Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I'm curious to know how people deal with criticism of the welfare of their fish.  I have an indoor and outdoor system and I make sure my fish are well cared for and I really keep a low stocking density.  The other day, I had this comment left on a video that featured both systems  (

Interesting set up, though your indoor fish tank is really sad and awful, Do you not realise that that fish is a being, should not be in a totally empty tank, what a life!

Please do something about it!!

My response was:

I feel I must respond to this since I am the subject of this video and own this setup. These fish are well cared for and I always keep less fish per gallon than most people do. There is no need to put objects in a tank as they have no desire to be entertained by them. In fact, objects can be a hazard where they can be injured against them. She is about 6 years old and will easily live 25-30 years unlike most people that end up flushing them in a year or two.

BTW, the fish in question is in this video:

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We live in a culture that humanizes animals. I strongly believe that life should be respected, but projecting human emotions onto animals is as flawed as thinking it's OK to mistreated them. You answered well. The only other answer would be no answer. :) 

Remember the old addage:Sticks & stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

BTW, nice indoor setup!  How did you teach your fish to talk? :)

I hope to be so lucky as to be reincarnated as a fish in one of Rob's systems...

To Rob's initial question, I dunno. The other day someone was shocked that I was going to eat my catfishes. But most folks around here are more like, "what are you waiting for? Make with the filets, the po-boys!"

I have yet to take on the role of predator and entrap (hook or net) some of my bigger fish... but it'll be really soon. I'm OK ethically with it, just don't have the experience.


typically i ignore the criticisms like this, but every once in a while I like to poke a stick into the hornet's nest and see what happens. 

I did get a response back:

Have to disagree with you, fish do entertain themselves, I have watched for hours and hours as they rearrange their stones, plucking at vegetation. It is just amazing that anyone can think it is fine to keep them like this! Perfect for it looking nice and Zen, but poor fish. They are creatures like any other!

This person has a lot of free time if they stare at their fish for hours watching them poke at the stones. 

Rob Torcellini said:

"Have to disagree with you, fish do entertain themselves, I have watched for hours and hours ..."

This person has a lot of free time if they stare at their fish for hours watching them poke at the stones. 

This person should feel free to ship you an iPad to enclose in a baggie and submerge! Virtual shrimps will provide hours and hours of enjoyment for the poor imprisoned heavyfish...

The only way to determine who is right is to ask the fish and we don't know how to do that yet.  He looks ok to me.  Possibly he entertains himself by human-watching.  I've looked at fish in natural habitats a lot and it seems to me that structure is used mostly to protect themselves from predators.  On my list of crimes against nature this wouldn't make the first 100 pages or so.

So time to call in the fish psychiatrist to see if there is mental damage from being in a spartan environment?

Notice any cage behavior in your fish?  LOL. 

Structures are for providing safety from predation or breeding habitat.  If you keep the predators away from your tank you don't need the first and if you are not encouraging breeding of your fish, then no need for the second.  Most gravel and plants in a fish tank are for display to keep the people happy anyway.  Not necessarily for the health, or enjoyment of the fish.

I was wondering about that. Not going as far as transforming the fish tank into a my-little-mermaid-amusement-park I would like to have a somewhat natural habitat feel in it... Not to humanize the fishes but to not "de-fishize" them either and mostly, I confess, for my personal enjoyment. I agree that aquaponics is nowhere up the list of cruelty to animals, quite the contrary in fact...

That being said, I'd like to ask to the experienced aquapons here what can be done while still keeping the system reasonably functional and practical as a food production unit ? 

So, for a 400 gallons tank can I : Put a few big stones ? Gravel ? Both ? Does gravel in the fish tank acts like extra media for the good bacteria ?

A couple of underwater plants ? I guess that should not take up too much nutrients as these plants aren't fruiting, or growing like crazy. I know vegetarian fishes will rip them off over time but I'd be ok to replace them once in a while. Am more concerned about the effects of  a bit of "interior design" on the efficiency of the whole system as a home food production unit, what would be the drawbacks ?

The biggest problem with objects in the tank are that solid waste tends to collect against/under/in/around any media or stuff in the tank and if that solid waste manages to start to get anaerobic you can suddenly find a toxic environment for your fish instead of a better atmosphere.  This is why aquariums either need incredibly low stocking or have to have their gravel vacuumed weekly.  Adding objects into your fish tank could very easily increase the amount of work you have to do for your system and if you really let it go, could have the same effect on your fish as grossly overfeeding and leaving that feed in the tank to rot and kill your fish.

Now I have dealt with ornamental ponds that have rocks and plants and stuff but you hardly feed those and you have very few fish in them.

Aw ok... It's actually degrading the fish environment rather that improving it, so no point then ...That's settled, thanks TC.

I'll give a thought to the submerged iPad virtual shrimps idea instead 

I think there will always be someone that complains about keeping fish in a tank....but these are the same people that have a dog or cat and keeps them locked up all day in their apartment, or has no concern about where their food comes from (such as feed lots)

Rob, I showed this video to some of my fish, and one of the boys has indicated to me that he prefers more mature ladies and would be interested in Skyping that gorgeous looking fish in the tank ... (I could see that he really wanted to 'sext' her but I told him that wasn't appropriate).  

Anyway.. if you think this is ok then here is his skype name:  "fish-are -people-too".  

I agree with Sheri that our culture humanizes animals, which IMO is kind of silly.  I think you gave the perfect response.  Does this person think fish in streams have little castles and pirate ships to swim through?  lol


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