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Self Sustaining Ecosystem

By: David Rader II on January 01, 2008 @ 4:00 AM

For a few years I performed an experiment. Something that as you get to know me more and more, and find myself doing more and more often.

Most awesomely the experiment did turn out as I had planned it to. All I had to do was keep adding tap water that I distilled, and the fish needed no food or filter.

Many people believe that a fishtank filter is necessary to put air in the tank or the fish can't get oxygen, or that you need to continually feed the fish, or that algae will kill your fish. From my experiments, I've found this is not true.

How did I achieve a self sustaining ecosystem (mimicking Earth) with a fishtank?
- When I cleaned the front glass of the tank (weekly-ish), the fish ate the floating algae, so I very rarely fed them, they needed no food.
Funny Fact: Fish enjoy fine dining

- When I left most of the algae in the tank with a nearby light on 24/7, the algae produced oxygen and gave the fish something to breathe.
Funny Fact: Fish breathe, sometimes.

- Used mostly if not completely only natural substances for the decoration, such as rocks, cracked coconut houses I made after ate the meat out of, unstrained sand and dirt from my backyard.
Funny Fact: Fish live in water where they pee and , I don't think dirty sand takes away their dignity. I'm not going to stop using my toilet just because you pooped in it.

- Lastly, I talked to them and loved them, like I love all living and non-living things. I've heard talking to plants can help them live better, so why not animals? Just one or two statements every week, at the most.
Funny Fact: The fish yelled back at me.

Notes: Types of fish: 2 Great Danios, 1 Long Finned Danio, 1 Leapoard Danio, 1 "Emerald" or "Green" Cory Catfish, and 2/3 unknowns (bought as feeder fish for appx 12 cents each, but they're not goldfish as many feeder fish are), and 1 male Siamese Fighter fish (that was later killed by a Siamese Female fighter fish.
Funny Fact: The female fighter fish killed the male with a strapon.

This video above here was a stop smoking public service announcement (PSA) I did for college, but it has a little footage towards the middle then close to the end of the fish tank and tank before the algae grabbed hold as you see in the picture. You can really see the coconut houses well... The orange fish is one of the ones which I'm not sure of the type.
Funny Fact: Back in my bachelor days, the coconut was my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Disclaimer: Don't experiment with your fish in the microwave, you might kill them.
Funny Fact: The native habitat of fish actually is the microwave. However, through millions of evolutions years, the fish have grown to more evolved living statures, such as fish tank colonies.


#1 Daisy the Curly Cat January 01, 2008 @ 7:49 AM
Neat-o! I raised my own Sea Monkeys once. It was very fun. Until they all got deaded. I am not allowed to have my own pets any more.

#2 Alfred January 01, 2008 @ 6:04 PM
Thats pretty interesting.
Somehow fish tanks and me never liked each other. One day you have a fish next day its floating on top of the tank :S

#3 Student August 03, 2009 @ 6:46 AM
I am at a school who does the MYP program and as part of that program we get a year to create something and write about it. I have decided to make an aquatic ecosystem for mine but I am having quite a hard time finding appropriate information seeing as most things I come across are about artificial aquariums. I want my ecosystem to be self sustaining like yours but I also don't want to have to care for it. I want it to be as natural as possible and no equipment except for the tank it will grow in. I was wondering if you had any ideas on that which could maybe help me.
Thank you :)

#4 Chexed August 04, 2009 @ 2:35 PM
The hardest part for me other than the light was the water evaporation... If it were outside, it could be controlled more by use of rain - and even inside a lid can be developed that traps moisture leaving the tank and/or moisture outside the tank to steer the moisture back into the tank. I just hadn't thought of the lid at the time.

Success varies greatly with the amount of fish and algae. The types of fish, snails and algae will also make a difference. It's the kind of thing that just requires fine tuning, trial and error - experimentation. The more time you put into it, the more likely you'll have success over a short period of time over all. Observe patiently, react with haste, experiment with caution, and for what is tried and true, use that as a guideline to form other ideas around, but don't negate the possibility that the guideline may eventually be noticed as wrong.

You can start with any kind of fish, but the <i>odds</i> are you'll have better luck with more hardy fish tempered to your planned environment... You can use any kind of oxygen producing plant and any kind of food source... Because so much fine tuning is involved with the delicate balance of life, starting off with too many specific expectations can leave your progress stationary or worse, driven backwards. It may sound unintelligible, but I start off in the dark, then feel my way around and <i>continue to feel my way around</i>. The ecosystem must have constant attention, even once it is self-sustaining. As things are always changing, its environment and such, it will need more attention. I'm aware of no ecosystem that's infinitely self-sustaining, the Earth itself will eventually be pulled into the sun, the sun explode or something else eventually. There is however the great paradox which may be considered an infinitely self-sustaining ecosystem, but that's just a theory.

When observing, seek balance. If the algae is dying off too fast, perhaps there are too many fish eating it... If there the fish are sick, perhaps there are too many fish, too much algae, or too few snails. It does not have to be beautiful to be a self-sustaining ecosystem, it has to be balanced.

#5 A smart person October 07, 2009 @ 9:33 AM
I am doing a school ecosystem aswell and i dont know what ecosystem i should choose. I have gone through a few ideas but none have caught my eye.

#6 mr. peabody October 07, 2009 @ 9:37 AM
hey all you happy people guess what I have a school project and I cant think of anything. Any ideas?????I have to come up with a cool ecosystem.

#7 starting from scratch February 19, 2012 @ 8:21 AM
aquarium size is 1.5 by 1.5 by 3 feet. rnintended living things are plants, little turtles, snails and ofcourse, fish.rnplus rocks, pebbles, sandrnrni went thru ur article and found it very useful and entertaining at the same tym. my aquarium will receive indirect sunlight, bouncednlight. rnit cant look \"unbeautiful\" because aquarium here are beautified with lights and bubbles. rnrni dont want it to be visually good either. whatever. i SHALL NOT use electricity to keep it working and dnt want it to be greenish either. pls shed some light

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