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Re: Water Changes and Walstad's Book

Gary Lange offered a critique of no water changes and Walstad's book.

Water changes every six months, ala Walstad, are possible once the perfect
balance is reached, and if no additions are made to the water column.
I think for most of us, water changes are necessary because we fiddle around
so much in our tanks.

Now on to my critique of Walstad's book. I know that this book is considered
a bible here, so I'll thread lightly:

1. While fabulously researched, with lots of impressive data, the book is of
limited use to the average aquarist. You really do need a college chemistry
or biology background to appreciate it.

2. Her methods require small tanks (<30gal) and some natural sunlight
(therefore, tank size and placement of tank must be considered).

3. Her methods require a complete breakdown of an existing tank. She offers
a method to add soil around plants in existing tanks: Wrap it up in wax
paper and stick it in the gravel. Try it, but be prepared for a huge
clean-up mess.

4. She won't add iron (trace fertilizer) to the water column. She admits
that she has difficulty growing vals. Most of us have difficulty keeping
vals _contained_. They are like weeds.

5. She makes blanket statements such as snails are good for planted tanks.
Obviously, she has never had the columbian ramshorn snail (pomacea

In summary, her methods must be followed completely, from scratch, and
cannot be combined with other methods, the choice of plants will be limited,
the tank will not be placed where you want it (unless you luck out), the
tank size will be limited, and some things are just plain wrong.

Having said that, there are some real gems in the book:
My favorite is the "aerial advantage". This is the idea that if you want
truly healthy plant growth (stem plants) let the plants grow tall and drape
themselves around the top of the water column. Once I tried that, my Rotalla
sp. came alive. Not just along the top, but new branches came out along the
substrate, with larger leaves and color much improved.
Other favorites are the sections on allelochemicals and allelopathy; the
chemicals that are produced by plants to protect themselves from invading
species and algae.

Let the flames begin:-)

Augustine Rodriguez
Rice Lake, WI USA

> I
> guess I would ask the same of anyone that would suggest today that a once
> every six month water change was great.  Coincidently we don't see those
> wonderful minimal tank shots with the Walstad book and I think for good
> reason.  I'm sure that you can actually get plants and fish to live in a
> container that hasn't had a water change for six months, but I would
> guarantee that the same tank with regular water changes would do a whole lot
> better.  People are always trying to talk themselves out of actually doing
> the work it takes to do something right.  I think when talking about doing
> minimal water changes you're just fooling yourself.  That was as true in the
> sixties as is today.
> Gary Lange