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A newbie "comes out"

Hello folks,

There's an incredible knowledge base out there, and I have greatly
appreciated the opportunity to lurk in the background for the last month.
I'm a newbie.  When I set up my first aquarium (a 50 gal community tank with
1-1/2" gravel and 60w of fluorescent strip lighting) in November last year I
knew nothing of fish and filters, much less of aquatic plants and
photosynthesis.  Since then I've caught the bug, having had a modicum of
success with some of the easier flora (Rotala indica, Hygrophila polysperma,
Anubias barteri, various small Crypts).  Much to Steve Dixon's dismay, the
owner of a LFS hooked me up with him a few weeks ago, and Steve's advice has
been costing me a small fortune ever since.  Thanks also to Dave Gomberg,
who desperately needed a little peace and quiet when I met him, and to
Steve's wife Maureen whom I'm convinced will be cannonized shortly for her

I've upped the ante to 110w PC 6700K and added CO2, and I'm rebuilding my
tank with my daughter this coming weekend, replacing my current substrate
with 3" Fluorite and planting the cuttings that Steve graciously donated
last night.

Does my tank have problems?  Sure (bigtime).  Do I have a clue what to do
about them?  Actually, yes.  I've been brought gently to the realization
that plants need certain things (macronutrients, micronutrients,
lighting...), that there are relationships between several of those items
(KH/pH/CO2 - that's so cool!), and that gently coaxing my planted
environment is more productive than dumping stuff into the water and praying
(actually, the praying seems to help, but I've been unable to accurately
document the benefits - perhaps I should set up twin 20gal tanks and perform
some experiments...).  I can offer the community both my energy and my
viewpoint; those of an enlightened newcomer interested in correctly learning
the basics.  Although I'm still a virgin (well, almost), I'm being taught
correctly and my eyes are wide open.  Any offered opinions and advice will
be graciously accepted with appropriate fauning and cynicism.

michael rubin 
mrubin at visa_com
1(650) 432-4685