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Shaji Bhaskar: LowTech


  1. be leery of FAMA's Osborne
    by (Shaji Bhaskar) (Wed, 22 Dec 1993)
  2. [F][Plant] Sunlight = algae?
    by (Shaji Bhaskar) (1 Jul 93)

be leery of FAMA's Osborne

by (Shaji Bhaskar)
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 1993

In article <> (Dan
Resler) writes:

>I would be very interested in hearing from people in netland who
>have *successful* `low-tech' (and low budget) plant tanks. Can it be
>done? And sustained? I have heard about George's 55gal `experiment', but I 
>haven't heard about any others.

Vinny Kutty used to be a proponent of low-tech plant tanks on the net,
but he seems to have dropped out of view.

Diana Walstad, who is the technical consultant for The Aquatic
Gardener, is a fan of the low-tech approach.  I have not seen her
tanks personally, but I have seen slides. They look good, but not as
good as a Dupla-style setup.  Since she is a member of my local
aquarium society, I talk to her about once a month about plants.

Her approach is to use natural light, not vacuum the gravel, and to
add no fertilizer other than what the fish produce.  She uses garden
soil in the substrate.  She gets very good results with many plants,
but there are some that simply do not do well in her tanks.  She does
not claim that her method will work for everyone.

I too have a low-tech 'setup' that works surprisingly well, although
it violates pretty much every rule in the book. It consists of a 10G
storage container that sits on my patio throughout the year.  I grow a
mix of tropical and temperate-water plants in it, but I take the
tropical plants indoors in winter.  The subtropicals (currently Banana
plants, Myriophyllum and Pennywort) fend for themselves during the
winter. In summer, I usually put in some E. tenellus, Rotala, a couple
of Anubias, some Bolbitis, and whatever else I don't want in my indoor
tanks.  I also use it to grow plants emersed. Last summer, for
instance, I threw in a couple of stems of Nomaphila stricta, and by
summer's end, they were bushes growing three feet out of the water.

The substrate in the storage container is plain washed gravel about 6"
deep, with no additives.  I use about 6 inches of water on top of the
gravel.  I have no heater, and no fish.  I don't clean the gravel, and
I use only natural light.  The setup receives direct sunlight for at
about three hours every day, and the ambient lighting during the rest
of the day is very bright, as you would expect.  For fertilization, I
do toss in a couple of Tetra's Plant Tabs (containing N,P & K) every
month or so. Water changes are infrequent - I don't follow a strict
regimen.  Every so often, I run the garden hose into the setup and let
the water overflow for a few minutes.  The setup, on the whole, is as
low-tech as you can get.

Yet, it is surprisingly successful.  There is no algae of any kind.  I
have been using my outdoor setup to rid plants of red algae.  The
plants grow very slowly, but they seem to derive some strange benefit
from being in such an environment.  When I move them from my low-tech
setup to my CO2-injected setup, they seem to do much better for a
while than the plants that have been in the CO2-injected setup all

Sen. John McCain on CNBC, about his exploits in the Vietnam war:
    "I intercepted a surface-to-air missile with my plane."
Not unexpectedly, he spent the next few years in the Hanoi Hilton.

[F][Plant] Sunlight = algae?

by (Shaji Bhaskar)
Date: 1 Jul 93

In article <20uv6g$i3r-at-usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu> jms20-at-po.CWRU.Edu (John M. Sully) writes:

>What species of snails are the "nice " ones?  I've got a fairly hefty
>algae problem, and am looking for nice natural ways of getting rid of
>it (and yes...the tank is not in direct sunlight and I do frequent
>H2O changes, so that's not the problem :-) ).

Disclaimer: What follows does not apply to unplanted tanks.

I have my doubts about this oft-quoted "sunlight will cause algae"
rule.  It is in direct contradiction to the "brigher is better" rule
for plant tanks that is also thrown around a lot.  The only people who
seem to benefit from both rules are the fellows who sell all those
energy-hogging, expensive lights that claim to be brighter and closer
to sunlight than the other guys' offerings.  Personally, if I could
have sunlight at the flip of a switch, I'd be more than happy to trade
in my puny fluorescent lights.  I have no problems placing my tanks in
a location where the fluorescent lights are only a sunlight substitute
for cloudy days.

The most algae-free tanks I have are the planted ones in my patio.
They receive direct sunlight part of the day, and very bright indirect
sunlight during the rest of the day.  When a plant in my indoor tank
has an algae problem, I often move it to an outdoor tank.  This
approach has never failed to get rid of the algae.  Even the toughest
red algae is gone in a month.

Signature?  ... er.. It's in the shop right now.
Shaji Bhaskar * BNR, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA * (

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