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View Full Version : Most ammonia tolerant fish species? Or species for unfiltered tanks?



Finley
02-20-2010, 1:42 AM
Hi

I am not usually a fan of unfiltered tanks, but as long as they are a reasonable size, planted, and have good light, it seems that they can work quite well...

Which fish species have you been able to keep healthy, long-term, in an unfiltered tank?

e.g. I have a pair of Gardneri Killifish which have done fine for the past 1.5yrs.

Thanks :)

Jakezori
02-20-2010, 1:44 AM
All tanks are "filtered" one way or the other. The nitrates/nitrites find there home on something in the tank, but filter media is the best. I would highly discourage no filtration.

VerdantGreen
02-20-2010, 1:49 AM
:iagree:

jpappy789
02-20-2010, 1:49 AM
It depends heavily on the plant density, tank size, water change regiment, etc. It wont work by just throwing any "hardy" fish into any tank and have them live for a specified period of time...not only that but one could argue that they're never going to thrive, just survive.

Anyways as for ammonia tolerance...I personally don't think it should ever come down to it, but my zebra danios pretty much lived through every mistake I made.

jpappy789
02-20-2010, 1:50 AM
All tanks are "filtered" one way or the other. The nitrates/nitrites find there home on something in the tank, but filter media is the best. I would highly discourage no filtration.

I assume you are referring to the actual bacteria since nitrite and nitrate are not living :grinyes:

Jakezori
02-20-2010, 1:52 AM
yeah, the bacteria. Sorry. :hitting:

Chrisk-K
02-20-2010, 2:47 AM
Why do you not want to have a filter?

NegativeLogic
02-20-2010, 5:12 AM
The only way I would conceive of an "unfiltered" tank being succesful is if the natural filtration (ie: plants) was high enough, and the bioload low enough that there was no detectable ammonia. In other words a balanced ecosystem (aka: The Walstad Method).

Any level of ammonia can cause gill damage.

Michwol42795
02-20-2010, 10:21 AM
I would recommend a filter unless you're willing to do large daily water changes and/or extremely low bioload with plenty of plants.

platytudes
02-20-2010, 11:37 AM
A mudskipper tank maybe?

Jakezori
02-20-2010, 11:46 AM
long story short... filter your aquarium

jpappy789
02-20-2010, 1:48 PM
A mudskipper tank maybe?

I would still think a small internal filter could/should be used.

onebyone
02-20-2010, 5:01 PM
I have a 10gal with loads of plants and just a few small fish, and the filter was accidentally off for an entire week and no ammonia ever appeared (all fish were fine). I think as long as you have more than enough plants to take up fish waste you shouldn't have a problem. Try to find nutrient hoarding plants like hornwort (others definitely will have better plant suggestions) and I don't see why you couldn't run a successful filterless tank.

jbradt
02-20-2010, 5:26 PM
I have a 10gal with loads of plants and just a few small fish, and the filter was accidentally off for an entire week and no ammonia ever appeared (all fish were fine). I think as long as you have more than enough plants to take up fish waste you shouldn't have a problem. Try to find nutrient hoarding plants like hornwort (others definitely will have better plant suggestions) and I don't see why you couldn't run a successful filterless tank.

This depends on how you describe successful. For me, a successful tank is one where the inhabitants thrive and I get to mostly sit back and enjoy it. Without a filter, the demand for water changes and my personal worry about the instability of the thing would take away lots of the enjoyment part.

jpappy789
02-20-2010, 5:29 PM
:iagree:

jm1212
02-20-2010, 6:12 PM
i dont think ive ever had an unfiltered tank.

froglover007
02-20-2010, 6:38 PM
You should still cycle a mudskipper tank and filters can and should be used. My Indian mudskippers are awsome and I would never even consider sticking them in an unfiltered tank.

blue2fyre
02-20-2010, 6:53 PM
I have 1 unfiltered tank. It's a small "betta tank" that I have filled with some sand, and some plant clippings. Some snails hitchhiked into it as well and seem to be doing well. It's sitting on my windowsill so it gets the sunlight. I pretty much leave it alone and things grow well. But it is a very VERY boring tank.

