AqAdvisor

sirdarksol

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Over the past few months, the mods have noticed that, more and more, newer members are turning to thesite to stock their tanks, tell them how much water to change, etc...
This is a trend that has likely killed dozens of fish, and made many, many more very unhappy.

AqAdvisor has less information on any given fish than what you can learn about that fish in ten minutes
AqAdvisor is a neat site. I'll give it that. It's loads of fun to look at what you could theoretically put in a tank. However, it should not be the only, or even the first tool when deciding on a tank's stocking. In fact, if you take the proper first step of stocking your tank,is unnecessary, a way of checking your stocking to see if there's anything you might have missed.

There are thousands of fish in the aquarium industry, and a lengthy book can be written about each one. Much of this information is necessary to knowing how to stock an aquarium with those fish. How can one program, written by one person, include all of this information? Very simply, very truthfully, it can't.

The first step to keeping any kind of fish is to research them. With the internet, this is simple. Most common aquarium fish are pretty well documented. It's easy to find information on keeping them. I guarantee you that with ten minutes of research on any of the fish you can find at Petsmart or Petco, you can learn more about them than is stored in AqAdvisor's code. Some of the oddballs that you'll find at LFSs may take more work, but the information is still there.

AqAdvisor is incomplete and its accuracy is, at best, questionable
AqAdvisor gets weekly updates, and they're huge. This means that the program is still missing things, and still has incorrect information. On top of that, there are plenty of stocking plans that members here have noted are questionable at best. I think that the programmer could work on this for the rest of his/her life and still not truly complete it. It's trying to cram a world full of knowledge into one program. It just can't be done.

Moreso, much of stocking is art, rather than science. It's based on personal preference. Because of this, two people can look at any "rule" of stocking, disagree with their opinions on it, and yet both be right.

AqAdvisor can't accurately tell you how much water you need to change
The water change thing is, plain and simple, wrong. Doesknow how much you give your fish at each feeding? How many feedings per day? Starting nitrates? How many plants you have? How much CO2 is in the water (for planted tanks)? How much light reaches the plants? What nutrients are in the water (again, for planted tanks)? All of these things and many will affect the nitrate levels in the water. Further, local weather will affect evaporation, which will also effect water change needs. The best way to find out what kind of water changes you have to do is to test your water and figure out the percentage you need to change to maintain a 20ppm or less reading.

If you use it, turn to it as a final check, rather than a starting point
The only thing that I would ever usefor (other than an amusing diversion) is as a last check, to look over a stocking that I am already sure about, just to triple-check my work. Even thewebsite says that research is the most important aspect to stocking an aquarium.

Paradoxically, do what you want (but don't forget that there are consequences, both good and bad, for every choice)
Of course, we aren't here to make anyone do anything they don't want, or to not do something they want to do. That's why the link has remained up, even though most (if not all) of the mods and many of the more experienced members have disliked the way it's used.
You are free to useto stock your tank, without doing any other research on the fish you plan to keep. However, with the stockings I've seen recently, I can nearly guarantee you that a new aquarist is going to be very hard pressed to make a successful go at it.
Just this past week, I've seen at least three different issues in tanks stocked by AqAdvisor. These are fish getting sick, even though the members did precisely whattold them to. This is because, when you stock an aquarium to whatthinks is 100%, you're pushing the limits of bioload and territory in an aquarium.

Please, don't refer new hobbyists to the site
Taking my moderator hat off for a moment, and only speaking as a fellow forum member and hobbyist, I would strongly ask that, if a new member shows up and starts asking about stocking a tank, please do not refer them to AqAdvisor, or any similar site. If you see them mentioning the site, please explain to them why they shouldn't rely on such things, or just refer them to this page (I know many of you are already doing this, and you have my thanks).
It's just too tempting, for someone who is still learning the art of the aquarium hobby, to rely on something that is so simple to use and seems to be so accurate (it gives you precise percentages and everything, how can it not be accurate?)
I say this as a regular member because, as I suggested above, I'm not trying to make people do things my way. Rather, I am seeing that this is hurting fish, and it's hurting people's entry into the hobby, and this concerns me. As such, I don't want to be censoring information in any way, but rather putting my own opinion about the information out here.
 

ctclee

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+3

I have used it and it truly is only a guide. I think its funny and I like it in my sig . lol
 

Lucy

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Great post sirdarksol.
 

