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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hungry Filters Bad for Baby Fish

In the aquarium hobby, filters play a vital role in maintaining water quality. There are so many different types of aquarium filters to chose from. Many of them will make the water crystal clear so that you can enjoy the view of your aquarium. But the thing I want to talk about here is, "Are filters always a good thing? Do they have a dark side?".

Well, keeping fish for many years now, I have tried many different kind of filters. I have made my own DIY filters which did an excellent job. But this all changed when I had got a lot more tanks for breeding purpose. I found myself in a situation where I could not setup filters in all my aquariums. So I just got some air pump, tubes and threw in simple air stones in each of those tanks and stuck with the basic bi or tri weekly water changes. During water changes, I did not much care about the dirt at the bottom. I just used a mug to remove the bad water from the top and then added fresh water. I wasn't really looking for beauty as those were breeding tanks and raising tanks.

Well Fed Fry
I notied that the fish were more active in this type of a setup as compared to a filtered setup. They were more energitic and hungry most of the time. There was a recent bunch of fry that broke free in this simple filterless setup and started to grow faster than ever and the mortality rate dropped to about 5%. I took a closer look to find that the fry had their bellies full most of the time. (I used to powderize the pellets in the blender just for the fry). I notied that they were searching for food in the dirt that was lying at the bottom. Now I have read many places that there are lots and lots of fine critters and bacteria that reside in the dirt. (Note:- There was no substrate or gravel. The fish had full acess to everything in the tanks.) These fry were feasting on them and growing faster. I also believe that when the powder food settles at the bottom and the fish eat it, they consume a bit of the dirt too which ats as a pro biotic that helps with digestion.

Another thing to highligt here is Snails. I have got a lot of apple snails and always introduce a few to each tank to eat the left overs. I believe snails play a great role in improving water quality when kept in the right amount in an aquarium. Fish fry tend to benefit a lot from snails.

When I do water changes, I leave the dirt at the bottom and only siphon out the water from the top area. I know that this is the opposite to what most fish keepers do, but  I believe there is a lot of beneficial stuff present in the dirt to let go of. As a compensation for leaving the dirt intact, I do heavier water changes.

So, the whole thing here is dirt and simplicity. Fry love to dig into mess for food as compared to a filter induced barren desert, where food is only provided at a specific time. Fry need to have food 24/7 for best growth. They also appreciate aeration. So in short, if you are raising fry, avoid any type of filter, do water changes leaving the bottom dirt, feed powdered food and watch them grow. I even have a discus baby that growing rapidly in this setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)