Karen Randall wrote:

>I haven't seen anything (including all the photos in his books) to lead me
>to believe that Amano has any corner on growing beautiful plants in algae
>free environments.  Amano is a master at aquarium design, there's no
>doubt about that.  He's an even better photographer.  But I haven't seen
>any plants in his tanks that couldn't be grown just as well by many
>accomplished American and European aquatic gardeners.

That's really music to my ears Karen (I'll keep working at it).  Let me
make two specific comments:  On page 45 of Amano's first book, there are
some fairly ragged (for him) Java ferns and some other plants with holes in
the leaves.  In every set up I've done where the plants were growing, those
ragged Java leaves (especially the older ones) would begin to get some
blackish algae crud on them, and would deteriorate further until pruned. 
They wouldn't be ragged and also a nice light green, as in Amano's picture.

Second comment:  In Book 3 there are many pictures of "lawn" plants (E.
tenellus and Glossostigma) that have grown very densely and all over
themselves.  It seems obvious to me that the front glass of those tanks has
not been cleaned (at the sand/plant interface) on a regular basis.  

One of the folk who is active on CompuServe's aquaria forum (Doug Valerdi,
I think) said a while back that he hasn't cleaned his front glass in 6
months and that its crystal clear!  Among other things, he's does 100%
water changes weekly (when his wife picks out a bad TV show, he does a 50%
water change!).

Every effort I've made to duplicate that result has failed.  To get an
algae free front pane, I end up shutting down plant growth (due, no doubt,
to lack of nutrients).  When I put enough nutrients into the tank (water
only, I've never put anything other than laterite into the substrate) to
get the plants growing, I get some algae on the front pane, which if
scrubbed off, results in some damage to the lawn plants happily crowding
their way along the front edge of the sand and glass.

(I haven't tried to zero in on this goal since discovering the principles
of the Sears/Conlin paper--so I'm not done experimenting yet, but so far,

I have the feeling that 3 years from now I'll be putting more nutrients
into the substate (including maybe N and K) and keeping the nutrients in
the water at lower levels with water changes.  One of the things I would be
really interested to know is whether Amano is fertilizing his substrate
fairly heavily?  Or is it just laterite and/or other non-macro nutrients?  

How do the "accomplished" <g> American and European aquarists achieve algae
free glass?  And do their plants really age and die as gracefully as
Amano's appear to do?