Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V2 #375

>From: N.Monks at nhm_ac.uk (Neale Monks)
>...Rather, how can
>we make a stable, long lasting planted aquarium available to newcomers to
>the hobby?

I think the most crucial problems for newbies isn't identifying stuff
that they could do, but rather to cut down the noise by identifying
stuff that flat out *doesn't* matter or matters trivially.

On substrates:
  It's well known you can grow plants in virtually any substrate.
So it's easiest and best to go ahead and start with whatever substrate
you're already comfortable with.

  Don't try.  If you want to change the Ph of your water, do it through

  It just doesn't matter.  (except as it applies to CO2).

"The right plants":
  Clearly, some plants are easier to grow than others, and which ones
will be easy for you to grow is a crapshoot, plain and simple.
Saying that it's just a matter of finding plants that grow wild locally
isn't a really satisfactory answer either because wild plants aren't
growing in tapwater - tapwater is signifigantly altered from its
original source.  For instance, Ambulia grows in local rivers and
streams.  It grows in my aquariums too, but only if the CO2 is on.
If I turn it off, growth stops.

  So the bottom line is, if you're just starting out, buy a bunch of
different plants.  If none of them grow, or the plants that you really
want to grow don't grow, try CO2.

On fertilizer:
  Virtually any fertilizer is capable of growing plants and many plants
will grow just fine without any fertilizer.  But it's cheap enough, so
pick one, stick with it, and find out what plants grow with it.  If you
can grow some plants but not others, you might try changing fertilizers,
but if you can't grow any plants at all (or only floating plants),
then your problem isn't fertilizer.

  This definitely matters, get at least 2 watts/gal.  Once you have that
much, however, there is no need to get carried away:  if you're not
getting growth with 2w/g, it's unlikely you'll get any with 4.  The most
important thing here is to keep it simple!  While Tritons are nice lamps,
they're only marginally better than your basic full-spectrum bulb.
Start small, work up.

  It's definitely a tricky thing, but if you can't get growth with
>=2watts/gal of light and decent fertilizer, nothing else you can try
is likely to get you far.

  I think the most difficult thing about CO2 is getting people to use
and believe their test-kits.  When you start with CO2, test your water,
preferably with a Ph test kit, and compare it with the trusty Kh/Ph
table.  If you're not getting proper CO2 concentrations, fool with
your surface-agitation, reactor, or source until you do get it.

With adequate light and fertilizer, you may get adequate growth.
With the addition of CO2, you will almost certainly see adequate
or better growth.  Either way, you're ready to move onto other things,
like substrates, more lighting, different kinds of fertilizer,
and better CO2 technology.  All of these will help (probably), but
can't be expected to have a major impact (like lighting, fertilizer,
and CO2 can have).

                                        - Steve
Steve Benz (steveb at tall-tree_com)   |   Tall Tree Software Co.
http://www.tall-tree.com            |   Ph/Fax: 512-453-4909