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re: Karen's question

I'm one of the "lurkers" to whom Karen Randall referred, although I 
have made a few posts to the list.  My reasons for getting into the 
planted aquarium hobby:
* The challenge.  I had kept aquatic plants in containers in a 55 
gal. tank which had an undergravel filter.  Most of the plants grew, 
but there wasn't much freedom to create new or natural 
appearing layouts.

* I wanted to create a healthy aquarium environment which might 
require less maintenance.  I had been tearing down my UGF tanks every 
year.  More on setup later.

* I wanted to be able to use more plant species and have more tank 
decorating options.  This has come true for me.  I started using 
many of the techniques that are discussed on this list and my plants 
are growing very well and I've had few failures.  Being able to place 
plants in natural appearing ways is much more attractive than using 
plants in containers.

*  An unanticipated benefit is that my wife became more interested in 
the tanks.  She has a very good eye for artistic arrangement and has 
been a big help.

I'd like to thank some of the "regulars" on the list for their 
advice.  Last winter I asked for information about Ozelot Swords.  
The LFS had some, but they seemed expensive.  Several people wrote 
back and encouraged me to buy one.  I did, and now I sell small 
Ozelot Swords to the LFS.  Also, on the advice from some list 
"regulars" I bought a Python water changer and now I wonder why I 
waited so long.

And now, some words about tank setup.  Last January I set up a 55 
gal. and a 75 gal. as plant tanks.  The 55 has 120w of light and the 
75 has 160w.  For filtration, the 55 has a Renaissance model 20 
cannister filter and the 75 has a Renaissance model 30.  Both have 
DIY CO2.  The only difference in the 2 tanks is the way in which I 
installed the substrate.  In the 55 I first put in about 1/2" of 
gravel followed by about 1/2" of potting soil, followed by about 2 - 
2 1/2" of mixed Flourite and gravel.  The 75 has the same substrate 
ingredients and same substrate depth.  The only difference is that I 
didn't first put in the 1/2" layer of gravel; I first put in the 
potting soil followed by the Flourite/gravel mixture.  In the 75 the 
potting soil is now oozing up through the gravel to the top of the 
substrate and I have to vacuum it out. This hasn't happened in the 
55.  If anyone has any reasons for why this happened, I'd like to 
hear from them.

This turned out to be longer that I'd intended.  Thanks for your 

Brad Grenard
Otterbein, IN