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Steve Pushak wrote:

>This is a pretty good definition because the amount of work involved in
>keeping a planted tank can be very high.

I'm sure that some people put huge amounts of effort into their planted
tanks scurrying off in all directions and working harder than they need to
and probably spending more money than they need to.  On my 9 tanks
together, I spend about 2 hours weekly and about 2 minutes daily on
maintenance.  On our school tanks, (which range in size from 10-30G) I ask
our voulnteers to commit to 1/2 hour every 2 weeks for maintenance.  Only
two of these tanks even use pressurized CO2 systems, and even these are
manually operated, locally purchased and assembled.  NONE of the other
tanks use anything that I would consider "high tech" (unless you consider
juice bottle yeast reactors high tech)

As with all things perception of whether that's a lot of work or not will
vary.  But I suspect if a person can't/ doesn't want to invest 1/2 hour
every 2 weeks to tank maintenance, they're not going to do well with a
fish-only tank either.  In fact, they're probably not very interested in
their hobby, and would probably be happier doing something else instead.  I
disagree with the notion that planted tanks are more work than any other
type of tank that is being run properly.

As far as a definition of optimum is concerned, I agree with Steve
completely... it's a HIGHLY subjective term.Optimum for me at home is
different than Optimum for our school tanks.  At home, I want to be able to
maintain and propagate a wide variety of species.  I want to be able to
tinker with various species, and find what works best with them.  And I
want to walk into my family room or living room and be delighted with how
my tanks look on a day-to-day basis.

At school, we want tanks that are aesthetically attractive, healthy, and
educational.  We want slower growth (because it's less work) and are not as
concerned with how many different species we can grow.  If a species
doesn't work well in a tank, we pull it out, and use something that works
better for us.

I think part of the problem with the term "optimum" is that it causes
people to run around needlessly, chasing something that they have not
defined in their own mind.  Even the fact that we need to discuss what the
term means shows that.  

Why don't we try a little exercise here on APD.  Steve and I have defined
our goals, which helps define our vision of "optimum".  Why don't you all
sit down and think about what your goals are for your tanks.  Write a list,
from one to five (it can be more or less if you feel the need<g>) and post
it here.  Let's see what really _is_ important to people in their tanks.
It might help many of you define your "optimum" as well.

Here's my personal list to get us started:

1.+++ Visually beautiful
2. Capable of maintaining many species
3. Capable of propagating enough plants to share with others
4. Low maintenance/ few gadgets
5. Consistently reproduceable results

Anyone else care to give it a shot?

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association