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Discussion Starter · #101 ·
I agree that the kits aren't the answer for everyone. I do think for beginners who don't know a lot they are a good starting point. We do have guidelines such as El Natural and EI dosing that are general, but they don't really give scaping advice. I kind of think that is where you either have to have an eye or copy someone or use the "kit" method.
 

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I would think a booklet of some kind would be better. you know something like 20 pages or so, that could be given out/ low cost. would do much more then would offering kits.
Yes, but it reminds me of an appliance I had once. It has a sticker on the top that read, "Really now? Have you read the instructions?!"
 

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Yes, but it reminds me of an appliance I had once. It has a sticker on the top that read, "Really now? Have you read the instructions?!"
In college I was working at "toy'r'us" over the winter break. All I did was put things toegther. Anyways there was this one play house that came with these plastic rivits, that once they went in, they didn't come back out. got tons of them back. Anyways, on the 1st page of the instructions it said:

"now that you have tried and failed to asymbel your XXXXXXX play house, Thank you for reading the instructions"

:rolleyes:

Its like the old saying, "whats the diffrence between a wise man and a idiot? the wise man reads the insturctions"
 

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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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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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Interesting discussion.

In Cincinnati there is a pretty large Aquarium club (hundreds of members) and the vast majority are FW aquarists. Some spend plenty of money on their hobby. But there is very little interest in planted tanks. I'm not sure why, but I have thought of some drawbacks of planted tanks. Keep in mind, I've been in the hobby for about 10 years and I started with a planted tank and I've never had a non-planted tank.

1. The biggest problem in my opinion is that there is a lack of good info on planted tanks. There is no good guide book to setting up a successful planted aquarium. I mean a book that is a detailed step by step. Walsted's book is good, but it is not specific enough and it has a lot of science that the average aquarium keeper isn't interested in (I was interested, but most wouldn't be). It took me tons of research and trial and error to get my planted tank to look the way I wanted it too. There is tons of conflicting information also. The LFS owners and employees usually don't know the basics of a planted tank. BTW, I don't mean a book that describes THE way to have a successful planted tank, but ONE way. I spent more money as I figured things out and my goal seemed achievable. Why would I spend a bunch on a setup with no guide and a pretty good chance I'll end up with a failure.

2. Many popular FW fish are not so compatible with plants. Most of the african rift lake cichlids aren't. Most big fish aren't. Discus and dwarf cichlids are great, but they aren't exactly easy to keep. Most Cincy club members keep african rift lake cichlids.

3. Good plants are hard to find. I pretty much have to order online to get any decent plant. Other aquatic gardeners are good to find, but hard to find. LFS in this area have sad looking specimens of common plants.

One other point that has been touched on: Getting started in planted aquaria is cheap, SW is not. I know of many people who have won a gold fish at a fair and then get their first aquarium. For $3 more you can add a sword plant and you are in. Those people may not have the funds to start a SW tank. The sword lives but struggles, so the owner tries to do cheap things to help the plant (maybe some fertilizer, maybe they add another light strip or get a better light strip) because they like the plant, but only have $3 invested so far. You can see where this is going.
 

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I've managed to read through this entire thread, and have a few thoughts to add. I've been in the hobby since 2003, have been president of our local plant club, and have tried to answer tons of questions from hobbyists along the way. Yet, one thing I've learned along the way is regardless of money spent, time/effort are far more important. In addition to the money spent in other parts of the world on the best equipment/materials, I believe they also invest a tremendous amount of time grooming their planted aquariums.

I'm the perfect example of someone who's spent a lot of money on CO2 systems, quality filters, auto-dosers, great lights, but life gets in the way, and if I don't do water changes for a month, the results aren't great. In comparison to salt-water, it seems that the equipment is more readily available to solve that kind of problem. Automate everything so that you can just enjoy the tank.

I'm not confident that even if I wanted to spend the money, that I would know exactly what pieces of equipment to buy to achieve that. Maybe plumb the tank into my house water supply, but is there a aquatic plant trimming Roomba I can buy to keep the plants looking perfect?

