Advice for New Hobbyists - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-22-2004, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for New Hobbyists


Number6 made the following comment in another thread, and I want to follow up on it.

I am hoping that some of the more advanced hobbyists haven't all stuck to high light, pressurized CO2.
I don't consider myself an "advanced" hobbyist, but I have been growing (and killing) plants for a long time. I've stuck to about 2 wpg and no CO2 addition, although I played around with DIY CO2 for a few months. Sometimes I grow enough plants to sell the surplus.

I think it is very easy to grow most aquatic plants if you supply the right conditions, and you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to do that, either.

I've said this before here, but I'll say it again: It is a disservice to the hobby and to the new hobbyists who come here for advice to advise them that they need high tech lighting, expensive substrates, and CO2 to be able to grow aquatic plants. It would be much better if we could show the inexperienced a cheap way to do it, and let them upgrade later if they saw a need.

Just my opinion, obviously.

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 03:24 AM
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I've said this before here, but I'll say it again: It is a disservice to the hobby and to the new hobbyists who come here for advice to advise them that they need high tech lighting, expensive substrates, and CO2 to be able to grow aquatic plants.
I am sorry, but I take offense to this.

First, this is a board with a great range of members, from a great range of economic backgrounds. There are people who purchase a lot of expensive equipment, that is true. There is also a DIY section full of threads started by a huge group of industrious people with a heck of a lot more smarts than pocket change. There are a tons of great suggestions for all sorts of money saving projects throughout the DIY section, and the rest of the board for that matter. If I have seen AH Supply mentioned once, I have seen them mentioned a million times as a source for cheap DIY lighting and existing lighting systems upgrades. There are tons of threads on plain gravel and play sand substrates. How many different kinds of CO2 reactors can be made by following a given set of instructions that can be found on this board. There are even threads by people who have built their own aquariums. I could go on and on. Have you bothered looking through the DIY section at all???

It would be much better if we could show the inexperienced a cheap way to do it, and let them upgrade later if they saw a need.
Like it or not, this can be an expensive hobby at times. Things cost money. Sometimes, the cheap way is not the necessarily the best way, especially for the new hobbyist. I want people to have success with their aquariums. I don't think struggling with the hobby is much fun at all. Everyone comes into this wanting to succeed and have a lovely, attractive aquarium. I believe that at times it is better for the newbie to stick with the proven methods and equipment and ensure them success than to simply suggest a cheaper way solely on the fact it is cheaper. I think it a greater disservice to the advancement of the hobby to tell a new hobbyist to fill their aquarium with soil as a substrate that to suggest saving up and buying a good proven substrate. I know they are going to have some modicum of success with a known and proven substrate. I have no clue what is going to happen to that aquarium full of mud! It has the potential to be a real disaster and a real "turn off" to a new hobbyist. One of the only hobbyists I know who uses such a substrate, is an extremely experienced hobbyist who would certainly not recommend doing the same to a newbie. The cheap way isn't necessarily the best way. The cheap way now doesn't always equate to the cheap way later. Spend money on something now, and then spend money again on an upgrade later? I am no Allen Greenspan, but that doesn't make a ton of sense. False economy.

There are plenty of people who successfully run low tech planted aquariums, just take a look a Wasserpest's journal in the Photo Album. There plenty of people who successfully run high tech aquariums. The board is absolutely littered with threads and posts from both types of hobbyists. To imply that this board only advocates people run high tech aquariums and spend scads of money on equipment only tells me you are not paying much attention to what is happening on Planted Tank!


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 03:38 AM
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I also took the cheap route for the most part (I didn't skimp on lighting). That doesn't mean that I don't need to know the benefits of a high light/CO2/etc. system. Actually, I need to know how these things work so I can cut corners effectively.

For the sake of argument: High tech is probably the easiest route (to get good results if you know what you're doing)...but not the cheapest. Can we all agree on that? So...why should we not advise newbies to take the easy route if they can afford it and have the patience to learn how to do it right?


