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I've been annoyed with this state of the planted tank hobby for some time now. You have seen me make fun of cheap folk, DIY project that make little sense and so on. I too wrote a lengthy response to this thread last night but deleted it after reading it over.

The stores see the fw hobby as a way to gradually lead people to the saltwater side of the hobby which is where the money is. So it appears that stores are not going to do much to popularize planted tanks. Here in Dallas/Fort Worth very much every store has tried to push planted tanks and all of them eventually give up. Big part of that is the inability of these "experts" to maintain a planted tank. And they would not pay someone to do it for them because they are cheap. I know a single store owner in the DFW that has a "vision" but he is realistic about what he does too. The rest just sell on sickly cheap fw fish and the usual obsolete fw equipment.

Culture plays a big part in how the planted tank hobby is viewed. Hispanics and Asians have a thing for anything water and are more sensitive to the beauty of a planted tanks. As we all know a planted tank takes some time to "sink" into one's mind as something truly exquisite. Most people "do not have time" to let this happen. But the truth is that it's about sensitivity and perception. And as I've said before - a mystery meat hamburger is valued more than a ultra rare wildcaught fish. Plants aren't even in the competition. I don't know where "beauty" goes in this list...

The only way this hobby will become more popular as something special is through planted tank clubs. These are the only outfits that have the drive + knowledge to make that happen. Look at ADG - with all their potential and actual beyond gorgeous installations they have not made a big difference in how the hobby is seen.

And to conclude - you have seen me try to direct everybody's attention to better, more guaranteed ways to run a planted tank. I do believe that a huge part of this hobby being where it is (funny articles in funny fish magazines is the best we can be proud of) is the lack of knowledge HOW to run a planted tank. That is what ADA has figured out a long time ago and has developed/marketed their system as both elegant and manageable. But even today noone can direct me to a single website containing this information in English.

So. It's all up to us.

--Nikolay
 

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Money and the hobby... Maybe this video has nothing to do with it. But it made me weep:


Somehow it reminded me of Uncle Rico's selling tactics:

And here's somethin more interesting:
 

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Well, with Margit here we see another extreme side of the hobby - the ultra-natural if I can call it that way.

I have finally started to understand that in this life things work best when there is a ballance. I truly dislike tanks with too much fancy equipment. And you really don't need it anyway. But some folk lean to the opposite side of the spectrum - away from Margit. To them the little gadgets "make" the tank run. I personally believe that things like a pH controller, Dropchecker, precise fertilizing, and even AquaSoil are not really needed to run a high tech planted tank. But many people believe in the need to use all these things.

Between these two opposites - ultra-natural and ultra-high-tech lies the "golden middle". I think it has the best of both worlds - simplicity, knowledge about plants/requirements, but also freedom due to use of special equipment. Without special lights and CO2 you are limited to being able to grow only certain plants. With this freedom comes the tendency to do stupid things - mix plants with different requirements, from diffrerent parts of the world and so on. A good parallel example are the photo websites where anyone can post their pictures. With the progress of digital photography we saw more and more bad photographs. To the point at which some sites are just full of images that we have seen hundreds of times before. With planted tanks though we are yet to start to understand what is cheesy and what not. To me personally all these cute little moss trees, waterfalls, miniature underwater mountains etc. are pure kitsch. But for some people they are very cool. I don't spare ridicule when I find something stupid in this hobby, but I have never, ever, criticised a "kitschy" tank:





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitsch

So, somewhere in the future we should see a hobby that is more mature, ballanced and with a better understanding of Nature. For now, only about a decade after Amano gave new life to the planted aquarium hobby we are still in the baby step stages. Look at the way we run our tanks - we don't even have a streamlined methods of doing that. If we are honest about it we will agree that if EI and PPS were that great most of us would have adopted them a long time ago. My point is not to mock these two approaches, but to make the point that we are still figuring things out.

In these first stages we will all agree that the hobby needs an improved image. It needs not to be seen as "cheap", "diy", "free plants", and "hard to do". Lack of financial basis stifles this hobby badly. Most people here know me - in the last 3 years I imported ultra rare pet fish and sold them online. We had to shut down the business because... people would not pay enough for fish that are so rare that don't even have a scientific name yet. In 2010 only we imported 250 species of fish that you cannot normally find anywere if you look today. The image of the freshwater hobby killed us - people do not value what you, Margit, value so highly. It drags the hobby down - image, perception, new and good products, new knowledge. Plants are vewed as even less valuable than fish... This is what this thread is all about.

