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re:roots again

I very much appreciate the additional info about roots, but I am still 
confused. I often keep plants just floating, sometimes for a month, before 
planting and it seems to cause no problem. I also trim off roots from time to 
time with no ill effects. I'm not growing anything exotic and I am still a 
total beginner--enthusiastic but basically uniformed, so I really have no 
idea what I am talking about. I have one old book from the 1970s by a Dutch 
guy which says roots are pretty much only for anchoring and also a pamphlet 
that says the same thing from the LSF. I read with complete awe about your 
computer simulations and chemistry experiments here, and most of the books 
seem pretty weak compared to the vast and impressive knowledge displayed here 
every time I read this digest. This list is a treasure to me. But from what I 
know of terrestrial plants, the roots don't always serve the plant for 
nutrient intake. Roots are really for structure first, nutrients second--so I 
thought. Not saying that they don't absorb some, but my understanding is that 
for many plants, it ain't much. Think of plants in sandy soil--or for that 
matter how could you bonsai anything if nutrient intake was primarily a soil 
thing. I though for sure the same would hold for many (though not all) 
aquatic plants. Not water lilies, but, well, hygros? swords? I have no 
substrate because I didn't know you were supposed to, I vacuum away the fish 
poop too much according to the experts, and I have a 30 gallon bursting with 
great looking plants-crypts included. One light bulb and the tank in a 
window. All easy plants except maybe some crypts. Elodea out of control, but 
the fish and I love the tangles. Small swords, too. Big swords but they grow 
right out of the tank, so I have to get rid of them. Lots of hairgrass. Hard 
city water. No fertilizer except for the fish. Some times I squeeze in some 
iron. Never had an algae problem once I got some a pair of neon gouramies 
which seem to me to be nipping at bits of algae on the hornwort and a SAE 
which cleans everything else. Tanks been up for a year. Haven't tested the 
water in months. So why does it work?

And I have a piece of hornwort that sent out a root. I thought it wasn't 
supposed to do that. Oh well. Sorry if I'm asking dumb questions, hope you'll 
still invite me back to the party.