The aquascaping hobby vs loving nature

jsiegmund

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Maybe it's just me, I don't know... But I seem to be in constant struggle with myself over having an aquarium. On the one side, there's the joy of having a cool hobby and the great feeling that setting up a nicely functioning tank will bring. It feels powerful being able to control a little piece of nature inside of a glass box, and likewise you feel powerless when algae take over and nature strikes back ;) On the other side, I truly respect nature and see how our world these days is not doing that great because of us.

And so I try to do my part; I live in a newly built house with heat pump, solar panels, awesome isolation and no gas. Last year our solar set-up produced way more power than we needed so that's all nice and "green". I try to reduce waste, recycle stuff and care for nature in a general sense.

So let's cut to the chase: having an aquarium might be a piece of nature, its not natural. Apart from all of the materials that you need, you're also importing plants and fish from all over the world (sort of speak) and all tanks use at least some water and power.

Now I know that a lot of you maybe not care (as much) as I do, that's ok. But if we truly love nature, it's my personal opinion that you should at least care a little bit. So this thread is for those who do care and want to share it. Maybe we can inspire others to also think about ways to combine a great hobby with the respect that nature deserves, and give back a little!


Here's some tips from myself that I try to follow:
  • I've got a small tank (55liter) to begin with (and only one). Granted this is also due to time available, but it was a conscious choice not to go too big. Bigger tanks obviously require more water and power.
  • The water I take out during water changes I try to recycle. During the summer by watering the garden and in winter time at least the indoor plants. This is a great tip by the way, as you probably still have some nutrients in the water that your other plants can benefit from as well.
  • Same for RO; I do use RO water for my tank, but the waste water I collect and use for other purposes whenever I can. Simply matter of sticking the hose in a jerry can.
  • For plants / trimmings; don't flush them! There's problems where species from other parts of the worlds end up in the wild and take over everything because there are no natural enemies here.
  • For livestock you might also want to find out where your LFS imports them from and how they're caught. Otos for instance are in some cases caught in large numbers, of which a lot die during their travel. So it's better to get them locally bred.

Really curious to find out if there are other like minded folks out there who might also have some stories, tips or other things to share. Thanks!
 
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I agree entirely with your thoughts. I recently visited South Africa where there is a real water shortage (like they will actually be running out of water, not there are a load of people wingeing about a possible hose pipe ban that never happened) and observed first hand what can truly be done to save, capture and reuse water. I showered with a bucket and this was used to flush the loo plus clean the bathroom for example. Water from cooking used on the garden. Tax was put up for people using too many litres per day. Sheets were not washed everyday etc etc....

The things that 'get me' are different to yours though...
The power requirements of a tank heated to tropical temperatures and with sufficient lighting to grow plants. This something I'm constantly trying to optimise and reduce...
The other is the feeling I'm keeping large fish in a small cage. I have a 100cm tank and anything over 6cm to me looks wrong in the tank, like it doesn't have enough space to explore etc etc. I much prefer smaller species, 4 cm and less, one or two feature fish maybe a tad bigger but that's it.

I don't use RO, sticking to what fish suit my local water conditions, and I compost my plant trimmings...

Not sure I'm helping people feel good about their hobby here...
 

Onoma1

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I think this is a really important thread Jsiegmund. On a personal basis this is an issue that I have been concerned about for a while. My attempts to sooth my conscience while enjoying the hobby are as follows:

I can accept transporting plants from within Europe (they are low weight and bulk), however, not flying them in from around the world.

Only using Co2 from fire extinguishers. One of my concerns is that of given climate change it seems hypocritical/ criminal to buy co2 and then vent most of it into the atmosphere (via the tank). My compromise is to buy a waste product and use them (fire extinguishers). I was told that when they are returned out of date they are just vented. I am, however, slowly edging toward's Matt@easyscape's approach on co2.

I think I do, however, need to add another one: only buy fish that have been bred in the UK and keep one's that could possibly breed (like Matt I only keep small ones).

I add waste water to the garden in the summer. Given I live in North Manchester (the damp atmosphere and amount of rain we have up here) I don't feel too guilty about using water during the winter and use it for my indoor plants (which thrive on the ferts left in the water). I do, however, think EI the approach of over dosing ferts and then throwing them away could and should be revised. We should be able to do better.
 

