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I blame the industry itself. There is more money to be made in SW than freshwater so that's where stores try to push you. Every fish store you go into has a huge SW display. How many stores do you see with a nice planted display. NONE in my area. If they do sell plants it's in a small aquarium with inadaquate lighting, so why would a customer spend as much money on something that doesn't look as nice.
Follow the money, there's more money to be made from SW then planted.
I see this point and I like Tex Gal's response to it. Most stores probably don't understand how to push the "planted" side of the hobby. If they were able to really understand it and see the market potential, maybe that would change. Seems to me that hobby groups could have an impact here. For one person to go into a store and tout the praises of planted aquaia is one thing, but for an organization/club to go in and show the store owners the potential and some real "how-to" on making their displays look good, that might be enough to push the planted hobby forward more.

Look at the equipment that's currently available. Every year we see new and more powerful filters, better heaters, light fixtures, bulbs specifically geared toward planted tank, fertilization supplements, CO2 equipment...the tools are there...what stores lack is the know-how of setting up the sales area for planted tanks and how to incorporate the right equipment.

(Not to brag, but we actually have a store in Houston (Pearland) that is getting set up right now to cater to planted tank enthusiasts on a level that should equal the attention given to Salt Water!! )
 

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...and we are moving forward as a hobby. Just look at everyone's favorite hobby magazine (TFH). Even they have incorporated planted tanks into their issues. They run "Aquatic Plant of the Month" as well as a 2-3 page section on Planted Tanks and another full feature on ADA/Nature Aquariums. In addition to that, half of the mini-series type articles feature planted aquaria. Even this most recent "Import Report" is fully dedicated to plants.

Maybe our local stores need to read the magazine more often instead of just sellnig it. ;)
 

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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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It seems as though there is a disdain among some in the hobby for any "higher end" product, which I just don't understand. How many times, especially on other forums, when you see anything ADA mentioned does someone invariably make a derogatory comment toward the products or even Amano himself.
 

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I agree with all that has been said, one point that really surprised me from its truth was the comment by Robert Henry. Asides from the price of the fish influencing money spent on other things, it also gives the fw hobby an image of lower quality. The 20cent feeder goldfish is what comes to mind when someone thinks about keeping freshwater fish. Personally I think it’s from the way fish are marketed to the mass public. Like to smaller children they stereotype fish keeping into either keeping goldfish in a bowl or a nice saltwater tank. Keeping plants isn’t even in the picture to begin with. All they know are corals, sea anemones, etc. Even if someone does stumble across the realm of plant keeping, they apply terrestrial gardening to plants, but in reality plant keeping is so much more complicated than just soil, water, and sunshine. And the comment about how the term aquarium/aquatic automatically raises the price is so true. We aren’t cheap, we just want to find better sources that aren’t widely available as resources are to SW aquarists. When I’m looking around for co2 stuff and I tell them it’s for my fish tank, I get the weirdest look as if I was crazy. With saltwater, all their equipment is supplied by virtually any store that deals with fish. As for the popularity of the FW hobby, it’s just not worth the effort/money for a planted tanks. Most stores just add a small inadequate plant tank so that customers might buy some to add to the total money spent. Stores also lack the general knowledge on how to take care of plants. Given the poor condition of plants when customers see them at LFS or petsmart, it’s not as visually pleasing and enticing to buy and grow. Most people impulsively buy fish at fish stores based on their appearances and have no real knowledge or foresight on what they are doing. If amano’s tanks and other very nice scapes were advertised and shown more, I’m sure opinions would change.
 

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I agree that stores generally don't promote planted tanks as we'd like them to, but remember that it's a business, and if they can make a buck by cutting costs - they will. Very few stores equip their tanks with suitable lighting, Co2 injection, suitable substrate, etc. just to sell plants. The few that do are typically smaller mom & pop stores that have trouble competing with mega-giant fish-mart chain stores. I've lived on Long Island all my life (a long time) and I've seen many many local fish stores close their doors - it's rather disheartening that here in the New York City area it's getting harder and harder to find a good LFS.
 

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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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I have to agree with Error in that response. Planted aquariums do not get the exposure that marine aquariums do. I believe in time this will change as reef keeping is becoming more and more cost prohibitive in many areas. If I had it all to do over again I would NOT have a reef.

