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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.