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Questions about the Aquatic Gardeners Association

4026 Views 22 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  pineapple
Hey all,

After talking with a number of people about the AGA it's come to my attention that a lot of folks who are "up to date" with the state of the hobby, particularly those involved in discussion boards like APC, aren't satisfied by what the AGA offers its members. Since the AGA exists solely to help the hobby and the hobbyists who make it up it's important that the AGA keep up with its members and their needs/desires.

Would you please take some time to tell me what you like and dislike about membership in the AGA? Specifically, and constructively, speaking to the points which you feel need change will be of the most help.

The only thing I'd like to say before this is, if you're not satisfied with the articles in TAG and the information it does/does not provide it's up to you to submit articles. TAG is almost exclusively written by the AGA membership, but we can't publish what we don't get. It's up to you to make TAG what you want it to be.

With that, please, write away. If you're not comfortable writing something for public view, please send it in an email to me:

[email protected]

Thank you,
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The beauty of TAG is that you can sit down at breakfast and read something, with photos related to the article, that has not appeared on the Internet. I am thinking of the articles about trips to Tropica, about Oriental Gardens, about mosses.

Also, the how-to articles, such as that by Jeff Senske on attached planting etc, are what appeal to me. Very often, the how-to articles appear on the web all over the place with far too many interjections and distractions to make them readable. How-to articles published in TAG are readable - and can form the seed for discussion on the Web.

I imagine a how-to article on the ADA substrate system would be a great hit.

I hope Phil inspires some input...

Andrew Cribb
Andrew- I am all over that. Great idea. I have been trying to think of something new to contribute to TAG. Since Karen took over it has really improved. Phil is right- the foundation is there for a really cool mag. It's up to us to make better. It already is much better than what I see in the other major mags- TFH, FAMA, etc. - especially regarding plants- those mags are awful. Maybe an article that ties in the ADA substrate info. with Oliver Knott's upcoming (April) visit where we will be setting up a new ADA substrate based tank that will be cool because it will combine ADA products (substrate, Lily Pipes, 8,000Kbulbs) with American products (Oceanic trimless tank, Coralife light fixture).
jsenske said:
Maybe an article that ties in the ADA substrate info. with Oliver Knott's upcoming (April) visit where we will be setting up a new ADA substrate based tank that will be cool because it will combine ADA products (substrate, Lily Pipes, 8,000Kbulbs) with American products (Oceanic trimless tank, Coralife light fixture).
That sounds like a great idea. I would imagine that there are many others like myself who are very interested in seeing the trimless Oceanic tank and hearing when it will become available as part of their regular line (i.e. not a special order). Perhaps your article, if it features the use of the trimless tank, would be a great opportunity to invite Oceanic to purchase an advertisement for their trimless tanks in the same issue of TAG.
Overall, I tend to agree with Phil's indications. I am somewhat unsatisfied with TAG over the past couple of years. However, I found the latest issue, with its articles on mosses, to be great, and I think everyone on the current TAG staff deserve a big thanks for moving things in the right direction. Seeking feedback in this forum is much appreciated, Phil.

Something I don't much care for is the reiteration of the APD threads that appear regularly as a column. The information is good, but I think I am not the only one who has read the form postings long before the TAG article is published. That is something I could do without.

Things I do like are articles on new plants. The article on Elatine gussonei by Stephan Mifsud was informative.

I would really like to see some articles on experiments conducted by fellow planted tank enthusiasts. I think writings on experiments conducted in a manner that many of us could perform at home (provided we have extra tanks to devote to this) would provide great food for thought and encourage a good deal of discussion in this and other forums. I realize that it is up to people such as myself to get this started.
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The only thing I'd like that they aren't offering right now is a nice little AGA window decal with your paid membership. ;-)

Love TAG, BTW. :)
Maybe a Q & A section or two would be nice?
i think it is a great idea. but i feel many of us who have absolutely no experience with experiments wouldn't know where to start. has anyone considered doing a thread on how to do a scientific experiment?

