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Children Boogie
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16,743 Posts
Hi, welcome on board.
But a strange thing is happening.. the more I learn, the less clear everything is.
isn't that the case for everything :)

Can it really be this complicated?
No it's not that complicated. Most of us don't even bother testing the water parameters most times. I use the condition of the plants and algae as a sign on what to do.

One book I read yesterday on planmted aquariums warned specifically not to do anything that might raise the oxygen level in the water
This statement mostly pertains to low tech tanks that do not inject CO2. When you try to raise O2 through aeration, this 'degasses' the CO2 which is important for plants. But it's really a non-issue if you have a filter and have good water movement throughout your tank. There's enough O2 & CO2 for animals and plants.

(1) should I just give up before I start?
Just jump right in.

(2) is there someplace where this stuff is presented in a single simple coherent place?
Yes, check out this forum. I'm sure you'll have more questions so just ask the intelligent people on this forum.

To start read a few articles.
http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Basics-to-starting-a-Planted-Tank/4/
http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Fertilizers-in-a-Planted-Tank/1/
http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Lighting-a-Planted-Tank/14/
http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Pressurized-CO2/19/

more articles can be found here
http://www.plantedtank.net/articles.php
 
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