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The staff at APC thought we'd take a minute and introduce ourselves, so to speak. So we all have come up with short bios to share with the membership.


APC was started by Art Giacosa back in January 2004. Much like the rest of us, Art was (and I imagine he still is) a planted tank enthusiast. He had the first ADA (Aqua Design Amano) distributorship in the US back in the mid '90's. That business venture wasn't as fruitful as hoped for and he discontinued it within a couple of years. But his interests in planted tanks remained, and eventually he decided he would build an aquatic plant site which eventually became APC. With the help of many dedicated hobbyists and all our past moderators, APC grew and became one of the premier sites for aquatic plant information. In mid 2006, Aqua Botanic Wet Thumbs Forum merged with APC. Due to constraints to his free time and the needs of an ever growing web site, Art decided he had to give up the web site. This occurred in Jan 2007. A second ownership change occurred around the end of May 2008, and with new, interested and dedicated ownership APC hopes to continue its growth and contributions to the aquatic plant realm of information.


Bryce M - Aministrator:

I started keeping fish at the age of 7 when my uncle gave me his old metal frame, slate-bottom 10 gallon aquarium. A few pictures of it show a few plastic plants, the mandatory bubbling diver, and a little house with a water wheel.

Once I was old enough I added a garage sale 20H and built a stand for it in shop class. Shortly thereafter my friend parted with his 40g 'MONSTER TANK', LOL. I set up the 20 with piranhas and kept angels in the 40g. They started to spawn & the 10g quickly got forced into service as a hatching tank. I raised and sold a few hundred of them and flooded the Southeast Idaho market with wild-type silver angels (still the only kind worth having IMHO).

About this time I found a book on angels and saw a group of them swimming around in an enormous planted tank. I then looked over at my 40g with the carefully arranged plastic plants (the diver had retired by then), and realized I was missing something. I ran to the LFS and had them special order a couple of Madagascar lace plants (they looked pretty cool) and plopped them into the gravel. They shed a few leaves and I pronounced them dead and threw them away, having failed miserably. In retrospect it's kind of funny. I probably had something like 0.5 WPG of incandescent light. I was still a hero among local fish keepers, having the magical ability to raise angels, so I was content enough.

I then let life get in the way and got myself into 14 years of training beyond high school. The original plan was to get a degree in civil engineering, which I did. Then I got the wild idea to apply to medical school and surprised everyone by getting accepted. We had one son by then. Two daughters came along during medical school and two more sons joined us during residency in New England.

Once residency slowed down a bit, "the kids" got a 20H from Santa. We did the plastic plant thing for a few months while I did some research on plants on the Internet. I stumbled across this site and have been utterly and completely addicted ever since. In my early days here I was introduced to NEAPS. Dennis, Bailin, & the gang were eventually able to get my algae problems straightened out.

We finally moved back to a small town in Idaho to raise kids and start a surgical practice. I finally had the resources to set up a 180g dream tank. Keeping the algae out of that beast has taught me much patience and humility. When it looks good, it's stunning. When it's falling apart...... well, I just don't take photos that month. Future projects - breeding angels again, keeping discus, setting up an office waiting room tank.

JanS - moderator:

I've always had an interest in animals and nature, but it wasn't until the mid 70's that I set up my first aquarium. I did everything wrong, and it was amazing that any of the poor fish survived. Back then it was common practice to tear the entire tank down twice a year or so and "sanitize" it, rather than doing regular partial water changes, so the poor fish had to go through the cycling process several times and live in poor conditions in the mean time, if they lived that long.

Over the years I've done a lot of research and experimentation, and now have 10 planted FW tanks and 3 saltwater tanks. I've made mistakes along the way, but mistakes bring experience. My goal is to keep improving and learning how to do things better to make as pleasing an environment as possible for my aquarium inhabitants. Fish are my first priority, and I enjoy having planted tanks to provide a more pleasant natural environment for them.

