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I'm not a fan of the text of Pablo Tepoot's wonderful new book with
photographs of aquatic plants, but one comment he made has got me
thinking.  He mentions that many commercial plant growers use copper to
control algae growth.  Tepoot strongly advises against this practice and
regards it as a last resort.  While I'm at it let me say to the
newcomers on the list that this is a dangerous subject.  I know I'm
playing with fire here, but I'm interested anyway.

What I got to thinking about is Karen Randall's reports that her planted
tanks have almost "no visible algae."  I take this as absolute gospel
truth, but it's always been slightly counterintuitive to me.  I have
very soft wonderful Hetch Hetchy water here in San Francisco with no
more than a trace of copper (I don't have the water quality report at
hand but there's very little copper in the water.)  Karen's water, on
the other hand, contains quite a bit of copper (I forget the numbers she
posted, but it's high enough that she reduces her water changes during
copper spikes in her water supply).  

For me, and if memory serves, George Booth has also made this comment
(George also has very soft water in Denver), good plant growth is
usually associated with some visible algae.  It may not be much, but if
nothing else there is a bit of green spot algae to remove from the glass
at water changes every couple of weeks.  

Is it possible that experienced aquatic gardeners could tweak that last
little bit of algae down a notch by the addition of minute amounts of
copper to the water column?  Now for the heretical questions, if one
wanted to add a bit of copper to the water column, what chemical would
you advise?  And what copper levels would be safe for our fish and
plants?  I promise to be absurdly cautious-if I do anything at all!  :-)

Regards,  Steve Dixon -- in San Francisco

BTW, I goofed on my one of my recent APD notes:  Kelly Beard is a HE!
My apologies to Kelly!