People do not normally see the huge variety of muliple colored plants available as they are generally not sold in regular pet/aquarium supply stores. People have no idea what is really out there. Among the reasons why people were attracted to reefs was the challenge. They see freshwater anything as being a "simpleton's" hobby, not even worth a second glance. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH HOWEVER. Keeping planted aquariums is a definate science just as is keeping a reef. It is a balance of minerals (micro and macro) water quality, aggressive filtration, whether it comes from the plants or filtration/water movement. We've brought a few friends into natural aquarium keeping since we started. Reefs were a bit much but they were amazed at the challenges and time commitments that goes into keeping a planted aquarium.

We are currently using our 6 planted aquariums to supply plants to a friend's pet shop. His store specialized in "marine" but after the sharp down-turn in the economy he realized he needed something different. I convinced him to set up a few plant tanks. When we first started bringing in some of our plants our friend could not believe there was so much color and texture out there. I own a 220 gal. reef system so I am accustomed to seeing color in a tank. When I set up our first planted aquariums I sought out color and contrast in the freshwater hobby as well.

We gave up our pretty aquascapes, putting our driftwood and rocks into storage (much to the dismay of our discus:confused:) to help a friend but also to show people what is really out there. We set up a display aquarium (not for sale) in the store to which we re-arrange periodically to keep interest. I am happy to say that we are attracting new people to the hobby because of what we sell. We do not make any money on it ourselves vs. our overhead but to my husband and myself, it is a labor of love.

People need to see right in front of their eyes what all of us here on this forum already know. :D
 

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if you've ever walked into AFA in san francisco, it's like walking into a dream, no joke. It just takes the breath out of your lungs when you see the beauty of all the scapes they have, scapes maintained and managed by 2 people! when i look at reef systems, it's like eh... interesting but the colors don't appeal as much as a freshwater scape. the colors in a scape are more sharp and almost panoramic. maybe it's just because of the blue hue from actnic bulbs they use which makes everything a dull blue-grey save for the corals and fish. i also think the hobby isn't taken into much consideration because those who do have freshwater tanks are most likely still of the pink gravel and plastic plant variety, which deteriorates the image of the FW hobby, while most reefers have decent-spectacular tanks and when people see those they automatically think reefing is more modern/sophisticated.
 

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I'd like to post another reply if I may.

With having my friend who has owned his (and his wife's)pet store for 22 years now, I believe another issue is some of the smaller "Mom and Pop" pet stores are feeling more and more helpless when it comes to either the big mega chains or ONLINE competition. It is almost like "why bother". It took a bit of convincing but our friend installed CO2 and has reluctantly switched his brand new bulbs at our request.

But Alas, we are getting off the subject here. Doing a quality planted tank is much like doing a reef in that there are different levels of difficulty and with those levels goes various forms of equipment. The average person in the FW hobby does not see the need to spend mega bucks on equipment. Only if you wish to keep a specialized tank do you realize (as you learn) that there is a big difference in equipment and how to get the most out of that equipment. THE FRESHWATER HOBBY IS BASICALLY DOMINATED BY BEGINNERS, or people who just want a tank for the sake of having a tank. Serious people such as those of us on this forum know what it takes to maintain a Dutch/Killie/Discus, any specialized aquarium. I see many of you out there who have big Eheims, CO2 injection, multiple bulb fixtures, elaborate tank systems such as built-ins.........yea, we spend the bucks IF we know that is what we need to do. As a discus hobbyist I know what a large discus cost me. Get five of those in a tank and having a second rate filter makes no sense. We are older and about to retire so our budget, although always existant, we have learned the advantages of buying the right product the first time around instead of searching and buying multiple products which ends up costing more in the long run and not working anyway. We are HUGE fans of Eheim in this household and have found that although very touchy and fickle, the Eheim wet/dry has worked the best on our tanks in terms of nutrient export to which build-up leads to algae. We also have the Eheim Pro 3 and Pro 3E but we seem to get the very best performance out of our wet/dries.

Just sharing our observations and "WHAT WORKS FOR US".
 

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Having had both a planted tank and a saltwater reef (years ago), this is my opinion:

Planted tanks are a lot cheaper, but a lot more difficult. The learnng curve is a lot steeper than with a reef tank. It is a lot easier to remove all Nitrogen and Phosphorous and dissolved organc compounds with resins and protein skimmers and in some cases denitrification filters and these days biopellets.

