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Re: Beeing Helpful

Thank you Greger, for reminding me that I'm old..... <g>..... and have been
around like forever. Tom is younger than me by at _least_ a full decade
(maybe a couple of decades, but who's counting?)

I understand completely where you are coming from - you are confronted with
a problem and you want a quick/simple answer/solution. For some things, a
simple solution is possible, and a quick answer can be given. For others,
there really IS no _simple_ solution, and a quick answer may or may not be
of any use.

Your database of images of deficiency symptoms in aquatic plants is one of
those solutions which, in my opinion, won't necessarily work all the time,
under all conditions. Pretending otherwise isn't being helpful, to you or to
other hobbyists, indeed it could end up doing more harm than good.

Plants need a "full diet" which is composed of a number of mineral
nutrients. Most of these nutrients are useable over a range of
concentrations and some can be stored in plant tissue for later use (for
times when it might not be readily available from the environment). Others
must be present on a constant basis. If any one or more mineral nutrients
are not present and/or available in sufficient quantity at any particular
time, a visible effect can usually be seen in the plant.

In the same way, an overabundance of some mineral nutrients can also have an
effect on how a plant grows. There is a range of concentrations over which
any particular species can grow and thrive (notice that there is a
difference between merely surviving and actively thriving) and there is
probably also an "optimum" level of each mineral nutrient for each species
of plant growing under specific circumstances. The ONLY way to determine
this "range" and "optimum level" is by growing a large number of specimens
and carefully observing them over time as the various mineral nutrients are
either supplied or withdrawn from their environment. Plant tissue analysis
is needed to see how MUCH of any particular mineral nutrient is actually
present in the plant as it is growing.

Photographs can help here but quite often the visible results of a
deficiency of "Mineral A" can mimic the visible results of a deficiency of
"Mineral B" (or, heavens forbid, of a multiple deficiency of "Minerals
C-D-E"). Photographs might not be of much help in those circumstances,
especially if they are fuzzy/grainy/over or under exposed. And just because
a certain level of a particular nutrient works for a species in one tank
doesn't necessarily mean that the same level is going to be appropriate in
another tank with different conditions.

Simply put, pictures can NOT tell the whole story and relying on photos
alone could lead someone down a garden path, especially if the person
doesn't have much experience in identifying and correcting nutritional

Tom's suggestion, which is basically to advise you to ensure that you are
using a complete fertilizer so that you don't run into problems in the first
place, is a very good one. There are many high quality commercially
available products designed for aquarium use. Pick one and learn how it
works for your tank and for your plants (it will be different for everyone).

Learning how to walk before attempting to fly is also a good idea. Many
folks on this list are employing very high light levels and supplying
supplemental CO2 - both of which tend to drive the "engine" of their plants
at a faster rate than would be possible under more moderate lighting and
with ambient levels of CO2. When a system is pushed close to its limits, it
can become unstable very quickly and unless you have experience under more
moderate conditions, you can quickly find yourself in a green mess. [Note
that I really do believe that additional CO2 is more important to good plant
growth than extremely high lighting levels, and if you're going to cut back
on anything, cut back on the light first.]

Once place where a database of plant images might be helpful would be to
have a set of images of how various plants  can look when they are growing
under optimum conditions. On several occasions, I have been quite happy with
how a particular plant has been growing for me until I saw how it grew for
someone else - sometimes, the differences are amazing. Karen Randall posted
a comment a few years ago about some remarks Claus Christensen (from
Tropica) made after seeing some plants growing here in N.A. - he suggested
that they needed more of certain nutrients. His trained eye could pick out
things that the rest of us would easily miss. Images of what different
species can "potentially" look like might be more useful than a bunch of
images which may or may not be indicative of nutrient deficiencies. Again,
tissue sample analysis of really well growing plants might prove helpful to
go with the photos.

Your enthusiasm is to be commended, and your desire to master the hobby is
one shared by a lot of us.

James Purchase