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Re: Water Chemistry -- Remedial Help

Thanks for the advice so far on recommended aquarist books -- I've also
gotten about half a dozen e-mail responses from lurkers who want me to
forward any information I get, so there seems to be strong interest.

The problem is that there are two levels of information available:
1)  "If your pH is too high, add some peat to your filter or bogwood to your
2)  (no offense, Paul) "The bicarbonates of Cu and Zn may well be reasonably
soluble, simply because these ions really do not pack well with _two_ HCO3-
ions in a crystal"

I'd like to find information that's somewhere -- well, in-between.

I would also like to find a book which provides one or more of the

1)  Pictures and descriptions of a large number of plants, especially those
which are less common (not just a few of the same old pictures and
descriptions of rotala, swords and crypts);
2)  Detailed information about water chemistry, including explanations of
why it matters (for instance, what you're actually testing when you use X
product, and what that means, why we can or can't use it as a reliable
indicator of a broader condition, what Y product does to your water and why
fish/plants need it);
3)  Detailed troubleshooting information, including explanations of what's
going on (not just "Cryptocoryne disease, treat with X product");

With, of course, the emphasis on #2.  It seems there's a lot of criticism on
this list of how most aquarium literature handles the issue -- am I
searching for the holy grail?  IS there a book or FAQ in existence which can
serve as a primer on basic water chemistry, without excluding important
variables or leading me into false assumptions?

As for the value of the "cheapie" Barron's and Tetra books:  I do have the
Barron's book titled "Aquarium Plants" (don't remember the author offhand,
it's a small, square book that's part of a series) and I would recommend
it -- especially considering the price (I bought it for $5).  I especially
appreciate the detailed troubleshooting info.

I also have the Tetra "Hobbyist Guide to the Natural Aquarium" (Dr. Chris
Andrews), and while I would recommend it as an excellent introduction to
plant-keeping and the "natural aquarium", it's not a very useful resource.
It provides descriptions and pictures of only a few common varieties, and
the troubleshooting information is simplistic -- a one-page chart of which
Tetra product you should buy to treat or prevent which common problems.

I've ordered K. Rataji and T. Horeman's "Aquarium Plants" -- since it's
billed on fishlinkcentral.com as "the most complete volume ever published
about aquarium plants".  448 pages should include at least a few pieces of
relevant information!  It's out of print, though.  Amazon.com claims to be
"searching its network of used bookstores", but I don't have my hopes up