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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!

I'll try to keep this introduction as condensed and to the point as possible...but be forewarned, I can (and most likely will) ramble...

Anyways, I come to you all from the saltier side of the hobby; reefkeeping specifically, with an emphasis on stony corals. This has been my "hobby" for the last 15 years, and along the way, it came to become a definitive aspect of my life; it was my niche. However, keeping up with trends and technological advances was getting financially harder to do, and with the amount of hardware "required" to maintain my "hobby", it was becoming harder and harder to justify, environmental ethics notwithstanding. Coupled with seemingly annual methodological changes, protocols were more often parroted rather than discovered.

Regardless of what the root is of my current fence-sitting, I feel now that, for me, the reef hobby is no longer conducive to the ideals of tranquility and serentity. In fact, it was anything but, and probably never was! Analogously, my reefkeeping mentality nowadays very much seems to mimic the environment from which it stems from: random, wildly variable, somewhat chaotic, and progressively dynamic. A very high-energy place, to say the least. I mean, jeez, even the colors are loud!

So why plants? Well first off, I'm not a complete stranger to the plant side of things. Many moons ago, I once had a pair of discus in a planted aquarium (I used Java fern, Anubias barteri, and Bolbitis something-or-other tied down to driftwood, with a few crypts). Used the Haartz kitty litter too, for iron, I think it was. Messy. I also "tried" the Amano thing with the Riccia rocks and monofilament line. Unsuccessfully. Now that got messy! :D I also remember buying laterite fertilizers way back when (Schoeler's, I think it was called) for my swordplants in yet another tank. Hell, I still remember how proud I was the first time it sent up pink flowers! :) Freaked out too, when I recently saw my first snow white discus. Too cool.

Now, I'm looking for a change of pace, and something that better espouses the essence of peace and calmness in this increasingly chaotic and stressful world. The reef tank couldn't do it for me. Trying to calm down and relax with 800 watts of metal halide shining in my face wasn't exactly revealing to me the path to enlightenment, nor was there was there anything terribly serene or tranquil about 2500+ GPH sloshing around a 40 gallon glass box. :(

First instinct? Return to the plant tanks: the psychological, methodological, and aesthetic antithesis of the the reef tanks.

So, here I am, trying to get back to my roots (pun intended) and re-discover where I originally came from; trying to escape what was my self-contrived chaotic world for the last 15+ years. I think I'm due for a change! :) I still have my Amano books that I look at from time to time (hey, maybe I can try Glossostigma this time around!).

Perhaps, in time, I can replicate the serenity I admire so much in both those books and the pictures I have come acoss in this website...and with your collective wisdom and a little luck, be a lot less messy and a lot more successful about it this time around!

If you've made it this far, thanks for hearing me out. And yes, I do apologize for rambling.

Here's to new beginnings!
 

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Roadster, glad to have you join us here at APC.

Here is a toast :drinkers: to a new beginning!

I was once a salty too and got out of the hobby for some of the same reasons as you, the top two being cost & maintance.
 

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Welcome to the board Roadster!
I don't think that was too long winded at all. :) It's a nice way to get to know people a little better.
 

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Roadstar,

You should get involved with www.sfbaaps.com, the oldest aquatic plant cub in the USA.

Free weed swaps, much less intense than the SF frag swaps!
Grow much faster also.

SF is central to the club. There are a wide range of people involved with the clubs from myself and old timers on down to beginners in need of help and free plants. Each person offers new skills and expertise and makes the club much more dynamic as a whole.

I keep marine macro algae and help reef people deal with noxious algae, so I know both sides of the pond. Most are FW in the Club. You can still acheive the serenity with a reef if that is your desire.

I'll make you this deal: I'll pay you the money back if you join the group and attend 2 meetings/open houses/plant swaps if you feel it's not worth it and you did not learn much.

You'll make it back on one plant swap most likely and gain a great deal of info.

The other thing is you can find some simple routines and designs that will acheive your goals. In person, you can get help/ideas much faster than several hours of frustratiion on the web.

Albany Aquarium is the best plant store around. They get a plant shipment on this Monday also. Ocean aquarium on Cedar off Vaness is also a nice little store full of plants.

So whatever your goal, routine etc, you can find a balance within the group.
Gardening is good for the soul.

After coming from the SPS frame of mind, this will be very easy for you to do and address. Good planning will help and seeing what it is that you want.

