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Re: [APD] The little tank that could!

--- Gwmangen at cs_com wrote:
> . . . The intensified lighting
> should allow Barr's 
> recommendations to work.  I'm confident they will work. 
> I've seen pictures of 
> some of his tanks.  They are very impressive.

Tom's is "self-correcting method." Which is to say, it is
very tolerant of errors.

> The formula I'm using for light is one that I found in
> the archives:
> 1.  Multiply surface area by distance from light source
> to substrate in 
> inches. . . . 

Uh, did they factor ambient light, temperature, shadows
cast by fish swiming by, etc? ;-)  Just kidding, but my
point is that this is way too complex for aquatic
gardening. It's like measuring in nanometers how much to
trim your fingernails. 

Diff plants need diff amounts of light. And diff tanks will
behave diff because of all the factors at play, not the
least of which is the gardener and how she or he deals with
the tank (doses, cleans, stocks with fish, stocks with
plants), the particular light bulbs, reflectors, etc. The
best thing is to jsut follow a simple rule of thumb and
adjust accordingly to suit your own needs. A good place to
start is about 1.5 -2 wpg for slow growing tanks and 2-3
for faster growing tanks with added CO2. Successfull tanks
have been maintained at 1 wpg and at 4, 5 and even 6 wpg --
although antything above 4 is a speed zone I personally
don't care to enter. So there is no single right amount of

> At this point I have 20 pounds of CO2 which is more CO2
> than the 2 gallons of 
> water in the tank.  So, I'm pretty committed to the CO2
> route.  I'm going to 
> push light, CO2, N, P, K and trace elements as much as
> practicle.  If the tank 
> gets out of hand I'll get a bigger tank.  Success in such
> a small tank would 
> be a validation of the methods.  

Tom's method has been validated over and over again. What
you're getting practice on is your own gardening. That's
good, but a small tank might not be the easiest way to do
it. Very small tanks tend to be touchier than larger ones.
A little of anything is a lot of something when the
universe is samll. What would be an insignificant overdose
of nitrate in a 30 gallon tank can be a real problem in a 1
or 2 gallons of water.

> Having to change 1/2
> gallon of water every 
> three days is fun.  It takes five minutes including the
> dosing regimen.  It's 
> the weekly water tests that are no fun.  Someday I hope
> to be good enough at 
> this to not have to do so much testing. 

You can do that right now if you want. Just follow Tom's no
tests regimen with weekly 50% water changes and you can
pretty much skip testing (except for CO2 levels but those
are easy to do). Single large changes can be more effective
than multiple smaller ones.

> I even test the
> test kits with other 
> test kits!  I use standard solutions and ask for second
> opinions on the readings. 
>  The plants themselves are the ultimate test though.

Ah yes. Some folks use the plants to tell them how things
are going -- not the test kits, not any presence of algae,
but the plants. Imo, unless you're an intuitive natural at
it, it takes a lot of experience and one must pay great
attention not only to changes in plant growth but also to
what one has been doing to the tank (I've been adding extra
potassium forthe last two weeks and the leaves art starting
curl). IOn a sense, tests are substitutes for experience
and knowledge. Measured dosing and big water changes can be
substitutes for tests. 

There's room and method for all of us. While I enjoy
talking about complicated things, the actual gardening
shouldn't be very complicated at all. But most of all, it
should be fun.

Good luck, good fun,
Scott H.

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