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There's also the general impression that staple freshwater fish are a diime a dozen. An individual who spends $40 or more on each saltwater fish or coral is willing to spend $1,000 or more on an appropriate setup. People are less reluctant to spend that amount to house some $3 freshwater fishes or plants.
I'm in this camp as well. In the USA people are more willing to spend large money on a setup around fish, but not one around plants. When I say fish I'm referring to saltwater, where the fish are many times the focus of the tank and not the scape. Most saltwater setups also have UVs to protect their fish (investment) most freshwater aquarists do not use one especially for this purpose.
 

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I don't think you can really fight culture. Culture dictates what a LFS will stock. They aren't going to lose their shirts to promote a hobby. The chains make all their money from dog/cat feed/supplies. They amount generated from fish is probably around 5%. They will never put much behind it.

I've used this analogy before and I think it holds some truth. Soccer is appreciated in many cultures as the beautiful game. Not a lot of scoring, but many appreciate how everything comes together. Baseball/Football are big in US because something big happens. A homerun or a long touch down pass. I equate Soccer to Planted Tanks and Baseball/Football to Saltwater. In planted their usually isn't a main player but the scape works as a whole. In saltwater it's about the big expensive fish and everything plays off that. I just don't think many appreciate the beauty of a scape or they simply haven't really been exposed to it.
 

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Really good discussion!

Some observations:

What is a planted tank? What is an aquascape? For me as mentioned the latter is about aesthetics. Now that doesn't mean a planted tank can't be attractive, but it doesn't necessarily have aesthetics at it's core. I don't think big money will be spent around a planted tank especially an "El Natural" one. That is really about simply growing plants in a fish tank.

Pictures of aquascapes by professionals or advanced hobbyists are a mixed bag. Firstly there attractive and people say "I want that" It happened to me one day reading Nature Aquarium World at the book store. I think it generates interest and expenditure, but many times it's not sustainable since the disappoint rate is too high. Most people can't maintain the tank like the picture for several reasons. The biggest being "Stems Grow".

Plants vs Fish -One to one plants lose, easily. But if those plants become an aquascape and that aquascape becomes art then the plants have a fighting chance. But as mentioned there is a fine line between a gitchy scape and a work of art. For example a Dutch Scape could be a sight to hold or it can easily look like the vegetables in the supermarket. Same goes for those scapes as mentioned with trees, brooks,etc.

Fish dominate the saltwater hobby and expenditure is built around them. Yes a nice reef tank is a thing of beauty, but it's pretty dead (I know it's live rock) until it's teeming with life. Planted tanks are much more difficult to maintain than saltwater by professionals. You would have to have service people in there twice a week to really keep it looking like a piece of art. Once the live rock is set in place. It doesn't need constant pruning, etc. so it can go at least a week before it changes and doesn't look picture perfect.

I do think in addition to dollars it takes a special commitment to succeed. ADA, Knott and other's have a higher commitment to the hobby thus they will naturally have more success. They spend much more time, etc. then a typical hobbyists would. That's why they all do things in different ways and it still works.

Where does all this leave us, I haven't a clue.
 

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Those are nice tanks, but I think the point is missed.

If you take an ADA/Nature Aquarium tank I think most are going to scape it. The whole image evolves around looks. The majority will fall within the middle of a bell curve. Some extremes scapes will be to the left and some simply 'planted tanks' will be on the right.

If you took all the 'El Natural' setups. I could be wrong, but I think most will again be in the middle and not be that concerned about looks and not really look like the tanks you just showed.

I mean ADA is positioned as Art. El Natural is positioned as Ecology.
 

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Why can't we accept that there are cultural differences that run deep? Soccer is the number one sport in most countries in the US it probably runs 5th behind hockey. In most countries soccer is called "The Beautiful Game' here it's called "The Boring Game" I've often used this analogy to this debate. Saltwater is exciting, you have some big players (big fish), but Planted is 'boring" since their aren't usually these big players, but the beauty of the entire scape. For some reason, this is the way soccer is viewed here as well. It's boring because there's no big score like a homerun, touchdown and it's not appreciated for the beauty of the play (scape) itself.
 

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I would think overall the typical aquarium will have a more artistic feel then here, mainly due to influence of not only the suppliers you mentioned, but also in culture. The Japanese have long made art out of plants, rock. How influential are zen gardens, bonsai and other rock garden formations and the enrichment these things bring to one's life on the japanese aquarium scene? What do we have in the US to compare?
 