A little about myself:
I've been married to my husband Rick since 1990 and we both love nature and living out in our secluded area of the wilderness in northern Minnesota. We have 2 dogs - a Doberman and a Sheltie, 2 African Grey parrots, and 1 horse - a big black Paint.

Aside from aquatics, my hobbies and interests include vegetable gardening, flower gardening, wild birds, nature, photography, cacti and other houseplants, music, hiking, and crossword puzzles.

Since the introduction of the internet I've made many close friends who share my interests, and I can't imagine going back to having no one who shares my passion for aquatics. I have gathered a multitude of valuable information that I may never have, if it weren't for people at great boards like this.

Bert H - moderator:

Born in Cuba, came to the US when I was 8 with my parents. Started keeping fish tanks when I was around 13 or so. Back then, it was the metal sided tanks on a metal stand with the little in-tank corner filter. (I know, I am dating myself ). Anyway, when I was kid in Miami I would usually stick a Val into the tank and it would sort of grow for a while with the double incandescent bulb hood that came with the light strip of the time. I remember seeing pics of, what at the time, were heavily planted tanks from Axelrod's book and thinking how cool it looked.

Fast forward to college at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Majored in microbiology, and once I got on my own again, decided to go back to an aquarium. I got an all glass 29 gal tank with its 20W light strip/hood combination, decided to try to grow some plants, so I bought an Amazon and some hornwort. While the hornwort would grow, the sword would slowly bonsai itself (got smaller and smaller) until it was a nub and I would pull it out, and buy another. This went on for years, and then one day I discovered a forum, which I don't believe exists anymore - Aqualink - and started to read about how folks actually grew plants.

One day I built a diy CO2 system, and bought a second light strip for the 29 (up to a whopping 40W now!) and low and behold, I started to see growth from the sword instead of shrinkage! At that point I became a 'believer', and the rest is history.

I discovered other forums as time went by where people really did seem to know what they were talking about. Eventually converted to pressurized CO2 and better lighting and now have moderately good success in my tanks - defined as only a touch of algae now and again when I get lazy.

I found apc one day while surfing through ab and pt. I saw where most of the folks, at the time, were Floridians, joined and here I am.

What I do for a living - lab manager at a research laboratory, basic science, mostly tissue culture. I also have a side business in photography - I do arts and crafts shows, mostly throughout Florida on the weekends. I am married (25 years this year), one son, and 3 cats.

Milalic - moderator:

Born in the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico some years ago.
My interest in fish derived from my interest in animals. I used to keep
hamsters and lizards before doing a stop in fish tanks around the age of 12.
I have to admit that I did not know anything about them apart that they
looked cool. So my mom went out and bought me some little fishies. To my
amazement two of these little fishies grew amazingly big and ate my other little fish. These two lasted for a very long time. After a year of not keeping a fish tank, I found out these little beast were called Pacu. They were housed in a 30G tank. I used to feed them with my hands. Time passed and I went to college in PR. During this time I did not kept pets.

Time flew by me and I found myself in Dallas, TX five years ago working for a Fortune 100 company as an engineer. Around a 3-4 years ago I was browsing for information about tanks and found APC. I started looking through the site and was amazed by all the information related to planted tanks. I saw some pictures and remember a tank by Gomer, do not remember the name of the tank. The itch for an aquarium came back and I decided to have a planted tank.

So I went out and bought a 58G tank because it was not too big for my apartment and I liked the depth it has. My gf at the time (wife at the moment) gave the okay and I went and bought it. At the beginning it was a struggle because I tried DIY CO2 and my lights were too little for the plants I had. I saw every single algae you can name as well as other stuff. This did not discourage me. I decided to start over with my tank, bought new lights, pressurized CO2 system and lots and lots of plants.

Now I suffer from plant friendly inverts collectoritis thanks to APC. I have managed to keep many tanks with different kinds of shrimp, snails and dwarf crays. I currently own around 22 tanks mostly dedicated to inverts and planted tanks. So if you need some help, guide or advice with these little fellows, feel free to contact me.

