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Re: Re: random thoughts from DQ

>From: Dan Q <dqallwet at avana_net>
>Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 10:44:43 -0500
>  Still being in somewhat of a defensive mode, it's real tempting to ask
>some of you academic experts that are wrapped tightly to a more hi-tech
>approach, why you need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in
>equipment to aid you to get plants to grow when you could do it for
>under $50.00 to $100.00 in most aquaruiums?  Actually, I know the answer
>so you need not respond. 

Umm, gee, I don't think you "know the answer" and I think that's why people
are taking you to task.
I don't condsider myself "academic" since I'm a lowly engineer with only a
"BS" (EE) degree, but I'll respond anyway.  

We live in Ft. Collins, CO, and are priviledged to have fairly pure snow
melt water coming out of our tap -- very low KH and GH (<1 degree on the
Tetra scale). It also lacks much in the way of plant nutrients based on our
initial experiences.  We had an 85 gallon tank set up in 1986 or so and
tried and tried to grow plants like the Europeans did. I admit that we had
an under gravel filter. We really didn't "know any better". 

We bought all the "plant fertilizers" that were available. We had good
light. We tried many different plants. Woe unto us, plants just kept on
dying. Until we bought a copy of _The_Optimum_Aquarium_.   Lo and behold,
the concept of "CO2" was brought to our attention.  Daleco sold Dupla stuff
"way back then" and we bought a Dupla CO2 "Starter Set".  Son of a BeanBag,
but once we did the "high tech" CO2 thing, plants started to grow for us.
Impressively. Awesomely. Even with an UGF!  Silver Bullet City, Dude!  
Impressed with our initial success, we threw money at the "problem" and
bought the Dupla fertilizers. Darned if the plants didn't grow even better.
 Now we were growing the "difficult" plants. Son of a Buckboard if we
didn't grow plants that defied the wisdom of the gods Rataj and Horeman.
Where they said such and such stayed under 4", we were growing them 12" and

We then set up a 100g tank using TOA methods *except* for the unbelieveably
expensive heating cables.  That tank did great with CO2 and Dupla
For a while. 

Flushed with success, we pushed the limits and set up a 55 gallon tank with
an UGF but *no* CO2.  It was kind of a "control" thing. We were "highly
experienced" aquarium professionals by this time and figured we knew what
we were doing.  Did the right lighting stuff, added the same Dupla
fertilizers, used plants from the "good" tanks and all that.  No CO2.
Guess what?  The plants didn't grow.  We tried and tried and tried (but
keeping CO2 injection out of the equation) and summarily FAILED.  

We also set up a 90 gallon tank that did *all* the Dupla stuff.  "That Fish
Place" decided to drop Dupla products and had a clearance sale.  We were
able to get a complete Dupla heating cable setup for about 1/3 retail.
That inspired the tank.  We did MH lights, trickle filter, the whole
schmear.  You can read about it in excrutiating detail in the Krib (the 9
part "SST" series). 
Son of a Bronco if that tank didn't do great! 

Back to the 100g tank without undergravel heating cables.  After 18 months,
the tank just kind of went down-hill.  Started getting lots of strange
algae types popping up.  We tried all kinds of stuff to no avail. Without
the heating coils, the tank didn't work *in the long run*.  

Back to the 85g UGF tank.  It was still doing great -- as long as we pulled
up *all* the plants and thoroughly vacuumed the gravel every three months.
If we didn't keep it really clean, the plants started dying.  We could
easily tell when it was time for an "all day cleaning"...

Back to the 90g "Dupla spec" tank.  It performed perfectly for 5 years.  We
very infrequently siphoned the gravel -- but only when we had to completely
pull up an Out Of Control patch of plants. We finally tore it down when we
remodeled the house and HAD to move it.  It was an awesome tank.   

So, in summary, some people don't have "lucky water" or "green thumbs".
Some folks can't just toss plants in the old tank and get them to grow.
I've written about my success in many forums.  Many people have written to
me after seeing these articles and I have *successfully* turned their
aquatic plants skills around by suggesting high tech methods.

I wonder how many people who previously did *not* have success with plants
have been assisted by your low tech methods? 

George Booth