Onoma1

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feel good about their hobby..... interesting choice of words..
If you have a cognitive dissonance between your beliefs/ facts (a causal link between co2 omissions and climate change) and your actions (venting of 2kg of co2 into the air every couple of months via an aquarium for an optional luxury) then this can cause tension and diminishes your enjoyment of the luxury. Different people deal with this in different ways...plant trees, suppress or rationalise (my benefit or need outweighs the community/ socital need) or explain through social norms (we are all doing it).

I think the thread and Matt are suggesting an alternative aproach which is worth discussion and could help decrease dissonance and thus increase enjoyment.
 

Onoma1

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@Onoma1 Psych grad or undergrad by any chance?

Not being rude. Just interested to know if there’s another psychologist on the forum.
My partner is a psychologist.

I am trying not to bring any baggage to the forum as I realise that I am full of the excitement of stringing sentences together in Aquascaping terms, whilst most people on this forum are postgrad researchers. I am here to listen, learn and occasionally I stumble upon 'wicked questions'.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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As for the environment...

Quit or reduce milk intake. Diary uses a vast amount of resources. Will probably offset a good chunk of the carbon footprint involved with an aquarium setup as diary intake is potentially ongoing.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I agree with the other posters, you can reduce your environmental footprint, or at least think about what you are doing in terms of its environmental impact, the same approach as @Onoma1. I'm not a CO2 user, I use rain-water in the tanks and we have solar panels that are a net exporter of electricity to the grid, but this is all really froth.

I keep aquariums (and house-plants and a garden) because I like plants and fish, and a cat because I like having a cat. You could make a strong argument that these are activities aren't justifiable on a planet where we are squandering our natural resources at an unprecendented rate.

cheers Darrel
 

Fiske

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Although I agree with the sentiment, and a lot of the posts; my take is that a couple of kgs of co2 over a couple of months is negligible compared to other things.
Recycle as much of your waste as you possibly can, reduce your meat and dairy intake, use public transport as often as possible, reuse your waste water, avoid supporting unsustainably farmed soy and palm oil (good luck with that! ), support local sustainable businesses as much as possible, don't get a new car every other year, use your mobile phone, tv, computer etc. until it breaks; then make sure it gets recycled properly, avoid air travel, avoid importing from the far side of the earth if a local product is just as good, but a few quid more expensive... I could go on for a few days, but you get the picture. Now take your wood bicycle and have a nice ride into the countryside, find a nice hilltop. See all the farms around you? Those, and the ones next to them probably use more fertilizers than the worlds combined EI users, and enough antibiotics to cure a small 3rd world country. Those are the things I'd worry about before my monthly kg of CO2, since I dont jog I guess it evens out. Do I do all of the above things? Some, yup, others, nyet. No saint here.
Edvet mentioned projectpiaba.org, local environmental groups and the like, that's what can use our support. Oh, and getting our lazy corrupt politicians of their fat ...es and start reacting to what could very well end up being the biggest environmental collapse since the dinosaurs went ka-blooey.
That means making demands towards big oil, big industry and big farming, and waving goodbye to growth capitalism.

Vegan hippies homesteading in off-grid straw huts ain't going to cut it.
 

Tim Harrison

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Crikey guys this is a bit of a depressing angle on the hobby. It's not as if any of us are clubbing seal pubs to death with the dismembered limbs of orphan children, in fact quite the contrary, and in many respects it's a bit like preaching to the converted.
I must admit that when I first started back with the hobby, after a lifetime of doing things the low-energy way, I found the obvious contradiction of Takashi Amano's high-energy Nature Aquarium philosophy to be somewhat confusing, but then I got over myself.

Unless you're Arne Næss and wash in cold water like the Dirty Dozen your environmental footprint is going to be huge anyway, especially if you have a lawn and/or children. Sure resources are finite and at some point if we carry on regardless we're going to run out of planet, but have faith in technology, and rest assured that the environmental impact of keeping a planted tank is negligible in the grander scheme of things. In fact, the environmental benefits probably outweigh the disadvantages for a whole load of obvious and freakonomic reasons, not least helping us to understand and respect nature, and improving our health and wellbeing in a world gone mad.

Planted tanks are a good thing, so please be at peace with yourselves and enjoy the hobby...:)
 

Onoma1

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...It's not as if any of us are clubbing seal pubs to death with the dismembered limbs of orphan children,...
Phew Tim the rumors about you aren't true then! So chilled on the forum but he has a dark side :p

More seriously I think no one is saying don't enjoy the hobby or are trying to preach to the converted. Just discuss interesting ideas. I also agree of the hobby's benefits in "improving our health and wellbeing in a world gone mad."