Nutter

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+4. Excellent points & information Sirdarksol. I like to have a play with it if I'm a bit bored but I wouldn't pay much attention to any of the results. There are simply too many variables that a computer program can never take into account.
 

funkman262

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I recently suggested the site to someone who had no idea how to stock, just to give him an idea (be it a VERY rough idea) so that at least he doesn't think he could put 50 fish in a 10 gallon tank. I just made an edit on that post and referred him to this thread and stressed the importance for doing his own research on whatever fish he chooses. Thanks for this thread.
 
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sirdarksol

sirdarksol

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funkman262 said:
I recently suggested the site to someone who had no idea how to stock, just to give him an idea (be it a VERY rough idea) so that at least he doesn't think he could put 50 fish in a 10 gallon tank. I just made an edit on that post and referred him to this thread and stressed the importance for doing his own research on whatever fish he chooses. Thanks for this thread.
Thank you.
If the site was only being used to get a very rough idea, then that would be fine. The problem is, people are seeing how completeseems to be (to a new person, it seems to be a very complete, very accurate program, because it gives you all of those little details) and thinking that, by using AqAdvisor, they are doing research.
 

trailblazer295

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Good to know, I'm new with tropical and know nothing about stocking them and determining what species can live together in what size tank.
 

Algae Eater

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I play with aqadvisor all the time, but I completely agree with you.
 

_Fried_Bettas_

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I agree and disagree, I personally think it is a useful tool. I don't think it will lead anyone horrendously wrong. But I also agree that it shouldn't be your sole for of research. You should never rely on any one source for your information. People should also not only rely on this forum, or Badman's fish, or LFS, etc. Even on this site I see erroneous advice passed on even from the most experienced members. A lot of time in forums one persons OPINIONS get passed on as facts, and passed on, and passed on, without the people passing the information along that it was an opinion in the first place. For example the idea that carbon leaches stuff back into the tank after a certain point. I have never seen any confirmation of this concept and my further research into this has lead me to believe that the only thing that happens to carbon after 4-5 weeks is that it starts to act as a biological filter and should do no harm whatsoever. My opinion is that if someone does minimal water changes (less than 25% week) they should be using carbon because it reduces dissolved solids that build up in the tank, which are bad for your fish. But then again, that is my opinion... The people who are heavy into plants tend to dislike any form of chemical filtration because they believe (rightly or wrongly I don't know) that it removes some components of fertilizer.
 

Shawnie

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LetDiceFly said:
I agree and disagree, I personally think it is a useful tool. I don't think it will lead anyone horrendously wrong.
take some time and read some current threads lately...or even do a search in FL search box for aqadvisor and see the issues members are having from using that site as their sole searching ....its most definitely lead to issues that everyone has had to help members with lately...because its something they have relied upon ..its not fun to have to explain a fish death to someone after they have said their research led them astray ...its heartbreaking actually and even more frustrating when it could have been avoided ..
 

yhbae

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Wow, that's quite a comment for AqAdvisor. I'm glad that at least it is generating some discussions. More discussions mean more opportunity to get _good_ feedback.

sirdarksol said:
Over the past few months, the mods have noticed that, more and more, newer members are turning to thesite to stock their tanks, tell them how much water to change, etc...
This is a trend that has likely killed dozens of fish, and made many, many more very unhappy.
Can you please give me an example of where this has happened? You may or may not be aware but AqAdvisor's bioload % report is based heavily on reverse engineering - i.e. fine tune until they match what are typically being offered as stocking suggestions in the forums. I would be really interested in seeing examples where it seriously mis-reports it, especially the beginner species which are in question here. Seriously, these are not hard to fix if there are problems.