How to do a scientific experiment

(1) You start off with a question.
(2) You come up with a possible answer that you think is more likely than a lot of other answers that occured to you. That possible answer will be your hypothesis.
(3) You think of an 'If--------then--------' statement. If your hypothesis is true, then you could do something and would get a certain result. If it is false, then you would get a different result.
(4) Your 'if-------then-------' statement suggests an experiment.

QUESTION:-----Why are the older leaves dying on my sword plants?
POSSIBLE ANSWER (HYPOTHESIS)-------They are dying because they need potassium.
STATEMENT-------If they need potassium, and I add potassium, then the older leaves will stop dying and maybe the swords will grow faster. If they don't need potassium and I add potassium, then the older leaves will keep on dying.
EXPERIMENT------Add some potassium and watch the plants for the next several weeks to see if the older leaves stop dying. If they do, then your hypothesis was supported, and it becomes a theory. If they don't, then it is back to the 'ole drawing board to get a new hypothesis.

You want to change only one thing---potassium. If you add potassium and magnesium, and trace elements, and then the older leaves stop dying, then you are not going to know which addition caused the older leaves to stop dying.
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i appreciate that. the last time i saw that was in high school. don't need a lot of science to deal with banking!
Phil, I recently became a member of AGA after years of just thinking about it and I just got my first TAG. The articles were great, but the photos were small and not very clear. I had already seen most of the "winners" online and up close, so I couldn't really be awestruck by the printed versions. The online book format, of a monthly or quarterly magazine, as put out by All Wet Thumbs, is really nice, but some people prefer print. I don't.

Since the internet is my main avenue for information and to view people's tanks and galleries, the format of the AGA member chat, like the APD, is not condusive to this end. Perhaps we don't need another board, but that's where we meet and talk about our goals and challenges, post pictures, etc. I don't peruse or post at AGA or APD.

The aquascaping contests are great and I don't feel like it's too exclusive to enter. Other than that, I don't feel my new membership has much to offer me as even your merchandise is limited. An AGA decal or patch would be great, for those of us not interested in T-shirts but love the logo and the convention logo. AGA feels like a club, but one that is far away. I hope this is the input you were seeking.
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One thing you could do is to buy a DVD of AGA 2004. It is well worth the money. You will enjoy it.

Andrew Cribb
I became a member of the AGA last year, only because it was required in order to go to the convention in DC. I probably wouldn't have joined if it weren't for that. However, I am glad I joined just for the chance to support those who are supporting this hobby. That reminds me, I need to support this site too!

As far as the pictures and articles, I agree with Gillman. By the time I get the latest version of TAG, I have already seen the majority of pictures somewhere on the net, be it AGA's site or elsewhere. I am usually not very impressed by the articles I read for the same reason. As an example, the last edition of TAG (at least the last one I received) had an article on G. Ghori's DIY CO2 reactor. DIY CO2 reactors are all over this site alone! I do realize that when the idea was brought up, due to submission and printing deadlines, there probably were not so many DIY CO2 reactor articles out there. There in lies the problem with a print magazine in this world of electronic media.

The only other "gripe" I have is TAG has had way too many pictures/articles on Takashi Amano and his products for my tastes. I think this may be a fad, but right now I am sick of constantly being bombarded by his work. It seems like everywhere I look I see something about Mr. Amano. In the current issue of TAG, 9 of the 38 pages (not including the pics of the convention) are devoted to Mr. Amano. That is nearly a quarter of the issue! Don't get me wrong, I like his work, I am just getting tired of seeing and hearing about it all the time.

