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Re: low vs high tech

Hello John,

There seems to be a lot of confusion of the terms high tech and low tech.
Mostly, I think that this is because "high" and "low" are relative terms.
What one thinks of high and low will vary.  "Technology" is just the
practical application of knowledge.  So, knowing that fish poop contains
nutrients that plants can use, and placing fish into you aquarium to poop
for the plants nourishment is the practical application of knowledge - this
is technology.  The knowledgeable application of the wheel is technology and
the knowledgeable application of fertilizer is technology.  It doesn't have
to be complicated or new to be technology.  The gray area is in the relative
terms like "new", "old", "high", "low", etc.

I think the terms high and low tech predated Ms. Walstad's 1999 book.  I was
fairly certain that folks were using these terms before 1995, which was when
I became much more serious about this hobby.  I know that I was using that
terminology then.  I have just recently purchased Ms.Walstad's book.  It
seems like an interesting book although I only glanced thru it.  I don't
think that Ms. Walstad has imposed a definition of either high or low tech
on the hobby.  She may have her own definition, but she doesn't speak for
the entire hobby.  You hadn't mentioned Ms. Walstad in your original post so
I was using what I know as the commonly accepted definition of high and low

> So, even if that was what I was saying, how is that
> "high tech"? There is no real "technology" happening.
> What on Earth is so complicated about measuring and
> dumping a few ferts into a constant amount of water?
> For those who decide to use more light than Las Vegas
> over their aquariums, I say good luck. You didn't read
> that I was advocating tons of light in my last post. I
> didn't say that.

I didn't say that you were advocating any of these technologies, I was
simply contrasting fish waste (poop) and dosed nutruient additives, simple
lighting and super powerful fluorescent fixtures with complex phosphors,
etc.in an effort to show that dosed nutrients would be high tech as compared
to fish poop.  I suppose I didn't do that very well.

> Nope...never said "high tech" was fool proof. Read the
> post again. If one was to follow Diana Walstad's
> methods right down to the letter, they would be very
> successful. The people who would go out to dig their
> own soil, carefully select appropriate plant species
> through trial and error and anecdotal info, and find
> just the right balance of substrate, flora/fauna
> mixture, fish food additions, and lights are doing
> just as much work. Most *don't* and that's where they
> have problems. That way is not any easier so most
> half-ass it, then resort to "high tech" methods like
> DIY CO2, et al. hehe....Really advanced stuff!

Yes, I suppose you didn't say that high tech was foolproof.  You said that
there were foolproof approaches that were chronicaled in the archives.  The
only approach that comes to my mind would be the high tech approach. But
evidently, you were refering to Ms Walstad's methods.  Since I am not yet
familar with Ms. Walstad's methods, I can't say if I am "following" them.  I
do know many folks who use different low tech approaches and they have
success.  I'll have to read Ms. Walstad's book and see if these folks are
following Ms Walstad's methods or are having success outside her approach.

> You should read more carefully and not insert ideas
> that suit your post....

I certainly tried to read the post carefully.  Pardon me if I did insert my
own ideas.  All I can do is read and try to comprehend your written words.

> Allow me to clarify:
> Let's forget the common conception of "high vs low"
> tech (for this post...I know the terms aren't going
> anywhere). They don't apply these days. With advances
> in retail, e-tail, and sheer quantity of hobbyists,
> their is no reason that we should refer to our stuff
> as high or low anything. It's commonly available, and
> it's not really expensive. Granted, Mrs. Walstad's
> approach is very cheap, and I've heard it works....The
> vast *minority* of us use that method. It's not a
> consideration. You admitted that you use some "high
> tech" methods. What, DIY CO2?....TMG? What is so
> complicated? There is nothing "tech" about it. pH
> probes have been around for *years*. Selanoids,
> bio-media, powercompacts, wet-dry, flourite,
> PO4...Nothing new or complicated here. All "old hat"
> to the world. Maybe we should change our terms to "old
> hat approach" vs. "new hat" approach;) So, my point in
> the generalizations above is that most people don't do
> one or the other...there is some hybridization of the
> methods AND approaches and that, along with impatience
> is the source of most of our "I'm in trouble" posts.

We will have the same problem with "old" and "new" hat.  "Old" and "new" are
also relative terms.  I think the terms high and low tech are quite
applicable.  Are they precise definitions of of our exact procedures - no -
are they useful short descriptions - yes, I think they are.

> should give plants what they need. I don't think I'll
> get any argument there.

Certainly, no argument on this point.  What did you mean by a juicy tank?

> Yeah, but you said you don't use the "low tech
> approach". Hybrid, remember?

I would consider fish poop, shop lights, $.89 a bag top soil, and pea gravel
as low tech.  I upgraded some, but not all of the shop lights to T-8 tubes
and ballasts to save money (electricity), I use flourite in some potted
plants, and I use DIY CO2 sporatically in my display aquarium - I have many
non-display tanks.  A while back I was experimenting with fertilizers.  I
was using Jobes sticks near the base of my plants and trying Osmocote in the
potted plants.  I don't use external fertilizers on a regular basis.  It's
been a year since I stuffed a Jobes stick into an aquarium, at least.
Certainly, I wouldn't call my infrequent use of external fertilizers "my
typical method of culture".  I consider my typical methods to be low tech -
fish poop, a little soil, a little flourite, lots of gravel, and shop
lights.  I suppose you could argue the flourite and shop lights, if you
wanted to do so.

> >>Some people really enjoy to tinker and experiment,
> the high tech approach lends itself well to these
> folks.  Enjoy that if you like, but please don't
> disparage the low tech enthusiast.<<
> Wasn't doing that either.

From your original post.  >>High tech should read "things that plants need
method" and low tech should read "trying so hard to cheat algae, and save a
dollar method".<<

This is difficult to interpret as anything but disparaging to the low tech
aquariust who can also provide things that plants need.  Maybe I'm missing
something.  Certainly, I am begining to think you had another point mixed in

The main jist of my post was
> to question the use of "high tech" vs. "low tech" as
> terms for describing our aquaria. It doesn't make
> sense, although, I understand that the terms are quite
> engrained and will not be abandoned. Low tech as was
> coined by Diana Walstad is not what you are doing. I
> never said that it doesn't work or that someone
> shouldn't try it. In fact, it seems just as difficult
> as the alternatives, but it is an approach that could
> work for you.....You don't do that.

Since I haven't as of yet found time to read Ms. Walstad's book, maybe you
can help me with how I'm not following her defintion of low-tech.  I found
reference to two sections in the index page 4-5 and 176 that cover low tech
setups.  At first glance (I just looked), it seems to me that I am culturing
my plants as she would define low tech.  Did you find a formal definition?

> Any more comments, or complaints I'd be happy to
> address off list.
> John Wheeler

Why go off list?  If I was overly aggressive or nasty, certainly I apologies
to you and the rest of the list.  I really don't like that kind of
discourse.  My note wasn't intended as such.  We can disagree, we just need
to do so politely, just my opinion.