How Many Fish in an Aquarium?
How many fish in an aquarium is one of the most asked questions I have ever had to answer. Any experienced aquarist will have had a chance to develop their own rule of thumb, usually it is a calculation of the length of the fish to be put in the aquarium per gallon. In a recent article by Shirlie Sharpe at About.com called How Many Fish she comments:
One Inch Per Gallon Rule
The most widely known rule for stocking a tank is one inch of fish per gallon of water. While this type of calculation works as a rough estimate, it leaves plenty of room for error. Like people, fish are not all the same size and shape. Stocking a ten-gallon tank with ten inches of slender shaped Zebra Danios is not the same as stocking it with ten inches of full-bodied Goldfish. Larger bodied fish create far more waste, and therefore require more water volume.
When determining how many fish in an aquarium, most people simply group together all the fish and (mentally) add up the length of the fish to come to a decision. My recent involvement in aquaponics has required me to modify the rule that most use to include considering the actual bulk of the fish as well.
The Second Consideration to How Many Fish in an Aquarium
The addition of weight of a fish is not one that is often raised in standard fish keeping, the amount of wastes are usually easily handled by the filtration in standard aquarium installations. Nitrate can only be handled by dilution, and may make the need for a partial water change to be accomplished a little more often.
But the consideration of how many fish in an aquarium makes a great deal of difference in the amount of nitrate that is produced. When an aquaponics garden is used as a nitrate filter, a thriving vegetable garden should be able to remove as much nitrate as created in the aquarium. In this case the weight and bulk of the fish make a major difference in how many fish in an aquarium that are needed to sustain the high growth rates of the plants purifying the water for the fish. It is a symbiotic system and one where all the factors make a difference.
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