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Re: high vs low thing (long)

Hey gang,

I think that we're now witnessing *again* the most
severe limitation of cyberspace....Words without
inflection, or vocal context....

Chris Newell wrote (with some snips;)
>>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.<<

Fair enough.

>>.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 tech.<<

I guess that I'm guilty of some of the same things.
Another poster on this thread had mentioned some high
priced articles as some of the initial investment sort
of things....I don't feel like substrate heat/UV's/pH
monitors or probes, etc. are neccessary to maintain a
"high tech" aquarium...BTW, I don't know where that
guy shops, but someone is (or would be) getting rich
off his ignorance. He hasn't properly shopped around.
Also, BTW, I don't own any of those things that he
mentioned excpet PC lights, and a CO2 setup. The
combined cost for all of my tanks (4 planted) wasn't
even $500.

I have my own conception of what "high tech" means 
and apparently, because I don't *consider* trivial,
questionable, or frivolous gadgets, I have err'ed in
the common view...I still don't concede that High or
Low Tech is appropriate.   

> So, even if that was what I was saying, how is that
> "high tech"? There is no real "technology"
> 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
> over their aquariums, I say good luck. You didn't
> that I was advocating tons of light in my last post.
> 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.<<

OK....Basically, the same wires and endcaps, and a
ballast go into PC lighting. Same as a shop light by
my count. Add a reflector and you're high tech, baby!!
Hehe...sorry for the sarcasm, but that works on every
front. When is the last time you considered the
phosphors in your lights. I never have...That's for
the light company. Also, my tanks with NO flourescent
strips use GE sunshines. The best bulb for you dollar,
IMHO....No Tritons, Power Glow, or anything or
anything like that. 

I understand your contrast, but we're moving furthur
away from the point here (partly my fault). The
original contrast was, fish poop, as an exclusive
means of fertilization, only produces real results
under very specific conditions. Thats *hard*!! And I
risk incendiary retort here, but the palette of plants
that will produce under that scheme limits your

I will concede that putting fertlizers in a tank once
a week is too much for some folks to commit to. That's
OK...Different levels of activity are natural, and
good, but compensate with an approach that will still
allow you to be successful.

> Nope...never said "high tech" was fool proof. Read
> 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
> 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.>>

Well that's not fair. There is Dupla, Dennerle, Tom
Barr, Mrs. Walstad, and others. Jeff Senske of
Aquarium Design Group has his own approach that works,
and I'd bet most people here have never heard of this
guy. Wow. Tom Barr gives his secrets away 3 times a
week, and they work. 

>>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.<<

Now we're just running in circles. I can see that most
of the issue here is just word play.

> 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
> 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,
> it's not really expensive. Granted, Mrs. Walstad's
> approach is very cheap, and I've heard it
> 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
> hat approach" vs. "new hat" approach;) So, my point
> the generalizations above is that most people don't
> one or the other...there is some hybridization of
> methods AND approaches and that, along with
> 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.<<

Fair enough...I still don't like them though;-) 

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

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

More art stuff here, but there is a way that well
grown plants "glow" that make a tank *sparkle*.
Carefull plant selection along with a thoughtful
layout. Plant growth speed, and power compact light,
or any other "technology" doesn't have anything to do
with this. None of the "tech" stuff is neccessary by
itself...just plants that have what they need, however
you need to get it to them.

> 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, you think that your method is less complex than a
tank with CO2 injection, and water column ferts?
Doesn't sound like it to me. After the initial
investment, which could be really reasonable, or sky
high, the cost is minimal...I'm a college student BTW.
I also make my living as a musician. 

What do you think of your results? This is not
condescend by any means. I'm truly interested in your

>>.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 here.<<<

I guess I could've worded that better. My apologies. I
think that I outlined an acceptable response to this
query above....

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
> 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
> as the alternatives, but it is an approach that
> 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.<<

I assumed that you were familiar with her work. In
this case, I inserted stuff to suit my post. Sorry.
Without outlining the book, I'd say that the biggest
difference between your method and her's is your
addition of ferts (incl CO2) other than soil and fish
food. Read the book...it's good stuff, but you're
indeed not far off.    

>>Did you find a formal definition?<<

No...I took the definition to be the opposite of her
"high tech" description, as well as her outlined
approach to raising aquarium plants.

With a little more verbage to grab onto, I understand
your meaning and frustration with my original post. I
hope you have a better understanding of mine. 

John Wheeler

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