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TechWars, Magic water,

I'm sorry Cynthia, and the rest of the list.  I've been quiet to this
point, I avoided writing my usual arrogant replies the last 2 weeks.
Maybe you can excuse it since I am including some actual information in
the middle:

> DanQ replies to George Booth:

> It's
> also a little sad that so many on this list do a pretty good job at
> preventing any discussion on alternatives to spending a lot of money to
> get a plant grow.

How long have you been on this list, Dan?  One of the biggest regular
topics has been plants on a budget.  Trawl the archives for "PMDD",
"Yeast CO2", or even "art clay laterite".  What I have seen often posted
is the need for BALANCE... balance the plants to the nutrients, light
level, water conditions.  The higher the tech, the easier it is to obtain
a balance that grows many plants extremely well.  The lower the "tech",
the more care must be placed in selecting less demanding plants, and
making sure they have an adequate balance of nutrients and light.  And by
"tech", I do not mean amount of money, but amount of extra hardware added
to the system.  You can spend a wide variety of money to get the same

As Neil Frank pointed out in his post on the 12-step program to being an
aquatic gardener :), a lot of us high-techers are ALSO low-techers.  I
have one big tank with CO2 and high light, and laterite (although it's red
art clay, which cost me just a little more than zeolite cat litter).  I
also have several small tanks with nothing special at all, not even any
added fertilizer.  I get good results on all of them, sometimes even like
the look of the low-tech tank better (but not usually).  

I think what's going on is that folks are naturally skeptical of anyone
who comes in suddenly and pushes their "system";  especially when you've
overtly said "I don't really know why it works, aside from it being clay,
but it works great for me".  What bothers me is that since you have
exposure in a national magazine, your personal experience is likely to be
taken by many as "the new big thing" just as much as Dupla's expensive
stuff, with potentially more disasterous results... I'm already getting
questions from members of our local fish club who are now convinced that
kitty litter is the new magic ingredient to put in their tanks to grow
good plants (ignoring appropriate lighting, something which is far more

>     Your attempt at putting down low-tech because of your experience is
> a poor reason at best.

Why?  George has had quite a lot of experience in comparative tech, as he
explained in great detail in his last post.  He has clearly taken the time
to flat-out compare results of different systems.  You have out-and-out
said "Don't need it, don't care" about high tech.

> > So, in summary, some people don't have "lucky water" or "green >thumbs".
>   Oh please. Where have I ever suggested lucky water.

You haven't suggsted it, but others have.  Depending on your location,
your water will contain different amounts of nutrients..  Case in
point: I just got back (Seattle) from taking down my wife's tank
(Houston), which contained a huge lush Java Fern which had taken over the
whole tank in the three months she'd been away.  No fertilizer.
Heck, no fish! Plant tied to bogwood.  I do not get this good a growth on
my equivalent tanks here.  Now I could say "ooh, to get excellent Java
Fern growth, you need an undergravel filter", "keep the fish out of your
tank", or even "use only one tube".  But it's likely the houston water
with all its dissolved minerals that is producing the super-fern.

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

>   Not many, because as I said before it's hard for beginners to find  
> much information on low-tech that works. I hope to change that. I might
> add that Diana Walstad (technical advisor for TAG) uses a great low-tech
> system not to dissimilar from my approach. I suspect she has helped as
> many people as you.  

Diana has also done quite a lot of research to back up her claims.  Even
when I've found my personal experience differs with her suggestions (I
recall the "fish food as exclusive fertilizer" being controversial), I
have to at least respect her analysis in showing the nutrient ratios
SHOULD work. 

>   I also wonder how many folks (especially kids) have never experience 
> successful plant keeping because they can't afford your methods. I  
> suspect a great deal more than you have helped.

Again, I suggest you check some of the archived messages here, as well as
the web sites.  Some of us have helped come up with both affordable
high-tech AND low-tech solutions.

   - Erik

Erik Olson				
eriko at wrq_com