I read this thread aa one which rather than being intended as a depressing topic was constructive and throwing out ideas in a positive and open way. There seem to be lots of them already being asked on the forum:

Does the approach of adding co2 into containers in tank to be absorbed slowly lead to more efficient use of Co2?

Could we find a way of measuring fertilizers to ensure more absorbtion and fewer water changes?

Can we have an an alternative type of substrate to aquasoil?

For me a negative answer to these sorts of questions is as important as a positive one.

I just follow the dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living or to rephrase this in the era of climate change if we don't examine our lives and change them they won't be worth living.

I don't think that we all need to be "Vegan hippies homesteading in off-grid straw huts" as Fiske put it. If, however, we could make micro changes to our individual actions then collectively this can make an impact. For some this will be becoming vegan, others are using public transport more often. Others debate how they can reduce the co2 emissions related to their hobby :). Each to their own. We should all have the right to make personal choices without being judged by others. I don't particularly like straw as a building material but if you want to go for it then I will watch and learn.

I agree that technology has to be the a significant element of the solution. I do think in the era of Trump, Putin and the mess of UK politics younger people are losing faith in politicians being able/ willing to make the necessary changes. If you are reading this from the Netherlands or almost anywhere in Europe then be aware that in the UK many of the things you treat as common place and comon sense are unusual here. The young seem to be reacting to this by taking direct action and making changes to their lifestyles.
 

akwarium

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If you have a cognitive dissonance between your beliefs/ facts (a causal link between co2 omissions and climate change) and your actions (venting of 2kg of co2 into the air every couple of months via an aquarium for an optional luxury) then this can cause tension and diminishes your enjoyment of the luxury. Different people deal with this in different ways...plant trees, suppress or rationalise (my benefit or need outweighs the community/ socital need) or explain through social norms (we are all doing it).

I think the thread and Matt are suggesting an alternative aproach which is worth discussion and could help decrease dissonance and thus increase enjoyment.

I do not believe in climate change, for the same reason that I do not believe that the earth is round, or water is wet. Facts do not require anyone to believe in them.
Feeling good, or bad, about something is on the other hand only based on believes, it's about morality. Besides all the positives things that come with morality, the downside is that those moral believes of ours make us easily overlook the facts. ( or even deny them)

Your anti-CO2-emission-ideas, make you overlook the very obvious fact that venting CO2 trough your aquarium does not produce any CO2. Depending on the source it is only reentering the atmosphere or entering the atmosphere with a delay. So unless you want to fight global warming by putting CO2 in canisters and leaf it there for eternity, it does not make any difference at all.

Of course it took some energy to get it in that canister and get it home etc, but in relation to climate change it does not matter how we use energy it only matters how we produce that energy. The problem is caused by us using the wrong sources of energy: coal, oil and gas. Those release the carbon that has been safely stored for millions of years, and we really should stop using fossil energy sources.
 

Fiske

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I don't think that we all need to be "Vegan hippies homesteading in off-grid straw huts" as Fiske put it. If, however, we could make micro changes to our individual actions then collectively this can make an impact.
That was kind of my point. Change must be systemwide.

As for nuclear energy, IMHO, just no. For a whole slew of reasons, one of the foremost being: Do we even have fuel enough for the amount of reactors we need to go on as we do now? Lots of other reasons too, btw

Reminds me of a science fiction short I read from one of the big names. Clarke? Bradbury? Can't remember... Anyway, someone asked a bunch of scientists to calculate how big/how many reactors was needed to cover humanitys need for energy for the future. After a while they come up with an answer: One, says the lead scientist, and points to the sun.

Your anti-CO2-emission-ideas, make you overlook the very obvious fact that venting CO2 trough your aquarium does not produce any CO2. Depending on the source it is only reentering the atmosphere or entering the atmosphere with a delay. So unless you want to fight global warming by putting CO2 in canisters and leaf it there for eternity, it does not make any difference at all.

Of course it took some energy to get it in that canister and get it home etc, but in relation to climate change it does not matter how we use energy it only matters how we produce that energy. The problem is caused by us using the wrong sources of energy: coal, oil and gas. Those release the carbon that has been safely stored for millions of years, and we really should stop using fossil energy sources.

I'm fairly certain that the pressurized, bottled CO2 isn't athmospheric. Probably a byproduct from producing ammonia from natural gas, in fact. So there's that.
 
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