You spoony bard.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 05:19 AM
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I think if you dont want to spend the money, just choose low light plants. no need for all the high tech stuff. I originally didn't spend any money but thats very limiting on your selection of plants and they usually grow very slow. But ofcourse it can be done with great success, it just requires a lot of patience because you can eventually get a nice tank full of anubias and/or java ferns which really look nice IMO

Just get to know your budget first, then find out what you can get with that and do a lot of research before buying things which wont survive.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 08:14 AM
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It may just be me - but when I usually see a thread of this nature (advice), the appropriate advice is given more often then not. Usually I see people advising someone else on what they have learned through first-hand experience - or what they have learned thorugh reading in this foum and other resources. I see exactly where mike is coming from, but I also feel that as the thread develops, advice is always spot on. Most all of this could be eliminated if the original poster would make the information available to the other members here as far as budget is concerned from the get go. Generally I see where the person who posted it says if he/she is on a budget later in the thread - therefore the initial advise given may not be the best advise, but I think everyone will agree it is sound advise (budget not withstanding). It's a two way street - in order for anyone to give the appropriate advise, the poster needs to also put everything on the table, at the beginning.

Just my observations, and my opinion.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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There is no need for anyone to take what I said personally, or to "take offense." I wanted to express my opinion that sometimes we suggest a Lexus to a would-be hobbyist when he or she is still driving a bicycle.

An excellent point was made by sn8k to the effect that an inexperienced person with a question doesn't always state his financial situation up front.
Perhaps that could be determined before the advice is given.

But even if a person says that he or she can afford to spend several hundred dollars to set up his first 10 gallon planted tank, I question whether it is appropriate to say that the best (or only) way to go is to go high tech. The new hobbyist should have the options laid out for him, and that is what I have tried to do from time to time.

^iMp^, I agree hi tech is the most effective way to grow the largest number of plants "if you know what you you're doing", but there is a steep learning curve, perhaps steeper and with a higher tuition than many new people want to undertake. I do not agree that it is the "easiest", though. Just scanning the "Lighting", "Dosing", "Substrate", "CO2", etc., questions on this and other boards belies that. While those topics are interesting and I read most of them
for educational purposes, I would not be as relaxed if I had an expensive green (or brown) mess in my living room.

Fill an aquarium with mud? I'd suggest you do that only if you were raising clams, and even then . . .

Thanks for all the comments.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 12:45 PM
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Setting up a planted tank is the second most expensive thing one can do with a glass box. The first being a reef setup. Sure there are way to cut costs. But the basic facts remain that you need certain light levels. Sure one can use dirt as a substrate. But I'll bet more people starting out have been turned off by that advice than have had success with it. If one can't afford a bag or two of a known substrate how can they afford the lights? Or the plants? Or the fish? Or even the tank, stand and filter? I know there are a lot of young people coming into the hobby. And if they have to save up their allowance to buy the items they need to get the tank they want then good. It teaches them patience and how to set and obtain goals.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Rex said,

. . . I know there are a lot of young people coming into the hobby. And if they have to save up their allowance to buy the items they need to get the tank they want then good. It teaches them patience and how to set and obtain goals.
Thanks! I knew there had to be a reason!

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 08:55 PM
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personally I don't think this board recommends 'high tech/hich cost' all the time. But, what usually happens is John Doe posts how he bout an amazon sword, rotala macranda, and glosso for his 55 gallon tank, and he's got 40watts over it and pea gravel. Of course the only wya those plants will make it is to quadruple the lighting, inject CO2, and at the very least invest in root tabs. the only other response is "throw out all those plants before they rot and cause a real problem"...and if you're like me, you try to find homes for every good clipping or plant that's grown too large.

If you scope out my 15gal tank photo, it's using 2 13watt PC screw in's at 3000K, no CO2, and I occasionally dump some plantex CSM solution in it. it's my lazy, low-light java fern & crypt tank...which also gets clippings from other tanks tossed in to see 'what happens'...because I'm aware that some plant's recommended growing conditions aren't etched in stone, and I'm gonna find out which ones I can 'cheat' with

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-24-2004, 09:02 AM
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I agree with malkore this board does not recommend high tech gear all the time, I can afford all the high tech gear but i dont fancy spending $1000.00 au dollars on co2 but no one knew that either until now.But i know now how i can get it all done for under $200 bucks thanks to all the info how to build it for under that price all i have to do is get off my ass and i'm on my way(my bussiness takes a lot of my time up)
i could ask all the question and spend all the money required but in end i belive you still have to go through all the problems that will come up (algae ect). I've learn't you have to experience it before you get it right no matter how much or lttle money you got.At the moment i'm just getting it all together thanks to this forum and iam extremely new like 9 months into it.
IT'S MY VIEW and i'm very happy with all responses that i have got from my sometimes obvious questions.
ps i'm not a tight ass ( I got to deal with the better half)
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