Is your aquarium in balance? The 5 elements Hello everybody. Here is the aquachannel and we speak about the most beautiful hobby in the world using so called sketchnotes. I’ll draw on paper what I speak about for better illustration. We start with our 5 elements With the help of those we can bring an aquarium in a state of balance It means less work, nicer aquarium plants and healthy fish. Everything runs better with the 5 elements. How it works I’ll show you now. Let’s start with element no.1 of 5 in our aquarium Always first thing: an aquarium Classic glass container The reason why people buy an aquarium are the colourful fish As an example I paint a guppy, the fish for millions Not everybody is only keen of fish but many also like shrimp a red Sakura shrimp Some also like snails So we have snails, we have shrimp we have fish in our aquarium This is the reason why people have an aquarium They like the colourful effect, everything shimmers a lot of life to observe This is our element no. 1 Living in our aquarium we have to feed our inhabitants Here is a little food flakes or granules Our invertebrae graze on young algae and thus keep the glass clean but our inhabitants produce waste of course The waste literally accumulates everywhere, here, here and here With a large circle I combine them and call them “waste” This is one part of the “aquarium in balance” philosophy: everything interacts Of course this is not new but learned from mother nature. So again: elements no. 1 How many fish can I put in my aquarium? A rule of thumb says: 1 cm fish per 2 litres of water H2O For a 60 l aquarium this means 30 cm of fish If instead of a guppy I put in fire tetras I can put in a swarm of 15 animals This will look very good In case of shrimp and in case of other invertebrae the story is slightly different: I can put in more because they help me to keep the aquarium clean such as grazing on the glass, eating the mucuous membrane on the ground and the have such a small metabolism that they are not so much relevant with regard to the overall waste production Element no. 2 This is where I need my blue crayon We fill the aquarium – somewhat belated – after we already have fish inside Element no. 2 is water All of our inhabitants live in this element No way to escape Impossible to move to another place so easily This means that as aquaristis it is our duty to adapt the water to the needed living conditions of the fish. And the water should be healthy and biologically active The water temperature is important Nano aquaria are typically kept at 20°C room temperature Tropical aquaria rather at 24-25 °C Please refer to our separate video on water temperature and metabolism of the fish Please refer to the below link Typical water values are water hardness and pH value One way is to choose the fish suitable to our available water or the other way, as mentioned before, to adapt the water values suitable to the living requirements of our fish Discus would like to have soft water with a high water temperature Malawi and Tanganijka fish would like to have hard water at 25 °C And there is the classical community aquarium with all kinds of fish they would like to have slightly acide water also at roughly 25 °C Note: always make sure that the water is suitable for the requirements of the fish. What can I do with my water? Process it by filtering it and once a week 20% partial waterchange Like this we extract those substances from the water which are not being caught by the filter e.g. phenols or other tannic acids Easy to differentiate: tap water is clear After skipping the water change for 2-3 weeks the aquarium water will become slightly yellow and only a 20% partial waterchange can help. The water is cleaned in general by microorganisms They cannot be found flowing free in the water They exist on all solid surfaces in form of a so called biofilm This is experienced when crossing shallow water and slipping on a stone In that case you probably slipped on a biofilm It is slimy and slippery and consists of fungus yeasts and algae and other microorganisms and bacteria This is exactly where the decomposition of waste takes place on solid surfaces The largest solid surface in our aquarium is our third element The substrate The decision which substrate I choose is the most important one for my aquarium No matter if I add a CO2 system or a new lighting – I can do this any time Substrate is what I put very first in the aquarium – and it is a final decision What is the function of the substrate? Typically plant roots are white but I’ll have to paint them in black to make them visible. Function no. 1 of my substrate setup is that my plants can hold on to something At the same time A second function of the substrate is that the plants can take in nutrients via their roots. They do this from the lowest layer of substrate in yellow which is called Dennerle DeponitMix So, important third element: plants take in nutrients from the substrate via their roots. Later after all the plants have pushed their plants to the DeponitMix substrate from under the aquarium you would see an abundance of white roots everywhere. The DeponitMix substrate is covered by gravel Painting all the single gravel granules Imagine a gravel granule under a magnifying glass Around it and every other gravel granule is a biofilm So beside our aquarium filter the substrate setup is a giant collection of biofilms and helps to clean the aquarium This is the classic way Below DeponitMix, gravel on top Advantage: I can use different colours of gravel And the substrate setup has a very long shelf life up to 10 years Quite a good advantage of this classic way. The alternative: so-called “soil”. a different word for substrate Using the soil the substrate setup is ONE layer instead of two. What 2 layers perform in this left picture namely providing nutrients and a firm grip soil performs with only one layer The water plant has direct contact to the nutrients does not have to push its roots down to the ground Plants root very quickly and additional advantage: soil affects our second element: water water hardness is lowered and so is pH slightly lowered as well It is similar to battery: takes nutrients out of the water and releases nutrients to the roots takes out the water hardness very positive Slight disadvantage: only one colour and this setup has a shelf life of 2 years only. The most important decision for an aquarium DeponitMix and gravel – or soil Those are the two main differences Those were elements 1-3: fish inhabitants, water and substrate setup Now we proceed to our very imporatnt element 4: The waterplant It is the green lung the motor, the health keeper in every aquarium Dennerle has featured everything our plants do for us in many videos and our magalog Wasserwelten (waterworlds) With the help of light our plant produces oxygen (O2) Referring to everything we said before having fish, invertebrae biofilms the advantage of O2 becomes clear The oxygen produced by the plant by photosynthesis supplies all of my systems with vital oxygen All the animals feel better and healthier Biofilms also make use of O2 and function much better They reduce waste and nutrient decomposition by the beneficial function of the waterplant. And what does it need to function well? Light Nutrients from the root area and ideally a leaf fertilizer A leaf fertilizer is literally being taken by the leaves. The basis for all this metabolism is carbon dioxide CO2 and of course the contained carbon We have to add it artifically to our aquarium It is inevitable base for photosynthesis Other than on land under water CO2 is always on shortage On land there is rather too much CO2 Under water after the light is witched on the CO2 concentration goes down after 1-2 hours so that the photosynthesis cannot run on “full power”. This means that all of the beneficial things happening stops or is reduced all of a sudden. Note: add fertilzer and carbon fertilizer See link below which leads to our separate video on CO2 supply Last element 5/5 Light Light in an aquarium´could be compared to the gas pedal in a car The more light I add the stronger the metabolism of the plant will be. The more photosynthesis will happen. But this results in having to add more fertilizer, more nutrients. Everything follows the light in the aquarium the more light, the higher the metabolism of the waterplant. Of course mainly the light will show our fish in optimal colours This refers to the so-called colour temperature. It is as well important We recommend a total lighting period of 10 hrs per day See links for the separate videos on the midday break Those were our 5 elements. I summarize: Element 1: Our aquarium inhabitants, fish and invertebrae This is the reason why we are hobby aquarists Element 2: water. Needs to be adapted to the living requirements of the aquarium inhabitants Our job to do the partial water change Element 3: the substrate setup. Either the classical way 10 years DeponitMix + gravel or soil: 2 years Element 4: The green lung in all of the aquarium making the system stable and running smoothly and making the balance system a functioning cycle. Element 5: light The gas pedal for the plant The 5 elements bring your aquarium in balance Promised!