I would prefer to see more information on the work of others in the hobby like the Senske brothers, Luis Navarro, and the local planted clubs out there. I know this requires these individuals to actually write the articles or submit the photos, but still, it would be a nice change of pace.
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On the subject of what else I want to see. That huge Barnes & Nobel tank in Baltimore! There were only about 2 measley pictures in Karen's album. I'd like to see more of it up close, find out what they're using, an interview with whomever maintains it, etc. I was more interested in that than the "people pictures" in DC. As for the AGA convention DVD, I'm not really into watching people set up tanks and my attention span at talks is pretty short. Interviews with AGA contest winners before anyone else gets to them is something I'd be interested in. Going on Field trips to see large displays or an Open House here and there would be interesting as well. Perhaps even have someone set up a tank using ADA equipment, and give regular updates on the progress. There was a big ole debate on ADA equiment on this or another forum; I was on the "Not the Dupla-mania thing again" side. But, many people are genuinely interested, and I'd be interested as well.

Just some more food for thought.
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>> I would prefer to see more information on the work of others in the hobby like the Senske brothers, Luis Navarro, and the local planted clubs out there. I know this requires these individuals to actually write the articles or submit the photos, but still, it would be a nice change of pace.<<

I agree completely! And since I know SEVERAL of the people who write for me from time to time, (and a few who currently have promised me articles that I haven't received ;-) read this BB, I hope this will "inspire" them to get those articles in. I would LOVE to be able to include more articles by the above people.

On the other hand, our only source of Takashi Amano commentary in English is TAG. I totally disagree with Matpat above about eliminating the Amano content.

Thanks for your work, Karen. Publishing a magazine is no easy job and making it financially possible is an art. I know.

Andrew Cribb
I agree with Andrew on Amano. I only recently joined the AGA and only have six issues of TAG. I really look forward to each issue, and it always seems too short! The articles I have read in TAG are all high quality IMO. The only thing I dont care for too much is the reviews from past posts on APD. But this may be due to lack of other material to print, and believe me, I would rather read old APD posts than have the mag shortened.
Part of the issue is we have many sources now all competing for the same info. Where once TAG was the source for more of the esoteric aspects of the hobby. leaving the broad stroke articles to FAMA and TFH. Now there other outlets that long time TAG contributors are using, most of them "instant" Internet publishing. Unfortunately this diminishes the pool of contributing authors and sometimes has TAG look outdated when similar information is published months later due to the leads needed.

A larger pool of competent contributors to TAG could help increase it's desirability. I know thats is very difficult to achieve. Another way TAG could be more relevant is to publish and on-line pdf type version only open to members with supplemental articles between printed releases. Printed media is certainly not dead. It's hard to curl up under a blanket on a cold winters day with steaming cup of coco and a computer monitor and lose yourself for a while.
I did not mean to imply that we should "eliminate" Takashi Amano from TAG. Mr. Amano is a dominant force in this hobby and I would hate to see his work eliminated from TAG. It is a great source of inspiration!

It just seems that in my short membership in AGA, Amano has been too much in focus for my taste. I realize this had a lot to do with promotion for the AGA convention and then the review of the convention, but still, it would be nice to see more tanks from others.

There are too many other outstanding aquascapers, from this country and others, to focus on one person's style so much. There are Tonina Style aquascapes, Dutch style aquascapes, and probably a few American styles out there that won't get the recognition they deserve if too much emphasis is placed on one style of aquascaping, be it Amano's or anyone else's. It does not allow for much diversity, and if people are not given a chance to see the works of others, I think many tanks will begin to look the same.
One thing that would help TAG and provide interesting reading is information on plants and biotopes specific to North America. Well-written articles on this subject with good photographic coverage could be licensed to other publications in other languages. Licenses mean some small additional income for TAG.

North America has some lovely, special plants. Like our Lepomis marginatus species fish (Dollar Sun Fish), these plants are exotic to people overseas. Sunfish species are in demand in Europe (they are beautiful, after all), as are North American native aquatic plants. It would be enlightening for indigenous aquarists as well as our colleagues overseas to see more information about the biotopes and plants here in the North America. The biotopes - like Amano's grassy fields of his youth - provide plants and INSPIRATION for all of us.

Andrew Cribb
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