Many local clubs exist and many folks in sfbaaps go to those as well, SVAS, PCCA, BAKA, SFAS, all have plant auctions.

The club is also planning to have the AGA convention in Monterey this year, a rather big shin dig, last year they Amano come and speak etc.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the warm reception, it's a nice change of pace from some other parts of cyberspace! Your collective sentiment is much appreciated and valued.

Hello trenac, glad to know someone shared my dilemma! My primary reason for a potential switch is the hobby's overall gaudiness, whether it be livestock or equipment. It seems more a celebration of technology and man's ingenuity "over" nature, rather than one accultured "into" nature, with the resulting vivid colors exhibited then interpreted as that mastery. That, and there's nothing sexy about metal halide burns and smelling like skimmer effluent. :)

Hello plantbrain, and thank you for your suggestions. I am familiar with both Albany Aquarium and Ocean Aquarium, having been to the latter recently for the first time. Those are places I intend to frequent in the near future, moreso Ocean, since it's just a short train ride away for me.

Having said that, I very much appreciate your offer to join the local plant society, and will likely become a member...more so just to pick member's brains about planting philosophies and sense of aesthetic. Just a guess, but I'm thinking that the intensity of the coral frag trades is a further corollary to the fast paced scene I'm trying to leave! :) But I sincerely appreciate your offer, and would, more than anything, like to learn as much as I can about any and all aspects of this side of the hobby.

I am very intrigued with your ideas of a tranqil reef. I've been racking my brain, and the best I could do these past months was to emulate the ratios of Amano-esque rockwork, using generic bonsai and Zen rock gardening principles as my guide. Most people bug me about not having enough rock or diversity! :) While I am keeping SPS, the idea of flowing soft corals was a thought...although then, the principles are usually reversed from that of the planted tank (ie: corals on rock vs. plants on substrate, although both arenas have respective caveats). I'd most curious to hear any suggestions you or anyone else may have.

In short, I guess the one thing I'm becoming more and more enamored with planted tanks is the more prevalent appreciation of the tank as a whole versus the sum-of-it's-parts mentality I find all too frequently on the reef side. I liken the modern reef hobby largely to that of baseball card or stamp collecting hobbies, in which the aquarium becomes more indicative of a "one-of-everything" mentality; reflecting the owner's collecting passion. It's reciprocal however, seems to be the attempt of fluidity, balance, and seamless integration of the inhabitants with but a few species represented, and without the myopic showcasing of singular specimens; all things I found while searching this site.

I think I need to put down the zen books.
 

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Hey Roadstar,

I came -this- close to setting up a reef and then backed off, for many of the reasons you mentioned. As with any hobby there can be a certain level of intensity that plays against the serenity it was supposed to bring. Planted tanks are no different.

But if you want an easier go of it, I'd suggest a few things.

A low-light/non-CO2 aquarium is probably the least intensive tank to keep. I've not done those in a while because I like to see the plants grow. I've tried the high-light/CO2 method, and it is definitely not serene. For maximum serenity and good plant growth, I'd go with the medium-light/CO2 version. Medium light being about 2 watts per gallon.

If you go that route, use pressurized CO2 from the start.

Unless your tapwater is absolutely undrinkable, you can get rid of your RO/DI equipment. Most plants prefer some hardness in the water, and many will tolerate a lot.

The corollary to that is, grow plants that like to grow in your tapwater.

The pretty pictures are, pretty, but -your- tank doesn't have to look like that to be enjoyable. (Repeat that three times.)

The margin of error on water parameters is much wider than some discussions would lead you to believe. Don't obsess on the numbers.

HTH

TW
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After much deliberation, I've decided not to forsake one for the other. So I'll be getting a 20L to start a planted tank with.

By doing this, I'm hoping that the influence of one will affect the other. This should make for a nice philosphical and artistic experiment, grounded intuititively rather than overtly rationally. I tend to be hardwired that way anyways...

Thanks for your reply TWood, the advice will be well-heeded; I think you're keen on what I'm after. After reading and rereading many posts here, I'd like to do what you've described: a middle of the road methodology. Nothing terribly complex, but nothing to sneeze at either.

That having been said, I've decided to try Glossostigma, and would like to showcase it as a dominant species. And see it low-growing too. :)

It'll definitely be nice to use plain ol' tap water again.

