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Welcome to Aquatic Plant Central and the "New To Planted Tanks Forum". I'm your moderator, Bob Olesen, living down here in South Florida not far from the Boss himself: creator of Aquatic Plant Central -- Art Giacosa.

Friends, there are few things as exciting and fullfilling around the ol' crib as setting up your first real Plant Tank which is really nothing more than a tank whose main theme and purpose is the growth and display of Aquatic Plants, hopefully in a tastefull arranged and artisticly inspiring manner. This doesn't mean you have to be an artist or you can't have fish too (or turtles and frogs for that matter) but rather that the plants play far more of a central and crutial a role here than they do in the ordinary FW aquarium.

In this philosophy, the size, shape and depth of the tank as well as the lighting and substrate itself are usually chosen with the plant's best interests in mind for a change, as opposed to the usual shell rock or marble chip substrate decorated with plastic plants and maybe a ceramic log (gag). Those sterile tanks almost always require intense filtration and chemical treatment to keep the ammonia and nitrites, etc. below harmful and eventually even lethal levels. The poor fish in these underwater deserts typically suffer from an assortment of puzlzing ailments minor and major that send their owners back and forth to the LFS where they are often sold patent medicines and quack treatments ad naseum. Some help, some hurt and some do nothing but this typical scene does keep a lot of Fish stores in business though.

OTOH, Folks who eventually give plants even half a chance are usually pleasently surprized to find just how positively they can affect the entire underwater environment -- sucking up carbon dioxide, ammonia and nitrates like a sponge and saturating the water with oxygen while their leaves provide a massive surface area for beneficial bacteria to inferface and work their magic with. Any fry born in a well run plant tank seldom lack for a decent meal and in my jungles I often find half grown fish who seemingly pop out of nowhere one day at feeding time. In fact, many fish species whose fry would be rated diffcult to raise through the critical first few weeks have made out just fine on the abundance of life that fills the food chain in a trypical plant tank - right down to the microscopic level. All find a home here in a balance you'll seldom find outside of nature itself -- and sometimes not even there.

Now, a Plant Tank doesn't have to be a high tech affair with CO2 and high intensity lighting- but it can be. OTOH, there are plenty of folks who do just fine with only slightly better than average lighting by chosing the proper flora like Crypts and Java fern along with Bolbitus and a few others.
I have to say that in spite of my ability to grow such difficult stems plants as Lagarosiphon madagascarensis and the brilliantly colored Ludwigia inclinata or Nesea p., I still find the dark, subdued greens of the former somehow comforting; a scene set amoung the soft, dark shadows of a less harshly lit world. A whole lot less maintenance too.

People chosing to emphasize or highlight plants in their aquaria may all do so for different reasons and with different results but I believe they all have in common an appreciation for plants in general that probably began above water at some point.

So what is it that brings you, dear reader, to the world of plants underwater and what is it we hope to accomplish here? What problems are you facing and what would you like to change or improve/ Most important, what do you need to know to get started
 
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