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I think that one explanation is that planted aquariums attract a different breed of folks than do marine aquariums. Getting into the hobby is very difficult, as others have mentioned. First, you have to find out that the hobby exists! We only discovered planted aquariums when we stumbled upon a gallery of aquascapes on BoingBoing.net. A few weeks later, while on vacation in San Francisco, we serendipitously walked past Aqua Forrest Aquariums where we discovered that those cool pictures on the internet were actually real! There's no “how to” book and (unless you live in SF) there's no one to ask for advice. It takes a lot of time and ingenuity to set up your first planted tank. You have to do tons of research just to figure out the basics. Then you have to piece it together with items that you order online from various merchants and hobbyists. For that reason, I think it attracts people who have more time than money. And people who like to tinker—thus the DIY ethos.

Also, judging from the posts I read, there are a lot of teenagers who are into the hobby in the US. In a few years, once they grow up and get jobs, there will a lot more people in the hobby who can afford to buy quality stuff!!!

As the hobby grows in the US, it will become more accessible and will then attract a broader audience.
 

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Most of my years were spent in the UK having been born in Scotland and raised in a small mining village in England. I was given my first aquarium on my eleventh birthday in 1968. 24" x 12" x 12" iron frame and a slate bottom. My uncle who gave me the aquarium still has several tanks and is a mentor to any who will ask their questions.

I am no expert but I have enjoyed watching some of my fish breed, and some still remain on my "one of these days list".

Over the years I have seen many stores open and close, some lasted longer than others. Fewer still are still in business, handed down from father to son, and have become a family affair. I could not say one way or the other what makes some succeed and others not.

Now living in the USA I find that things are very much cheaper, and consequently even on a low budget I can indulge myself in the "oh that looks nice syndrome".

One store owner I was speaking with a couple of years ago (had been open 16 years at the time) said he usually dealt with new people to the hobby, he would see them fairly regularly for two years. Then they would either give up and sell their equipment or they would join a club and get their fish and most of their equipment from other members of the club.

Now of course there is the electronic inter-super-highway-net. Where we are always happy to buy in bulk and of course therefore a little cheaper. (remember my low budget)

I cannot provide any answers to the original question, or smart off the cuff comments. What I can say is that I do think the hobby is growing, and while we are ready willing and able to pass on our acquired knowledge there will always be one or two younger folk that will be more than happy to learn and try it themselves.
 

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To me the time has come to use all the knowledge we have accumulated over the years and start setting up tanks that are pure enjoyment and no or very little problems and frustrations.

If we can make such tanks happen I'm sure the interest in the hobby will not only increase even more. The hobby will start to become part of one's lifestyle, not just a fleeting interest full of a lot of social interaction and quite a bit of frustration mixed with the joy of the hobby.

--Nikolay
 

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To me the time has come to use all the knowledge we have accumulated over the years and start setting up tanks that are pure enjoyment and no or very little problems and frustrations.

If we can make such tanks happen I'm sure the interest in the hobby will not only increase even more. The hobby will start to become part of one's lifestyle, not just a fleeting interest full of a lot of social interaction and quite a bit of frustration mixed with the joy of the hobby.

--Nikolay
Although it is a great idea i dont believe even if this perfect or near perfect tank were possible that if there was such a tank setup free of problems and frustration then there would be little enjoyment left to the aquarist. That would be like if the first time you were to set up a beautiful aquascape you just snapped a photograph of it and trashed the whole setup and placed the photo where the tank was. The perfect tank with no frustration or maintenance. I know this is off topic but just think for me if I never had to do any maintenance to the tank and it never created any unwanted frustration that the tank would be boring and a waste of space. Sorry that it took me this much reading to basically just say "no pain no game" in this hobby we just have to take the good with the bad.

I do however agree that if there was a well defined easy to reproduce cheap and easy to maintain tank style it would bring in more beginners to the hobby.
 

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I agree. It would be nice to see a solution. More people would enter the hobby for sure. Maybe keeping a planted tank would become something like keeping house plants - everyone has them. I think at that point the focus would change to aquascaping rather then warding off algae problems.
 

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"I do however agree that if there was a well defined easy to reproduce cheap and easy to maintain tank style it would bring in more beginners to the hobby."

This exists: the Walstad method, especially if you add the enhancements of good circulation, generous biofiltration, and moderate modern lighting.
 

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"I do however agree that if there was a well defined easy to reproduce cheap and easy to maintain tank style it would bring in more beginners to the hobby."

This exists: the Walstad method, especially if you add the enhancements of good circulation, generous biofiltration, and moderate modern lighting.
Well not only do these methods need to exist they need to be more readily available to newcomers. Not that newcomers don't have access to this method just no one to point them too it. How many employees at the big name pet retailers have ever recommended a walstad style to a customer who asks for a way to setup and maintain their tank that would be easy cheap and natural. Probably never. They just recommended some expensive chemicals filters and other unnecessary junk to confuse the beginner more. Then several months down the road the beginner aquarist does finally hear about other methods like these but feels that it would be too overwhelming and too much of a hassle to clear the slate and start all over with the walstad method. Sorry this has gotten really off topic from what this thread was made for. I once read that undergravel filters were the closest thing to how nature filters its water. More natural than a heaping helping of plants and a bit of dirt?
And it seems as if people look right through the plants and only really seem to give a crap about their silly little 5 dollar zebra danios of ugly unnatural colors. Why spend time maintaining some stationary little plant in the back right corner when I could buy 3 plastic ones for the same price?
 