AqAdvisor has less information on any given fish than what you can learn about that fish in ten minutes
How do you know this? I didn't publish species DB schema to anyone. I know at least I spend much more than 10 mins per new species when I add them. And many species contain more updates on top of my own research. I have 7 years of fish keeping experience, so I hope I can do research faster/more efficient than those who are getting into this hobby.

AqAdvisor is a neat site. I'll give it that. It's loads of fun to look at what you could theoretically put in a tank. However, it should not be the only, or even the first tool when deciding on a tank's stocking. In fact, if you take the proper first step of stocking your tank,is unnecessary, a way of checking your stocking to see if there's anything you might have missed.
You are correct. It allows you to dream up theoretical scnearios. It allows even beginners to think about setups they may not be able to do without. And as I mentioned in the past messages, I hope they do further research, including posting in the forums for more info. What's wrong with this method?

There are thousands of fish in the aquarium industry, and a lengthy book can be written about each one. Much of this information is necessary to knowing how to stock an aquarium with those fish. How can one program, written by one person, include all of this information? Very simply, very truthfully, it can't.
And do you know of a site that contains all that info handy? They don't, that's why I have to use more than 10 profile sites on the net to collect info.

The first step to keeping any kind of fish is to research them. With the internet, this is simple. Most common aquarium fish are pretty well documented. It's easy to find information on keeping them. I guarantee you that with ten minutes of research on any of the fish you can find at Petsmart or Petco, you can learn more about them than is stored in AqAdvisor's code. Some of the oddballs that you'll find at LFSs may take more work, but the information is still there.
One of the ways you can useis to quickly reduce possibilities. I am seeing many users who use this to dream up setup, confirm through forum posts and successfully stock their tanks. Having information in one place is a powerful thing. If those can be queried using computers, its even more powerful.

AqAdvisor is incomplete and its accuracy is, at best, questionable
AqAdvisor gets weekly updates, and they're huge. This means that the program is still missing things, and still has incorrect information.
Please look at the release notes. Much of the items on the list are NEW species requests. And yes, there are incorrect entries that do get updated but if you notice, I have not touched many common species for a long time. I believe bioloads for common species are NOT far off. Please try it yourself.

On top of that, there are plenty of stocking plans that members here have noted are questionable at best. I think that the programmer could work on this for the rest of his/her life and still not truly complete it. It's trying to cram a world full of knowledge into one program. It just can't be done.
Yes it is a daunting task. But it is not an infinite problem. Its actually smaller than you think. Please look around you. We have so much information captured on the net and because of that, we are doing things we couldn't even imagine of doing even few years ago. I would be very interested in discussing this very topic again with you 12 months from now. I intend to continue and improve the app. And in its current form, it is not anywhere near as bad as you are making it out to be. Please give me examples so that I can understand the problem better.

Moreso, much of stocking is art, rather than science. It's based on personal preference. Because of this, two people can look at any "rule" of stocking, disagree with their opinions on it, and yet both be right.
I agree. That's whywas built based on hundreds of reverse engineering checks rather than using theoretical formula only. And it is heavily reliant on knowledge database - that's HUMAN's knowledge captured in DB, rather than using formula. Would you believe me if I tell you that I went through more than few hundreds of stocking plans myself alone, plus hundreds of others have confirmed that it is reporting where they expect stocking levels to be?

AqAdvisor can't accurately tell you how much water you need to change
The water change thing is, plain and simple, wrong. Doesknow how much you give your fish at each feeding? How many feedings per day? Starting nitrates? How many plants you have? How much CO2 is in the water (for planted tanks)? How much light reaches the plants? What nutrients are in the water (again, for planted tanks)? All of these things and many will affect the nitrate levels in the water. Further, local weather will affect evaporation, which will also effect water change needs. The best way to find out what kind of water changes you have to do is to test your water and figure out the percentage you need to change to maintain a 20ppm or less reading.
Agreed. Hence I am saying it is a guideline. Once again, this is based on reverse engineering. If you are saying whatreport is garbage, you are saying most of the WC % suggestions on the net are garbage too. Although I cannot account for all of the factors you mention above, for typical cases, I believe they are in line. Once again, I received hundreds of feedback that WC % is about where they expected them to be.