Turbosaurus
02-20-2010, 7:29 PM
let me get thie striaght...

You just asked us which species of fish can survive the most torture?

Which species can I burn off their gills, slowly suffocating them, and causing their organs to fail, infections to set in, fins rot off- with ammonia- which one will survive this the longest? that's your question?

FISH CAN NOT LIVE IN A TANK WITH AMMONIA. IT BURNS OFF THEIR GILLS AND THEIR SLIME COAT AND IT MAKES THEM SICK AND SUCEPTABLE TO DISEASE AND INFECTION.

You might as well ask which Dog can I beat the hardest before it dies? What type of rabbit can starve the longest without dying?

Now if you want to know if its possible to keep a fish in a tank with enough plants if you will be devoted to enough water changes with a really really really light bioload- so much so that there won't be detectable ammonia in the tank- then ask that and we might be able to help you.

jbradt
02-20-2010, 7:36 PM
let me get thie striaght...

You just asked us which species of fish can survive the most torture?

Which species can I burn off their gills, slowly suffocating them, and causing their organs to fail, infections to set in, fins rot off- with ammonia- which one will survive this the longest? that's your question?

FISH CAN NOT LIVE IN A TANK WITH AMMONIA. IT BURNS OFF THEIR GILLS AND THEIR SLIME COAT AND IT MAKES THEM SICK AND SUCEPTABLE TO DISEASE AND INFECTION.

You might as well ask which Dog can I beat the hardest before it dies? What type of rabbit can starve the longest without dying?

Now if you want to know if its possible to keep a fish in a tank with enough plants if you will be devoted to enough water changes with a really really really light bioload- so much so that there won't be detectable ammonia in the tank- then ask that and we might be able to help you.

:y220e::y220e::y220e::y220e::y220e:

Well said.

Finley
02-20-2010, 8:35 PM
"Now if you want to know if its possible to keep a fish in a tank with enough plants if you will be devoted to enough water changes with a really really really light bioload- so much so that there won't be detectable ammonia in the tank- then ask that and we might be able to help you."

Look Brontosaurus and Jbratt, that IS what I asked. READ. And beating dogs?! Oh boyza, get a grip.

I made it very clear - by, um, saying so - that I am not a fan of unfiltered tanks. I made it very clear that such a setup would need to be planted and have good light, etc etc. Fear not, I have been keeping fish for 25 years. I am very, very well versed. So settle already kids, and either answer the question helpfully or please step away from your keyboard and go make a nice calming cup of Chamomile tea.

The reality is that some fish are better than others at adapting to imperfect environments, such as seeding a tank and getting by while it stabilizes. e.g. the Gardneri, which in nature often find themselves in small puddles - tiny bodies of water - have adapted to breeding there despite a bit of ammonia and massive daily temperature swings. Other fish could not handle this for a single day.

It's those hardier freshwater fish that I'm curious about. Which species would be on that 'resilient' list?

Thanks, helpful people :rolleyes:

Michwol42795
02-21-2010, 9:14 AM
let me get thie striaght...

You just asked us which species of fish can survive the most torture?

Which species can I burn off their gills, slowly suffocating them, and causing their organs to fail, infections to set in, fins rot off- with ammonia- which one will survive this the longest? that's your question?

FISH CAN NOT LIVE IN A TANK WITH AMMONIA. IT BURNS OFF THEIR GILLS AND THEIR SLIME COAT AND IT MAKES THEM SICK AND SUCEPTABLE TO DISEASE AND INFECTION.

You might as well ask which Dog can I beat the hardest before it dies? What type of rabbit can starve the longest without dying? Although I do not think that just because a fish CAN live in bad conditions that it SHOULD live in bad conditions. I would still work to keep ammonia/nitrite at 0 and keep everything stable. It's better for the fish not just to survive, but thrive in their tank.

