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[APD] Re: What is "low tech" by todays standards?

I think low-tech really referred to systems without artificial CO2
augmentation. If you use a natural soil, such as you might find in the
garden, and the lighting levels are not excessively bright, you can get very
good growth without CO2 injection, simply availing of the CO2 generated by
the decomposition of the soil. I would greatly recommend peat in this regard
because of its superior stability and low nutrient levels.

The classic definition of a "low-tech" tank from the mid 90's seemed to be a tank that (1) did not use supplemental CO2, (2) did not use substrate heating coils, and (3) in some cases used minimal supplemental nutrients. Substrate was often mentioned too, but I always read "low-tech" to usually mean minimal technical gizmos like the heating cables and CO2 (especially if used with a controller).

I think now a low-tech tank is a tank without a CO2 *controller*, but probably still with CO2. Substrate heating coils seem to have fallen out of favor in recent years judging by the lack of posts regarding them on this list. Lately substrate discussions often seem to be along the lines of "how does substrate [x] compare to Flourite?", which implies that many think Flourite to be the ultimate planted tank substrate for most applications. I see a lot more talk about what used to be "advanced" light technologies too, with PCFs seeming to be the standard now even for low-cost DIY setups where everyone used to use T8 fixtures.

A higher percentage of people today seem to have what would have been considered "high-tech" tanks some years back. I think what we're seeing is just a natural evolution of the hobby as aquarists discover devices and methodologies that work and those that don't, with those that don't or that have a poor price/benefit ratio falling out of favor. Recent list years seem to indicate more emphasis on nutrient balance than on tech gizmos, but some of the earlier tech gizmos seem to now be more of a must-have item than before (notably some kind of pressurized CO2 system). A "low-tech" tank today would probably have been a mid-level tank of years past, with a "high-tech" tank today adding a CO2 controller, maybe some fancy lights (MH?), and possibly even substrate heating cables.


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