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You may have wondered if you should leave the fish tank empty or if you should add some elements to be used as shelter by the fish.
What are fish shelters?
In aquaponics it can be a pipe, a pot, any empty and safe material offering a whole where the fish can hide when needed.
Why should we add some shelters to our fish?
In nature, fish have access to a multitude of elements such as wood, rocks, roots… The fish use them as shelters. If you have been walking along a river you may have realized that most of the time you can’t see many fish. As soon as they detect human presence, they either swim away, or hide under the closest shelter. This is an healthy reaction for most wild fish species. On the opposite, if you walk in front of an aquarium, you may have seen all the fish swimming towards you and toward the surface. They have been domesticated and are hoping for food.
Even in an aquarium, when you start to put your hand into the water and move things around, the fish generally get scared and will try to hide from you. This is the classic reaction of a stressed fish. Once hidden, the fish will slightly relax and recover.
Why shouldn’t we add shelters in our fish tank?
A fish tank is designed to allow a good currentology, that is to say an healthy movement of water. It will avoid sedimentation and all particles will remain in movement until they are sucked by the water pump. Adding shelters into the tank generally modify the water currents and create areas without water movements. It often results in sediments in and around the shelter. Organic matters can then build up and create anaerobic environments possibly negative to the ecosystem.
I recommend adding a few shelters without covering the whole fish tank surface. Depending on the species and size variation you will adapt the number of shelters. I would use few shelters for domestic species and more shelters for wild species. Even more shelters if the fish are of different sizes.
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