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"Well not only do these methods need to exist they need to be more readily available to newcomers."

That is what we are here for.

I did a 90 gallon Walstad demo tank at my LFS. It is the only planted tank in the store, and the owner was quite skeptical about it. It has been up and running trouble-free for about 3 months without a single water change! Not that I recommend this, but it made a believer of the shop owner. And he tells everyone who asks how it was done. At least three new members have joined our local club because of that tank, and the support they get on this forum.
 

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Maybe keeping a planted tank would become something like keeping house plants
Please, no! The only houseplant that does really well for me is the peace lily. I killed houseplants on a regular basis before I settled on the lilies! I want my aquarium to be easier than keeping house plants! ;)

I suspect one of the problems with dirt tanks is the marketing angle - having to wade through the dozen or so kinds of soil at a gardening center is probably too daunting for a newcomer, but the ADA stuff is (a) not available everywhere and (b) really expensive for a newcomer who may not be sure they want the full "planted" effect. Also, buying enough plants to fully pack a new setup with dirt would be really expensive, unless you're already in touch with a forum or club. (In which case, you're not really the "newcomer" we're talking about as far as I can tell.) Other than the ADA system there doesn't seem to be a "convenience" factor in planted aquaria yet.
 

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I suspect one of the problems with dirt tanks is the marketing angle - having to wade through the dozen or so kinds of soil at a gardening center is probably too daunting for a newcomer, but the ADA stuff is (a) not available everywhere and (b) really expensive for a newcomer who may not be sure they want the full "planted" effect. Also, buying enough plants to fully pack a new setup with dirt would be really expensive, unless you're already in touch with a forum or club. (In which case, you're not really the "newcomer" we're talking about as far as I can tell.) Other than the ADA system there doesn't seem to be a "convenience" factor in planted aquaria yet.
Well said! I've tried to convince the shop owner to carry at least the supplies for mineralized top soil, if not the finished product. But because of his agreements with suppliers and economics of wholesale purchasing, he can never compete with big box stores on these products. And making his own MTS is out of the question.

The plant quantity problem is why I preach cheap stem plants to beginners--pack the tank with them until the slower growers that you really want can take over.
 

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"Well not only do these methods need to exist they need to be more readily available to newcomers."

That is what we are here for.

I did a 90 gallon Walstad demo tank at my LFS. It is the only planted tank in the store, and the owner was quite skeptical about it. It has been up and running trouble-free for about 3 months without a single water change! Not that I recommend this, but it made a believer of the shop owner. And he tells everyone who asks how it was done. At least three new members have joined our local club because of that tank, and the support they get on this forum.
I applaud you for the work you did in growing the hobby. I have several years of experience now and I think that the major difference between salt and freshwater is that planted tanks are never really seen by the majority of ppl (they don't go to specialized LFS; their experience with aquaria is seeing tanks of fish at the megastores). Finding Nemo fueled a boom on reefs simply because it put the idea in lots of people's heads. With the advent of new methods/technology making reefs more feasible, many people see reefs as the "dream." Freshwater is seen as what you do to keep fish "cheap" or when young. To change those perceptions and to grow the hobby (if that's what we want to do), people need to see what the possibilities are. I wish I had the skill/time to do what you did. Best I have done so far is to maintain a 10 gallon tank with some simple fish and wood/java fern in my son's classroom the past several years.
 

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What i wanted to say may be little sensitive and too lengthily so i wanted to make just one point.

How many people went on vacation and they went snorkeling to see all the pretty fish and the reef. How many people went of a vacation and went snorkeling in the river to see all the freshwater fish and plants.

Amazon river is the most famous freshwater habitat in the world and the tourism industry for the river is based on fishing and not diving or snorkeling. Most people are not aware how beautiful freshwater plant tanks can be. I am looking forward to get involved in this hobby and should set up my tank soon.
 

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BenChod, you're exactly right. There seem to be far fewer opportunities for people to snorkel in beautiful nature planted environments than ocean ones. The best I've ever been to, however, is Ichetucknee Springs in Florida. That's an underwater planted wonderland for snorkeling!
 

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

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

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Planted freshwater aquara may never be as popular as saltwater. But does that matter? We know that there are beginners out there who ARE interested in planted tanks but who cannot get reliable information. They show up on our "Introductions" and "New to planted aquariums" forums daily.

When I show my gardening friends my tanks, they almost always say "Wow, I never knew an aquarium could look like that!" They've seen the marine fish, and they don't care. They want plants and gardens, and if the gardens are in a glass box filled with water in the house it just makes them more interesting.
 
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