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A bit of a sidetrack, but America's art form and culture is the custom car. Nowhere else in the world will you find anything close to the level of enthusiasm you find here. There are thousands of amazing projects in progress in every major city (many of which fall into the >$50k, multiple year range). How many fathers pass down a lifelong interest to their sons? Generally speaking, the rest of the world looks at a car the same way they would a dishwasher.
I do agree and of course in those cars are big engines, big wheels. In the same way we like the big touchdown pass or the big homerun. Not the little things that happen to create a soccer goal. I do believe this is mired in culture. The Japanese have more culture developing beauty around plants we like to develop it around big fish.
 

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I think one thing to consider is the 'art' side vs the 'hobby' side. I mean ADA is clearly marketed as art. But can art be mainstream? I don't mean viewing it, I mean creating it. Someone mentioned custom cars are an art form in the US, like no other place, but most don't go about customizing there cars to an art form. Some make some modifications and probably most do nothing from factory. Not sure if the 'art' form of the hobby is possible to the masses.
 

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Disney-Pixar needs to make a movie about a little Rummynose Tetra named Roger who gets separated from his family in the Orinoco River basin and winds up in a beautiful planted tank in Piscataway, NJ. Call it "Looking for Roger"

The hobby will explode.
Well let's not forget that freshwater aquariums greatly outweigh saltwater ones. The real issue is real planted tanks. I think you would need Bob the Bolbitis starring with Manny the Moss and your friend Roger playing a smaller role. Then again all Nemo did was compel little Johnny to ask mom to take him to Petco and send alot of little Clown fish to an early grave.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Ah, excellent point. Bob the Bolbitis will wonder what he's doing in the same tank as Caesar the Cryptocoryne from Sri Lanka and Adeline the Amazon Sword from Brazil. Despite their differences they fight off a ravenous pack of hydra and eventually learn a valuable lesson about how being from different cultures doesn't matter - together they make up a beautiful planted tank. The movie ends with a Randy Newman song about rhizome propagation.
LOL

Even further, what's evocative to us as Americans? We can go on vacation to the Caribbean and swim on coral reefs, see the colorful fish and have happy memories of that. Salt water tanks in some ways allow us to reproduce those memories. Or nevermind memories, they can bring us to places we've never been but maybe wish to be some day. Where is the inspiration for a planted tank? It's nature itself, isn't it? Not just what's under the water but what's above it. It's about using those elements to create something new, to be both in a river and a forest or garden or hillside at the same time. Maybe that's all just too artsy-fartsy for mainstream America.
I've thought that many times myself. Almost makes you feel like your on vacation right in your own home. Something special about that and people will pay big bucks for that feeling.

And that's to say nothing about the technical aspects of a planted tank, though personally I grew tired of all that years ago. I've had nothing but a 4 gallon nano tank for the past several years. I got tired of obsessing about tests and KNO3 and whatnot and just let the little tank be. I removed the light and just let it be natural. Took off the CO2 as well. Only thing I dosed was fish food and potassium from the ADA line. End result is a nice little patch of anubias petite nana on my driftwood and either the cardinal tetras or the green neon tetras bred at some point, because there were 4 fish in there at one point and now there are 7. Go figure.
When I first started with planted tanks I used to test everything, Oh My freaking GOD the NO3 is too high!!!!. You know how I've dosed for the last 4 years. I take a 1 gallon water jug and dump in NPK so I'm at the high end of EI. I then spoon in some more NPK since I have several other smaller tanks. I fill the jug with water and start dumping it in the big tank. Then I save about 25% of the water and divide it by my other tanks. More of the remaining water for my other larger tanks and less for any nanos, etc. and that's it. I don't test anything, EVER. Oh, I occasionally use a drop checker to double check. I couldn't care less what the levels are unless I see an issue. The hobby is incredibly easy for me. I can't recall when I've had any issue at startup or long-term. I have wood that still shows an orange hue to it even one year underwater. What I do have is commitment. I will not move away from water changes, light feeding, light stock, etc. [/QUOTE]
 

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You know there was a thread here not to long ago in the ADG forum about setting up a large display tank for an LFS client they had. It was planted alright, but with plastic.

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/aquascaping/75697-adg-install-picasso-exotics.html

There was alot of outrage, but, ADG explained it this way:

...The choice for plastic was simple: the client had a need and a request and needed inspirational displays without hefty maintenance. As we all know, it takes a lot of expertise to properly execute a planted aquarium, much less an inspirational planted aquascape. It also takes a lot of maintenance time investment (it takes roughly one to two hours a week to keep a 17.7 gallon 60-P planted aquascape perfect in the gallery, where as it takes about 30 minutes every two weeks to keep a hardscape only discus display that's 300 gallons pristinely perfect)...
I happen to agree. If we are truly talking about a tank that looks like one of the contest entry snapshots that would take a lot of maintenance to keep it that way long-term. Kinda la Da Vinci going to the Art Gallery and giving the Mona Lisa a haircut to keep it looking the exact same way. So when someone sees a pic of a contest winning planted tank and says "I want that in my home" it's different than someone seeing Trigger fish and Tangs amongst live rock and saying "I want that in my home."
 