So, thank you for expressing an extreme view about our hobby. I too have and continue to post "controversial" thoughts with the only goal to "make the ice budge" as they say in Russia. We need direction, perspective, and common sense. Opposing views and good discussions should lead us forward. I've heard that French people love to discuss things in depth (and often come across as annoying). We need something French in this hobby, hahah. I think we are doing exactly this in this thread so far.

--Nikolay
 

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Here's something else. It has to do with the topic of this thread for sure - "money and the hobby". In the sense that the way we see this hobby is a driver to achieve something better.

http://www.dfwfishbox.com/forums/production/showthread.php?t=20632

If we are to popularize this hobby in such a way that it leads to a new perception we cannot use El Natural looking tanks. That's the sad truth. People react more to the "kitschy" side of the hobby than to true natural beauty. Some of the tanks in that link achieve such intricate natural looking beauty, but mix plants from different parts of the world. I guess that's the ballance I'm talking about - perception vs. inner workings.

--Nikolay
 

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Whoa! What beautiful tanks!

This topic is not about aquascaping styles or methods. But serendipitously we have stumbled on something interesting -How a tank can be both beautifully aquascaped AND as natural as it can be in a glass box!

I say, you Dave, start another thread that dispels the misconception that El Natural is a small size tank on the window sill with swords that have grown 2" in 2 years and amber-yellow water that barely moves. Method vs. aquascaping style. What is special about it all. Stuff like that.

Nice!

How long do these two tanks take to get to that state? Did you start with a lot of plants? Algae problems? Light? Filtration?

--Nikolay
 

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Hi Dave,

love those tanks, especially the second one.

Niko:

What's wrong with amber coloured water? I went through great pains to collect dried mango and guava leaves, even bought a little Indian almond tree, to recreate a bit of my beloved Cameroon here in Kenya... :biggrin:
Look at this. Pause at 1:05 and look at the clarity of the water. That is what most people like. And that is what most people see as cheaper than a hamburger:


Show these clarity-loving folk a tank with yellow water and they will not want to talk aquariums any more. Don't tell them it's the biotope of the cardinals and that's how Nature is or something.

It's about perception. Amano's "Natural" Aquarium Art vs. Texas Dave's Natural El Naturals....

--Nikolay
 

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To me what cripples this hobby is the lack of knowledge. And also the lack of desire to learn. That is a blanket statement but I believe it is valid for most hobbyists.

The simple basics that Dutch, Germans, and Japanese are using are of little interest for most people in the US. We do not have a single method of setting up and maintaing a planted tank that we can follow without sooner or later facing horrible issues. That situation is aggravated by 2 things: our pronounced individualism and our impatience.

I do not see the pet stores changing this hobby. They are there to make money. They will offer what makes them money. Freshwater fish and plants are available only to support all the other sales. They have to be there. And they are by far the least money making item in the store. Also from what I've seen most (but not all) pet store owners are individuals who have one single goal - to make money for themselves. Interest, sensitivity to beauty, vision are all things that the average LFS owner can't even comprehend.

So, to me, this hobby will drastically improve when we find better ways to manage every stage of the planted tank development. Even if it is done with little understanding of the process if it works it will thrust us to a new level. And we will see more products, more choices, more variations. And the individualism that is an obstacle now will become an advantage.

--Nikolay
 

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I solemnly declare that "Ernie Mccracken" is not another screen name of mine.

But this last post makes me wonder.

Just to clarify something - why there isn't much information available about Amano's miracle-super-duper gadgets and products. Today I talked to Michael (his screenname here on APC). He told me that in Japan there is the tradition of the master/student relationship. And a lot of the information shared between them is oral. It's never written. And the answers are not given to the student on a plate. Hmm?

Look at all ADA published word. It's so annoyingly vague, lofty, and evasive. We want it all on a plate. A big plate! And fast!


I got an ADA catalog here on my table. The 'Filter System" section starts with the following:

"Fresh water ceaselessly circulates the surface of the earth.
Remains of the fish, and withered leaves are biodegraded by microorganisms,
and harmful substances in the water turned into harmless one.
...
...
People are fighting even in their mind. Microorganisms are fighting inside the filter."