Now if you want to know if its possible to keep a fish in a tank with enough plants if you will be devoted to enough water changes with a really really really light bioload- so much so that there won't be detectable ammonia in the tank- then ask that and we might be able to help you.

Calm down, he DID say it was going to be planted. Plus, if you're willing to do large water changes daily ammonias not going to get out of control, I've done it before with no problems. (25% daily) Although I do not think that just because a fish can live in bad conditions that it should live in those conditions. It's better if the fish thrives in the tank as opposed to surviving. I would still work to keep everything stable with ammonia/nitrite at 0.

WeedCali
02-21-2010, 1:10 PM
what size tank would this be? you couldnt even use something small like a red sea nano? sponge/corner filter?

Jakezori
02-21-2010, 5:42 PM
"Now if you want to know if its possible to keep a fish in a tank with enough plants if you will be devoted to enough water changes with a really really really light bioload- so much so that there won't be detectable ammonia in the tank- then ask that and we might be able to help you."

Look Brontosaurus and Jbratt, that IS what I asked. READ. And beating dogs?! Oh boyza, get a grip.

I made it very clear - by, um, saying so - that I am not a fan of unfiltered tanks. I made it very clear that such a setup would need to be planted and have good light, etc etc. Fear not, I have been keeping fish for 25 years. I am very, very well versed. So settle already kids, and either answer the question helpfully or please step away from your keyboard and go make a nice calming cup of Chamomile tea.

The reality is that some fish are better than others at adapting to imperfect environments, such as seeding a tank and getting by while it stabilizes. e.g. the Gardneri, which in nature often find themselves in small puddles - tiny bodies of water - have adapted to breeding there despite a bit of ammonia and massive daily temperature swings. Other fish could not handle this for a single day.

It's those hardier freshwater fish that I'm curious about. Which species would be on that 'resilient' list?

Thanks, helpful people :rolleyes:

First of all, take your own advice "make a nice calming cup of Chamomile tea."

Secondly, I don't doubt your fish keeping ability and I'm sure most other won't either. The simple fact is, you should use a filter and it makes no sense not to. If you don't use a filter the biology of the tank will never be correct, you will have to spend more time checking the water and doing more water changes, and you will ultimately make your fish unhappier. If you feel like spending more time and money and having your fish not be as happy then by all means don't get a filter. That being said...

In terms of the most hardy fish, zebra danios win hands down.

GL :thm::thm:

platytudes
02-21-2010, 10:38 PM
I guess it's hard for people to understand because there are filters for even the smallest tanks, so when you say "unfiltered tank" people think of betta bowls and the like, which are indeed torture chambers. More flower vases than aquariums.

It's so much more common for people to ask the kind of question Turbosaurus thought you were asking than the kind of question that you are actually asking (which remember was "Which kinds of FW fish have YOU kept in unfiltered tanks successfully?")

Most people think if you want an unfiltered tank, it's because you're too cheap to buy a filter - and being too cheap to buy a filter is indeed despicable! The same way that some people don't want to buy a heater so they get goldfish, even though goldfish are so much harder to keep than small tropical fish.

So my question to you, Finley, is what everyone is probably wondering here - why NOT a filter? Most of us can't imagine running a tank without a filter.

As one of our members said, a betta tank can be unfiltered...but it's boring. Likewise, I know many killi keepers keep them in unfiltered tanks the size of a shoebox. I can see a paradisefish working in an unfiltered 15 long or so. And probably a shrimp and Briggs snail tank could probably easily be unfiltered, too.

What sized tank are you thinking about? What kind of plants will you be using?

Jayhawk
02-21-2010, 10:48 PM
When I started in the hobby in the early 70s, I used to buy old fish keeping books at garage sales...books written primarily in the 50s, and the idea of the balanced aquarium was pretty common back then. I think it may have been Aquarium Fish Magazine that had several articles on balanced aquariums in the past year or two, and the key was lots of plants with a fish load just large enough to fertilize the plants. Plants are wonderful filters...the right kinds - such as watersprite with their huge roots soaking up nutrients in the water column, are ideal for non-filtered tanks.