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Most of the LFS in New York (I'm sure elsewhere as well) survive based on their installs. Almost all of these installs are saltwater. They move a disproportionate amount of livestock, product and of course employee time to these accounts.

If knowledge is king it doesn't exist here. These customers know pretty much nothing about there saltwater setups. It's simply based on wanting something in their homes and are willing to pay through the nose for it. This does not exist in planted tanks. It's just not at all 'practical' for someone to show a picture of an Amano Setup and say I want that in my home. It's just a completely different level of maintenance, especially if someone is paying large dollars for a large showpiece setup. I should add that this isn't absolute, but in general. There are setups that can be maintained with less maintenance compared to others, but in all Saltwater setups don't change as much since there is no plant issues.
 

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Some key differences between a Planted Aquascape and a Reef in terms of spending big money.

-Once you understand the science the Planted is still more maintenance due to plant growth. The Reef setup is fairly static compared to planted. I don't know how practical it is to have the masses keep a well-scaped aquascape 'well-scaped'

-Key player with Planted is the plants (overall scape) with the Reef it's still the fish. I don't know if people are so willing to spend big dollars around plants.

-I do think (I believe Nowherman6 said it) that setting up a reef is like bringing a Caribbean vacation into your home. Many more can relate to that feeling than going to Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Florida to see aquatic plants in their natural environment.

Having knowledge and growing healthy plants is not enough to have one spend large money for planted. As mentioned most LFS survive by installing expensive saltwater setups and most of those customers know nothing about running the tank. To truly have a perfectly scaped tank for the long-term takes true dedication and passion. Not everyone who sees a photo contest pic would have that.
 

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This is a tough discussion to have since one's idea of a planted tank is so different. If we are truly talking about a showcase aquascape with a multitude of plants finely trimmed. And the ability to keep everything in proportion etc, there is no comparison, between the maintenance of said tank and a reef tank. Also we are talking about a different type of maintenance. Pretty much anyone can clean glass, replace sandbeds do a water change and add chemicals. Not everyone can scape a tank to perfection and keep it looking that way long-term.
 

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.. To my knowledge I'm the only one to openly say why exactly I find the EI and PPS, the two most popular methods to run a planted tank, are a pretty bad idea. Such discussions are non-existent or are very superficial.--Nikolay
Niko my friend. Why say its a bad idea if it works for many people? There are two many different methods of success that a woven into one's lifestyle to say whether one system is a bad idea or not.
 

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Appreciate what your trying to do, but I still feel these are the main obstacles that need to be overcome before we can say something about controlling algae.

Some key differences between a Planted Aquascape and a Reef in terms of spending big money.

-Once you understand the science the Planted is still more maintenance due to plant growth. The Reef setup is fairly static compared to planted. I don't know how practical it is to have the masses keep a well-scaped aquascape 'well-scaped'

-Key player with Planted is the plants (overall scape) with the Reef it's still the fish. I don't know if people are so willing to spend big dollars around plants.

-I do think (I believe Nowherman6 said it) that setting up a reef is like bringing a Caribbean vacation into your home. Many more can relate to that feeling than going to Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Florida to see aquatic plants in their natural environment.
Having knowledge and growing healthy plants is not enough to have one spend large money for planted. As mentioned most LFS survive by installing expensive saltwater setups and most of those customers know nothing about running the tank. To truly have a perfectly scaped tank for the long-term takes true dedication and passion. Not everyone who sees a photo contest pic would have that.

The 'household' names in this hobby like Amano, Knott, etc. have IMO a much deeper sense of passion for the hobby than a typical planted tank aquarist might have. They are also professionals and image is everything as is Bubbles Aquarium. No doubt those tanks are gorgeous, but many would require way too much maintenance even with all algae issues controlled for most to deal with effectively.
 

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It's funny there was a similiar thread on TPT and I also mentioned the saltwater vs freshwater snorkeling comparison but for a different reason:

"Without a doubt it's the fish. Most out there just don't have an appreciation for a planted aquascape in the same way they do for a colorful fish. When you go snorkeling and you spot something, when you go to the surface you tell your buddy "I just saw this fish or that fish," most wouldn't mention the look of the whole reef. How many people go snorkeling in freshwater compared to salt?"
 
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