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Re: Dan Quakenbush


Im feeling embattled here and I didnt even respond to your posts. I have 
a PhD in Aquatic Botany and something over 2 decades of education.

I have always and consistently advocated a 'low-tech' approach to the 
culture of aquarium plants. I have always maintained that equipment such as 
undergravel heaters, pH controllers, CO2 injection systems, expensive 
'full spectrum' lights, fancy substrate additives etc are unnecessary. I 
also agree with you that many novices are scared off by the seeming 
difficulty of growing aquatic plants under these conditions, especially 
since they are convinced that they require this equipment in order to 

I know many people enjoy fiddling with these systems but I usually refer 
to 'high tech' tanks as 'dying patient' tanks in that the underlying 
assumption is that without extreme measures the plants would die. The 
reality, of course, is that most aquatic plants have terrific maximal 
growth rates and can in fact spread enormously fast ... doubling times of 
2 to 4 days are not unusual.

I also know exactly why your kitty litter works and why its not the 
optimal substrate for growing plants ... even though it is adequate.
There is a large body of literature that has examined substrate 
requirements of aquatic plants, and the data from controlled, repeated 
experiments clearly show that loam soils of low organic matter produce 
the best growth. For reasons of safety, of course, many prefer a 
sterilized commercial substrate, which is perfectly understandable.

Education is the key to the promotion of the hobby. If people understood 
some of the basic adaptations of plants to an aquatic existence, then the 
mystery of what is going on with your plants would largely disappear and so 
would the snake oil salesmen.