Trenac - moderator:

I got started keeping planted tanks in the summer of 2003 and about a year later became a member of this forum. I made all the typical mistakes in the beginning as many others do. I've learned so much since I've joined APC and I continue to learn something new almost everyday.

I've been married to my husband Tom since March 1990. We have no children except for the 4 legged kind; Misty (American Eskimo) and Belle (Beagle mutt). I was born and raised in North Carolina, lived in the same city all my life except for a short stint in West Virginia.

I have been a avid animal lover all my life, doing various volunteer work for a local animal rescue organization. Some of my other interest are photography, target shooting, motorcycles, bird watching and reef tanks.

Aaron T - moderator:

I'm a Maryland boy, born and raised. We lived on the West River of the Chesapeake Bay until I was 7 years old, so I grew up around water. I spent all of my walking summers there crabbing off of the local pier with my best friend.

We then moved here to Howard County Maryland, which is centrally located between D.C. and Baltimore. I got my first 10 gallon aquarium when I was about 10 years old. It had blue/green neon gravel (hey it was the 80's), a Whisper HOB filter, and some swordtails and neons. It was about as cliche as they come. Later on in life around the age of 12 I upgraded to a 20 long and gave my friend my old 10 gallon. It was still basically the same setup, only this time I used a natural colored gravel. Yes, I was slowly seeing the light. However the plants were still plastic. Over the years the tank went through various stages of being setup and drying up to nothing. It even housed a cramped pirhana at one point.

After a friend of mine graduated from college his parents got him a 135 gallon complete setup as a gift. He told me he was going to keep discus in it. This gave me the idea to get my 20 gallon rolling again. Before too long I tried my hand at a few cheap live plants. One day I noticed they had actually grown a little bit after switching to a plant specific flourescent light bulb. I was hooked.

I've been in the planted tank hobby about 5 years now and I'm a moderator here and the Recording Secretary for The Greater Washington Aquatic Plants Association, our local club. I now have 2 show tanks, one ADA 90-P and one AGA 75 gallon. I also keep a few tanks of emersed plants, namely Cryptocorynes.

Bigstick 120 - moderator:

I have been keeping fish most of my life. My family had several tanks when I was a kid; each of my siblings had a tank in their bedroom. We all decided to setup a 55 gallon to keep some larger fish. In my adulthood I got interested in planted tanks after I setup up a 55 gallon African cichlid tank a few years ago. I was looking for a way to reduce nitrates in the cichlid tank. I started adding Anubias, java fern and a few other hardy, fast growing plants. While researching how to keep the plants, I stumbled on gorgeous planted tanks. The tank eventually exploded into a planted jungle! I eventually sold off the cichlids, and restocked with more plant friendly fish. This began my addiction, and I have now added a few other tanks to my aquarium collection.

redstrat - moderator:

I've been keeing aquariums off and on as long as I can remember. I got my first planted tank when I was about 12 or so and maintained it for a couple years untill I had the urge to try a Reef tank. I played with marine aquaria for about 3 years and gave it up because I was starting college and didn't have the time, money or energy to keep up with it anymore. I completely got out of the hobby for a couple years until late winter winter 2006 when I felt the aquarium itch again and decided to start a 75gallon high light planted tank. I never really thought I would get into the hobby as much as I did. I at one point had 4 high tech planted tanks running simultaneously. Eventually the additional maintenance was adding too much stress to the point that I just wasn't enjoying it as much so I cut back to running only the 75. Since then I've been able to take a more relaxed approach to the hobby and has allowed me to focus a little more on the art of aquascaping and taught me to really appreciate one tank even more.

hooha - moderator:

When we were kids my siblings and I had an aquarium with limited success - trying to fit as many different fish in a tank as possible. Eventually this turned into a pirahna tank to the horror of my father - a pacifist at heart. Four years ago my interest in aquariums was rekindled when my daughter loved the movie "Finding Nemo". We decided to get her an aquarium to foster interest in living things. Initially I planned on a reef aquarium, but was talked into a freshwater setup to 'work up' to a marine system. During my research I found beautiful planted setups and was hooked. Although my daughter doesn't like "Finding Nemo" as much any more, she still loves her fish and planted aquarium. I enjoy the times she asks "Dad, can we clean the aquarium today?" as I know this will be short lived. I started getting 'multiple tank syndrome' and am in the process of setting up an automated system for both planted tanks and fish breeding.

