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Re: Tanks surviving in Arizona

Jason wrote:
> I'm moving to Phoenix soon and hope to rebuild (and improve) my tanks
> there. However, for ecological and financial reasons, I'm reluctant to set
> up something that requires large and/or frequent water changes. I've been
> through the archives and have found some mention of low-water use tanks.
> The posts by Aiken and others discussing plenums seem promising and I've
> ordered Walstad's book.
> My questions are:
>         1. Are there any further updates/improvements regarding the
> plenum/Jaubert method in freshwater planted tanks?

Are you thinking of their potential role in controlling nitrogen
buildup?  Nitrate generally doesn't build up in healthy planted tanks --
at least those with added CO2 --  because the plants plus
denitrification in the substate and/or filter material use the nitrate
fairly quickly.  Most of us add extra nutrients to our tanks to support
plant growth; many of us even add nitrate or other forms of nitrogen
fertilizer. You're better off using the space the plenum would use for
more substrate materials and amendments.

>         2. Has anyone found success with other methods? (I'm assuming
> Walstad has with at least one and I'm looking forward to reading about
> it).

Umm... Methods for what?  If you mean general plant tank methods there
are several.  Steve Pushak has long supported a substrate-oriented
method, as has Paul Krombholz.  George and Karla Booth started with the
Dupla method and now provide on their website a lot of fleshed-out
details of his method.  Karen Randall published a procedure for setting
up planted tanks in public schools, and that can be easily applied to
home aquariums.  Rhonda Wilson is a natural aquarium proponent who lives
in the Phoenix area (Mesa, I think) and her website
(http://www.naturalaquariums.com) contains a lot of interesting
material.  She reads this list, so if you're lucky then you've already
heard from her. There may be others.

Sorry, but I don't have the exact references for all their methods, but
I'm sure you can find them.  Steve and George are on the web.  Karen's
article was printed, but she has lots of other material available on the
web.  Paul's method was described in The Aquatic Gardener and is
discussed in the archives of this list.

As always, check The Krib (http://www.thekrib.com), because Erik Olson
has condensed a lot of discussion of different methods and made it
conveniently available.
> And the question that instigated this post:
>         How will these methods interact with the increased temperature that
> I will most likely have in Arizona and does this higher temperature reduce
> my options? The only high-temperature tanks I've seen are Discus tanks
> which are described as requiring WAY too many water changes for my
> intents.

I don't live in the Phoenix area, but in drier but not as hot
Albuquerque.  You probably shouldn't worry too much about the effect of
desert heat on your tanks.  Your house or apartment will be air
conditioned.  If for some reason it isn't air conditioned when you get
there then certainly you will want to get it air conditioned

Our thermostat turns the air conditioner on at 78, and the temperature
inside usually hovers around 80.  I think most people prefer lower
temps.  The tank temperatures tend to stay above 80 in the summer, but
that's never been a problem.  If you have refrigerated air, then you can
set your indoor temperature where ever your comfort zone lies (and pay
for the electricity).  If you have a swamp cooler, then you can only get
a certain amount of cooling and the temperature will rise out of control
on some days.

Also, don't worry too much about water use.  High water use is a problem
in desert areas (except Las Vegas, apparently) but aquariums really
don't use that much water.  70 gallons per person per day is low water
use.  Unless you have 500 gallons or so in your aquariums and a pretty
unnecessary water-changing routine your aquariums won't use 70 gallons
in a week. Lawns and gardens use *way* more water.

You can offset the water use by your aquariums by (for instance) taking
showers instead of baths, washing dishes by hand or not using an in-sink
garbage disposal.  You can even save water when you wash your car  --
don't do it very often and use a high pressure washer when you do.  If
you have an older home you can more than offset the water used by your
aquariums by replacing the old plumbing fixtures with new low-flow
fixtures.  New models actually work.  You can also replace swamp coolers
with refrigerated air; that's expensive but you get both better cooling
and lower water use.  You can save a whole lot of water by getting rid
of outdoor, eastern-style lawns and gardens.

You might find that it's more difficult to get accustomed to the hard
water than it is to get accustomed to the warm temps.

Roger Miller