It is harder to maintain a balance of nutrients, carbon dioxide and light in a planted tank. Also on the subject of how much advanced equipment there is for saltwater compared to freshwater... Think about it. Planted tanks don't need the intense light, the protein skimming, the complicated sumps, reactors, resins.


In addition to this, the biodiversity in a saltwater/reef tank is extraordinary! There are so many types of shrimp, coral, fish, snails, crabs, starfish etc. The colors and patterns of most of the commonly kept fish are incredible and the corals turn fluorescent under actinic light, have interesting behavior of their own (eating, moving.)

I think that saltwater creatures are very "alien" and novel and that is what draws some people do them, while freshwater is familiar and boring to some. I think saltwater offers a gaudy sort of beauty with an immediate bang, while freshwater offers a more subtle beauty that takes a special type of person to appreciate.


One thing I would like to mention is that I hate it when people cut corners and are cheap. If you want thw hobby to advance, then you should support the companies that do research and development of aquatic plant/ fish products. DIYing (with some exceptions, like filter floss, etc.) does not help advance the hobby. Am I saying to go out and buy an ADA Grand Solar for your tank? No, but I am saying that if you want to advance the hobby, don't buy a Hamilton Bay desk light from home depot just because itis "good enough." Using DIY yeast in a milk jug does not advance the hobby.
I am not putting people down who can't afford the nice aquarium equipment and DIY out of neccesity, but I think beiing cheap for the sake of being cheap does the hobby a disservice.

Saltwater setups are only as expensve as you make em and there are different levels of difficulty and expense, just like with freshwater. You can easy coral like mushrooms and various soft corals that can live in relatively low lght, with a bit more money moderate difficulty you can have LPS which are my favorite, but if you want giant clams, SPS coral and anemones then that is a serious investment and commitment to the care and maintenance of these creatures. Dosing and light are critical as well as nutrient export. A $50-$100 plus coral that is slow growing is a lo different than a fast growing plant that costs $1-10 bucks. You aren't going to shell out a lot of money on livestock and then be cheap when it comes tp equipment to care for them. It is a recipe for disaster if you want high end coral but are cheap and lazy when it comes to light, maintenance, water chemistry etc.

You can grow coral under expensive LED's and expwnsive protiein skimmers and all the otherbells and whistles... Or you can have a basic setup with basic livestock under basic lighting and still be successful. It all depens on your budget, desires and commitment.
 

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I am still laughing JustlikeAPILL!!!!! YOU ARE SO RIGHT ON MOST ALL COUNTS and we like your to-the-point style. The only area where I do not share your view is in the use of resins as we do not believe in them and feel that if there is a need for such, there must be a problem which should be rooted out. I do find that knowledge learned on either side of the fence has been an asset to the other side however so we are glad to be able to do both. We've only been doing planted aquariums for about 4 years now vs. over 20 years with the reef. We are not advanced hobbyists in either however.

We too do not believe in DIY ideas. These companies who do the research and offer superior products need our business or their superior products will not be around for long. Having been in the hobby for longer than I care to admit I've seen many good products come and go, sadly enough.

I loved your exception to filter floss. :D Funny but we still find floss to be the best trapping media out there. We buy it in bulk since we use it on ALL 7 of our systems, be it planted or reef.

Thanks for your wise words. THESE COMPANIES NEED OUR SUPPORT;)
 

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Thank you : ) I am 21 and had a 75 gallon reef tank for three years until about five years ago. Guess resins like chemi pure aren't used anymore.

I was into reefs back when VHO T12 fluorescents were pretty high tech to give you an idea ;P things have really changed.

The only reason I dont have a reef now is a lack of space for more than one small tank in my dorm at college, and a lack of time for more than one tank. When I graduate and have my own place I will definately have a 20-30 gallon reef setup, because I love both planted and reef tanks in seperate but equal ways. I have to admit that I enjoy the equipment for both fresh and salt water as much as the livestock. Maybe that is weird but I like having and working with nice equipment.

Whoever said nano tanks were for people with a low budget is full of it, but the way. I have an all ADA mini setup and it is a fortune... But you can't get that aesthetic with even the best DIY skills, and spendng all that dough supports Aqarium Desgn Group (I can't reccomend them more highly!) as well as Aqua Design Amano, which advances the hobby.

I would rather support ADG and ADA than Hamilton Bay.
 