My interest led me to join the local fish club - the Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society. During my first few meetings a group of plant enthusiasts talked about starting a plant club - and the Pittsburgh Area Planted Aquarium Society was created. This club, in addition to the internet forum sites, has helped me immensely with advancing in the hobby. Like most things in life this hobby is a continual learning process, I hope to contribute to APC in fostering a great environment to help other enthusiasts in improving the collective knowledge of planted aquaria.

matpat - moderator:

I have been into aquariums since the mid 80's when I bought my wife (then girlfriend) a 2g tank for her dorm room. A few years later a 10g tank found it's way into our home from the LFS. When the Angelfish got too big, a 38g tank became their home. Eventually a 125g tank made it through our doors. While I enjoyed having an aquarium in my home there always seemed to be something missing. Then I saw my first planted tank at a LFS in Virginia Beach and I knew I had to have one.

After several years of being unsuccessful with plants, I decided to give it one last try in late 2003. To get prepared I read all the information I could find about plants online. Once I had all of the equipment and knowledge I thought I needed, I dove in head first. My first planted tank was a 75g, medium light, CO2 injected tank with regular gravel. After several battles with recurring green water and after receiving conflicting advice from other forums, a friend directed me to APC. It was here I received the advice that helped me conquer the green water. Not only was I able to get rid of the green water I was able to learn why I kept getting it. With all of the information I received here at Aquatic Plant Central, I was actually able to successfully grow plants which lead to the acquisition of several more "grow out" tanks over the next year.

As a result of my success with planted tanks, I quickly grew bored with the local fish club and their lack of plant information. In April of 2005, I started the South Western Ohio Aquatic Plant Enthusiasts (SWOAPE) so local plant enthusiasts could get together and share their experiences about plants.

Somewhere along the line, I acquired an addiction to freshwater shrimp as well as plants. I have a DIY "Shrimp Rack" in my basement that holds twelve 10 gallon tanks for keeping and breeding freshwater shrimp. In addition to my "Shrimp Rack", I have a 75g Daffodil (Tanganyikan Cichlid) tank and a 125g Tanganyikan Community tank. I also keep a 10g low tech tank planted tank in my office and have since setup a 10g Goldfish tank for my son. Of course, all of the tanks have plants in them.

Prior to becoming a Stay at Home Dad, I was a Cabinet Maker. I have also held various jobs in the medical field including ten years as a Hospital Corpsman in the US Navy, the last three of which were spent with an infantry unit in the Marine Corps. I still dabble in woodworking during the winter months but try and ride my Harley any time I can during the summer months.

Tex Gal - moderator:
The aquarium hobby was bred into me. I remember, (around 5 yrs old,) my mom having 2 rows of fish tanks with plastic plants and all kinds of fish. They were on tables low enough for me to get a birds eye view. She had livebearers and egglayers. These were the old tanks with stainless steel sides and slate bottoms. Each tank had a square bubble filter with an airstone and a heater. It was mesmerizing to stand there and watch them. Fish having babies and laying eggs was like a family birthday celebration! It was so exciting! Here is a px of her tanks. (px to come, mom's trying to find it. ) At 12 yrs old I got to have my own 10g. We were in Florida at the time and I would go in the backyard to the canal and get "weeds" and fish to stock my tank. The plants would always slowly die off and then the fish. I chalked it up to not being able to keep "wild" fish. As I think back I'm sure it was the rotting plants that probably killed them. Anyway I was hooked!

