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Thoughts on (mostly) self sustaining aquarium

JuiceBox52

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How realistic is the thought of having a mostly self sustaining aquarium in a 55g?
Heavily planted and cycled and then adding shrimp and daphnia and others and letting them get established and breeding and then adding a school of otocinclus and rummynose tetras? The idea would be to have to do less frequent water changes and that they would feed on the lower parts of the food chain.
 

Colin_T

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Shrimp will eat Daphnia too and sometimes the fish eat all the Daphnia.
Daphnia generally does better in cool water but some strains can live in tropical tanks for a while.
Daphnia will probably starve in an aquarium unless you add some food for them.

Yes you can keep a few fish in a well planted tank and not feed them, and reduce the water changes. But the fish usually suffer from malnutrition. Feeding the fish something in addition to the Daphnia will help reduce the chance of malnutrition.

A drawback to infrequent water changes is the pH can drop over time and when you do a big water change, the pH can change rapidly and cause acidosis or alkalosis in the aquarium inhabitants. This can kill the fish, shrimp and Daphnia.
 

vanalisa

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How realistic is the thought of having a mostly self sustaining aquarium in a 55g?
Heavily planted and cycled and then adding shrimp and daphnia and others and letting them get established and breeding and then adding a school of otocinclus and rummynose tetras? The idea would be to have to do less frequent water changes and that they would feed on the lower parts of the food chain.
Any reason you asked about a 55g?
Would it be the same, say in a 10g.
Just curious if it is the size of tank or just the idea that poses a potential problem.?
 

AbbeysDad

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We just can't really automate/simulate nature within the confines of a small glass box. UNLESS we were to use automated water changes, auto-feeders for the fish, auto-dosing for the plants....but we'd still need to service the filters.
Many hobbyists seem to seek the low/no maintenance aquarium. And with a heavily planted tank and very few fish, one could come close...but servicing is still required.
And @Colin_T is correct, the daphnia would likely be consumed quickly and/or crash for lack of nutrients and high temperatures.
 

PheonixKingZ

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IMO I think your tank will eventually crash/fail. There is so much you need to do to your tank to keep it running. There is no 100% self sustaining tank IMO.
 

Retired Viking

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I read several articles where people were attempting this with larger heavily planted tanks 55 gallon + and just a few small fish like 5-10 at most. It sounded cool but was not completely self-contained. There were water exchange but over a much longer time.
 

Byron

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I read an article on this very topic a few years back (don't ask, I cannot remember where). The conclusion reached by the writer was that you could have a basically self-sustaining aquarium (though they did allow for feeding the fish because it is impossible to provide adequate nourishment without using prepared foods, no matter the number of "live" critters, it just is not nature as AbbeysDad points out) without water changes. But, it would be a 55 gallon tank, heavily planted, with a group of six black neon tetras as the absolute maximum fish load. Any additional fish and water changes would be necessary to provide a balanced healthy environment.

That is why it cannot work. Most of us want more than six 1-inch fish in a 4-foot 55g tank. And it all goes back to understanding the physiology of fish, and natural processes that we simply cannot control.
 
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