I had intended to stay out of any potential debates on this thread mainly due to the fact that I do not want the thread closed or deleted and kept available for those few who may find it helpful. But at this point I (unfortunately) feel I need to defend at least part of what I wrote and why I wrote it.
I wrote this same guide for another forum (minus the information on live plants). It was very well received there and still continues to be linked often. However that forum is focused mainly on fish as opposed to plants. I asked a moderator whether I could replicate my guide on this forum as well. It was accepted with the idea that I add information on planted tanks to fit the forum. I was hesitant given (admittedly) I am still learning about planted tanks myself (although it could be argued that we are all still learning on some level or other). Hence why I included links to other posts in the forum is to bring up topics that might be considered and pointing the user elsewhere for more information. This guide as a whole is intended for the beginner aquarist….mainly to those who post about their fish dying in a new tank and wonder what cycling is. For me, the safety of the fish is first and foremost and everything else is secondary.
I will respond directly to some of the points brought up here:
It is very difficult to write a comprehensive guide to setting up a planted tank, primarily because much of the information that should be included is still not settled. For example, for planted tanks, cycling is far different than for non-planted tanks, but the same standardized advice is always given, as it it doesn't matter that the tank is planted. And, people are taught that it takes human intervention to get a good bacterial colony established in a tank, but that bacteria is natural, and it will grow in every tank with or without our help.
I agree that bacteria is natural and does not need human intervention to cultivate, which I believe my article articulates. I do not agree however that just because a tank is planted the aquarist should assume the tank is safe. I’ve seen fish die in uncycled tanks with plants due to lack of testing and water changes. Just because X person added plants and their fish made it through the cycle does not mean the fish were not suffering from ammonia or nitrite poisoning throughout the process. A blanket statement such as “add plants and your fish will be fine” is potentially dangerous particularly to new aquarists and not something I support or agree with.
Then, there is the subject of lighting an aquarium. This guide, by referring to another guide, treats light as something to be poured into the volume of water in the tank. I challenge anyone to pour light into anything. Light is radiation - it doesn't pour. So, any guide that refers to light as "watts per gallon" has to be in error.
At the suggestion of the moderator reviewing the article the “watts per gallon” reference was removed. Perhaps you read that portion prior to my editing.
And, there is testing. Some people enjoy testing their water. It can be fun, and it can be interesting and of some value to do periodic testing, plotting the test results, looking for changes. But, many of us successfully keep planted tanks without ever testing the water for anything. So, testing has to be optional.
“Has” to be? According to whom? I do not agree. Anyone keeping live fish-- for who they are the sole caretaker-- should test their tanks at the very least during cycling. Just because you don’t test you cannot assume your tank is fine. Taking 5 extra minutes to test a tank is not much work and is for the benefit of the fish. I don’t understand the logic there.
I admire you for attempting this and posting it. But, I suggest it will work a whole lot better and be a lot more accurate, if you work on only one aspect of setting up a tank at a time, until that specific part is fine tuned to bring it into agreement with whatever the latest "scoop" is on that part. Then, move to the next part, etc. While doing this, don't attempt to present greatly and wrongly simplified information that can only lead to unnecessary problems.
If I waited for consensus this (or any) article would never be completed. It is not intended to be comprehensive--- it couldn’t be given the format. It is a GUIDE to those who wish to get started with aquariums in general. Given the mentality and the personalities of some of the members of this forum anyone would be hard-pressed to write anything without it being critiqued, torn apart and debated.
Freshwater Aquariums (fish tank) and planted aquariums are worlds apart.
A comprehensive or starter guide to a single planted tanking method requires volumes to explain it, ultimately a book of sorts.
As a starter one is offered here.
While I still grumble about a point or three.
Then there's the ready reference on topics without the posted banter of disagreement.
Interesting since the format of the articles does not allow for discussion---if it did I’m sure there would be debates. I believe I posted the link to this list of articles in my guide. Again, the lack of disagreement is due to the format….I’m sure if users were able to post disagreements they would. Lack of comments does not make an article accurate. I’d also point out the first link does also mention Eco-complete and Watts per Gallon both of which were points of contention in my guide (references to both have been removed).
PH testing as a water quality parameter is another very misleading entry many times within the posts.
A pH test in all reality tells you very little (if anything) about the quality of the tanked water and leaving it at that.
I don’t believe I said that PH indicates water quality? PH crashes are common in cycling tanks and if the tank is cycling, nitrification can slow or even stop; I’ve seen this many times and it has been well documented. Also PH plays a role in ammonia toxicity.
At the very beginning of my guide I mention that the information I presented was based on my personal
experiences and knowledge and I urge readers to do more research on their own
Thanks for your comments.