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Re: best way for beginners

> From: Carlos Munoz <cmunoz at crystal_cirrus.com>
> Subject: Re: best way for beginners
> >>>>> Steve Pushak <teban at powersonic_bc.ca> (here: "SP"),
> >>>>> on Thu, 24 Sep 1998 02:44:15 -0700,
> >>>>> pondered the meaning of life, then wrote down:
>     SP> I think the best way for beginners to start is to follow the
>     SP> instructions for a single method precisely and use whatever equipment
>     SP> and fertilizers are recommended for that method. This does NOT
>     SP> necessarily mean starting off with high lighting. You are MUCH better
>     SP> off to start with moderate lighting, 2 watts/gal than say +4 watts/gal.
>     [...]
> Perfectly sensible, Steve, but it only works if you happen to know (or read)
> that they need to find a method. If you don't, how would you guess that you
> can't ignore CO2 injection when you have tons of light and a rich substrate?
> An advanced gardener (not me) could do it by choosing the right plants,
> planning appropriate water changes, etc.  But a beginner?
> With all the marketing for products and additives and our own out-of-context
> discussions about PMDD, CO2 injection and substrates, how does a new aquatic
> gardener learn:
>     1) The different proven methods used by others.
>     2) What is a reasonable variation on a method and what is not.
>     3) The relative value and interdependence of the elements of each method.
> Anyone that has been reading this list for a while might know where to find
> this information in the archives and in individuals' web pages, but there
> isn't an organized and summarized list of these methods anywhere that a
> beginner will easily find and use to contrast and compare.

That is true. As you say, the closest to it is probably the Krib.

The Krib does not try to be a concise how-to guide to reviewing the
various methods; instead it is a kind of rambling collection of postings
on various topics. The FAQ parts are quite good and this would be the
part to place pointers to various methods. The FAQ stops short of
recommending a single cohesive nutrient method because it tries to be
neutral. It is very hard to write up an easy to follow recipe that
allows all the variants. There are endless variants that work (and many
more that don't). The more choices you leave, the more the poor readers
gets confused. For example, in my soil substrate method, I state :

"Bottom layer, iron rich clay, Micronized Iron or subsoil. This may be
mixed with sand."

Later on I explain that 2% Micronized Iron is plenty but since I don't
quote exact proportions, I think its confusing to folks. The plain fact
is that the exact proportions are not really that important (clay vs

> A lot of the people on this list have done a fantastic job of explaining
> their setups and upkeep in their webpages and others have done the same on
> this list (now in the archives). A beginner will have a hard time finding
> these, however, and a harder time comparing and chosing what's right for
> them. Can we at least compile a list of these methods?

I think we should collect Karen Randall's various postings on her method
and boil that down into a recipe. I think it would be quite good. If
there were 3-4 methodologies explained in detailed form and with
pointers set up in the FAQ and Krib, it might be better.

Another confounding factor is that some folks have good luck using a
low-tech method without adding calcium or other minerals or CO2 because
they have tap water that contains sufficient and their lighting is low
enough that the problems of biogenic decalcification don't create
problems. A lack of CO2 sometimes shows up as a steadily increasing pH.
Sometimes you can get by with low light if you happen to have enough
organic factors that buffer the pH to a safe value. I do this in my
Killiefish containers by using strong light and peat however its not an
optimal environment for the plants. It seems to be enough to keep the
ammonia in the water under control and produce heavy growth of water

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!