[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Control Tanks, Scientific studies

One wrote:
> > "Unless we're making a move to a peer-reviewed journal, can we drop all
> > the anecdotal vs. scientific talk?  I only have one tank.  I therefore
> > cannot do any controlled study on PO4 limitation, H2O2 algae inhibition,
> > PMDD vs. Dupla products, blah, blah, blah.  I doubt anyone here is
> > contemplating doing anything approaching a scientific study when trying
> > something new on their tanks.  Yet I still LOVE to read about their
> > observations."<<

Another responded:
> I agree. I think most people are intelligent enough to draw their own
> conclusions from reading anyones comments, and there are enough people on
> this list who are in "the know" that will quickly put anyone on the fryer
> that is grossly inaccurate

I agree that this is mostly true, but I have ten fishtanks here at 
work and more at home (my employer is so very patient with 
me.)  I am actually doing formal tests and controls (current 
issue is substrate...flourite, no substrate, sand blasting gravel, 
vermiculite mix, and I'm thinking about kitty litter).  I am running 
two to three tanks of each with controlled biomass regulation
and measured inputs.

I know this is not typical, but it's not uncommon.  There are 
many old timers on this list with many tanks that have done 
their own "personal" controls over time, even very formally
(granted, time and space and the right equipment help a lot.)

The formal "scientific method" is really not that hard, and
a 10-year old with a little guidance can perform an outstanding 
experiment.  IMHO, this is a hobby that requires space and
a little bit of time (I'm on the lazy end of the spectrum with
my tanks, hence the goal of finding the least-trouble-substrate
for me.)  If your methods are clean, or if your anecdotal 
observations aren't too biased, I'm not sure it's relevant to
try to categorize the speaker as an "amateur" or "expert"
(as I recall, the world's foremost expert on hummingbirds
is a lady with no formal training playing around in her 
backyard in New Mexico.)

I agree with the thread that anecdotal observations are critical
because the hard-to-quantify interaction of numerous inputs
is exceedingly difficult to classify/measure, even with the 
scientific method.  Where possible, though, I also agree 
with the thread that we can try to minimize the "fluff" where 
possible, and a simple pair of tanks for a couple months 
may be less work than maintaining a thread of musings for 
the same period of time.

For example, I think I'm going to get as good an answer
as possible on what substrate I'll primarily use based on
my current little experiment using the scientific method.  
However, compilation of anecdotal information is probably a 
more realistic way (over the scientific method) to draw 
conclusions that Microsorium pteropus grows in "hard" 
water (quantify) and less so in "soft" water (quantify), 
unless the "soft" water has a low pH (quantify), at which 
point it grows about as well in hard or soft water (just 
don't put it in high pH, soft water).   While we could play
that game with the scientific method, it's probably a lot easier
to simply poll the zillion people on this list with that plant
and ask for tank parameters (maybe throw in temperature)
and a qualitative rating of, "Grows very well, well, ok, not
very well, not at all."  We'd group the responses, box
out the multi-variate analysis from low/high pH, low/high 
hardness, low/high temperature, etc., and get an answer
in a week with already-existing-tanks that made confirmation
over many years of growth.  Isn't that quantified anecdotal
information a lot nicer than actually setting up controls? 
If for no other reason, I'd like the anecdotal information to
help me frame an understanding of the discussion and 
possibly later target a formal experiment with controls 
for sensitivity analysis, if I cared that much (that's why 
I'm doing what I'm doing now...  I keep hearing good 
anecdotal comments on fluorite, and I'm ready to find 
out for myself.)

While I agree that it's non-productive to say formal methods
can be trusted and anecdotal information cannot be trusted
(I can lie pretty easily with either one), IMHO both can
be extremely valuable and I think there is a place to clearly
state (or understand) when some assertions fall into one
category or another.  That's not to discredit, but to (in general) 
clarify the degree of freedom in the assertion.

charleyb at cytomation_com