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You are more than welcome!!!!! You deserve it. I am not familiar with ADA other since finding this forum but I am going to really look into their product line. You get what you pay for! :p

Funny but we have more tanks than we can fit in our house. I can't imagine being restricted to a dorm...LOL

"You brought up a very important FACT. A nano aquarium is about the most difficult. They are far more unstable, hence volitile, because of their small volume of water. Hats off to anyone who can successfully do a specialized nano and yes, by all means, "nanos are NOT CHEAP"

Best of luck to You
 

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PS. I do not want to say much about Chemi-Pure since this is a planted forum but yes, it does seem to be dying out in popularity. It use to be the cure-all for everything a prot. skimmer or denitro filter could not do.
 

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Yeah... A nano reef just requires far too much time for someone in my position and there is little room for error when it comes to slacking off.

If you want the new ADA catalogue, PM me and i will givw it to you. ADG send me a new one with each order so I would rather give it away than throw it away.

ADA is like Elos but for freshwater.
 

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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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I've read all the posts and my head is swimming. I do see some points worth noting

1. Until enough people are exposed, mass appeal, which will bring in the $$$ to the hobby won't happen.
2. Right now public opinion about FW is tanks and fish in big box stores. Cheap dirty, dying plants and floaters. No one is gonna spend big bucks on that. Even few LFS have decent FW tanks
3. Since availability is limited this encourages online sales which further undercuts LFS who are the main people to change perception
4. The learning curve is steep with few experts, except maybe online, to talk to or learn from.
5. Following the money leads to SW in our current industry.

Sounds like we are the only ones who can change perception. We could offer free pxs of tanks and plants in those revolving frames to be placed at checkouts to LFS. We could support those doing eBooks with free pxs and our knowledge. We could support our local plant clubs. We could set up tanks at libraries and schools and volunteer to maintain them.

I'm not sure I agree that there is so much more biodiversity in SW as opposed to FW. If you look in the invert side at all the amazing and colorful shrimp , snails, clams,etc available now its incredible. We don't know what is out there because we don't see it in this country. Think apistos and rams and rainbows, discus, tetras, plecos, killies etc. The sheer color, size and amount of possibilities can be mind numbing. When these are placed in planted tanks the effect is breathtaking. I think that's why we have all been asked, "is it salt water?". I'm not sure anything will change in my lifetime. I do know that this is why I am always in search of the next rare plant, the unique fish, the cool rocks. I want the beauty I see available in other countries. I want to grow the rare plants and share them with others. I want to spread them around the hobby so we, in the US don't loose that plant. Maybe we all have to make a difference in our own little corner.
 

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Hi,

this whole discussion centres around a very strange argument: commitment is proportionate to the amount of money spent (the size of the diamond is an accurate measure of love, right?)... you need advanced technology to have a "nature" tank... when, in fact, few things are more unnatural than Amano-style set ups: manicured lawns, a jumble of plants thrown together irrespective of origins, garden paths lined by bonsai trees... When I read some tank journals, inspiration invariably comes from landscapes or fairy tales ("enchanted forest"); seems none of the scapers ever went through the trouble to study biotopes or put on a set of goggles to take a good look around under water.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a showy, albeit unnatural planted tank; some people prefer sculptured boxwood to a garden that's running wild. And so need CO2 and fancy lighting. It's legitimate to do so - but it's not the height of the hobby... and when the beautiful technology breaks down (failed valve), you've gassed your fish to death...

When I got my first aquarium some 40 off years ago, there wasn't this obsession with names, either. Now, discussion titles announce "my new ADA...", which leaves you totally in the dark about what type of set up to expect... more often than not, you find a global fish soup, nonchalantly throwing together rasboras and tetras, otocinclus and dwarf gouramis... with a jumble of veggies that were thrown in not because they belong together or have similar needs or represent a biotope, but because of texture, colour accents or dramatic staging... Again, if it floats your boat, it's legitimate. But it doesn't mean that you've arrived at the pinnacle of the hobby or that you're setting standards. All it means that there exist many ways to skin a cat, some with technology, others with little or none. But don't take money as a yardstick for seriousness... and do take a minute to consider the ecological costs... chances are that your set up is sustainable only as long as the friendly neighbourhood nuclear plant doesn't blow up...

