

    And I think the general UKAPS standards of fish husbandry (and just about everything else) are WAY higher than among fishkeepers generally - I simply don't recognise the caricature you present of uncaring fishkeepers on this forum.

    Oh, and thanks UKAPS for the excellent, active moderation - as always you walk a very difficult tightrope with real skill and flair! :clap:
  14. Graeme Edwards

    Graeme Edwards Founder Staff Member

    Wirral/Chester Cheshire.
    :thumbup: Its true. A true contentious fish keeper should follow Paul's efforts for the fish and their welfare.

    Well done Paul. Pat on the back for your hard work and efforts from day one. :clap:
  15. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    The BIG End, South Wales
    I think, like with any post we read there different ways of interpreting things. For example, our favourite Founder Dan often calls people 'Pal.' Down here in the BIG END, South Wales, calling people 'Pal' will likely get you a seriously hard slap followed by a long weekend in hospital :lol: I know however Dan doesn't mean anything by it and that's the way it is.

    "Crank your co2 up and watch the fish" could be taken is many different ways, but I think we're all educated enough to understand the idea is to not harm the fish. And I agree, people here are far more responsible with their fish than many other forums around the web.
  16. Nick16

    Nick16 Member

    Surrey, UK
    hmm im going to be getting some BM's!!
    however, i have an airstone comming on for 15 mins every 2 hours or so and on quite alot suring the night. I also adjust my co2 accordingly.
    if i see my harlequins struggling slightly, i make sure they are more comfortable. I would hope everyone on this forum would do the same.

    'a breach of animal rights' - you really crack me up. so you would rather large amounts die in the stores from ammonia poisoning than the odd one or two from a high co2 level?
    perhaps tackling the source of the problem is better rather than trying to tear a forum apart. Im sure there is another part of the world to save.....
  17. Mowze

    Mowze Member

    I'm sorry, I did not intend to come across as trollish I was a bit tired and in a bit of a ratty mood and actually re-wrote it a few times to avoid being nasty but it seems I failed in that aspect. I probably could have worded what I said a lot better but I'm sure people understand what I am getting at. I'm not directing this at specific people but at a general thing that I have seen from a number of both high and low profile users whilst reading this forum and many other forums and has niggled me for quite a while.

    Its not that the scape doesn’t suit the fish and that the environment created is unsuitable but more from what I have seen the fish themselves not suiting the scape and people wanting more complimentary fish. As somebody who works in an LFS I very often get people asking to return fish because they are aggressive or too large. Very rarely do we actually give out credit or replacements and if we do it is not to the same value as the fish themselves however if somebody was to purchase some fish then ask me if they could return them a few days later because they didn’t suit the scape and no other good reason I would very politely refuse. If you purchase a fish then it is in my eyes a commitment and unless the other criteria inadvertantly filled (aggressive/grown too large) or the customer becomes unable to provide a suitable environment then that commitment should be fulfilled by the new owner of the fish for the duration of its lifespan. It is very stressful to move fish around all the time and especially stressful when fish are being returned for such a trivial reason considering they have probably been re-caught by chasing them around a heavily planted aquarium by somebody who may be inexperienced in catching fish and then returned to a shop very soon after the initial stress of having been sold in the first place. The way I see it this is a pretty irresponsible attitude towards welfare both on the part of the customer and the LFS.

    When it comes to eating a fish that has been raised for eating and keeping a fish yourself or in a shop the same welfare principles and laws apply to fish as they do any other animal. It doesn’t matter what the animal is intended to be used for whilst it is still alive we still have the duty of care to provide that animal with a suitable environment which is stress and disease free for the duration of its lifespan. Fair enough we stress those fish out enough when they are caught or bred in tiny tanks, imported half way across the world in a cold cargo hold then stuffed into an overly stocked tank in an LFS but the point where the fish leaves the shop and is introduced into an aquarium is the point where the stress should stop if these fish are going into the hands of a responsible fish keeper.

    The way I see that you were inadvertently unable to provide a suitable environment for the rainbow due to the high levels of CO2 and short of setting up a second tank from them which requires money and space (something you may not have been able to provide them with.) Returning them to the shop would have been the next best thing you could have done in terms of prolonging their welfare, much better for the fish than keeping them in the tank suffering from CO2 poisoning.

    I'm not bringing up any specific examples as I dont want to single any more people out.

    Not a great deal of the fish you see in LFS these days are wild caught and you could argue that those fish may actually live a longer happier life as they will be provided with a constant supply of food, clean water and an environment free of predators. However I do agree, it is very difficult to take the moral high ground on anything here.

    Laugh all you want, read the The Animal Welfare Act 2006, we have a duty of care to these animals whether you like it or not, just because they aren’t fluffy cuddly puppies and kittens does not mean they do not deserve an equal level of welfare

    Ammonia poisoning? What ammonia poisoning? You don’t think all those fish you see swimming around in stores are actually swimming around in their own waste do you? Massive filter systems and big water changes are there for a reason...