So, back to my point, it's effort in, results out. It's a hobby after all, but it can be a hard sell to tell someone working full-time with 2 kids that they need to carve out a little bit of time every day, and an hour or two on the weekends to keep their 75G in good shape.

Now, with some specific things, it's better to spend the money. Over the course of a few years, it's more expensive (and more work) to maintain a yeast CO2 system, than to drop a couple hundred bucks on a pressure system that's more stable, and will provide better results. Yet, given this simple advice, it's amazing how many folks don't want to add CO2 to their systems. I don't know if it's information overload, or simply fear of failing.

The same is true with new and exotic plants. In our club auctions, we often get the question "will it grow in my tank." I try to answer best I can, but usually I try to encourage the person to just try it. Of course, there are plants that won't grow and I steer them away from those, but even given a $2 bag of beautifully healthy plants in a club auction, folks are hesitant to give it a try. That's not a cost problem...

I believe that LFS's have to be part of the solution, but in seeing several good stores go out of business over the past few years, I can't fault any owner from being cautious about what they invest in. For saltwater, don't underestimate the effect of The Little Mermaid and Nemo in driving demand. Nor to the impact that public aquariums have on the hobby. How many stunning planted aquariums have you seen in public aquariums? If anyone has the time and resources to do a planted aquarium, shouldn't they? Nope, another shark tank.

Finally, just to comment on El Natural. When I think of El Natural, I think soil substrate with little to no dosing. That doesn't preclude CO2 or high light, however. In GWAPA, we have many folks using Sean Murphy's soil recipe in "high tech" setups. A great example is Dave William's tank that placed 6th overall in the AAC2009 contest:

http://aac.acuavida.com/gallery/AAC...s/David+Williams/180g_202009_20final.jpg.html

Of course, he spent the time/money to plumb the tank into his house water supply, used CO2, bought nice rocks/wood, etc.
 

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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.
 

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If we think that any kind of deeper understanding of how to run a planted tank will help this hobby please read this topic.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...o-proven-method-starting-running-planted.html

It is really not about how to apply subZero. The topic is about critical thinking and trying to learn more. And you can see how easily it gets overwhelming for most people.

I like the Roger-the-Rummynose idea, haha! It does not have to do with precise anything. And we all know it will work!

--Nikolay
 

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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.

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If we think that any kind of deeper understanding of how to run a planted tank will help this hobby please read this topic.
I think some people on this forum want a deeper understanding, but most aquarium keepers don't. They want an easy to follow formula. I think some of those formula people would want to learn more once they got hooked on planted aquaria, but they never get interested because they never get started.

If the subzero plan works and you packaged it with easy instructions (day 1 pour this bag into the aquarium, day 2 pour this bag into the aquarium, WC, etc). I bet you could sell some of those (make sure it is cheap). Put the components of each bag in small print so interested people can look, but keep it very simple for everyone else.
 

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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.

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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.

But seriously, getting back to the bit about planted v saltwater in the US: I think freshwater planted tanks have a lot going against them compared to saltwater. Planted tanks are a lot more work, not just physically but mentally. The scapes we create don't really exist in natural bodies of water. Stick your head in your average lake and you'll see mostly mud and detritus. If you see plants they're either growing in big wide homogenous swaths, or are leggy and covered in crud. Hell, stick your head in the Amazon and it doesn't exactly look like an Amano aquascape - just silty brown water, dead branches and leaves. Compare that to a saltwater tank where to a large degree you can take a picture of a natural piece of reef and try to recreate it. So there's a lot more imagination involved - deciding where the hardscape goes, what plants to use and how to keep them alive. And then on top of all that, not only do they need to be kept alive, they need to be grown and shaped and placed specifically into a form that's eye pleasing or evocative somehow.

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.

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.

That's why I really see the benefit in a lot of the ADA stuff and why I guess that's the best venue for breaking into the American mainstream. Because even if you don't want to be philosophical about a planted tank, at the very least they try to make it practical. Use this soil. 3 squirts of this per day for the first 2 months, then change to this. Do water changes every two weeks. Look at these pictures - no big fish, only little fish. Don't put goldfish in the tank, or anything else that defecates a lot and fouls the water. It's all very easy to remember.

