If a book was to be written on the planted aquarium, what should it include? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
 
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Question If a book was to be written on the planted aquarium, what should it include?

So, suppose "someone" (me), was to write a book about planted aquariums, what would everyone want to see in it? The book would be for both beginners, intermediate, and more experienced planted tank enthusiasts. The idea of the book would be something totally comprehensive, it would tell about absolutely everything and even include a comprehensive plant guide that would be split up in 3 sections (beginner, intermediate, experienced). The book would tell about different macro and micro nutrients and different ways of dosing, and also go very in depth into detail about things such as algae, lighting, filteration, substrate, and just about anything else you could think of, including, PH and PH/Co2 charts. I am definately thinking about writing a book on this topic because i am yet to see such a book out there right now, and i think it would sell like crazy? I want to know what everyone here thinks about the idea, and also i would like to know if such a book was written, what does everyone think should be included in it? Any ideas are much appreciated, as is criticism.
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-Nater
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:30 AM
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Nater - I'd love to see that book. But do be aware there are a few out there. I'll go dig one of my old ones out if you need it... But there's nothing wrong with an updated approach.

I'll share my pet peeve. It has to do with your beginners section...

[Rant]
I think that what is missing in this hobby is a true step-by-step guide for beginners. We are hung up on options. Forget options! You want options, skip to the Intermediate section and accept the risks that come with it. But if you want a planted tank that's going to thrive, though we're not going to present many (if any) options, then do the following...

That's what's missing - A manual that says "Do this", "Do that", and "Do the other thing" and "Then you'll have a lovely, healthy tank!". Leave options to the intermediates.
[/Rant]

You'll sell a bundle. Beginners don't want options. They want success.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
 
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Talking

YES this is the material i want, give me more! I am also pondering at the idea of if i do this of having a section on biotopes, and doing information on different fish, shrimp, etc that are excellent for planted tanks. And, i am also pondering on the idea of having a resource section and of course listing this forum as well as a spot in the back of the book with pictures of successful planted tanks. Maybe if i go through with this i will use pictures solely from people on this forum , also i definately want to have lots of pictures especially a part on nutrient deficiencies and what they look like. I want something someone is going to pick up and not even want to buy anything else on the subject. Please list any of the books that you own that are similar i would love to buy them and read them and figure ways that they could be improved so that if i do this project it will be a success! Keep the posts coming!
Sincerely,
Nater
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 03:30 AM
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Don't forget to spellcheck!

Tom Barr mentioned a while back that he was writing a book. That'd be a good one.

I really think I could sum up the whole planted tank approach in one page with 9-point font. It seems really simple once you get the hang of it.

Any book should have tables/graphs of dosing amounts (raw chemicals, leading brands of ferts), CO2 amounts/levels, lighting levels, etc.

I can't believe how simple my European planted tank book from the early 80s is in terms of approach. Very little re: CO2 injection, lighting was in the dark ages (pun intended), etc. The hobby has come a far distance.

Also, it'd be nice to see some fauna in a book, too, such as algae-eating shrimp, otos, etc.

John P.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 03:41 AM
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Someone is going to steal this idea. if you do, dedicate the book to me. You know, just a little note in the front...

The hobby, heck the world for that matter, needs a book specializing in all of the Crypt species. Something like Kasselmann's, but more in depth. If I had the time, I'd get a couple of you here and put it together.

Remember if you steal my idea, you have to dedicate the book to me!

mike

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 06:09 AM
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References, a bibliography, or at least statements to the effect of "in my experience" when making bald assertions. The hobbyist literature I've read so far has been mostly lacking these tools for evaluating what the author writes, leaving me to think there is a lot of folklore and mythology being passed about.

Tropical Swamp Modeler
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 09:32 AM
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The trouble is there is no single "right" way even for a beginner. There are many methods and everyone has an opinion of what the right way is. Theres lots of beginner books out there and most are very general. If they get to specific the material will be challenged by many people who think its wrong. Take the watts per gallon rule. Nobody can agree with what that should be.

