Aquatic plant research

Research of any kind is always directed by the goals of the persons sponsoring the
research. As an example, any company such as Dupla, will be justifiably motivated by
the need to provide a profit. It is only natural that the thrust of their research
needs to justify itself by providing the company with new products and improved products.
Generally this benefits us as consumers. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a
company would sponsor research whose purpose was to make it easier for hobbyists to
be successful without relying upon commercial products. That would be counter
productive to their best interests.

An example of applied research by a commercial company is the Baench Atlas series
of books. These provide excellent color photographs of aquatic plants and fishes
along with a capsule summary of information to assist the reader in growing each of
the specimens. There are also fairly extensive sections on many general subjects.
In some cases the information is simply out of date as you can get better information
from local hobbyists who are actually breeding and raising those fish or plants. In
other cases the information is just plain wrong. But for the most part, the information
is accurate and very useful.

This type of research is very time consuming but it is extremely useful to the
hobbyist. Other research such as the work by Mssrs Conlin & Sears is motivated
to help the hobbyist avoid being exploited financially when there is obviously
a lower cost alternative. This kind of research follows the scientific method
where one publishes their methodology and data. The results are not commercial
secrets but are shared openly.

I believe that we ought to look to ourselves for research, both anecdotal and
scientific. This mailing list and the Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) and their
publication, The Aquatic Gardener (TAG) all provide an important vehicle for
sharing experience and experimental research. (Neil, I've left a hook here
for a segue to solicit written submissions for TAG)

Not all research needs to be experimental. For example, if you have the inclination,
you can find a veritable gold mine of information at the library if you search
the Aquatic Botany journals and other scientific publications.

Not all experimental research needs to employ strict scientific controls. The
majority of really interesting stuff has been done by individuals tinkering with
CO2 reactors or trying out various substrate preparations just to find out if
they work. While nobody really knows how a Dupla laterite substrate compares to
other easily reproduceable, DIYS recipes, perhaps its not really that important.
What's clear is that aquatic plants are basically water weeds and given acceptable
conditions they will grow, well, just like weeds! ;-)

As for campaigning to get Aquarium Today published and distributed in North
America, this is a great idea. Don't forget about us Canadians though!

As for neat electronic gadgets; I love 'em. I don't love the prices sometimes
but I have a limited hobby budget which my significant other permits me to
spend on techno-goodies and books. The most precious resource which I have is
simply time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day...

One last thought for the day. Don't believe everything you read in books (or
here) Get lots of ideas from different sources and don't be afraid to
experiment a little! Some of the most valuable information is about
experiments that didn't work or almost worked.

Steve Pushak                   where it's still raining but lots of snow 
Vancouver, BC, Canada          for skiing in the mountains!!!! :-)