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The biggest obstacle that I can see is that keeping a healthy planted tank requires far more knowledge. Your average hobbyist gives it a half-hearted effort, fails miserably, and moves on. The average LFS guy doesn't have the necessary experience to provide much help. There just isn't enough financial incentive yet (in the US) for LFS's to educate themselves about the hobby.
Your average hobbyist gives it a half-hearted effort? I've been at this for 10 months now, I've spent in excess of $3,000, and up to this point it is pointing to a miserable failure. I've purchase and read books, I've participated in forum, I'm put forth MUCH more than a half-heart effort. NO ONE seem to be able to help. I get a thousand different pieces of advice all tugging in different directions and there simply is no clear concise advice or help on the problems we encounter in trying to overcome the problems encountered in the planted tank arena. Remove the plants, ferts, co2 and high light and I can be as successful as Petsmart. This business of planted tanks is tough.....but don't say that we fail because it's a half hearted effort. The ability to get people factual information on how to solve their problems , simply isn't available. It's more of...well you might try this, and if that doesn't work, try this, and if that does work, try this....well I've tried it all and the more I try the worse I get!
 

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Oh, and as a side note for manwithnofish, I know where you are at. I have been there. If there is one failing of online info it is that there are often too many opinions and ways of doing things. When I strugged, I too would often seek advice on the boards (and still do), but sometimes things would conflict. It seems if you can pick a single person whose advice (and tanks) you admire and rely on their help it gets easier.
That's probably the best advice I've ever gotten from any forum....I just might give this a try....now how do I find the right person?

A contest would be great. I could set up 5 tanks (starting from scratch) and have 5 members (or teams) tell me step by step what to do next. I could take pictures and post them for all to review....pause...good idea? or bad idea?...It would be fun if I had 5 tanks and associated equipment. That way when it failed, I wouldn't have myself to blame!!!
 

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Manwithnofish, you are hardly the average aquariast putting that kind of investment in!
I think of an investment as something wth a positive return. :(

I like the advice of find someone who runs tanks and systems you'd like to emulate,
How'd you find your mentor? I thought we were all doing pretty much the same thing (once you cross the CO2 / EI barrier and excluding NPT).
 
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