When I got married my husband caught my love of aquatic. We eventually had a 55g on one of those metal stands with a 45g underneath. We tried the whole gamut from chichlids, to altum angels, to livebearers, to tetras only, to weird fish (ghost knifes, eels and such), to community tanks. As my kids got older I let them have tanks. It only "stuck" to one of my kids. He owns a 65g. My hubby eventually got tired of it, but not me! Recently he's been sucked back in, thanks to the AGA conference in Atlanta, GA. Good deal!

I remember what a big deal my first all glass tank was. I thought I had arrived. Now I think back to all the transitions. They seem funny now, but they were so cutting edge. I remember the 2x's yearly tank tear downs, bleach out , scrub downs. It's a wonder any of the fish survived. But survive they did and thrive - somehow!! Bubble filters to undergravel filters, to HOB's, to canister filters. Hang-on heaters, to undergravel heaters, to intank heaters to inline heaters. Colored gravel, to plastic jewels, to natural pea gravel to ADA aquasoil. Plastic plants, to silk plants, to real plants. This was my favorite transition. Now I'm enjoying high tech tanks. I am hopelessly hooked and forever blessed, to enjoy the hobby. It's been a wild ride, and one, I'm glad, that's not over!

davemonkey - moderator:

I started keeping fish when I was 6, sharing a 10 gallon tank with my brothers. I feel sorry for the fish we kept...I'm sure that none of them had any kind of pleasant life. When I was 10, I got my first REAL aquarium...a 10 gallon hex! I thought, "This is perfect for those cool-looking Oscars at the pet store!!" Again...those poor fish.

Eventually I graduated up to a 20, then a 29, then a 55, and finally a 100 gallon beauty. I had tried a few plants, but knew nothing about keeping them alive...I just got lucky with a few of them. By this time I was in college and had successfully kept nearly every kind of fish that I knew of. My favorites (and they still are) were Oscars, because of their personality and FAST growth. College lasted awhile....and kept going...and going...and going...and after awhile I decided I had better get serious about graduating. And that was the end of aquariums for me for 7 years (getting through the rest of college, getting married, growing a family).

For Christmas of 2008, I told my wife I wanted to "get back into fish" and she bought me a 50 long. I wanted a refresher on setting up tanks before I jumped in, and ran across a planted tank. Immediately, I was hooked! I stumbled onto APC while searching for planted tank sites, lurked for awhile, signed up, and have been here since.

I've learned TONS from the people on this site, and have even had the chance to share my experiences (good and bad) with other hobbiests. My current scape isn't really where I want it, the water gets cloudy more often than I care to admit, algae drives me nuts...I once plagued my tank with dragon-fly nymphs and hydra in one fail swoop...and I'm loving every minute of it!!

ashappard - moderator:

I joined the aquarium hobby as a kid keeping freshwater fish, but for me it wasn't really a passion. The most I had to aspire to was the sales display at the LFS - too many fish in too small of a space. I didn't realize this was not a good long term way to keep fish.. The saltwater reef displays became my goal - they were so 'cool' and also way out of reach both because of money and my lack of skill.

After college I lived in Louisiana, and with a full time job and more money than a guy my age really needed I started reefing. There was something else there though -- where I lived you couldn't hardly throw a rock without hitting some kind of swamp. They were fascinating. Freshwater environments teeming with life and diversity like a reef. I'd seen vast wetlands on television, but to see them in person was inspiring. So I set up a 20G freshwater tank and tried to keep plants in it but failed miserably and gave up.

Years later I'm back in Indiana, and I stumble across the AGA contest and that was it. I was permanently hooked on planted aquariums. I had no idea that an aquarium could look like that. I tried a few more times to get a planted tank going, but local resources were thin and I wasnt getting anywhere with my reefing equipment. Finally I did stumble on planted tank forums and the articles, detailed and informative posts made it possible for me to succeed. I hope to spread some of that to fellow hobbyists here at APC.
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