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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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Great point - so many ways to do things, and every approach has its own challenges and solutions to those challenges.

Manwithnofish, you are hardly the average aquariast putting that kind of investment in!

Wish you better luck with it. My system is one of those speciallized systems, so I'm SOL most of the time in helping folks who, for instance, dose a water column in the EI system... I like the advice of find someone who runs tanks and systems you'd like to emulate, and find a mentor. It is what I did!
 

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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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Honestly, I don't know how to tell you to find a mentor. If you read the boards a lot, it is pretty easy to discern who really knows their stuff, and who is blowing hot air. Also, there are different ways of going about this whole planted tank thing, nothing is set in stone. So after reading some posts, you will also get a sense of someone who fits your "style". I just pm'd and asked if he'd mind helping me out. I got lucky and found someone with both a lot of knowlege and a lot of patience.

And we are far from all doing the same thing. Light levels, fert routines, substrates, heck even tapwater varies from place to place.

The best advice I ever got, even though it was the hardest to accept, was to turn the darn light down!!!. I have a 4x54 TEK and I really wanted to use all 4 bulbs on my 75g. As soon as I cut back light things started getting better.

I fought green water for 6 months straight and was about to give up. So hang in there, latch on to a guru, do whatever they say even if it seems weird. Can't get any worse right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
...wow...I am impressed that so many people have taken the opportunity to read this post and thank you to anyone who has or will respond to this post...

This week, I have taken a tour through the (Ohio) Valley and visited 23 LFS and 22 "Big Box" fish stores and here is what I have found:
37/45 stores carry plants for aquariums,
44/45 store owners do not believe that there is a market for aquatic plants,
3/45 stores have recently reduced the number of aquatic plants that they order,
1/45 store has recently increased the number of plants that they ordered,
8/45 stores carry planted tank-specific substrates,
40/45 stores carry planted tank-specific fertilizers,
2/45 stores carry CO2 equipment (fermentation only),
3/45 stores employ plant knowledgable staff.
45/45 stores carry non-aquatic plant species.
NONE of the stores carry ANY planted aquarium info. cards, brochures, or books!

There is no local club for aquatic plants, I hope to start one soon.

I have offered to create and print easy-to-read beginner guides for these stores but only 2 were interested in displaying them. I have offered to assemble and maintain display tank for the local pet stores but only one agreed. I've even offered to supply the plants.

It amazes me that only one out of all of the stores believe that there is a market for aquatic plants. That store owner is the only one to have attended any shows/lectures/seminars/etc. on aquatic plants. His store has a display tank dedicated to planted aquariums and mainly sells clippings from other plant keepers (for a profit!!!). They only rarely order plants to sell. They do offer plant-specific lights, substrates, and fertilizers and never have all of them stocked at the same time. They have no books, magazines, or info. booklets on planted aquariums. I've bought most of my plants and plant products from him. He has one customer that drives over 8 hours to shop at his store (The customer used to live here but moved to Florida). He specializes in reef tanks and coral.
 

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Yep. That's about what I've seen too, at least in the US. We remain stuck in a hobby that is only sustainable because of the Internet. If I had to rely on local sources I'd have nothing but mondo grass and java moss.

Change will come but it will probably be glacially slow. I don't know how to say this without offending anyone, but take a look at the people who show up for a fish convention and then compare them to those that show up for an aquatic plant convention. The LFS's will continue to cater to the first demographic until the second one is large enough to be worthy of their attention.
 

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I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing in all cases. Part of what draws me to this "niche" of the hobby is that I'm doing something that not everyone can do. Well, I guess everyone could, but many are not willing. If everybody in town had an awesome planted tank, I probably wouldn't get the same reactions that I get when people see mine. I like being a little different. And I think when people see a planted tank for the first time, and realize those are real plants and not plastic, they get some idea of what must have gone into achieving that.

But, the flip side is, without the internet it would be completely impossible for me. I'm in NE Wyoming. We have one LFS in town, and it is middlin' at best. I couldn't do a darn thing without the resources and knowledge available on the net.
 

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There are not enough aquatic plant enthusiasts to support a mass retail market. That's just how it is.

And since maintaining healthy aquatic plants does take a little study and some effort, it is doubtful that there ever will be.