What the heck?


So we ditch that "bs" in a hurry and run to find "authorities" that tell us clearly (written word on the Internet) how many spoons of dry chemicals to dump in our tanks, how to perpetually maintain certain excess concentrations of X,Y, and Z, and how much ppm of everything we got to have exactly at all times.

Which, with all the accompanying troubles and frustrations, keeps the interest in the hobby going. We have even grown in numbers in the last 10 years. But if we are anywhere in this hobby it is somewhere around the Middle Ages. To us the Earth is still flat. And we are the center of it all.


I like to think there will be a Renaissance. Which happens to be associated with increased knowledge...

Until then - Would you rate my tank? And someone help me with fertZ advice. Do I need more P? Where can I find it cheap?


--Nicolaus Copernicus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus
 

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House,

I have no idea. But from what I've seen on Japanese sites there are more companies that cater to the planted tank enthusiast. ADA is only one of them.

For those that don't know me - I am an internet aquarist. Play with words is my hobby. Hopefully figure a thing or two. Theoretically.

I don't even own any aquariums. Never have.

They cost too much money...

--Nikolay
 

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And how are we going to get to the agreeable price of $10K for a planted tank setup if we can't even start and maintain such tank clean every single time?

I've countless of examples of LFS owners that have setup a planted tank themselves, have had a free setup made for them by our club, and on 2 occasions even imported ADG for a day here to deliver and setup everyting ADA at their store. All of these setups fail miserably in about 1-2 months. Because noone really knows how to maintain that exotic beauty. And moreover - noone is willing to pay for the specialized maintenance.

A little more about the pesky Japanese: Michael told me that they have a very pronounced characteristic - noticing and appreciating very fine details and differences in whatever they deal with. To me that explained why I've seen Japanese websites full of similar looking wild tetras that we haven't even heard about. A lot of these fish differ from each other very little. That's another peculiarity of the Japanese which if we talk about planted tanks puts them way, way ahead. Because a planted tank needs to be "taken in". I've had enough people look casually at my tanks and only after 10-20 min. actually say "Wow! This is beautiful!".

In contrast the "ice cream truck of the aquarium hobby" - a marine tank - grabs you right away with crazy shapes, colors, movements. It will indeed appeal to people that react more easily to such visuals. Dallas is saltwater country... And without the internet our hobby would be in a pretty patethic state because we are a rare kind of aquarium nuts.

--Nikolay
 

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Hm I think I've seen insanity in the saltwater section of an LFS too.

Mother with 3 kids walks in. They all start to pick fish based on color. "Give me that green one, and that yellow one, and how big does this here get? Give it to me too. Kids do you want any more fish? Yes - that long one there too... Is this one gonna die on me?"...

This went on with the supportive ugly lies of the sales mug smiling and saying "Yes ma'm, right away, no ma'm this fish is very hardy!" and so on.

When the register rung he exlaimed "Your total is $211.75 ma'm!". Mom said nothing but "Guys are you hungry now? Get the fish and let's go to Burger King!"

It all happened within 5 minutes. Tank she had was 35 gallons and had 8 fish already.

In our hobby, at this moment, you cannot sell a large size Tylomelania Yellow Rabbit Snail for more than $5. And I'm not sure there are $5 hamburgers any more...

--Nikolay
 

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Can you help me with my DIY bubble counter? I have the syringe, paper clip, and bubble gum. I just can't get it to work right with my soda bottle cap.
Strangest thing is that same guy that is asking if ADA's e-book is worth $3/month owns everything ADA:
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/nano-aquariums/74980-my-new-mini-m-mini-l.html

After noticing that I'm still sitting here, my head buzzing, and a smell of burning electric wires oozing out of my ears...

--Nikolay
 

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correct and any good sales man would do the same..at the end of the day..a LFS is open for you to purchase fish and supplies they aren't there to tutor you on fish and teach you everything you know. They're simply the middleman..they get stuff in..you want the stuff...you purchase it..the middleman makes his money.
Man, you are not helping MiamiAG to make his point that LFS can initiate progress of the planted tank hobby by offering more plants and whatnot for us. Bubba fish-store-owner-extraordianaire wants to make a buck and that's it. That hardly surprises me any more. But Bubbawill take a note if there is a spike in interest because he likes his bread with a thick layer of butter.