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 10:11 AM
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And then you need to split the beginner section up between people with warm water and cold water and soft water and hard water and plain gravel and aquatic plant specific substrates (warning hornets nest stirred up) and etc...etc...etc... What works for one setup won't work for another. The fine tuning comes from the experimenting and mistakes. There are a very few universal plants that seem to work for everyone but that really limits your options.

Del Goins

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 11:30 AM
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Del has hit on the first major challenge to writing something that is a step-by-step guide for beginners. The other is money. But I think you could still do it by selecting "middle of the road" options, with a small section on water treatment, if yours is found to be very soft or very hard. Let the intermediates figure out how to spend more or less money.

Other factors that could cause trouble for deciding what to put in a beginner section is whether it is going to be a high light tank, and what sort of dosing regimen to recommend. I'd definitely stay away from dry ferts. For every person on this forum talking about how easy it is, I'll wager there are 20 people just lurking, scratching their heads wondering what these folks are talking about.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 12:40 PM
 
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Here's my perspective, being a beginner -- I would be turned off by a book that was too step-by-step or too directive (do this, then do that, etc.). I would much prefer a book that gave accurate scientific information in a way that was easy for the novice to understand (in my opinion, some of the hardest kind of writing to do!) so that I could then apply those principles to my own tank, my own tap water chemistry, and my own ideas about what plants, fish, inverts, etc. I want in my tank (not to mention apply them to my own budget!).

For me, one of the most interesting parts of this hobby is all that there is to learn -- not just about "what do I put in my tank to make my plants grow" but about botany, animal behavior, freshwater biology, bacterial growth, chemistry, and more. If you took that part of the hobby away by oversimplifying things, I don't think I'd find it nearly as fascinating, and I certainly wouldn't learn as much from it.

What's more, with my very hard, very high PH tapwater, a "one size fits all" beginer model would have me adding quite a lot of additives to my water to attain an "ideal." With 20% or more weekly water changes, those additives would quickly add up to a lot of money. The likelihood of a PH crash or other instability would go up, and so would my likelihood of failure.

Plus, without that knowledge of chemistry, biology, and so on, when something DID go wrong, I'd have to go back to the book to troubleshoot instead of being able to interrogate the problem independently. That also leads to frustration -- I don't know about others, but if I feel like I'm just blindly following someone else's system without a sense of the whys or hows of the thing, I really feel uncomfortable.

So just my 2 cents as a beginner, but my preference would be for a book that gave a beginner the science he or she would need to understand what's going on in the planted tank and the ways various factors interact so he/she can make good choices, but also some been-there-done-that advice to avoid common pitfalls. Perhaps some advice for getting started relatively cheaply, but building in the opportunity to upgrade over time, since cost is an issue for a lot of beginners? For example, I started with low-light (and a few "didn't know better" higher light) plants planted in Flourite and gravel because I couldn't afford everything I wanted for my tank right away and I figured it would be easier to upgrade my lighting later than to change out my substrate later. And the book would have to have lots and lots of pictures, of course!
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 01:31 PM
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uncskainch - I think I did not make myself clear. I'm not suggesting that your concerns, you thirst for information, be ignored. Far from it. I just think you personally would need to skip straight to the "intermediate" section where choices, and issue and risks, are discussed.

This way everyone can be accommodated. But when you create a book that jumps straight into the hard stuff, you exclude a potentially large audience that might not want that complexity right away. Presenting the stuff you want in a more advanced section, but also catering to the "keep it easy/successful" audience, excludes no one.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:09 PM
 
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If a book was to be written...

Quote:
Originally Posted by scolley
[Rant]
I think that what is missing in this hobby is a true step-by-step guide for beginners. We are hung up on options. Forget options! You want options, skip to the Intermediate section and accept the risks that come with it. But if you want a planted tank that's going to thrive, though we're not going to present many (if any) options, then do the following...

That's what's missing - A manual that says "Do this", "Do that", and "Do the other thing" and "Then you'll have a lovely, healthy tank!". Leave options to the intermediates.
[/Rant]

You'll sell a bundle. Beginners don't want options. They want success.
Yes! Get us GOING! Not worrying about all the things we can't do and all the plants we can't have and how expensive and unobtainable and confusing it all seems!

