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>Dear friends I am just about to quit this miserable hobby.  I am not
>kidding.  I lurked for a month here last winter.  Then I bought all back
>issues of The Aquatic Gardner.  I am a great vegetable gardner.  In fact
>there is not much that I choose to do that I have not become a journeyman
>in short order.  I have had aquariums on and off since I was 12.  I am 49
>now.  And when I lived in Steamboat Springs in the 1970's at an elevationof
>6,700 feet, I had a wonderful and successful salt water aquarium.

>But, oh, the plants.  My two tanks that I started in the Spring have gone
>from beautiful to crappy and back again.  I just don't know what to do to
>get any consistency out of this.  Now I am reading everyone's story about
>using bleach to get rid of the green hair and green beards.  I am sorry, I
>cannot do that. life is too short for me to spend hours of it bleaching
>plants and taking down and puting up my aquarium.  Is there no other way?

Hang in there Macon.  I know how you feel.  I failed in every way
possible before I started catching on.  When I was 12 my twin brother
and I had 22 aquariums in my Dad's basement.  At 44 I couldn't pay a
plant to grow continuously for a 6-month period.  At 46 I'm pretty much
all smiles and maybe even ready for whatever problem hits me next
<cringe--shouldn't have said that>.  The old timers who say, "Come on,
it isn't that hard folks."--just don't remember, or got lucky in the
very early stages before they "learned" how to balance nutrients in a
planted aquarium.  What I think they're saying is, "now that I've got
the hang of it, it's not too hard."  Which may be true.

A couple of comments:  1. Although I'm a recovering "testaholic" and
don't test much anymore, I think it might be a useful phase (especially
for those of us who are compulsive :-).  With Hach or LaMotte kits one
can fool around with every idea that comes to one's mind.  After all is
said and done, when I test I find very low NO3 levels, no detectable
phosphate and interestingly, almost no detectable iron--even though I'm
adding quite a bit of all three nutrients (and this is the important
point) through supplements, fish food and fish load.  2.  The cycling
from good condition to bad and back again is probably having a pretty
good balance of nutrients for a period and then going over or under and
then perhaps back again.  3. God bless all the bleachers (and all
success to them), but I just don't believe it is necessary, and if it
were, I might throw in the towel too.  I just can't bring myself to view
exposure to algae as the equivalent of a life-threatening disease.  4.
Stay with the APD.  One month isn't nearly long enough to learn from the
experience of others!  5.  My current success pattern (and I don't think
there is a "cookie cutter" solution unless perhaps one does the Dupla
routine rigorously) is Tropica MasterGrow (around 5/ml per 40 gals (tank
size) per week with 30% weekly water changes) supplemented with Epsom
salts (1/4-3/4 tsp. per tank, per week depending on the look and feel of
the tank) CaCO3 (1/4-1/2 tsp. per tank per week) and K2SO4 (1/4-1/2 tsp.
per tank, per week) because I think we need more potassium in our tanks.
 This is complicated a bit by my latest experiments: Feeding more
heavily (because I like watching the fish eat, especially the rainbows
in my new rainbow tank) and pushing stuff into the substrate (mostly
laterite balls, but also some Jobes spikes and other stuff deep in the
substrate).  My only point here is that these are my current "tools."
You may find others.

Good luck (and as my wife said to me, "because it's hard, you'll enjoy
it even more when you get it.") Steve Dixon