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Re: The Tom Barr Way

> Nick Wise wrote:
> "I've been reading many of the skeptical comments about Tom's ways, and I
> know that they are not commonly prescribed methods....."
> I don't really know if its fair to describe the comments as truly skeptical.
> People (well, me anyway) are only looking to find out the basis for Tom's
> recommendations. He described them to me here the other day. I have
> absolutely _no_ reason to disblieve him and know that if he was just blowing
> smoke, there would be people all over him to set the record straight.

True.. why would anyone doubt Tom?  And for the same reasons, why would
anyone doubt you? or Roger, or Scott.  I guess I just used the wrong
term -- skeptical -- perhaps a better word would have been -- probing. 
I just meant that people were questioning.  Not in a doubtful way, but a
curious one.
> Anyone who has been in the planted tank end of the hobby for long has
> learned that there are certain "commonly prescribed methods" from your "fish
> tank" days that you have to leave behind when you move (graduate???) to
> planted tanks. There are also many ways to skin a cat and many approaches to
> growing aquatic plants successfully.

How true this is.  I personally enjoy trying new things.  If some
different method strikes me, I set up a tank and try it out.  Right here
beside me is a 10 gallon with medium light, no CO2 [weekly Excel] tank
with a little trial substrate I did....  Miracle Grow potting soil on
the very bottom [1/2 inch or so], Laterite mixed with Hoffman's Aquatic
Gardener's Soil [about 1 inch up 2 in the back], covered with about an
inch of gravel.  Minimum fertilization and the darn thing gets so
crowded I have to go in with a weed eater!
> A look through the archives will show that one of the biggest headaches of
> many planted tank hobbyists (regardless of how long they have been involved)
> is algae. Much angst, thought and ink has gone into devising ways of feeding
> your plants while avoiding aglae. That was the whole idea behind the
> Sears-Conlin paper (from my reading of it anyway). A lot of those methods
> were devised during a time period when lighting and CO2 levels in the
> average aquarium were lower, for a variety of reasons. Today light, as much
> as you want, is easily and affordably available and many of the issues
> surrounding the use of CO2 have been solved. People are routinely using more
> technology (or maybe its just better technology) in the hobby. It only
> stands to reason that approaches to plant nutrition might have to change to
> keep in step. I feel that Tom's approach focuses more on making sure that
> your plants are offered a banquet to make sure that they keep ahead of algae
> than the older approach of giving everyone just enough to keep them from
> starving.

I agree.  I've tried the P limited tanks, the NO3 limited tanks.  They
all work.  Some to a higher degree than others.  I want to go back and
set up a low-tech tank like my first planted.  I had a 55 gallon stuffed
full of giant val and amazon swords.  Just a little fert pellet in the
substrate and that's that.  It was easy and good in it's simple way.
> I don't think that one approach is right and one approach is wrong - each
> has its merits and each has its own balance point. It is up to each of us
> individually to do what works for us, in our own tanks and under our own
> conditions. Where people might get caught in a trap is when they try to pick
> and choose portions from different philosophies. I learned this myself the
> hard way a few years ago with substrates. A bit of this, a bit of that, and
> a whole lot of something else.......it _had_ to work, I had covered _all_
> the basis. I was wrong and I had major problems with that particular set-up
> until I broke it down. Quite often, simpler is better.

Another great point.  I hear a lot of things coming from people that
shock me.  High fertilizing w/ low CO2, high lighting w/ low
fertilizing.  A similar substrate thing -- an acquaintance of mine had
soil/laterite with a gravel/flourite method = one ugly mess.
> During that same time period there had been much discussion online regarding
> Steve Pushak's recommendations regarding soil substrates. There were almost
> screaming matches here over the pros and cons of Steve's recommendations. I
> decided to try following Steve's approach in one tank to see for myself how
> it would work. Damned if that particular tank go like gangbusters - I was
> very pleasantly surprised and I will never again be afraid to use a soil
> substrate when and where it is appropriate. But I followed Steve's
> recommendations to the letter until I had developed a feel for what was
> going on in that particular tank.

That's the key.  You have to know what's going on.  If you're setting up
your first planted tank, don't dive head first into the nutrient control
/ CO2 / high light / hocus pocus / experimental substrate mumbo-jumbo
that so many of us enjoy. :)  First get a feel for it, give your plants
names, take them to bed with you and whisper sweet nothings into their
tiny little plant ears.  Then settle into your method [whatever that may
be] and feel it out until you've GOT it.
> Over the course of the next few months I will be setting up several new
> tanks. I'm going to give Tom's higher nutrient approach a whirl and see how
> it works for me.

Good!  Try it out.  It was just something I sort of arrived at myself. 
I was pleased to see Tom preaching a similar method.  I started
listening, kind of nodding my head, making note of a few differences and
even trying some of them out.

And.... no, I am not saying this is THE way or the BEST way.  I'm just
saying that I have had tanks [and still currently have one] that are
some of my favorites, using this method.  Just sort of standing up and
saying, "I agree with Tom.  These methods work."
> James Purchase
> Toronto
Nick Wise
nwwise01 at netzero_net
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