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Old 01-31-2007, 08:38 PM   #1
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Plant overstocking like fish overstocking?

I am going to plant my 58 gal tank, have 192W PC lights but will use a 96W light only for low-light plants first. I don't want to use CO2 at beginning and want to have a low-maintenance tank.

My question is, for fish we all know that we don't want to overstock the tank, but how about the plant? Will it be overstock too? My guess is YES. If have lots of plants, it will cause many things delepted, like CO2, NO3, etc. and then I have to dose this and that to keep them sufficient or balanced. This will be a headache for me and I want to avoid this if possible.

Since I don't see any thread talked about it (forgive me if there is an old one I missed), I wish learn from someone before I buy the right amount of low-light plants. Currently in mind is: Anubias, Crypt, Java Fern and moss, etc. The tank has 20 small fish like ottos, platy, guppy, cory cats, tetra, etc. and my expection to the plant is low: just keep alive and grow slowly, no need to fast grow.
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Old 01-31-2007, 09:16 PM   #2
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You are correct, a heavily planted tank will suck up valuable nutrients and you will need to replenish them (there are a number of posts about this, though I cannot recall a specific thread on it).

Low-Light tanks are tricky since the only nutrients that will be available are those occurring naturally. Problem is, you won't know if you are at the maximum load unless you constantly test your levels (or heavens forbid, the plants tell you something is wrong...or the dreaded algae makes an unwanted appearance).

FWIW, it won't do you any harm to keep some nutrients handy just in case. Just like fish, it is a delicate balancing act.

HTH.
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Old 01-31-2007, 10:30 PM   #3
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Thank you, Jchillin.

I don't expect to test out the maximum load. I just wish to learn from someone's experience that a certain number of plants is ok for the tank's current setting. From that initial point, I can buy the number of plants and test them gradually through the time. I wish to be on the safe side, maybe begin from 10 plants first, assume 2 fish waste is sufficient for 1 plant.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:44 AM   #4
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Plants simply do not work that way. 1 plant does not have a "value" of nutrient usage.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:16 AM   #5
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As Hoovercat stated you're not going to find any simple equations like that. There are too many variables that affect a plants growth and a fish's waste.

The size of the plant and how well it grows in a particular aquarium will make a large difference on the amount of nutrients it uses. It is possible to identify which plants are nutrient hogs, which are fairly average in their nutrient uptake, and which ones tend to use very little nutrients. This is relative to other plants however, and while the relationship will stay the same the exact levels for each will change in different tanks.

Feed your fish more and it's going to produce more waste and as your fish grows it will produce more waste. Everyone has slightly different feeding habits and their fish are in slightly different health and size, so again it's going to be difficult to pinpoint a fish's waste output beyond these fish are really messy, those fish are pretty average, and those fish have little affect on the bioload.
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Old 02-01-2007, 11:01 AM   #6
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Well, I know there are many variables and it is impossible to calculate exactly what is the right load. I am a biologist and I know these things. You normally don't calculate all nutrients you or your fish eat everyday but you do know what is sufficient and good based on your or your mother's experience. I just ask experienced person to give me a wide clue. Thanks for your reply.
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
I just ask experienced person to give me a wide clue. Thanks for your reply.
I guess I will give it. I started my tank as a low-maint, low-light tank. The first plants that went into it were some Java ferns (one plant) and a couple of crypts. I then added over time a number of plants and had it pretty well stocked. During this time I was constantly testing my nitrate levels. At some point, the plant load no longer matched the natural bio-load and my nitrates bottomed out and I had no potassium whatsoever.

I did not measure the plant mass at the time sufficient to say, the tank was loaded. The problem I had was that it had remained this way for several weeks without any sign of faltering. What I did not realize at the time was that the plants were adjusting, growing and sucking up more nutrients. The time frame could have started at anytime (ie: The nutrient levels had possibly been matched for quite some time and then an uptick took place and things slid downhill from there).

You can start with 10 low-light plants. You will need to monitor the levels nonetheless.

HTH
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:20 PM   #8
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There is a big non parallel with fish stocking and plant stocking.

You "could" fill your tank to the brim with plants, given enough light, nutrients and CO2 and still have "healthy" water.

Fish on the other hand... not so. You have to have a mechanism to keep up with the waste load, and other than water changes, there really isn't a good one. Not even the best filtration will keep up with an overstocked tank.
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:02 PM   #9
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Jchillin, thanks for your info.

MyCatsDrool, I do think fish and plant are similar from nutrients point of view, or from limited resources in the tank. I believed many people here 'overstock' their tank with many plants due to their preference such as good-looking aquarium, etc. That is also why they need 'high-tech' things to maintain it, and need lots of doses and ferts and tests to keep it running. I agree it is fun for them to do it.

'Overstock' can be done with many fish, including many aquarium fish I believe. In Japan and China, many farmers raise tons of various fish (for human consumption) in small pools or ponds and the fish are as crowded as the feeder fish you can find in lfs. They have developed the ways to maintain the 'overstocked tank' for most of fresh-water human consumption fish and fish grow healthy and fast, just like your plants in your tank. lol.

For me, I like a 'low-tech' easy-care approach. I don't need my fish and plant to grow widely like I was farming them. If my guppy and platy deliver many fry, I can only keep few of them. If the plant grow quickly I have to trim them. So, why should I encourage the growth and overstock the tank? But, this is a personal approach and different people have different preferences.

On the other hand, if I can keep very few plants without adding extra resources, then I have to increase my 'tech' level so that I can keep 'enough' plants I want.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gu2high
I believed many people here 'overstock' their tank with many plants due to their preference such as good-looking aquarium, etc. That is also why they need 'high-tech' things to maintain it, and need lots of doses and ferts and tests to keep it running. I agree it is fun for them to do it.
That is not true. Most of us 'high-tech' people have that setup due to the species of plants we grow and not the amount we grow.

Some plants NEED high light, CO2, and ferts just to grow. Jchillin has a tank full of plants and is not 'high-tech'.
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:22 PM   #11
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gu2high, not all tanks need the fancy gadgetry and high tech equipment. Mine testifies to that. It can be done without it. My tank is as low tech as it can get, no fertz, no co2 just high light (4wpg) and water changes weekly.
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