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Re: [APD] LFS books

On 14/08/2005, at 10:35 PM, Phil Edwards wrote:

The thing is Planted Aquariums wasn't intended to be another Aquarium Plants.

Well, I've got 'Aquarium Plants' and I consider it short on the kind of information I was hoping for about tank processes and maintenance. It's an extremely good book on plants which is, after all, its topic.

Planted Aquariums is meant to be a guidebook for people interested in setting up a planted tank but have a little or no experience. I've read the whole book, you can read my review in the 18-04 issue of TAG, and found it to be a very good guide to setting up an aquarium. The information is a little out of date, but the book itself is at least five years old. I remember looking at a copy in the original German four years ago and it had taken some time for my friend to get it here in the US.

I didn't say it was a bad book. I think it does what you say, and does it well. I said " It is not as informative as I hoped, and it doesn't cover theory anywhere near as well as I hoped given the quality of 'Aquarium Plants'. I definitely hoped for more science and I am disappointed. It's a good book but I think there's probably a much better book she could write" and I still mean that.

There is plenty of technical information regarding substrates, lighting, and CO2 supplimentation but not as much as in Aquarium Plants and it's written in an easy to digest form.

I disagree as far as the level of information I was looking for is concerned. There is enough to help someone set up an aquarium. Both books are significantly lacking at the kind of level I was looking for.

Personally, I think that's a good thing. Just like Terry said, once you start talking technical to the average aquarist/aquarium store patron their eyes start to glaze over and you've lost them. Once folks have the basics down "Planted Aquariums..." then they're ready for 'Aquarium Plants' and the Nature Aquarium World series.

Perhaps one of the reasons eyes glaze over is that people are getting quite used to being given 'how to' recipes which don't require them to think or try to understand the processes. I think a lot more people are capable of doing that than you seem to think, but without the information out there readily available, and some form of graded delivery of technical information, it's a hard learning curve. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anything that really fits all that well between fairly basic books for beginners which is where I would place 'Planted Aquariums' and the much more solid texts like Adey and Loveland's 'Dynamic Aquaria' which I regard as excellent in many ways, and the biology/limnology textbooks. I think if that gap was filled and the average aquarist had access to several books at graduated and increasing levels of technical complexity, you would see quite a few people starting to read the 'heavier' stuff and getting interested in the more scientific side of things. I think the present situation tends to keep people uninterested and, as a result, many of them remain a lot more ignorant than they would if there was a wider range of information readily available in print.

What I'd like to see is pretty much an equivalent of 'Dynamic Aquaria' aimed specifically at planted aquariums of typical hobbyist size with in depth coverage of the various substrate choices, high and low tech systems, and the processes at work in ecosystems of limited size.

This may sound callous, but Ecology of the Planted Aquarium is about the worst book for an LFS. Diana's a friend, I like her book, and have a copy of it myself, but would never carry it in a store for one reason. It does nothing for sales. It's one thing for a store employee to help customers with the most efficient hardware setup. Its another to recommend doing away with the hardware all together. If a planted department doesn't make sales the owner's not going to subsidize it for long. EoPA is best left for people to find on the net and to buy on Amazon.com.

Sadly, it does take sales for a LFS to keep stocking many products, but I think those shops which specialise in planted tanks could afford to keep 1 copy in stock at most times, and to recommend it for an understanding of some of the processes that go on in a tank.

So that's my view. It's different to yours but, as I said, if you go back and read my original post again you will see that I did say that I didn't think 'Planted Aquaria' was a bad book. I said it wasn't the book I was hoping for which is a very different thing. I'm happy to have it, and it's the sort of book I would buy for my library anyway, but I'm still looking for a much more substantial text of the sort I mentioned above which, as far as I know, has yet to be written.

David Aiken
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