With enough plants, there is no reason a tank cannot be ideal for a small bioload of fish and/or shrimp. There are fish that are adapted to living in small bodies of water which means they can handle varying water types and temperatures and in fact come from bodies of water similar to a balanced aquarium - many killi fish and labyrinth fish fall into this category.

I do agree that the thread topic was poorly worded, but the initial message by the original poster clearly explained his intent and it's not to abuse fish.

Eric

jpappy789
02-21-2010, 10:53 PM
When I started in the hobby in the early 70s, I used to buy old fish keeping books at garage sales...books written primarily in the 50s, and the idea of the balanced aquarium was pretty common back then. I think it may have been Aquarium Fish Magazine that had several articles on balanced aquariums in the past year or two, and the key was lots of plants with a fish load just large enough to fertilize the plants. Plants are wonderful filters...the right kinds - such as watersprite with their huge roots soaking up nutrients in the water column, are ideal for non-filtered tanks.

With enough plants, there is no reason a tank cannot be ideal for a small bioload of fish and/or shrimp. There are fish that are adapted to living in small bodies of water which means they can handle varying water types and temperatures and in fact come from bodies of water similar to a balanced aquarium - many killi fish and labyrinth fish fall into this category.

I do agree that the thread topic was poorly worded, but the initial message by the original poster clearly explained his intent and it's not to abuse fish.

Eric

Wisteria would be one I recommend as a good nutrient soaker. Hornwort is also commonly used.

Jayhawk
02-21-2010, 10:59 PM
You're right...wisteria and hornwort also work well as nutrient soakers.

I'm going to say something many consider a heresy...but duckweed really rocks as a plant filter. There is a reason that stuff grows so well in polluted bodies of water.

jpappy789
02-21-2010, 11:01 PM
That is very true...one reason I hate it in planted tanks. It's so selfish.

blue2fyre
02-22-2010, 8:56 AM
If you aren't going to get a filter I would at least run a powerhead for some water movement.

platytudes
02-22-2010, 9:24 AM
Am I wrong, or are you not going to need some bright (and I mean above and beyond the standard fluorescent hood that comes in aquarium kits) lighting in order for the plants to grow fast enough that they are actually oxygenating the water and acting as efficient filters?

platytudes
02-22-2010, 9:26 AM
I do agree that the thread topic was poorly worded, but the initial message by the original poster clearly explained his intent and it's not to abuse fish.

Yeah, I bet the OP is wishing he could have deleted the part about "most ammonia tolerant species"

Jayhawk
02-22-2010, 10:22 AM
You can do it with 1.5 watts per gallon of lighting if you're growing floating plants up top and low light plants down beneath (duckweed and/watersprite up top and java fern/bolbitis below...or some other lower light plant).

A lot of the old balanced aquariums, though, had no lights...just put it near enough a window the plants thrive but not so close the algae goes mad...

Overall, filter and lights make life a lot easier, but I could see doing a balanced aquarium with just hood lighting. It would work fine.

Eric

Star_Rider
02-22-2010, 11:19 AM
you can have an unfiltered tank.



but the catch is.. low bio-load, plants and some form of water circulation(Powerheads or filters).

plants will consume ammonia/ammonium thereby reducing (or in some cases removing) ammonia
no ammonia=no nitrite enough plants and low enough bio-load no nitrate.

the plants do much of the filtering/processing. anything not taken up by plants will be taken care of by bacteria in the tank(on surfaces)

Diana Walstad uses/created/advocated this method

SubRosa
03-11-2011, 9:18 PM
If you keep the pH in the low 6s or lower, and have fish suited to those conditions they'll all comfortably tolerate alot more ammonia than most people think. At that low of a pH the toxicity of ammonia (or more correctly ammonium) is minimal. You still need to do basic maintenance, but a ppm or 2 of ammonia is not that big a deal at a pH of 6.0.

Ballyhoo
03-11-2011, 9:33 PM
Idk if anyone mentioned it (on my iPhone and skimmed) but you could do a Walstead (sp?) tank.