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Re:slow growth low-tech

> Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 15:49:29 -0500
> From: Cynthia S Powers <cyn at metronet_com>

> ObPlants:   I recall George Booth saying, in the not too distant past, that
> it took a number of years (3-4?) before plants grew very well in low-tech
> tanks.  .........
  I snipped most of the above because the main point I hope to make
concerns the term "low-tech tanks". The term "low-tech", like the term
"mud" can include all sorts of concoctions with different results for
aquatic  plant growers. 
   I tried once before to see if there was any interest in the AGA to
define different methods for aquarium plant techniques so beginners in
particular had a clue as to what was meant by the different "-techs". I
think I failed.
    My own personal opinion, but I would consider the undergravel (UG)
filters the lowest of tech, and wouldn't use it in a fish tank with zero
plants. Note- I didn't say they don't work. 
  In a plant tank I would consider them a handicap if not out right
threat to many plants. First, I think it would be most difficult to use
a soft substrate (commercial brand of clay purchased in either the
aquatic or kitty section) of a pet retailer.
   UG filters, to some degree at least, push oxygenated water through
the gravel, yet plants prefer to grow in an anaerobic (low/no oxygen)
substrate. Another reason I dislike the UG filter is because water seeks
the course of least resistance, and as bacteria forms a matrix over the
top of the gravel, the water is forced to find (or make channels)
leaving you with patches of gravel that are anaerobic and patches that
are aerobic. If you could tell which patches are anaerobic, these would
probably be the best (of bad choices) in this aquarium for plants.
Thirdly, I don't like UG filters because they are indeed, a very large
home for nitrifying bacteria that is going to be in direct competition
with the plants for the same food.
   Seems like I digressed a little because I don't really care if folks
use an UG filter with plants if that's important to them. However, I
promote a "low-tech" approach on my web pages that is quite different
with much different results. My approach, by all accounts, seems to meet
the criteria for low-tech, but I would never advocate using a UG filter. 
   I also think clay in the substrate is "almost" mandatory, at least
for beginners. My guess is that the UG filtered "low-tech" set up
prohibits growth for up to 4 years. While the "low-tech" method I
promote should see growth in a few days. 
   In simple strokes, I'm just trying to point out to beginners that the
term "low-tech" doesn't mean it's going to take 4 years to get a plant
tank that works.
Dan Q