I do have access to low wattage, low K halides (50 and 70W, both 4300K) and the requisite CO2 equipment. Perhaps halide lights are not the most widely used, but if mounted high enough to avoid potential burning and overheating, is it viable? I ask solely in the name of recycling old equipment and keeping the plants from too much upward growth. Or is this considered "overkill"? If this proposition is self-defeating in the name of serenity, consider it nixed.

Thanks again to all who replied, your thoughts are very much appreciated. Sometimes I really have to take a step back and rein in my old ways of thinking about and doing things. Hearing your comments greatly encourage me to accept that methodology shift.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just an update for anyone who cares,

Thr reef tank is in its final stages of being broken down, with most of the livestock and equipment having been given away/sold off. I've decided on a 33 long (48" x 13" x 12") (does it have a top brace? I can't remember?), so it will be low and long. With that, I've decided to recycle the relevant CO2 equipment and go somewhat mid-level high tech as was previously suggested by TWood, using a DIY reactor, and adding two 39 watt track mounted halide spotlights mounted off the ceiling. This way, I can have an open top, the slight rippling effect and intenisty of a halide spot, and zero heat issues. Seeing that the inverse law is more pronounced under water (?), I doubt the dropoff will be very significant in only 12 real inches of water depth.

I'll only be keeping anchored Riccia for now, primarily for guinea pig purposes. Hopefully, the intesity of two halide spots 9 feet above can give me both the intensity and spread I'm looking for, at least for Riccia. Keeping in mind that I'm trying to integrate living room aesthetic with aquarium aesthetic, I do hope to achieve a result more attractive than the reef tank/boiler room/science fair entry it used to be.

My thanks again for all the previous advice, as it was integral in making this decision. And as always, comments and suggestions are gladly welcome...
 

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I'm very interested in how your 33 gallon 'riccia' tank will turn out!
 

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Well, you can get a CO2 tank and reg for almost nuthing , our new members have absconded with tanks for 20lbs for 65$ filled and new.
Reg, some 40$ to free with needle valves., DIY CO2 reactors(very useful, for DIY or gas tank CO2), run about 3$ in material and the cost of a small powerhead.

24-48-72" tank lengths are best as it's easy to build, and also fit lights in.
4300K will grow plants, but..........I'd highly suggest 10K or 5000-6500K ranges, they will look much better to your eyes.

2 x 70w 5000 or 10K would look nice, at 10-12" above the tank in an open top design. at 9ft, you still aplly the inverse square law, you have more decline in water but the ISL is still based on distance.

9ft will not do much:) You can try, but........

MH's do not produce even light FYI, there will be hot spots and making a gloss lawn, I'd suggest:

110w of 8800K PC lights from Hellolights.com and then many places make those PC light fixtures with legs for an open top look, much easiert to prune and work on the tank.

This is plenty of even light and quite efficient.

Rocks: Aqua Forest in SF on Fillmore has some new Basalt rock that is very nice.

I was there yesterday.
You have time so you can take easy.

There are more suitable plants than Gloss also to make a carpet, Elatine, hairgrass and HC make a better plant, Gloss is very weedy
Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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roadstar said:
Just an update for anyone who cares,

I'll only be keeping anchored Riccia for now, primarily for guinea pig purposes. Hopefully, the intesity of two halide spots 9 feet above can give me both the intensity and spread I'm looking for, at least for Riccia. Keeping in mind that I'm trying to integrate living room aesthetic with aquarium aesthetic, I do hope to achieve a result more attractive than the reef tank/boiler room/science fair entry it used to be.

My thanks again for all the previous advice, as it was integral in making this decision. And as always, comments and suggestions are gladly welcome...
Good luck with the riccia tank. I have found it to be a much easier plant to grow than I had read about.
One thing to consider would be to have a lot of fast growing plants in the background just to start. I have never understood the mechanism but it is supposed to be very helpful in keeping algae down especially when you first start a tank, then they can easily be removed as the tank gets stabilized after a couple months, leaving just the riccia. Welcome to the peaceful (well mostly peaceful) world of aquatic plants.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Epic resurrection bump! Four and half years later, and only until the previous month of December 2009 did this endeavor actually begin - on a whim, at that. No riccia, but instead, using a plant I thought was HC but is likely H. micranthemoides. Better late than never, even if it took nearly half a decade to get it started. :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Absolutely! I'm not one for naps, but have to admit to dozing off in front of it more than a few times, it's so relaxing. Sparse and serene, contemplative - dead silent, to boot. My sole regret is putting it off for so long, but now that I'm back in the fold, I wouldn't count on going without ever again.
 
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