Personally, I will never inject CO2. But I think that the hobbyist, who spends time thinking about producing CO2 from a recycled bottle and some yeast and sugar is more serious than the one buying ready-made solutions with pressure tanks... if not more serious, at least more sustainable.

Finally, I have spent months thinking about how I can run a successful tank that is sustainable in an environment, where I can't take a steady supply of electricity for granted. I now use sunlight only, a heater for those chilly Nairobi nights and a circulation pump. My tank is locally made. No filtration; instead, I rely on plants. If there should be no electricity for a month, my tank will still provide a stable environment. Before y'all preach technology, try a bit harder catching up on ecology...

Greetings from Nairobi

Margit
 

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@ Margit- I feel the need to respond to your post. My responses are in blue. I will quote your line first and then respond

..this whole discussion centres around a very strange argument: commitment is proportionate to the amount of money spent (the size of the diamond is an accurate measure of love, right?)...

Wrong - the question was not how committed you are to the hobby by show of $$$ spent. It was why are people willing to shell out the $$$ in salt water but not freshwater? Why is there such availability of species flora and fauna in the SW side but not FW side? Usually that comes down to the profitability margin because without the demand there is not supply. If it costs to stock it and bring it in then people have to be willing to buy it.

you need advanced technology to have a "nature" tank...

No one ever said this. We have an entire forum dedicated to "el natural" style methodology. This discussion wasn't necessarily about a "nature" tank, just FW scapes in general. I'm not even sure there is an official definition of a "nature" tank.

When I read some tank journals, inspiration invariably comes from landscapes or fairy tales ("enchanted forest"); seems none of the scapers ever went through the trouble to study biotopes or put on a set of goggles to take a good look around under water.

I don't think these type of aquascapes claim to be biotopes. Why would you assume that they are lacking in education about them?

There is nothing wrong with wanting a showy, albeit unnatural planted tank; some people prefer sculptured boxwood to a garden that's running wild. And so need CO2 and fancy lighting. It's legitimate to do so - but it's not the height of the hobby... and when the beautiful technology breaks down (failed valve), you've gassed your fish to death...

I'm not sure what is at the "height of the hobby". I do know that the aquascape winners are using the fancy equipment. Most that use CO2 have many fail-safe's built into their setups. For me I have a double guage regulator to prevent end of tank dump, a Ph controller and even then I never turn my CO2 higher than it could hurt my fish EVEN if it were continuously running. No one wants to hurt their fish or livestock. Mistakes can happen, even in a set-up like yours.

... Again, if it floats your boat, it's legitimate. But it doesn't mean that you've arrived at the pinnacle of the hobby or that you're setting standards. All it means that there exist many ways to skin a cat, some with technology, others with little or none. But don't take money as a yardstick for seriousness... and do take a minute to consider the ecological costs... chances are that your set up is sustainable only as long as the friendly neighbourhood nuclear plant doesn't blow up...

This is your 2nd use of "it's legitimate" and then you end up with the ecological costs, neighborhood nuclear plant... It's quite clear in your tone that you do not think it's legitimate. We could go on and on about ecology and personal beliefs but this discussion is not about that. Also since you missed the premise of the discussion NOT being about commitment to hobby = $$$ spent you are off topic. No one is trying to decide a winner here or set standards. This is just a discussion

Finally, I have spent months thinking about how I can run a successful tank that is sustainable in an environment, where I can't take a steady supply of electricity for granted. I now use sunlight only, a heater for those chilly Nairobi nights and a circulation pump. My tank is locally made. No filtration; instead, I rely on plants. If there should be no electricity for a month, my tank will still provide a stable environment. Before y'all preach technology, try a bit harder catching up on ecology...

Good for you. I'm glad you have achieved your goal. No one faults you or would want to take this away from you. This was not a thread about preaching technology to sacrifice ecology, which seems to be what you espouse. For me it's more about what amazing availability there is in other countries of flora and fauna and why we don't have it in the US when we do have a high standard of living. What is it that keeps it from this country? Many have said it it that the $$$ aren't there to sustain the availability. I think you missed the point. You sound angry and judgmental. I love the diversity. I don't keep or have biotopes. It's not because I don't know about them. It's not because I think they are inferior. I want to enjoy as many species of things as I can in my spaces. I don't expect you to be me. I'm glad you are happy. I don't want to be forced to be you either. We can all be ourselves and enjoy the hobby.
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