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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #408

>Many people read this digest, so the more specific you can be, the 
>better! I have no idea what size tanks you work with so when a 
>generalization is made about the (non) importance of light in 
>growing red plants, it's worth asking about.

I get lazy:)
>We have no disagreement there. No question, balance is key. No 
>question, there are a lot of nice tanks out there with less than 4 
>wpg. But what are the factors that influence color development in 
>red plants? Is not light one of those factors? Surely it can't be 
>complete dismissed. That was my point.

Light is the "most" stable of all the factors influencing color. That's the
good part. Co2 is fairly easy to become stable also. It's the
nutrients/bio-cycles that are so hard figure out "why".
This is one my and several other folks on this list(you know who you are)
pet peeves and we talk off list intensively about this issue. I try not to
spill over into this forum on this issue but it keeps coming up. There's a
lot we don't for 100% certain. I know of what it is not...........rather
than what exactly it truly is. Then certain plants will play games with us
I'll get to the bottom of it someday, I promise.
>I was thinking in terms of some ballasts being more efficient than 
>others - obviously an icecap ballast is going create more lumens 
>per bulb than a tar ballast, and that would have an effect on the 
>color of the plants (assuming there is SOME correlation between 
>light intensity and plant color). 

Sure. But not a lot at that low wattage really. If I can afford an ice cap,
I'm going to buy a PC's not regular FL's and VHO's with the money. It comes
back to trying to find extremes. Most folks will do fine at 2 watts a gallon
with a shop light. If you want a fancy pantcy ballast go for it. It won't
hurt and will save some on the E bill and add some more light. Many folks
are cheap though. Few are going to have an Ice cap and regular FL bulbs,
they are going to add the VHO's. It really doesn't effect the KRIB
discussion about it from years back. I never tried the Ice caps with regular
bulbs and really don't care too as the PC's are better on every factor of
lighting choice. Using a cheaper E ballast is a good move, but will it
effect color? I **highly** doubt it. 

>This is very interesting to know, and more useful than making 
>generalizations! I am at a disadvantage here because I have not 
>seen these tanks - in fact, have never met any other plant tank 
>aquarist in person

I hope this will change for you. It is fun and you learn lots from seeing
and meeting folks! I owe a big thanks to folks on this list, SFAS and
SFBAAPS members(you know who you are) and all the great speakers.

 - so my range of experience is very limited. I 
>could envision an 18" high tank with 2 wpg growing bright red 
>plants very well, but a 24" high tank is surprising. You sure about 
>that snake oil?

Yep! I am sure. Just say "NO" to snake oils. There's enough confusion and
myths around and we don't need no more!

 >>This is gardening/pruning issue, not lighting. 
>I'm not sure I see the difference between shading in a high light tank, 
>and overall lower light levels. Either way there are reduced lumens 
>to the plant, with resultant paler coloration. Can you explain further here?

If a plant in a high light tank(3+ watts a gallon) with good growth gets
over grown and the plants are all over the surface many of the lower reaches
are getting little light. If you keep up on your pruning well, often this
will not happen keeping the light reaching the plants at the relatively same
amount. In a lower light tank this also happens. When my Riccia gets going
and don't trim or hack it back, often it shades over my H. stricta cherry
leaf and it gets green colored leaves. after the hack, I open up the "room
to grow area" and the plant and I feel better.
If I neglect this(which many on this list do from time to time) often the
redder colored plants tend to go green.
Then there's the nature of the prune. By using the nicest top portion every
time and keeping it well trimmed and pruned, a plant will have only that
sweetest reddest top in your tank. If you let a plant to continue to grow
and grow it will lose much if its color on the bottom portion of its leaves.

>Yes, I have had no trouble growing almost any plant. For some 
>reason Crypt blassii and Didiplis diandra don't like my tank 
>conditions. Everything else grows very well.

I have these plants. They both have done very nicely in Flourite and towards
the edges of my tanks.
D. dianda is a weed. A nice one though. It seems to really need good CO2
levels. C. blassii needs patience as do most crypts. This plant really likes
the flourite over anything else I have tried over the years. It did well in
RFUG's + sand also. 
I used to think I just couldn't grow certain plants. Or certain ones
together. I don't have that problem anymore finally. I can now do what I
want with the plants pretty much. We all can do this though. You will too.
Don't give up. Your doing very well likely..... playing with all that light
forces you to take care of things.
>It's hard to learn in a highly lit tank, because any imbalance has 
>very sudden effects. I've been working with the 4wpg tank for about 
>5 years now, and for the most part it's been in good balance, 
>thanks almost entirely to what I've learned on this list. And I do 
>think the PC's tend to throw out a little more light than the wattage 
>would indicate, so the 2x55 over a 50 or 55 would be ample lighting.

It's a bumpy road sometimes:) I've done many dumb things over the years,
likely more than most.
I just keep trying different things and never give. 

>It would be helpful to those of us who aren't in the SF Bay area to 
>be able to see photos of these expert tanks. Don't any of you folks 
>have websites where we might get an idea of the possibilities? 

Ohhhhhhhh yea.
There's some bad pictures of folks on there though. We are not really that
ugly! Check out the gallery. Jeff's tank graced the cover of TAG not long
ago. My tanks are in PAM and a few ads in there as well. You may want to
check out Karen's articles and mine. The parameters is of particular
interest for many. Karen has a great article on Anubias- a must read.

I was alone and in the dark for about 7-8 years to the outside planted
world. I didn't know how to type or or use a computer or had ever seen much
of any planted tank except at stores. But I had all these damn plants coming
out of my ears so I had to do something. Get involved. You will get much
better at  planted aquariums if you do. No snake oil there. Learn all you
can. See all the tanks you can. Peace love and plants:)
Tom Barr