Aquatic Plant Forum banner
61 - 80 of 155 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,966 Posts
Well I've put some thought into this and here are my two cents.

I firmly believe that the US aquarist is willing to put a lot of money into their aquarium. The huge reef market is evidence of this. The question becomes, why hasn't the planted aquarium hobby grown the same way that the reef hobby has?

Another interesting question is why the planted aquarium is more popular in other parts of the world than in the US?

For the first question, it's interesting to think that back pre-1950, it was the freshwater side that was the source of knowledge and technology. Please see Roger Vitko's History of the Hobby http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-09/rv/feature/index.php.

I think that the answer lies in the lack of availability of plants for aquariums. Even today, as I travel around the nation, I see very few LFS that carry plants. The ones that do only carry a very small number, some not aquatic, and in pitiful shape. No one in the LFS can tell you how to grow them let alone properly aquascape an aquarium.

When I travel outside the US, I find that most LFS carry plants. There is great variety, they are healthy and the clerk can give you a good understanding of keeping them alive.

To answer the second question, availability of good, quality plants coupled with a smaller geography allows other countries to develop more serious aquascapers than what we're producing in the US. However, in terms of total number of planted aquarium hobbyists, I think the US is getting close to other countries.

In the end, I think we are in an era of exponential growth in this hobby and in a few years, we will have caught up with other countries. At least I hope that's the case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,373 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Art,
If you owned an LFS, how would you set it up?

Around here, there are literally thousands of active reef hobbyists, most of whom have $5k-$10K+ tied up in their systems and a burning desire to collect one of everything. Any reef store worth their salt has well heeled guys waiting as new stock arrives (even these days), looking to cherry pick the best stuff. $500+ corals and fish are not uncommon with $75-$100 pricetags on mid-level stock.

Compare that to maybe 50-100 aquascapers in the same area, most with considerably smaller amounts invested. You might sell a few $10 plants, but within a few months the local supply is saturated as it passes through the usual sources. Are you really going to steer your customers into buying plants?

I don't intend to be doom and gloom, but I think there are some lessons to be learned. As Americans:

1) We love to collect. Rare, expensive, and colorful are big draws. We'll never see a huge range of species, but you're right, having some perpetually half dead crypts and swords in the back corner of every store isn't doing the hobby any favors. Healthy plants are a start, but also new varieties and species.

2) We love nice looking equipment and high tech gizmos. Nearly every piece of commonly available equipment for planted aquariums is outdated and/or very low grade junk (ADA the obvious exception, but still major price and availability issues). I know most current FW hobbyists are frugal, to say the least, but if you want to attract commited people, there has to be something better than 20 year old army green canister filters, finicky repurposed CO2 regulators, and warehouse strip lights.

What's interesting to me is the sheer number of reefkeepers who aren't into aesthetics at all. Scientists, engineers, and every type of craftsperson. The kind of folks who would never name their scape "autumn's silent whisper" while listening to Enya. They spend months and months building unbelievable life sustaining systems which take up entire rooms, and only 30 minutes throwing a pile of rock and coral in once they finish.

3) We want something that makes logical sense to us. <-- Biggest area for improvement

Reefing is straightforward in a sense. You brute force remove the bad things (pests, nitrates, anaerobic areas, phosphates, algae) and supplement the good things (light, flow, calcium, alkalinity..). When something goes wrong, there is often a straightforward path of resolution. It also helps that success is determined almost solely by the size and relative health of your collection.

With plants, we have this concept of balance, and to be fair, few of us have a clue as to what we're really doing. We follow our own religions because somewhere along the way we stumbled into a combination of methods that works for us. At least until it doesn't. Then we start a thread and 13 people throw out 13 different theories as to why we have pinholes.

Telling a newbie that plants need carbon/N/P/K/Micros (but just enough, not too much or everything dies + algae) and giving them 37 different ways to provide it (or not) is confusing. We have the EI/PPS wars. This amano guy sells lots of different substrate additives, but no science exists to if and why it works. Tough sell.

To top it off, the notion of what makes a great display great is still cloudy. Mostly, it's on a scale of how much it looks like something Amano has done, but I don't know if that's the right criteria. At the same time, we are forbidden from offering constructive criticism. Even when someone puts blue gravel and a bubbling treasure chest in their ADA 120P, we all have to pretend it looks great for fear of hurting someone's feelings. Ultimately, I think it slows the proliferation of aquascaping as an art form.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,373 Posts
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?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,966 Posts
Folks,

I'll give a more thorough response when I get home but answer me this: why did the reef hobby take off in the US? Is it really due to the big, pretty fish?

If you told a complete newbie, you too can keep these beautiful fish and reef it only takes a $10,000 investment. Would you have thought that many many people would say yes?


Regards,

Art
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
What do we have in the US to compare?
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.





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Folks,

I'll give a more thorough response when I get home but answer me this: why did the reef hobby take off in the US? Is it really due to the big, pretty fish?

If you told a complete newbie, you too can keep these beautiful fish and reef it only takes a $10,000 investment. Would you have thought that many many people would say yes?

Regards,

Art
The reef hobby honestly took off so hard and fast because of pretty fish! big or small doesn't matter people love pretty colors. Freshwater has pretty fish just not as many to the newbies. Also "back in the day" before they figured out how to do saltwater without killing everything freshwater was stupidly easy. There wasn't any crazy chemicals floating in your water system, etc. Plants/fish/etc were all cheaper. Planted tanks never really took off here cause......................

you have to take care of them!

who wants to do that? they (customers in general) want the quick fix they want things yesterday. They aren't going to wait for stuff to grow or spend 20 mins on the tank cleaning it up or dosing. I've had the "luxury" of working at a few pets shops and I've dealt with just about every consumer you can imagine from the "rich don't care how much it costs I want it" to the "what is a cycle?" to the "you can't clean your tank with bleach?" to "the hobbyists that rattle off latin names of plants and fish". The real problem is time..people have little of it according to them and choose not to deal with a tank. They'd rather get it set up and with fish in it and it looks "nice". One of my college professors said it best...American runs on money...time is money
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
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
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.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,373 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
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
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,966 Posts
Great discussion here!

My point is more based on the lack of good plants is causing the slow growth of the hobby. That is more the result of lack of proper supply (growers) rather than distribution (LFS).

I understand the LFS is a business and needs to make money but I don't believe they are in it only for the money. If that's the case, there are plenty of other businesses that would give much better returns than the LFS. I think these are people that love the aquarium hobby but must be business-minded. It then becomes an issue of educating them how they can increase another profitable product stream by carrying plants.

Claus Christensen used to have a great presentation/study that he would give to LFS about how adding plants to their products would increase their sales and profit margins. This is the education that suppliers must do to the distribution channel so that they carry their products.

If I had a LFS, I think I was asked, I would do a multi-product offering- salt and freshwater. I would use both and online and local retail business. I would differentiate myself by educating the consumer how to maintain an aquarium be it salt or fresh depending on what they wanted. I would have plants displayed prominently and would likely have a beautiful reef setup right next to a beautiful planted aquascape visible as the first thing you saw when you walked in. Well, that's me and it takes me winning the lottery...
 
61 - 80 of 155 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top