So how does interest in this hobby spike in such a way that actually moves progress in a truly positive trend? I say with more knowledge and confidence that we can setup and run clean tanks every time.

--Nikolay
 

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A good plant display, good looking plants, and good selection may work very well. I have a single example and it does go along these lines, but I can't say if that will change anything really.

Some years ago I frequented a fish store and got the onwer to think more about plants. Maybe the fact that his tank system actually provided a special area for displaying plants helped. He never used these tanks and finally he decided to give plants a try.

Bottom line was - when the display was 100% full of plants 50% of them sold within 3-4 days. The rest 50% took about 45 days to sell.

After about a week most plants looked really, really bad. I guess that's one reason why they could not sell well. But also he told me that he has noticed that people buy more if he has more stock. It didn't matter if it was great quaility. People he said like abundance. But he also said that people buy plants with the mentality that within a week they will die in their tank. Disposable beauty, that's all.

One problem with all the local stores is that the tanks where they have the plants have bad lighting. No store ever goes full out in providing a great environment + bright strong light. It is cheaper to just order new cheap plants. That's all it boils down to: About $400 for lights + a CO2 system.
 

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Yeah, well, Bubba fish-store-owner luvz to get free stuff!

Only way I see to get a store to display plants is to "have a meeting at my store and setup a planted tank to get your hobby more popular". As we have done in the past. "Smart" fish-store-master extraordinaire will walk around thinking he's getting a hell of a deal - for !free! and all these potential customers are flooding his super-duper store.

Except that the wonderful freeloader feeling ends when a realization happens. That a planted tank is not an animal anyone from the store panel of monumental experts understands. That, and the fact that most of the "potential customers I tricked into coming in" seem to be hell bent on not spending a dime at the super-duper store. And it is not the store's fault that it's full of obsolete brand new crap....

At this moment a dichotomy takes shape. 2 parts going in different directions that is. So different that insted of the letter "Y" the situation looks more like a "T".

I always come to the same point - to develop the planted tank hobby better we need more understanding how things work.

--Nikolay
 

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This article is a huge disservice to our hobby.

Because of the name associated with it and the information that guarantees failure.
 

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Typical Martha--low content, over-simplified, and unlikely to produce success without MUCH more research and effort.

However, even a whisper of interest from Saint Martha can boost a hobby or activity to surprising levels. ...
Hey! Should I get a tiny bit negative here? This is pretty sad actually:

These 2 have someting in common:




Both are criminals. Both are American icons. One started as a criminal and turned into an icon. The other first became an icon and then a criminal.

I hope you follow my veiled logic - no matter how it looks there is black and white IF one cares to see it. I don't think anyone sees Martha as a criminal. Or Billy. Or quite a few professional athletes. But there is black and white nonetheless.

How does that pertain to our hobby?
Do YOU care to think? To choose beter products? To voice? To drive forward?

This "Money" topic is a complicated subject...

- Cheers! - said Martha.

--Nikolay
 

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I have the feeling that there are "kits" in the stores already. I actually bought a tank for the daughter of a freind of mine 4 years ago. Tank is with a Barbie-pink lid and base. At least I got normal looking gravel. Tank has an HOB filter and they buy Carbon cartridges for it. It houses ONE goldfish. Normally the water is somewhat murky, at times you can't see the fish. My friend always tells me that chaning the water is not someting they do often.

In contrast - I got a 10 gallon standard tank for another friend. Small HOB filter, gravel and snow white rocks. Also - a $1 plastic pitcher. Told him that every day before feeding the fish he needs to scoop 1 pitcher of water from the tank and replace it with tap water treated with 1 drop of "this here bottle". Takes you 30 seconds. "Scoop water--dump in sink---refill+add 1 drop--dump in tank". Guy seems to find it easy - 2 years later I still marvel how the stones are as snow white as the first day! Tank houses TWO goldfish!

My point is - if the 30 second maintenance is done on a regular basis the tank will be clean. You can't sell that. To me LFS should make that clear to every customer - that it is easy + there is no other way. But hey, people can't even keep house plants alive because they forget to water them and noone needs to be told plants need water...

Few years ago Tetra, I believe, had a TV add featuring cute looking fish. The only words that showed on the screen were "Fish are easy" or something to that extent. Don't know if that made any difference, but we all understand the goal of that ad.
 
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