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RE: Kaspar Horst's plant book question


I have both books.  I have read TOA a few times and referred to it many,
many more.  I have read TCNA twice but checked back to it very little.
I agree with Robert that it is an infomercial but so are the other books
produced by other aquarium product manufacturers.  There is some
information in TCNA that is not in TOA because of technology changes.
On the whole TOA has a lot more of the 'why' when they offer the 'do it
this way' but there is some stuff in TCNA that hints they have maybe
slightly changed the approach on a couple of things (without checking
heating cables comes to what's left of my mind).  Most of that info is
also found here in the APD.  IMO both the Dupla method and those
proposed here on APD are essentially the same - good lighting and
substrate with sufficient nutrients (CO2 and ferts) will give good
growth with the debate really being how much of each is the best way.  I
sort have come to the conclusion that is best determined by the plants
you want to grow and the look you want your tank to have.  Dupla just
put together a generic method that was fairly foolproof and marketed it.

In previous work I have done (not aquarium related) I have read many
similar books (some more commercial and some more technical) and found
that when I am new to something it really helps a lot (duh).  I have
also discovered as I have had to go back to them that after a little
personal experience I often find something I had read before that has
taken on a new meaning or now makes sense.  When I was starting out with
plants TOA was definitely one of those books for me and though it has
been a while I still look at it occasionally.  I bought TOA when I was
first starting to get serious about plants and found it to be a more
comprehensive source than the bits of information found here and there
on the APD list.  By that I mean using the APD takes a lot of searching
to find some complete and good info on a particular topic (and often you
find some conflicting recommendations) where TOA covers everything with
at least some depth and it gives you the reason for their conclusions.
Some of that, for me anyway, was due to my lack of time when at my desk
to browse and read.  I do most of that at lunch or late at night when my
PC is not an option.

I think there is considerable information in TOA but some of it is now a
little dated.  There are more lighting options (PC, T8 and T5 are
available), there are more nutrient options now (PMDD and several
commercial products) but I can see the debate about undergravel heating
cables is still here.  Following discussions here on the APD indicate
there have been changes in fertilizer recommendations (PO4 and NO3 that
I hear Dupla relied on fish food for) and some calls for increased
micros as well.  My efforts to use the Dupla method did not work well
for high light.  Then again since the Dupla method specified in the 2-3
w/g range and I didn't follow them completely expecting their results
was unrealistic.

There are a few sentences in TOA (maybe 3-5 in the whole book) where the
translation is so bad the meaning is incomprehensible.  Sometimes I
think I would like to get my hands on the German printing to translate
those passages.  Most of TOA is very informative.  You need to remember
that they are (were actually) in business to make a profit so naturally
they would like to promote that their way is the best in order to sell
their stuff.  From what I have heard, about anybody adopting their
method can grow a lot of different plants successfully and that that was
not widely possible before Dupla came along.  They tell how they came to
the Dupla method through their expeditions and trial and error efforts
to replicate what they saw.

Whether you should buy a copy of TOA is your call.  It is a lot of money
the last time I looked ($60-100).  Karen Randall has written on the
Animal Network site
"For those who are at all serious about planted tanks, 'The Optimum
Aquarium' by Kaspar Horst and Horst E. Kipper (Aquadocumenta) is almost
a must."    I kind of agree but if you have the time to look all this
stuff up on the internet you can probably find it there.  If you would
rather read from a book (like me), have the money to get one and it will
not cut into the tank equipment you should have it's probably a good
idea but it's not necessary.  If it's a choice between TOA and a good
compressed CO2/regulator/reactor setup I would get the CO2 and buy the
book later on if you still felt you had to.  If you do get TOA I would
go ahead and get TCNA too.  It definitely is more commercial but after
reading TOA there are a few things in TCNA that will make more sense and
show how their theory has evolved.

I kind of wish some of the people here would write a new book about the
setting up and care of the 'high octane' (high light/CO2/ferts) planted
tanks.  That's a hint guys - and I would help.  Not that I could do much
on the content end of things (prior to the APD's help I could kill
restricted, invasive weeds trying to get them to grow) but I do have
some experience with typesetting and layout (desktop publishing and have
worked with printers).

Hope this helps