So anyway, I wish I had a conclusion but I don't. That's just my 2 cents.
 

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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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Maybe I have been incredibly lucky, but all of my tanks have been easy, and relatively problem-free from the start. My introduction to planted aquaria was Walstad's Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, and I have continued to use that method, with my own elaborations.

This may be wildly over-confident, but I think I could give a new hobbyist relatively simple, step-by-step directions for setting up a tank that would be as easy as mine have been. And it would not be expensive either. But this method would never be heavily marketed or become highly profitable because it uses common equipment and materials.

Maybe the money saved could be used instead for well-grown, healthy plants; and fish that are raised, shipped, and sold in humane ways. What a pipe dream!
 

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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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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?
The answer is Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Florida:

http://www.floridastateparks.org/ichetuckneesprings/

A few GWAPA members went snorkeling there several years ago, and it was literally like swimming in a planted aquarium, with huge fields of Val underneath you, lots of minnows and sunfish swimming around, crayfish, turtles, etc. I highly recommend it. Here's a short writeup with photos from my visit:

http://www.guitarfish.org/2007/06/13/florida-trip-ichetucknee-river

Here's a post I found that shows more of its beauty:

http://tilthelasthemlockdies.blogspot.com/2011/05/down-amazing-ichetucknee-river.html
 

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Hey, if people start out with plastic, someday they might decide to go for the real thing. My 20g community tank had plastic plants, but when I upgraded to the 55, I thought to myself, "Maybe it's time to try the real thing..." So if an LFS were to use plastic versions of real plants that they sell in window display tanks, I'd think it would work - "We can sell you the plastic ones, or if you want, we have the real plants over here." And plastic definitely doesn't last forever and is REALLY ANNOYING when it starts to degrade. Besides looking hideous well before the disintegration point. But then the issues of knowledge and maintenance crop back up over the long term. (And I'm sure it's cheaper to sell plastic plants than keep planted stock tanks looking good, from the store's perspective.)

Unfortunately as far as enthusiasm/inspiration goes, a reef is always going to be way more exciting than a FW plant habitat, and I bet more people want fish than want plants as the primary focus of their aquarium.
 

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I honestly do not know how much of my time I have spent trying to understand different "methods" of running a tank.

Do we figure our internet connection fees into the cost of running our tanks?

I chased my tail all over the web trying to understand why I need lily pipes before I bought them. Would it have been better if I admitted that I just wanted them because I wanted my tank to look like Amano's? I could have just copied his placement of the pipes and not known anything about why they are placed that way. I would have had the same results.

I just read this:http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/dallas-ft-worth-aquatic-plant-club/79609-subzero-proven-method-starting-running-planted.html

I have a demanding job. I have a young family. I have many hobbies that keep me fit and active. I have a love of planted tanks. I have some resources. In reality, I don't have time for this stuff - this research, these experiments. I am beyond caring about why and just want to know how. That is actually all I ever wanted. I am willing to pay for the how. I have paid for the why with my precious time. Time spent researching the why, time spent on these forums. Time spent skimming through egos and camps and clever posts that seem determined to outwit the last poster or defend one's methods rather than answer the original question.

I have also lost money and time trying to be cheap.

In the next days, I am going to buy a new tank. I am going to buy the tank that I can afford. Not the tank that I want. I will run this tank as a system and I will not buy a system bigger than I can afford. The system I will employ stresses how you achieve a beautiful planted tank, not why it all works. I will not suffer the details, I will buy the parts and put them together. Again, I don't care why. I just want to know how to make it happen without having to take college level bio classes.

This is not some parting from the forums post. I love you peeps, I love your passion and I know that when something goes wrong, I will need the help of the people who know WHY. Plus, I am obsessed and want to help. But I just don't have time for the EI, PPS, subzero, try to figure out how everyone who buys ADA ferts are suckers B.S.

I want it easy, If I have to pay for easy that is fine. Life must go on.

Regards
 
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