If you use it, turn to it as a final check, rather than a starting point
The only thing that I would ever usefor (other than an amusing diversion) is as a last check, to look over a stocking that I am already sure about, just to triple-check my work. Even thewebsite says that research is the most important aspect to stocking an aquarium.
That could be one way to use it. I won't disagree on this. ;D
But to give you an example, you can enter tank dimension and click on "Display suitable species". It will narrow down the list to only those that are suitable. Why would you ignore such kind of feature when you are planning to stock? This is just one of the example.

Paradoxically, do what you want (but don't forget that there are consequences, both good and bad, for every choice)
Of course, we aren't here to make anyone do anything they don't want, or to not do something they want to do. That's why the link has remained up, even though most (if not all) of the mods and many of the more experienced members have disliked the way it's used.
You are free to useto stock your tank, without doing any other research on the fish you plan to keep. However, with the stockings I've seen recently, I can nearly guarantee you that a new aquarist is going to be very hard pressed to make a successful go at it.
Just this past week, I've seen at least three different issues in tanks stocked by AqAdvisor. These are fish getting sick, even though the members did precisely whattold them to. This is because, when you stock an aquarium to whatthinks is 100%, you're pushing the limits of bioload and territory in an aquarium.
Do you really believe those stocks thatsuggested at 100% is seriously overstocked to the point where it got those species sick? Please, give me those examples. I will be VERY surprised if you find such cases. I get criticised for being too conservative more often than the other extreme.

Please, don't refer new hobbyists to the site
Taking my moderator hat off for a moment, and only speaking as a fellow forum member and hobbyist, I would strongly ask that, if a new member shows up and starts asking about stocking a tank, please do not refer them to AqAdvisor, or any similar site.
I'm pretty sure similar site doesn't exist. I've done my share of research before staring this project. That's why it is so interesting to work on. But as you can see, it takes some effort to get this going. Please don't compare this to sites that use simple inches per gallon. I have nearly 10,000 lines of code built into this project now.

If you see them mentioning the site, please explain to them why they shouldn't rely on such things, or just refer them to this page (I know many of you are already doing this, and you have my thanks).
It's just too tempting, for someone who is still learning the art of the aquarium hobby, to rely on something that is so simple to use and seems to be so accurate (it gives you precise percentages and everything, how can it not be accurate?)
This I actually agree. I need to make it more obvious that it is a guideline rather than a bible. I tried to do this using some text at the bottom, but obviously people are missing it.

I say this as a regular member because, as I suggested above, I'm not trying to make people do things my way. Rather, I am seeing that this is hurting fish, and it's hurting people's entry into the hobby, and this concerns me. As such, I don't want to be censoring information in any way, but rather putting my own opinion about the information out here.
As I mentioned before, I've had my share of raising fish and I care about them as much as anyone here. Many have reported that they were about to purchase some combo, but decided to run throughto find out the combo doesn't work hence changed their plan. I would be REALLY surprised ifreports 100% but in reality, it is much higher than this.

Project like this takes time to build. But longer it lives, more accurate it will become. As information accumulate further, it will become even more powerful. On the net we simply don't have any tool that allows you to query/filter fish-based information. I believe it will be a great starting point to narrow down possibilities. Please look around you, many many sites/apps you use today are built around this philosophy. When they released v1.0, I'm sure they had their share of complaints. But I am optimistic and will continue to improve this site. In its current form, as someone who cares a great deal on fishes, I would suggest others to use this app, not because I built it, but because I believe it will help them.

Wow, I typed way more than I thought I was going to type. My apology for the length of the post. ;D
 

AlyeskaGirl

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I went and played with it for the first time about 2 days ago and it just made me laugh!

I know its a new tool and did find it to be interesting and a little fun.....
 

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