I've raised aquatic plants since well before there was an internet. Some stores carried a few then, and I collected others from local waters, some of which survived. There were also mail order plant suppliers who advertised in aquarium magazines and, of course, friends and fellow hobbyists could help out.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Bill
 

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Our local Big AL's pet store in Hamilton Ontario, Canada has a beautiful planted tank. It is the tank that caught my eye and started me on the quest for my own tank. The staff is quite knowledgeable on planted tank requirements and the store carries a good selection of plants, lighting, CO2 supplies and other gear. I will frequent this shop and possibly pay a bit more for some things but I like having a good LFS near me.
 

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May be I am different but I like the way it is an uncommon hobby. You will not find a planted tank with out a dedicated hobbyist, which makes it unique. There are a lot of hobbies that can be bought in to by "wannabes" but this is not one. The cost is not totally out of reach for even the lowest paid that is dedicated (especially if you have a local club). I take pride in my tank and love to hear the compliments I get on it. I do have a plan that I have started a few people on and had great success. They can get most plants and grow and propagate with little to now trouble. The problem with people getting different advice is the are a few different way to do it that can not be mixed. Such and the el natural filter less and high light. I had a lot of problems when I first started with plants three years ago and they stopped when I followed a known path. I listen to tom barr and follow his method (though I may be partial since he is a member in my local club) and have had the best luck with this approach. I'm just saying I like it not being too exploited by box stores and my tank representing hours of work and study. Like amano said some things can not be taught and must be learned though experience. One must have a little gumption for success.
 

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Our local Big AL's pet store in Hamilton Ontario, Canada has a beautiful planted tank. It is the tank that caught my eye and started me on the quest for my own tank. The staff is quite knowledgeable on planted tank requirements and the store carries a good selection of plants, lighting, CO2 supplies and other gear. I will frequent this shop and possibly pay a bit more for some things but I like having a good LFS near me.
North York, Kitchener & Oakville are all really good too... (Haven't been to the Hamilton one so can't compare). Makes sense though that big box fish stores would be better at plants than big box pet stores. Ontario seems to have an excellent network of clubs too to make things even better for us.

Personally I can't even find excel or any ferts at my local store (I think this store was also the first place I'd ever seen BGA in person in their plants for sale) and frankly I don't even trust their fish all that much. It's generally about a 45 minute drive for me to get anywhere worth going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I would like to see at least some acknowledgment of our hobby in local pet stores. I hate driving over an hour to get some fertilizer! If most of the LFS had even a base amount of necessities and a small planted display tank, this hobby would become an thriving niche. Imagine the amount of input that would bring to our little corner of the aquarium world.
 

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There's about 3 LFS's I frequent around here. PetSmart, a local chain, and just a single free-standing local store. PetSmart sells some plants, only notable one being amazon swords. About 90% I've never heard of, or people insist aren't aquatic plants. The local chain did have a plant tank with some wisteria and vals, but most of it was a decaying mess. They did have some anubias, but at over $15 a plant for a plant that's nearly croaked, it's not worth it either. The single local store doesn't have any sign of plants. For this reason, I tend to think LFS's selling aquatic plants simply isn't profitable.

If there was an LFS selling plants like HC, riccia, vals, crypts, hygro etc. at reasonable prices, I'd probably buy there in a heartbeat. Mail order hobbyists and my local fish club is about the only 2 ways I acquire plants. Even the local fish club is highly cichlid-oriented, and I can hear an audible groan whenever someone mentions plants.

I just don't think there's enough interested in aquatic plants for it to be commercially profitable at a brick and mortar store. As people have been said before, it's not widely considered a hobby where you invest much money in. When people ask me how much my 3 tanks in the basement cost me (10, 20, 29), and I tell them it's getting pretty close to the $1000 mark, they start choking. On the flip side though, I've seen my friends blow well over $1000 on guitars, or car modifications, or video games. What I think is stupid to spend money on, some people think there's no better way to spend it, and vice versa. When they scoff at my $250 CO2 system, I get to scoff at their $250 thing to make their guitar sound different.

With that said, planted tanks are more of a hobby than a showcase thing. It's difficult to setup a planted tank without investing effort and money, unless you buy a whole fleet of ADA products, copy an Amano scape, and just dose based on package directions. Even then, when something goes amiss, you'll wish you had done your research.

Personally I think it's an awesome hobby. It's a great mix of science and art, and while I generally lurk on the science side, the art is definitely there. My aquascapes have gone from blue-gravel anacahris atrocities to starting to see some semblance of beauty. With each re-design I get a little better. I'm also hoping in the coming year to NOT neglect my tanks so I don't end up killing the expensive plants.
 
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