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[APD] Re: Substrates

Having worked in the chemical industry, I can tell you that there are two obvious reasons why a company's formulations are proprietary: 1) competitors, 2) do it yourselfers. Usually, a "trade secret" suggests anyone can do it, given the inclination, equipment, and know how. A truly novel product that cannot be reproduced doesn't need to be protected by secrecy. Our delightful hobby is such that some prefer to spend top dollar on whatever will work for them; others want to understand why things work and are willing to tinker. To each his own.

Inspired by Tom Barr's recent posts and some great forum reading (where would this hobby be without the internet?), I started water testing again (I know that's not the "Barr Method" per se, but I needed to know where my tanks were before adding nutrients). To my amazement, all three tanks were radically different, even though they were pretty much neglected equally. Two had nitrates in excess of 100 ppm, one due to overpopulation, the other to the apparent demise of two SAEs (RIP). Even kH varied, with one tank at 6 dkH and the other two at 11 dkH, even though the tap water is the same for all three. Go figure. The good news is now that I have a bead on my water parameters, I can fertilize each tank strategically, as Tom suggests. The differences already are quite noticeable, even after only four weeks.

What I sometimes forget is that aquariums are closed systems, unlike a natural stream or lake, which has a constant flow of water carrying nutrients in and waste out., unless you're talking about the Dead Sea (which some of my tanks have resembled at times, especially before I knew to top off evaporative loss with RO water). For this reason, the Barr Method is intuitively sound. In the natural setting, the water column is constantly being renewed; in the aquarium we must replicate this through regular water changes and nutrient additions. Obvious but often overlooked, I think.

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