    I am sorry for singling you out, I was way too harsh and really shouldn’t have posted that in your thread. I’m not sure what got into me when I posted that as I said I was very tired and grouchy and after dealing with some particularly bad customers at work then spending a long evening reading various planted forums everything bad in the world of fish keeping must have melted into one and after misreading a few of the things you had said turned itself into a bit of a rant.
    Once again I’m sorry I posted it in your thread, I wanted to delete it but couldn’t find the option to do so although I’m glad it has been moved instead because this might lead to some interesting discussions.
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Leamington Spa, UK.
    It's definitely an interesting discussion, and I think it's good to have it every now and then, to hopefully make newcommers to the hobby perhaps think about what they are doing :) As has been mentioned already, many of us here have come from fish keeping backgrounds but I suspect as aquascaping becomes more popular more and more inexperienced fish keepers will enter the hobby.

    It is often said in this part of the aquatics hobby that you need to learn how to grow plants before you are able to create an aesthetically pleasing aquascape. I think a prefix to this statement would be that you should know how to care for the fish and other fauna that you intend to keep, before even thinking about plants.

    Keeping the non-fish life forms that we often keep such as shrimp and certain types of snails can prove a challenge when an outbreak of disease hits us. How do you treat whitespot without using treatments that will also kill off your invertibrates? Experience and knowledge are the only way we can overcome these challenges.

    I would also find it interesting to know how other aquarists got into the hobby in the first place. I suspect many were like myself. I thought having a fish tank would be relaxing. Watching fish swimming about would be fantastic. It's true, and it was. Until my fish died. Of course, I had been sold more fish then my nice new fish tank could support. I had used some magic potion to make cycle my filter, which of course didn't work. I was then thrown into the world of forums and conflicting advice, fish diseases and treatments. After this steep learning curve I was able to keep fish healthy and happy.

    As I say, I suspect this is a similar story for many of us. If this is the case, we are all responsible for inhumane treatment of fish during our first foot steps into the hobby. I think that newcommers now may have too much to take in initially. Learning to keep fish healthy whilst also trying to keep plants healthy might be a step too far. I would personally advise newcommers to the hobby to learn how to keep fish, and then how to keep plants.
  19. Member

    Kendal, Cumbria
    Well you certainly seem to be taking a more measured position now, Mowze, and I'm happy you recognise it probably wasn't fair to single me out.

    Yours wasn't a nickname I recognised, so I looked at your other posts - none of us likes criticism if it feels unjust, so I wanted to know more about you.

    I see you are into fish breeding. I also see that with numerous Apisto spawnings, you've not been able to keep fry alive longer than ten days or so. I wonder - how many of these small fish have died in your care? How do you justify continuing to raise - and then failing to keep alive - so many fish? Remember, I've never had a single fish die in my care, and I've certainly never bought or raised a fish I didn't have great confidence I could care for throughout its full lifetime.

    You might think this post slightly mischievous, and maybe it is - but only slightly so. If you're going to be critical of others, those you criticise are entitled to understand how that criticism fits with your own successes - and failures.
  20. Mowze

    Mowze Member

    I'm going to be honest and probably say around 100 or so but if you compare that to many species with even higher fecundity and more regular breeding cycles that number is nothing even when the parents are highly sucsessful at raising fry and the PERFECT environment is provided there will always be losses usually much greater than mine.
    The parents are living very full and happy lives, if anything the male is the king of my tank and I have more than confidence that I can care for it throughout its lifetime.
    On the other hand spawning have not been very successful (in fact they haven’t spawned since Christmas now!) I put this down mostly to the experience of the parent fish more than anything else and in Apistogramma as well as many other species of fish this is more than common especially with some of the harder more uncommon species (hence their rarity.) If you provide the exact water parameters, environment and feeds to induce a spawning then there is not much else you can do towards the success of the spawn and the parents raising of the fry then sit back and let them do their thing. If the parents decide to eat a brood after 10 days then so be it, an optimal environment has been provided and there has been no compromise in welfare many species learn to raise successful broods through trial and error, I could put them into an empty breeding aquarium with absolutely no distractions furnished with nothing but a flowerpot like most of the commercial breeders to increase the survival rate of fry but this would however sacrifice the welfare of the parent fish in comparison to the life they have now and I keep them because I love them not for the purpose of breeding stock. The fact that they spawn is just an added bonus to keeping these beautiful fish and ONE day they will have a little more success!
    Before anyone else goes over my posts and calls me out over the fact that I do have 5 Steatocranus tinanti in with them which are potential fry eating fish they have now been moved to the recently re-scaped aquarium sump below the main tank.

    But as you said you have only kept a few! ;)

    Neither have I... Or at least since I was a kid with my goldfish in a bowl (something I would never dream of now!) Not only do I only keep fish that I am certain I am capable of providing its optimal requirements for the duration of its lifetime but I WILL always refuse sale to any customers who are also unable to provide those requirements for their purchaces be it incompatability with current stocking, unsuitiable water quality, unsuitiable size aquarium and various other things which may effect their welfare, if its not going to be perfect they cant have it.

    Nahh I think after I called you out its only fair you can do the same! ;)

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