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Newbie Designs and disrespected substrates

Roger Miller's take on this matter is very different from
mine (and I think different from Arthur's, I;m not sure
about that):

Unless I missunderstand Roger's very thoughtful and
relatively comprehensive post, he's telling us what is most
important under various aquatic gardening goals.  

My take was how do you divy up the limited funds.  And that
makes a difference so don't confuse my list with Roger's. 
I think they address two different aspects of what to do
with your money.  And I don't think they are incompatible
-- if they are, then at least one of them is probably wrong
and I'll defer, as you should, to Roger's greater

But let me say this:  What's important isn't necessarily
what requires the biggest share of your money.  I think
substrate is just like that -- it's very important in
almost any planted tank (even in some breeder tanks).  But
substrate can be done well for a very small share of your
limited startup funds, generally speaking, and probably
ought to be if you're very limited in those funds.

RE Occupants [or will they get the most mail]: 
Roger added to the list plants and animals, which often are
not included in discussions of setups are are just thrown
in at the end with a hand wave as what the leftover money
(after equipment setup) is used for.  But yeah, setups
don't work nearly so well without at least of them
occupants and ought to be considered as part of the system
taht you set up (can you say ecosystem? -- sometimes I

The occupants you initially set up with might be different
from what you end having after start up and from then on. 
For example, you probably want lots of plants to start with
but not so many fish if you are slow cycling your tank. 
Or, you might want cheaper fish until you are comfortable
that the tank is stable and as, say, those expensive
discuss will like it.  You might have similar ideas about
plants -- some water sprite until things are stable but I
want that wean the tank off of that stuff pronto and
convert to nice low maintenance slow growers.  So hey,
yeah, occupants ought to be part of setup -- *very
important* and yet not necessarily for that reason
requiring or deserving the biggest share of initial setup

Will occupants eventually consume the biggest share of your
aquatic funds -- after all, once the tank is set up what
else is there to buy occassionally new fish and plants?  I
think the answer to that is a telling fact in some cases. 
For those who long term, including long after initial set
up, spend more on equipment than occupants, those are true
gadget freaks.  Of course this distinction cannot be
applied generally because DIY equipment skews things in one
direction and swap, barter, and gifts of occupants skew it
the other.  
As case of the latter:  I haven't bought a plant in 15
years, my friends and I just give each other stuff and I
have a lot of friends.  
A case of the former:  I only spent $200 and have a
complete 100 gallon tank setup including wet dry, CO2, mega
(slightly irregular) shop lights, gravel, substrate heater,
bubble counter, almost all of it homeade out of rubbermaid,
used longaberger baskets, an old bread toaster, a broken
window screen, and a timex that jsut keeps on ticking --
I'm thinking about getting plants or fish or something like
that too right after I build an automatic water level and
wave maker machine, and after that . . .   Come to think of
it, in some cases, occupants are very important at all. ;-)

Scott H.

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