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Re: High tech/Low tech definition

Rather than high-tech vs low-tech, I see it as high-input vs low-input
methods.  If you drive the system with a lot of light, your plants will
require more nutrients including CO2 to stay ahead of the algae.  You
will get more growth and you will need to prune more often.  You will have
to keep a careful eye on water chemistry and nutrient balance.  With low
to moderate light, the fish can fertilize the plants, the plants will
grow although more slowly.  The system tends to be more stable and needs
little monitoring.

High input systems require more inputs in terms of light (electricity),
fertilizers, and equipment (all $$) as well as the aquarists time.  Low
input systems require less time and money.

Really spectacular results can be obtained with a high-tech, high-input
driven system, but you can have good looking low-input tanks with much
less time, money and effort.  It may be a 90-10 or 80-20 situation -
you can get 90% of the effect with 10% of the inputs, but to get that
last 10% of effect may take 9 times more input.

I'm not saying that either end of the spectrum is better than the other.
People have different objectives, and may want to put varying amounts of
resources into the hobby.  I tend to stick up for the low input end of things
because some people who decide they want a planted tank seem to think that
the high-input method is the only way to succeed, and I want to tell them
that it isn't necessary to spend a lot of money to have a nice tank.

None of my tanks were intended as showpieces. In most of them I'm trying 
to observe, breed and raise fish and the plants are in there for their 
great effects on water quality, harboring microcritters for fry to eat, 
and the natural appearing environment which I think is good for the fish, 
and looks good to me, too.  However, just about everyone who sees my tanks 
thinks they look good.  I think this is mostly because the tangled mass 
of plants has a naturalistic look which is pleasing to the eye and so 
unlike the stark bare tanks that seem to be the default for most aquaria 
these days.