... And I think THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT POINT you need to make at this juncture is this. Yes, the "aquarium kits" are the cheapest way to go, HOWEVER, the flourescent canopy included does not, I repeat, not supply even minimally suffificient light for planted aquaria. The first thing you must do is upgrade to more wattage. Then outline options - retrofit, purchase better canopy, blah blah blah yada yada yada...

The employees at LFSs rarely seem to know anything about wattage for planted aquaria (in my experience) and they will just hand you an expensive 15 watt "Super duper grow plants like a pro" bulb and say, "you're all set!" And you will naively believe them! Until you stumble on The Planted Tank and find out the reality. CO2, ferts, all the rest is important, but it seems to me that insufficient light is the single biggest problem most people have!

As to plants suitable to the different levels of experience - I think that is fine to a certain degree. However, one need only peruse the recent thread about "plants you were unable to grow" to see that that isn't entirely cut and dried. The 2 plants doing the best right now in my 15 watts to 20 gallons, non-CO2 tank are the only 2 plants I have which are listed as "difficult" at Tropica's website! I got them because they appealed to me and they are doing fine - although I can't wait for my new lights and CO2 to come...

The one little plant book I have recommends undergravel filters... go figure...

Kathy
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:16 PM
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In the intermediate/advanced portion of the book, I'd like to see a section on "reading your plants". By that I mean, if your plants looks like this (with several good pictures), then suspect this deficiency.

Then again, since folks can't seem to easily articulate on the forums how to do this (likely because there are just too many variables), capturing it in a book might be a significant challange also.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:51 PM
 
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proberly the PMDD method wouldent go amis.. and suggesting to use this other than stock made products like flourish.. for making the hobby cheaper yet alot more cheerful. i think until people experiment with it they dont get the best results.. not that flourish and stock products are no good. its the fact that PMDD has been so successful in all aspects of botany.

co2 would have to be in there also.. with different dissolution methods there pros and cons and general information about setting a kit up. ie not what parts for a co2 kit, but the kit as.. co2 kit, KH tester, Reactor, Airline..
showing how its all rigged up.. the specifics on how carbonic acid helps the plants would also be a must if you wrote about it.

split advice for US and UK residents.. ive seen this in many books suggesting if you live in the UK you may find X at your local KMart.. or being a UK resident you can find substitutes for X that work just aswell. this might make the reader numbers go higher.

i think it could be a challenge as some books cover some aspects that other books do not... and vise versa.

or you could just make aload of buisness cards with plantedtank.net
nano tanks? lighting, and do's and donts.. donts being dont use your inline for diffusing co2 into a canister filter as it will proberly airlock it lol. u proberly wont find that in any other book that covers co2.

good luck with your idea
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 03:29 PM
 
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I see your point, Steve -- there certainly are beginners out there who don't want to do anything complicated and don't especially care whether or not they understand why what they're doing is working, so long as it works. They just want a pretty, low maintenance tank.

I think the challenge would be to figure out that pretty, low maintenance tank system that would work for everyone. I suppose something that involved moderate lights, a simple CO2 system, readily available ferts, and recommended plants and fish that would survive in a really wide range of PH and hardness conditions would probably fill the bill. And I think if you found a way to recommend a system like that with money-saving tips such that it didn't cost a fortune, you'd appeal to a good number of beginners.

As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if someone put together low-cost tank kits with 2+ WPG lighting, something like the Hagen CO2 system, and planted-tank-appropriate filters? It's really a shame that all of the pre-packaged kits, which can be a great deal, are configured in such a way that a lot of things will need to be replaced along the way to have a great planted tank? I wonder if it would be economical for LFS's or the big box pet stores to put together a ready-to-go planted tank start up kit?

I guess I'm just one of those kids who never got into "build it just like the picture on the box!" models or following instructions -- I was always asking why and taking apart the blender with a screwdriver and that sort of thing. So thanks for suggesting I could skip straight to intermediate -- that approach always means a steeper learning curve, I think, but much more rewarding results in the long run.
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